Celebrity Makeup Artist turned YouTuber, Kelsee Briana Jai, has worked in the beauty industry for several years. This young mogul has transitioned from a MAC Consultant turned Celebrity Makeup Artist to a thriving Social Media Influencer. Throughout all of these changes, Kelsee managed to continuously hone in on her craft, networking at every phase. Her vast amount of experience, along with extensive education, having attained a Masters in Business Administration, has aided in Kelsee’s status as a major contributor in the world of beauty.
I was fortunate enough to gain some further insight into how Kelsee has managed to create such a strong and unique brand image in the oversaturated market that is YouTube. She articulated her methodology and imparted wisdom to those currently pursuing the YouTube world and those with future interests. The interview went as follows:
Q: In a rush, what are your go-to products and which of them of worthy of the splurge?
A: This question is hard for me because I hate rushing, but if I must, I will throw some concealer all over my face. My current favorite is “Born This Way” Concealer by Too Faced, bronzer, mascara, and a lip product! I think that every beauty lover must splurge on quality complexion products that perfect your base.
Q: What was 13-year-old Kelsee-Briana like? Did you see yourself making a career in such a public space, being a YouTuber?
A: I have always loved being on camera! 13-year-old Kelsee was super energetic and into everything! I actually envisioned myself on television, either acting or reporting the news. Back then, YouTube wasn’t around. If it were, I would have definitely uploaded videos that I would be embarrassed about today!
During this time, I was cultivating my makeup artistry skills by practicing everyday and hanging out at my local MAC counter. I wanted to learn any and everything about makeup. I spent hours shadowing artists and reading beauty books by Sam Fine, Kevyn Aucoin, and Bobbi Brown. I knew early on that makeup was a passion of mine and through the years, my zeal for the craft of makeup artistry has continued to intensify.
Q: When did you officially decide to pursue YouTube as a career path? How did you begin? (i.e. MAC, Freelancing, etc.)
A: I officially decided to fully pursue YouTube as a career path last year, after creating videos for the past nine years. I began my career as a Freelance Makeup Artist over ten years ago. I worked at MAC for about six years during that time frame. I loved working at MAC, but, as time progressed, I felt as if I needed to leave in order to advance professionally. After leaving MAC, I went on to work independently as a Makeup Artist for celebrities, such as Jill Scott and Tamron Hall. While crafting my career as a Celebrity Makeup Artist, I never lost my love for YouTube. I uploaded my first video on YouTube in 2010 as a way to share my love for makeup with like-minded people. Since then, I have never looked back. I love the freedom that YouTube offers, and I feel that this platform allows me to be my most authentic self!
Q:What obstacles did you encounter on your journey toward success as a YouTuber?
A: There are many obstacles that I have encountered throughout my YouTube career. The biggest one is feeling like my content is not impactful. I sometimes feel that I’m not doing enough, but I have to remind myself that I’m only one person and I need to simply take it day-by-day. It is important to remember not to compare yourself to others. I know it’s a cliché statement, but it’s true! We all have our own journeys, and it is important to keep a positive mindset throughout the process. Every turn up, triumph, and tired moment will allow you to gain a better appreciation for the platform and the various opportunities that have stemmed from it.
Q: What lessons did those encounters teach you about yourself and have you been able to utilize that knowledge in later years?
A: Over the years, I have learned patience. Admittedly, I can struggle with it at times, but I now understand that nothing good comes from rushing. I have grown to respect and trust my process. Building an audience and brand is not an overnight journey, but as long as the passion is there, everything else will fall into place. That has been important to me throughout the years as I continue to grow both professionally and personally.
Q: What distinction did you make to differentiate from YouTubers with similar content?
A: I honestly never went into creating my content with that mindset. I know that we are all individuals, so I just have always been myself. I am supportive of my peers, but I don’t like to consume myself with others content to remain unbiased when reviewing products, etc. I believe this helps me to approach products from my own unique perspective, without being tainted by other people’s views. It allows me to project my truest thoughts.
Q: I am no stranger to your channel and have noticed that you are well-versed in high end cosmetic branding. What led to that?
A: Growing up, my beauty-loving mom would always take me with her to play in makeup at counters for hours at a time. As a result, I was exposed to brands like MAC, Chanel, Lancome, Fashion Fair, and many others at a young age. My first makeup product was a MAC’s “Oh Baby” Lipglass! Essentially, my roots are in high end cosmetics. However, I don’t discriminate against any product lines. I can decipher quality products, regardless of their price tags.
Q: As a public figure, how do you identify your brand?
A: I identify my brand as one that positively influences the beauty community. I strive to provide up-to-date information regarding high end cosmetics on my social media platforms. It is important to me to have a presence in the beauty industry because I believe that I offer a different perspective. There is a void, in terms of African American influencers that review/utilize higher end products on a regularly. So, I work hard to insure that I provide a resource for people with brown skin to fill that void.
Q: How would you weigh the importance of networking as YouTuber? How has networking played a part in your journey?
A: Networking is important for any business venture. As a YouTuber, a lot of my networking has been done virtually. Networking opens the door for the creation of meaningful relationships. Mostly all of my freelance opportunities have stemmed from my network. This has helped my growth immensely as both a Makeup Artist and entrepreneur.
Q:What are your views on Brand Ambassadorship and how do you think such association has positively impacted the world of beauty for Women of Color?
A: Brand Ambassadorship can be lovely, if the partnership is organic. It is imperative that any ambassadorship makes sense for the both the brand and the collaborative individual. In the beauty realm, there is still limited representation of women of color, even though there has been an abundance of talented individuals slaying the industry. I feel that we have progressed drastically from where we were, even a few years ago, but we still have a long way to go. In the future, I hope that the industry continues to expand to include more women of color in the forefront.
Q: As you know, many young women have found themselves gravitating toward careers in the beauty industry. What advice would you give to the young woman reading this saying that she wants to be the next Kelsee-Briana Jai? (Where should she begin her journey? How?)
A: Pursuing a career in the beauty industry is extremely rewarding. My best piece of advice would be to create a business plan and stick to it. It’s important to have a general direction that you want to take your brand in. Of course issues will arise that you can’t account for, but having a solid business plan can be most beneficial. Learning as much as you can about both the beauty industry, as well as the business industry, is also helpful. Having a working knowledge of both will help with your growth in all aspects of your career. Most importantly, always be yourself. This is the best way to set forward on your path towards success.
Q: Before we conclude this interview, I want to that you for allowing me this grand opportunity once more and ask one last question: What can we expect from Kelsee-Briana Jai in the near future? (Any New Content or Collaborations?)
A: I have content for days, so of course, that is ALWAYS on the menu! As far as collaborations, that is currently under construction, so stay tuned. Smooches!
Thank you so much Kelsee for allowing Black Girl Today to feature you! As a fan of your work, the Black Girl Today family wishes you continued success and much prosperity. For those that wish to learn more about Kelsee-Briana Jai, she can be found on all platforms: @kelseebrianajai. Subscribe to her channel by following the link below: