As a student at Lamar School in Meridian, Rivers Countiss, 22, once got in trouble for wearing makeup.
“In elementary, our school could not allow girls to wear makeup,” she said, “so I would sneak into my mom’s bathroom the night before school, put on some mascara and wear the leftover makeup to school.
“I remember on our fifth grade field trip, my teacher caught me wearing makeup, because it was so noticeable and looked horrible, and I got in trouble and had to take it off in front of everyone.”
Today, Countiss, 22, is University of Mississippi hospitality management major who earns money as a freelance makeup artist. She also works as a makeup artist and consultant at Zoe in Oxford, a store described as an “indie apothecary” that specializes in cosmetics.
“Some of my earliest memories are of me playing with my mom’s makeup and cutting my dolls’ and Barbies’ hair,” Countiss said. “I’ve always been interested in ‘girly’ things like this.”
Countiss said a typical day at Zoe involves opening the store at 9:30 a.m., and putting on her own makeup at 10 a.m.
“After that, I usually unload boxes of new products and unload/restock anything that is needed,” she said.
Throughout the day, Countiss makes sure everything in the store looks clean and organized, while helping 20-30 customers a day. “I make sure all trash cans are empty, then wipe down every makeup counter,” she said.
Some of her favorite beauty products include NARS foundations and the Farsali Rose Gold Elixir.
With a demanding schedule of school and work, she still finds time to work as a freelance makeup artist. For many years, she has applied makeup for pageants, formals and weddings.
During her final semester at UM, Countiss is also an intern at Castle Hill, a Southern-style wedding venue just outside of Oxford that is also a bed and breakfast featuring six rooms, an outdoor pool, a courtyard and gardens. Her main job is help with events and sometimes bartend.
The most important lesson she has learned from her internship is “how important organization and time management really is for event planning,” she said.
Longtime friend Brady Avara admires her hard work and dedication. “She has been like a big sister and a mentor to me,” she said, “and I couldn’t be more thankful for her.”
Countiss said her jobs have provided great work experience. “I have learned more professionalism to prepare me for the real world,” she said. “I have also learned how organization is key to be successful for any job.”
After graduation, Countiss plans go to attend graduate school or beauty school. She dreams of owning her own makeup store or hair salon.