A University of Mississippi student has created a side makeup business transforming T-shirt wearing college students into elegant young women.
Lauren Hoffman, a sophomore from Houston, Texas, has loved makeup since age 13. She began learning to apply makeup by watching YouTube videos in her room and recreated celebrity looks and the looks of other Internet makeup artists.
“I have always looked up to Monika Blunder, one of the most highly demanded make up artists in Hollywood,” Hoffman said. “Ever since I can remember, I’ve watched her YouTube channel trying to learn and master her techniques.”
Hoffman sees every person as a new project. Margaret Ranck met Hoffman her freshman year at Ole Miss, and Hoffman has applied her makeup numerous times.
“Lauren’s done my makeup for almost every event I have gone to – date parties, formals, Theta Encore – almost every event, and I always love it so much,” Ranck said. “I’ve tried to do it myself, and it’s just not the same. I even come to her when I need something small fixed, like my fake eyelashes or something.”
Hoffman started out small using drugstore brand products, focusing mainly on brushstrokes before moving on to bigger brand names. She watched countless hours of videos online to perfect her own unique techniques, practicing on herself for years.
When one of Hoffman’s older sisters told her she should begin charging clients for full makeup, Hoffman knew it would be a good side business while she focused on school, but she didn’t think it would take off.
She began by charging $10 until she realized she was running out of products faster and losing money.
“It only made sense for me to start charging people (more) when I had almost 10 girls wanting their makeup done every time there was a big event happening in town,” Hoffman said. “I realized I had started losing money when I was having to buy more of every product, so I made my rates higher.”
Hoffman’s business grew her freshman year through word-of-mouth advertising. Word began circulating that she did great work, was willing to work with anyone, and her rates were reasonably priced.
“Some of my favorite brands of makeup would be, Naked (by Urban Decay), MAC Cosmetics and Dior,” Hoffman said. “They go on every face, from dry or oily, so well and stay on the whole night, so people don’t complain about their makeup running off. I really want my clients to get their money’s worth, feel beautiful and want to come back to me.”
Hoffman said she has learned that the best way to develop makeup skills and patience is to mimic professional makeup artists and recreate looks they have done. She plans on taking her business as far as it can go, never turning down a job, and hopes to one day work with celebrities or brides.
Going from college students attending formals to painting stars on the red carpet may be a long time away, but Hoffman hopes her makeup dreams will come true.
“Sometimes it’s hard when I have somewhere to go or can’t commit to a client at the time they want,” she said, “but that’s what a business is all about – learning to compromise with and work around other people.”
Occasionally, when in a time predicament, Hoffman travels to clients’ homes to apply makeup rather than having them come to her home where her supplies are located. She said she has learned to ask her clients about their face type and what they want to look like.
Ranck said she tries to help her friend promote her business.
“I try to get Lauren’s name out there as much as possible,” she said, “because I think she really does have amazing talents. I was one of her first customers freshman year, and seeing how much she’s grown since then in her business, makes me so happy for her. She’s not only an artist, but a smart business women.”
Hoffman has perfected her style of makeup, but loves experimenting with new trends on others. She sometimes asks her friends to let her practice on them for free.
The business has unexpectedly become a big part of Hoffman’s college life. Bringing in new clients every semester helps Hoffman make more money and publicize her business.
Hoffman can be contacted through any social media, though most people reach her through Facebook. She plans to start a website or Instagram page soon where more clients can contact her and view examples of her work. Hoffman dreams of taking her business outside of Oxford.