YAMI: Lauretta Ihenatu, The Self-Taught MUA

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It’ always great to see someone you know since childhood winning! Our next guest on YAMI is Lauretta Ihenatu, the young lady behind Doll Faces by Lauretta (DFL). I’ve known Lauretta since our secondary school days in Lagos. And although we weren’t in the same year, we the alumni’s of St. Jude’s Private School know how to keep our ties wherever we are in the world and thanks to Facebook we do try.

Lauretta who’s in her early twenties is currently working on her senior year research at University and is currently based in North Carolina, although she goes on out of state trips for a good ‘beat’ down here and there.

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YAMI was born out of the numerous young creatives that I’ve been awed by through personal interactions and social media; and when I decided to launch the interview series, I knew that Lauretta was one of such inspirational women that I’d like to have a conversation with.


S: Have you always wanted to be a makeup artist, and what inspired you to go for it?

L: I remember I used to love playing dress up when I was like 5 years old, but I never really thought about the idea of becoming a MUA (as Nigerian parents don’t necessarily let that thought sit in your head for too long. lol). However, as I got older, my interest increased. I became seriously inspired after my sister and I went for her makeup trial at a “high-end” counter and let’s just say they’re super overrated! We didn’t like what was done and she immediately said “you’re doing my makeup for my wedding!” Can you say NERVOUS!! I couldn’t believe it; I started practicing more on her face and the day finally came. She received a ton of compliments, features on wedding blogs, etc. and the rest is pretty much history. Shout out to my ‘sheester’ for believing in me! 🙂

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S: When you first started how did your family and close friends react? Did they see it as a serious venture or thought it was a hobby that would eventually fade?

L: When I first started, some took me serious, while others didn’t. Over time, those that didn’t are the ones calling to book me. For my family, my siblings were cool with the idea, it was only my mom that I would hide it from (if you have a Nigerian parent(s), then you should understand why). However, that didn’t last long. She stumbled upon my contract one day and said “Nwam, e gala PLC!” (Meaning- My child, you’ve gone far!). Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting that reaction, and after that, I needed no other person’s validation.

S: What has been your biggest challenge so far?

L: I feel as though my biggest challenge was trying to please everyone through the process. Now, I’ve just learned to let go and let God. I try to remain positive and do what pleases me.

S:  Are you  self-taught or did you get any other sort of training?

L: I am self-taught and work as a freelance MUA for now. However, I plan to attend some classes in the future.

S: Any social media enthusiast knows that there are now lots of MUAs out there, some the real deal and others doing it for the likes, so how do you keep ahead of the competition and ensure that you’re the one being booked?

L: There was something a friend told me that has always stuck with me. He said, “The world is too big to be in competition with everyone.” Though it may be easier said than done, I just try to remain honest with myself and post what I feel I did a really good job on. If I get booked, then it means I’m doing something right.

S: I’m sure that apart from the creative side to being a MUA, there’s also the business side of things that needs to be taken care of. How have you gone about it? Did you take any business or management courses?

L: I thankfully have a good team of people who help me with the business aspect. They range from accountants to doctors who are familiar with the business side of things. Shout out to my girls Tutu and Temps who have helped through this entire process!

S: Also, when it comes to charging for your work, have you had any potential customer challenge your fees?

L: I hate to put them in this category, but I gotta give it to some (not all) of my Nigerian clients who brought that negotiating trait all the way to the states.lol. My people can negotiate! They usually just try to get the full package for the price of the half package (like really though?). But that’s what makes my job fun, I try to be flexible and work with everyone as much as I can. And it all usually works out well for the both of us in the end.

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S: What do you enjoy/love best about what you do?

L: Omg, the reactions I get after I’m through with a client are priceless! They range from hugs, tears, big smiles, to yaassss (the new validating slang). Like, if I could capture each moment on video, I would. That feeling of gratification knowing that you’ve made a person feel beautiful both inside and out is what makes me love what I do the most.

S: Would you say you were a bit wary of branching out to create your own business and put yourself out there? Because I think that going to work for someone is the easiest thing; but to put yourself out there like you’ve done? That take guts.

L:  But who isn’t? Kudos to the brave ones out there that are not scared in the beginning. I was definitely a bit nervous in branching out, I thought of all the negatives and no positives. I’m just very grateful to have God on my side throughout this journey, and he surrounded me with amazing people who were there to support all the way.

S: I believe a YAMI to be a young creative who is fiercely and fearlessly following their passions, so if you were to advise other young aspiring MUAs out there, what would it be?

L: Put God first, remain positive, and make it happen!

S: Apart from being a MUA, are there other things you do, or aspire to do?

L: Some people actually don’t know this about me, but I am a Biology major in school (I know, my clients never understand the correlation) lol. I aspire to become a health professional in the future while ‘beating’ faces as well. I’m still in the works of seeing how they will both work, but nothing is impossible with God, right!

S: What do you see for yourself and DFL in the future? Perhaps your own makeup line?…

L: I see better days for DFL, and who knows, possibly giving a celebrity a DFL beat down one day 🙂  I never thought about a makeup line (naysayers in thy head-get behind me!), but that sounds like a plan!

S: Well, don’t forget who planted that seed! 😉

Thanks for joining us on Sewafolie and being an inspirational YAMI. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing more of your work and future progress! Keep doing what you do, we’re inspired!

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Ms DFL can be contacted via email- dollfacesbylauretta@yahoo.com

Instagram- http://instagram.com/retta_doll

Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/dollfacesbylauretta


I’d love to leave you with this little wisdom from Karl Marx, the great Sociologist and Philosopher. He described four main ways in which man is alienated in the domain of work due to society’s structure. He enthused that man is alienated from the object he produces, from the process of production, from himself, and from the community of his fellows.

However, I believe that in this regard, the young creatives that are featured in the YAMI series, by steering their own directives in life and work, surpass this alienation of men.


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lauretta Ihenatu

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