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Eva Jane Bunkley shares tips for success in the makeup industry

Eva Makeup Bullet-1Eva Jane Bunkley never imagined that her side gig as a makeup artist would turn into her primary career. Twenty years later the beauty connoisseur, whose style has been described as “clean and natural,” has built a resume of celebrity clientele including Cicely Tyson, Usher, Vin Diesel, and many more. It was while working with such talent that she conceptualized a product that would give her the freedom to create flawless faces without losing her work tools in her clutter of products. Her creation, The Makeup Bullet, is gaining widespread appeal within the beauty community, allowing this entrepreneur to take her artistry to the next level.

What was the process of creating The Makeup Bullet?

It took about two years of active work to get this product to market.  First, I did drawings of what I wanted it to look like and I sculpted a crude prototype out of foam so I could test it out to know that it was really what I wanted and to have something concrete to send.  It was difficult finding a manufacturing company to work with because what I wanted done not all companies could do. Once I found a company that had the capability to produce my vision and was willing to work with a small start up business, we got to work.  That process took a year and a half to be able to scale up to full production capacity.  I have heard that’s a relatively short time period, so I am very thankful for my manufacturing partners’ diligence and belief in my product and me. I was just a woman with a dream paying them as I could, and they were willing to work with me.  Favor like that is uncommon and I thank God daily for all of the companies and individuals that have helped me with through this process thus far.

How has the industry evolved over the last few years?

I was invited to an event a few months ago in Birmingham hosted by celebrity make-up artist Sylvia Smith, and it was really a treat to interact with the about 30 budding make-up artist’s that attended her class.  Most of them seemed to be pretty new to the business or were doing it on the side, and when one young lady informed me that she gets most of her jobs through Instagram, I was stunned!  I think that social media has been such an amazing tool for marketing your own talents and developing a legitimate following and steady clientele, even in smaller markets.  What I also see is a lot of proclaimed “self-taught” make-up artist’s on social media who use these platforms to hone their skills. This is one of the dangers of finding someone through social media. Just because they have a lot of followers or post a lot of the work they do, doesn’t mean you should emulate them in your own technique.  Look at the work of the masters as a standard and judge everything else accordingly.

How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?

I have been fortunate to meet some wonderful people in this journey and I have always tried to learn as much as possible from them.  So often, because of the type of makeup that I do, I am the only artist in the room, so when I have a chance to work on a set with multiple artists it is always a treat for me. I love picking up techniques and getting product recommendations from them.  You can watch a tutorial or review on YouTube, but there is nothing like a working artist that you know and trust hipping you to their new favorite beauty product.

With this new product, I am attending more trade shows and they are the most wonderful makeup paradises for staying on top of new products.  I have never been much of an early adapter or blind trend follower.  I tend to study “new” things a while from afar before jumping on the bandwagon.  I like stability and certainty.  If I find a product that I love, that works it becomes a staple in my kit.

What are your staple beauty products?

I love products that make life easy for me.  As an artist other than, The Makeup Bullet my new favorite tool is the “DaBlot” makeup pallet created by one of my closest makeup friends, Patrice Coleman. She has created a mini pallet that straps to the back of your hand.  I use it in tandem with my Makeup Bullet when I am on set and they both leave my hands free to hold brushes or whatever else.

As a woman who paints my own face from time to time, my new favorite thing is “Pretty Boy” Lip Tar by OCC Makeup.  It is a beautiful rich, bright fuchsia that lasts until you scrub it off, which is perfect because I like “low-maintenance” products and I love it for the bold statement it makes!Eva Makeup Bullet-10

What separates you from others in your career field?

I get bored easily and I surround myself with other “passion projects” when I am not doing makeup to fill my spare time.  My second career that I have been cultivating for about 10 years is as an indie-filmmaker and producer.  I love production and being on set in general. I really do love producing and have a new documentary that will start production in New Orleans this month, and I am very excited about it.  I am thankful that my two careers are intertwined and allow me to be around the production process in whatever capacity I find myself on any given day.

How’d you begin working with celebrity clients? Who are some of your favorite clients that you’ve worked with?

All of what I have done in my career has primarily been word of mouth and personal recommendations.  I believe in the power of relationship and being reliable, dependable, trustworthy and consistent.  These are all characteristics that are key in the position of makeup.  I do believe that makeup is ministry, especially if you are someone’s personal makeup artist for an extended period of time. Most of the celebrities I have done makeup on have been through professional recommendations of people within the beauty or production industry. Of course, when I did makeup for seven years at WAGA FOX5 and five years at WXIA 11Alive! News back in the late 90’s to early 2000’s, we had our fare share of celebrities coming through there.  I have been fortunate enough to work on celebs such as Vin Diesel, Cicely Tyson, The Rock, Shemar Moore, Tichina Arnold, Charles S. Dutton, Bryan Cranston, Usher, Gladys Knight, former President Jimmy Carter and Jamie Foxx to name a few.

What does 2014 look like for you and your brand?

The beauty community has been so warm and welcoming to The Makeup Bullet, and it has been like watching a dream unfold with my eyes wide open.  It is such a rush for me to experience people who I met at a trade show or not even met at all, who may have just saw the product online and they do a blog or video review about it!  It blows my mind that they would take the time and energy to write or talk about this “thing” that started as an “I wish there was a…” in my heart over a decade ago and now they are holding it on their finger proudly showing the world!

Presently, we are just in the beginning stages of getting into the retail market and getting the product out and known.  I have a lot of interest in the UK and Canada, so in addition to here in the U.S., we are looking for retail partners for distribution. In 2014, my prayer is that it will have major distribution not just here, but in other countries as well.  I believe it will happen.  I am working hard, knocking on all the proverbial doors I can and yelling as loud as I can that “The Makeup Bullet” is HERE and ready to grace the finger of every makeup artist and makeup wearer!

What are some common misconceptions about your industry?

That it is only about doing makeup.  A makeup artist is so much more—sometimes a counselor, sometimes a friend, and sometimes an extended family member. In my case, I have frequently prayed with my clients if they needed it. We are not all catty and divas. Some of my favorite people are makeup artists! Talent is important, but as in anything it helps to have a pleasant personality since a lot of what happens on set is prep time or sitting around and waiting with other crew members or your talent.  The people I recommend and hire if I have the opportunity are people I like being around, even if someone available is a better artist technically speaking.

For those interested in breaking into the industry, what skill sets do you recommend that they develop to help them to be successful?

The most important thing for me when I am working with someone is that they be teachable.  Still, after 20 years of doing makeup, when I am working under someone, I look to see what I can learn from them even if it is what NOT to do.  I always maintain proper set etiquette and defer to them as the “head” of the department even if they may have worked under me on another project.

An organization that I have been involved with for a number of years is Makeup Artists of Atlanta started by Kat Flynt. I always recommend that Atlanta artist’s get plugged in. That organization is a good for fellowship, building relationships and coming together to share resources, techniques and product recommendations.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t make yourself common.” That was what my grandmother told me when I was young.  She raised me after my mother died when I was six.  I don’t seek to be like everybody else and I enjoy lonely roads.

What motivates you?

My favorite scripture is Philippians 2:13. I am motivated by love—love for my husband, children, family, friends, and for God. I am striving to become a better person day by day through each relationship and interaction. I don’t always get it right, but I desire to.  I am learning to forgive myself for my shortcomings and recognize that people are just people, and I make effort to believe the best in them.