Beauty 411: Ketta Vaughn Speaks On Cosmetics Line & Shares Fave Beauty Trends
Makeup artist Ketta Vaughn is a silent grinder, and you know why? Because she created the very first pink lipgloss that works for my chocolate complexion! But besides introducing me to A-list from her self-titled makeup line, she’s a ball of hidden talents up for record label grabs (we’ll talk about her rapping career later). When she’s not on the mic or whipping up ideas for her beauty collection, she’s busying herself with Lisa Price’s face. Yes! The Carol’s Daughter commander-in-chief taps the DC native for the glamour she readily needs.
VIBE Vixen had to find out what this girl was all about.
Six years ago, the lover of makeup and MAC associate began her fervent mission to bridge her love for music and the beauty world's sliest fox--makeup.
When did it hit you that you had to make beauty your career?
I didn’t go to school for it. I just knew I had to do it. I had a love for it and a talent for it but, I really had a setback. When I first got hired, six months after, they let me go because I let a girlfriend of mine use my discount to get these boots that she wanted. One of the sales representatives at the shoe department got pissed because they were helping her find the shoe, so they went and told the store manager that I let somebody use my discount and they let me go. I was crushed.
Yes, crushed, crushed, crushed. So, I went and got an office job for about a year. A year later, the [MAC] manager found a way to slide me back in as a freelancer, which was cool because I didn’t like working at a department store anyway. I wanted to work directly with MAC. I was working as a freelancer, then I finally got a job at a MAC store instead of working at a counter. It was a blessing in disguise. I worked there forever and ever, until 2003. In 2003, I got a record deal with LL Cool J.
I had to transfer and move to New York, so I could record and work with him; I’m originally from DC, so I moved and transferred to MAC here in New York. I just spent a lot years working and working and didn’t really see anything coming from working with MAC, other than the great experience. I learned a lot.
How did you begin the process of taking things into your own hands?
I just started researching ways to start a brand. It’s funny because I’ve been doing Lisa Price’s makeup for five years now, and her assistant actually came into the MAC store. This was when they were getting ready to open up the Carol’s Daughter store in Roosevelt Field. Her assistant came in and said, 'Oh, I love your makeup. It looks phenomenal. Could you do my eyes like that?' So I did her eyes and she said, 'I’m Lisa Price’s assistant, and we’re getting ready to open up a store here in Roosevelt Field, but I really want you to do her makeup. Do you think you could meet up with her for a trial?' So I met with her, and it was really all she wrote from there. I started doing her makeup for all her press, all her events and things like that. Then eventually, I started doing a lot of their corporate stuff too.
How did that come about? You had this love for makeup, so how did the music tie in?
Well, that’s my second love, so I was trying to find a way to work both of them at the same time. I was doing my thing on the underground circuit, really making some noise and getting a following, so it was going really great. But, it was really at a time where the industry didn’t have a lot of faith in female artists. Female hip-hop artists weren’t really selling that great, so breaking through those walls was very difficult, but I had a good ride. I worked with LL Cool J, and I did some work with Trackmasters and L.A. Reid at Arista, but he wasn’t interested in signing female artists either. I worked with Ruff Ryders for awhile; this was after Eve. I worked with them, recorded with them for awhile... But I just started recording again.
Is it hard to marry the two loves--music and makeup?
They've always been mutually exclusive, where as I've always been trying to find a way to marry the two. I remember being in Hawaii with LL Cool J on the video shoot for "Paradise." They needed somebody to do makeup, but I didn't step up to the plate. I didn't know that if I stepped up in that way, would it take away from me as a recording artist. I didn't know how to marry the two, but I'm coming to a place now where I'm able to marry being an entrepreneur with my artistic side.
When did you start making your own products?
After working for MAC for so long, I sat down and looked over my résumé and sales and saw how much money I made for them over the years. It's a phenomenal brand that has an extremely diverse clientele, but I just knew I could do it myself. I started researching manufacturers and visiting plants to start developing the line.
How long did it take?
I'm still developing it. The initial foundation is done; that has taken about five years. But it's never-ending because makeup is a trend-driven industry. I'll always be trying to find the hottest new shades, new textures and formulas.
What makes Ketta Vaughn stand apart from other makeup lines?
There's never really been an African American-owned cosmetic brand that's viewed as a for more than just African American women. It's really hard for us to break down that wall of that. Being a Black brands are never viewed as colorless brands, so I'm really tackling the challenge of having a brand that's not viewed that way. My clientele is already that way. So many Indian women, Caucasian women, Asian women, you name it. Now, I just have a challenge of doing that in the mainstream.
What are you five favorite beauty looks that are trendy right now?
I love smoky eyes. I feel like I will be in my coffin with smoky eyes! [Laughs] Smoky is always in, but also what's in is really vibrant color. I'm in love with that. I also love a really great nude, glossy lip. And I love illuminating skin. Make it look like you're walking on the red carpet!
What beauty trends do you wish people would leave alone?
I don't know if it's a trend, but I wish people would stop wearing foundation that doesn't match. You can clearly notice that their face and neck are two different colors. And that irritates me because there's so many options out here. I'm not going to act like finding the right foundation is an easy task, it's actually really hard.
What female faces would you love to work your magic on?
Mary J. Blige, J. Lo and Beyoncé.
Visit kettavaughn.com to shop!