Makeup as a Profession with Niki Metz
We call the artists who work with us PROS because we fully believe that makeup is an art, and artists are makeup professionals. We chatted with Niki Metz, who embodies that idea fully. She has a background in counter makeup, celebrity clients and is well into her current chapter as a microblading artist and trainer.
Tell us about yourself! Your background, history & the nitty gritty of all things you!
I've been in the makeup industry for over 25 years. I started when I was 19. Back then, in the late 90s, it wasn’t so saturated. There were a few makeup brands like MAC and Stila.
Both of my sisters were in makeup. One was an account executive at Chanel, the other was working at South Coast Plaza at SAKS. I wanted to get into makeup and she said she knew the executive at Stila and got me in. I worked at a Stila counter. During that time, I wanted to be closer to my sisters so I moved down to Mission Viejo. There was a brand new mall with a SAKS opening there. It’s called NARS Cosmetics. I got the job and worked with NARS for 6 months. They said “We’re starting a national team and wanted to train you as a national artist.” Here I am at 22 in New York getting trained by François Nars. I was part of the NARS team doing fashion shows in NY. I was the head artist of the entire West Coast.
What does the word beauty mean to you?
I think beauty is loving yourself. We’re so superficial. When you get to my age, 43, things just change. Beauty to me is loving yourself. It’s a sense of confidence. I like confident women.
What makes you feel the most beautiful?
You have to have a sense of confidence and don’t look at what other people are doing. You can’t even go there. Self doubt will destroy you. Focus on yourself and be confident -- work it. If you're going to do it, do it. That makes me feel good about myself. I think it’s from years of hustle.
You have to go with the flow. That’s the thing about the beauty world. Not everyone’s going to like the way you do microblading. There’s so many different styles and aesthetics. When you’re building your brand, you can’t focus on what everyone else is doing. You have to focus on yourself and what drives your soul.
How did you first get into the beauty industry?
I was discovered by Diane von Furstenburg. She took me under her wings and had me do all the fashion shows. Before all the models came in, I would do Alex von Furstenburg’s makeup. One day, she told me Diane was creating a makeup line and I gave her my number. Then Diane called me and offered me a job. I worked for Diane for a few years and launched 30% of her brand.
But I didn't want to move to NY. I wanted to be in LA. So I left and still maintained a great relationship with her. I had to rebuild my portfolio in LA. It was 2004 and the time of reality shows. I had to start all over in the beauty world. So I did that. I had a lot of connections and that’s how I made my name in the makeup world. The right place, right time and right connections pieced together. It’s a huge chapter in my life.
Fast forward to me working in Hollywood and doing the whole LA thing. I have 2 kids now. I thought I can’t keep doing this, going to LA 4 days a week, traveling, going to NY. And then I saw microblading on Instagram. There were 1 or 2 people doing it in Ventura. I thought it looked odd, it didn’t look natural to me but over time it grew on me.
What was the most valuable part of your training?
My sister was the one who found Microblading LA. She said you're going to go to this school. I didn't know if I wanted to do it but I knew that if I was going to do it, I would do it better than everyone else.
So I took the course. I did the 3-day course and when I got out into the real world, I was still doing makeup full time and microblading 2 times a month at a studio.
Tell us about working with celebrity clients! Do you get briefs, work with hair and fashion stylists, what does the process look like?
A lot of times I have to sign an NDA. It looks so natural their friends don't even know they had it done. They don't want people to know. It’s the same thing -- you treat them the same. First, they don’t want you to be stuffy around them because they’re coming as an escape. They want to feel like you’re comfortable around them. They feel uncomfortable when you're nervous.
What advice would you give to new makeup artists?
I think it goes back to doubt. It happens with every single apprentice with me. There’s so much self-doubt. Stop competing. Stop worrying about them and worry about yourself.
That will bring your confidence. You also have to have some humility. There’s somebody’s watching and it’s human nature to compare. You have to have humility. They just go hand in hand. If you’re so laser-focused, it’s like where’s time for your work-life balance?
Can you tell us about Studio Neos and how it got started?
I could have worked at the salon I was at. My customers will come to me even in a garage; it’s my aesthetic they like. I had a waitlist that was so huge and I only had the room three days a week. That was the only reason. I told my husband while we were in Europe this summer that I will have my own place by December. I stuck to that vision. I needed to have my own space.
What was the transition from makeup to PMU? What was your PMU training like?
The training was a great foundation that I grew on. At first, I felt like I was making all the brows look the same. It didn’t feel right. I told my mom and she said “you've invested so much money.” She said “As a makeup artist, if someone sits in a chair, how would you make them feel pretty?” So I threw away the stencil vibe and did what I think as an artist would look good and it just clicked.
You do training! How did it start? How do you structure your training?
The lady that runs the health department said I needed to start apprenticing. She said “There’s so many botched brows. People come to me all the time in the government center and complain.” Do a month or two of apprenticeship.
No one’s going to steal your style. Aesthetically, not everybody can get it. You are going to teach them. You’re going to teach them to do a true semi-permanent because people are going too deep. That’s when I started working on the 40-hour apprenticeship.
Every month I have one person. I already have my schedule made. I’ll have them do a welcome day. The rest of the time, they’re shadowing me.
Color theory is the biggest since I do so many color corrections. People go too dark or try to match hair color. You can't match hair color because you’re dealing with blood and it oxidizes. A lot of people want to apprentice with me and I have to be honest and turn them away.
What are you most proud of you in your career so far?
I’m most proud of the diversity in what I’ve achieved. I didn't just stick to one thing. I wasn’t one makeup artist that had just one celebrity client. I was able to do education, celebrities, editorial, and red carpet. And now it has turned to microblading. To have a successful business, you have to be confident, be mindful. Have a sense of humility. It all comes together.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Kids, gym, and I like to cook. I have a 15-year-old and 8-year-old. My husband is a police officer in Ventura County. I’m the only female at my house. They keep me busy.
What’s next in your career?
I’m doing education and building Studio Neos. Neos means new. I’ve been working on a skincare brand for 2 years. So a couple things are coming together.
I like makeups too! I have to practice a bit more.