7 Questions With Makeup Artist, Beauty Entrepreneur Krystal B. Armstrong
Krystal B. Armstrong thinks everyone possesses natural beauty. As an acclaimed makeup artist and creator of Andrelle's Natural Skin Care, this entrepreneur cashes in on enhancing what you already have.
“All things are beautiful and finding that beauty on a daily basis inspires me,” Armstrong said. “Every face is the perfect canvas.”
Specializing in bridal, fashion editorial, red carpet, stage and film, Armstrong’s clients include Kandi Burruss, Regina Hall, Terrence J, Keisha Knight Pulliam and Keke Palmer. Armstrong has also worked events for the National Basketball Association, Disney, Motions and Sprite.
Known for her signature “clean beauty” style, Armstrong created Andrelle's Natural Skin Care that promises “minimal ingredients, maximum results.” The luxury, handcrafted skin care line is gluten-free and vegan (except for one product) with ingredients derived from raw plant material or materials found naturally on Earth's surface. Andrelle's 20+ product portfolio includes cleansers, dark spot reducers, eye creams, facial oils, masks, moisturizers, scrubs, serums and toners.
From her Metairie, LA studio, 2601 N. Hullen St., Suite 103A, sales for Andrelle's Natural Skin Care products have soared 457 percent in just two years.
Armstrong also offers multiple bridal services including makeup applications and custom hairstyling for brides, grooms, bridal parties, engagement photos, bridal showers and rehearsal dinners. Retail experiences include “Makeup + Massage” mixers, “Lashes + Lacquer” events, “Classes + Cocktails,” and age appropriate makeup and skin care classes for tweens and teens.
LESLIE’S LIST: What challenges do female entrepreneurs face, and is New Orleans a good place to start a business?
ARMSTRONG: It is tough being a woman in today’s world, let alone an entrepreneur. If you have a job today, you are expected to work, clean, cook, tend to husband and kids and occasionally squeeze in time to sleep. Now multiply that by [at least] 100 as an entrepreneur. You now know there are no more sick days and no off days. You have no choice but to succeed, especially as a wife and mother of two young girls, because THIS is your job. You left corporate America for your own slice of the proverbial American pie and a chance to make sure you have a tangible dream to pass down to the generations after you.
Also, being a woman in the business world (especially an entrepreneur, owner and founder), you must make sure your voice is heard and you carry yourself in such a way that you command respect immediately. Be courteous, yet assertive. Be kind, yet honest. Be firm, yet flexible. Know what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it and what you need to do so it is possible, but be careful that you pick up and treasure the lessons along the way. I do this for my family so I don’t want to achieve success without them. To reach the finish line without my husband and daughters by my side is not an option.
In addition to the aforementioned issues, I was raised by a single father and I picked up a lot of his ways. He is a go-getter, so am I. He knows what he wants and how he’s going to achieve it and he does not stress out along the journey. He taught me to believe there is nothing I cannot do, so being a woman entrepreneur is just a description, not a burden.
New Orleans is an excellent place to start a business – simply look at our history or even just look around our present community. We are the city of small businesses and are made of far more small businesses than large corporations. It is big enough to get recognition but small enough to not feel overwhelmed and overlooked.
LESLIE’S LIST: Why did you start Andrelle's Natural Skin Care in 2007?
ARMSTRONG: Andrelle's Natural Skin Care didn't start in 2007, but the passion behind it did. It was then that I decided to research natural ingredients, what they can do and how they affect our ailments. After some extensive research, I made a cleanser – just a cleanser. I was working at First City Court at the time and had two co-workers who had problematic skin with two very different issues. I made a different cleanser for each of them and they both had clear skin within two weeks. I knew then I had something special, and yet, I still did not sell the product. I simply made it for those close to me, however, as I continued my work as a professional makeup artist, I noticed that not many people were aware of what their skin needs daily to thrive. It was then, years later in 2014, I created Andrelle’s.
Andrelle’s is simply a brand – a brand that will be the love of men, women and kids all over the world simply because of the results it brings. Most people wonder where the name comes from, many think it is my name. It comes from my two children, my constant motivation and inspiration. I have two daughters and I used their middle names, Andrea and Angelle, to come up with the name of my brand. They are pure, innocent and gifted – just like my products.
As I sit here now, in my mind, Andrelle's is still a newbie. But, only two years in, it is well on its way to greatness. From 2014 to now, sales have increased 457 percent. For a brand that was created with no investors and no start-up funds, that is amazing.
Andrelle’s is unique because it is the only luxury, handcrafted skin care line that is still made, packaged, labeled and shipped by the owner. I am a literal one-woman factory. People ask me all the time if I would consider selling Andrelle’s, but I am always skeptical. I don't want my products to lose their potency or uniqueness. Every product has minimal ingredients but maximum results and is made with love. No long list of ingredients you cannot pronounce, just pure nature bottled for the pleasure of your skin!
LESLIE’S LIST: As a makeup artist, what are the rewards that come with the job?
ARMSTRONG: I love art, and that for me is what makes this rewarding. Enhancing the natural beauty of my clients and building confidence where it has been torn down makes me wake up every morning to do makeup. Everyone has an imperfection they want to improve, and if I can make them forget that imperfection, even just for a day, then I know I have done my job and can say, “well done.” Everyone has a calling, this is mine.
LESLIE’S LIST: Why should women invest in makeovers, professional makeup applications and beauty treatments?
ARMSTRONG: First, women should consider pampering themselves simply because they are worth it! As women it is the norm, and even expected, for us to do it all – work, take care of home, run around with children, the list goes on. We put ourselves last and it’s time for us to realize that we need to unwind and treat ourselves. Professional makeup application and beauty treatments are luxury services women deserve. Besides treating yourself, professional makeup application is critical if you are attending a big event personally or professionally, as photos and first impressions last a lifetime. PLEASE HIRE A PROFESSIONAL to ensure your look is both flawless and timeless.
Beauty treatments act much like a reset button. The focus is on cleaning and treating the skin so that it is ready for makeup application whenever the need arises. Cleansers and masks rid the skin of impurities, toners tighten skin and decrease pore size, moisturizers seal in all the goodness, serums treat spot issues and scrubs rid the skin of topographical issues.
LESLIE’S LIST: How much should an average woman spend on beauty care products a month/ a year?
ARMSTRONG: Putting an exact number on something like that is a little hard to do. Every woman is different and has different needs, which means different products and price points. The key is to determine how long your products will last. If you pay more upfront for your beauty products but use less on a daily basis, they will last longer than a lower cost product. For example, someone could spend $30 for a skin care package that lasts about 30 days which averages about $360/year or someone can buy the large package from Andrelle's Natural Skin Care that can last almost a year at $150 (saving about $200/year).
In terms of makeup products, you can get great products from the drug store – the key is how you use the products. I would recommend reaching out to a makeup artist in your area for a tutorial on how to use the makeup products you already have or can get on a budget. Everyone watches and learns a lot from YouTube these days and that’s awesome. It is just very important that you make sure you have the right products for your skin tone and type and that can take a little more focus than you’re able to get on YouTube.
LESLIE’S LIST: What are the differences between the beauty products and beauty routines used by Caucasians and women of color?
ARMSTRONG: In terms of makeup products, women of color lack options to match their particular skin tone and that creates a gap in the market. This is one of the reasons women of color sometimes opt in to the “go bare” movement, opting to wear little or no makeup but instead focusing on the health of their skin.
In terms of skin care products, there is more of a focus on anti-aging in the Caucasian community. Caucasians lack an abundance of melanin in their skin so when UV rays hit, wrinkles, liver spots and reddening can occur in larger incidences. African-American women are protected by nature’s sunblock – melanin. This nutrient absorbs light and dissipates almost 100% of absorbed UV radiation, which in turn, allows African-American women to age slower than Caucasian women. African-American women, however, are plagued more by hyperpigmentation from scarring. These conditions affecting both races, while very different on the surface, produce similar results in the skin and can be treated with good moisturizing and dark spot/redness reducing products and a great regimen women can stick to.
Products, or lack thereof, yes. Routines, no. When it comes to women of color and beauty products, the main difference is the lack of color choices for their skin tones. The routines of a woman don’t differ on race but more on skin type and issues.
LESLIE’S LIST: How do you see your business growing and evolving in the next 5 years?
ARMSTRONG: In the next five years, both Krystal B. Armstrong, Makeup Artist, and Andrelle's Natural Skin Care will be household names. Andrelle's Natural Skin Care will be on retail shelves and spas across the world (we already have a nice esthetician following) and my artistry will be recognized among the great makeup artist icons and their fans alike. There is nothing but great things in the future for both brands because I am always working on growth. I am always working, always thinking and always breaking glass ceilings. I love what I do, so I can't give up.
Krystal B. Armstrong, Makeup Artist
Andrelle's Natural Skin Care
2601 N. Hullen St., Suite 103A
Metairie, LA 70002