My life is so surreal. As I write this week's record of events, I realize it started way before this weekend at Art Basel. I just took a day trip to participate in one of the art industry's biggest deals. Art Basel is the Academy Awards of the entire art industry, and I was a part of it in a small but significant way.
As I trace back to how it all got started, I could not help but think of the tremendous amount of investment my parents made in my search for this "it" moment. Ballet lessons that lasted a whole month and then that ended, due to lack of interest on my part. All I can remember hearing is "straighten up your posture, point your toes, leap, split." Blah, blah, blah...
Then there were the photography classes that lasted a bit longer, an entire semester, because I couldn't risk both spending all of my parents' money, and failing the class; so I stuck it out. But, my mom made it clear, for this expensive venture, I would be on my own for materials.
Then, there were the sketching classes, calligraphy, home economics, pattern making, fabrication, computer classes, and the list goes on.
What saved my parents from financial ruin was the co-op program I joined in high school. It introduced me to the world of Corporate America; one week at work and another at school. Wow. At the age of 15, I was making a generous salary, funding my habits, which had escalated into what today might be considered a shopaholic or borderline hoarder. That proved to be the turning point of my life. It was while working in Corporate America I realized that the artistic side of me could not live in that world of routine. Clock in at 8 or 9, lunch at 12 or 1, clock out at 5 or 6. Day in and day out, the same thing. Good morning... Thank you for calling... How can I help you? God bless the person who can do it, because I need him/her to run my day to day life and business, because I sure wasn't that person.
I worked at various prestigious financial firms, climbed the corporate ladder as high as my high school diploma, and business trade school certificate could take me--mind you, the top secretarial school of that time -- and still, it wasn't enough to quench the thirst of my creative side. I was back on the hunt.
It wasn't until my last corporate position, that lead to my introduction to beauty products and distribution, that I realized that this was "it". I was going to be in the beauty industry and more than just buying the products, I was going to be the creative force behind it. Of course, I started at the bottom -- assisting, watching, learning, questioning, and eventually developing a great roster of contacts that would carry me some 20 years in this industry.
It lead me to London, Paris, Egypt, and Qatar, places that I only read about in books. As I look back at the places and the amazing people that I have met along the way, I can't help but wonder in amazement, how much school prepared me for this. School was my testing ground to find what I had been seeking. Now I can sit with firms, such as Nails Qatar, in the Middle East to discuss business. Together, we will cover a whole region and eventually take over the world of beauty.
To think, I got here just by doing nails. For the past two years, I have been writing for a prestigious nail magazine in the nail industry, Scratch Magazine. The Publisher, Alex Fox, has supported my career for all these years and became one of the biggest fans of my work. As I expressed to her my desire for expansion, she quickly made phone calls, sent out emails, and instantly I had an invite to Qatar, under the Nails Qatar umbrella, as a "Celebrity Manicurist and Writer". Nails Qatar is a respected brand lead by Kirsten McLachlan, British born manicurist, and all-around amazing and talented artist, who works with a gifted and proficient team of manicurists. At her side is, Tighisti Yihdego, who ran the appointments and services of the whole beauty suite during Doha Tribeca Film Festival.
The most brilliant Middle Eastern movie stars, directors, producers, and American legend in my book, actress Robin Wright sat in my chair, during this exciting event. What a great time. It was truly an honor for me to be able to travel and mix some of my favorite pastimes with my job. After pinching myself several times, because I could not believe I was there, my great assistant and fellow artist, Michelle Cameau and I attacked every bit of the festivities. After doing nails myself, and sometimes even hair or makeup every day (she is proficient in all these areas), we ran to see what we could get ourselves into at the tents. The movies, the food, the music, the art, the dancers, the amazing people, the culture, and the international mix from all over the world were incredible. Omar Sheriff, Antonio Benderas, Robert DeNiro, Angelique Kidjo, to name a few, participated in this amazing festival.
That was just one part of my past few months of excitement. Two weeks later, I sat in another theater. This time in Brooklyn, New York as we celebrate the Haitian Film Festival at Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus. I gazed at the screen as my brilliant good friend, Smith "Atibon Legban" Nazaire, portray the struggle of a Haitian man, who loves his family dearly, but refuses to let go of his beloved Haitian culture. He is forced to watch his family unravel, as his eldest son, brings shame and humiliation to the family name before the public, even worse before his church. It stirred so much emotion and touched on familiar territory.
The connection to this was again my career choice as a manicurist. Atibon had heard of me through another dear love of mine, Madafi Pierre -- artist, singer, writer, publisher, and actress, who insisted that we meet. It turns out that we had met previously through an industry stylist friend, Joan Van Hees, who supports anything Haitian.
Which brings us to today, and my professional relationship with actor, Justiin Davis, who plays Lester, the son of Chalky White (played by Michael K Williams) on HBO's critically acclaimed drama, Boardwalk Empire. Both these gifted artists were also introduced to me through my role in the beauty industry, by long-time friend Hilory Rose Beckford, mother of famed actor/model, Tyson Beckford.
As I traveled once again to Art Basel, I recalled the last time I participated in the event was when I was able to display my creative, visual work, with fellow artists Frank Ishman, Marc Baptiste, Kevin Sharpley, and Presscott McDonald on our work-in-progress book, The Empowerment Project - For the Love of Haiti. That is when Venus Williams, our first celebrity endorsement, purchased our pieces to support our country and our cause. I still fly high off of that experience.
This season, I traveled to participate as a manicurist to support Vanessa Beecroft and Van Cleef & Arpels, as they present their fundraising dinner. My team of manicurists, Michelle Cameau and Viviana Gomez, serviced more than 22 models for this brilliantly designed presentation.
I also had the opportunity to witness other artists at work, Ash Rana and Damian Rojo, as they creatively brought color to life on fabric, with Rana Rojo. I am still stunned by the awe-inspiring connections of fashion, art and beauty. I stand in the middle of The Haitian Heritage Museum staring at their walls of vividly painted art, and see it all come together in all facets. The six degrees of separation no longer exist, at least not for me. The Arts have always been my calling card. It only came for me through beauty, nails and the fashion industry.