Erin Hendley has decided the place she wants her posh makeup artistry experience to flourish is in her hometown of Paducah.
Through hands-on experience including makeup work in some high-brow settings, the 26-year-old has gained both the creative and business skills to launch her own product line of makeup brushes and open a studio in downtown Paducah. Between the time she put on a fashion show during her senior year at Paducah's St. Mary High School in 2006 and when Hendley opened her studio in Paducah last year, she has received her bachelor's degree in fashion, gone to professional makeup artistry school in Chicago, and worked in New York City.
In 2013 Hendley made the decision that she wanted to take all of that experience and invest it in Paducah, where she's opened f.a.c.e. Makeup Artistry, an upscale makeup boutique and studio.
Real world experience
A few of the faces Hendley has worked on include those of Saturday Night Live personalities Taran Keelam, Bobby Moynihan and Jason Sudeikis.
"When it's men, you don't tell them you're doing their makeup. You say 'I'm grooming you'," Hendley joked.
She's done makeup for Allure magazine photo shoots and worked some of her artistry on the pop star duo Icona Pop, known for their 2012 hit "I Love It." Hendley's produced several how-to videos featured online and gained what she said was some of her favorite experience working behind-the-scenes at New York's Fashion Week, where she worked on models amid a flurry of makeup artists and fashioners behind the runway.
"It's such a coveted position, it's crazy. You don't really have time to think. You're on overdrive," she said. "It's probably my favorite environment. That's my thing."
Although Paducah may not be host to the sort of high caliber of an intensive fashion week, Hendley said she plans on using that experience here in Kentucky.
A working artist
Hendley has been keeping busy since moving back to Paducah in 2013, when she decidedly left New York City with plans to open her own makeup artistry studio in her hometown. She's kept a fast pace by hosting classes, working on shoots and developing her products.
While in New York, Hendley developed a line of makeup brushes after she realized there were seemingly few creative products offered of one of the most important assets to the trade.
Brushes for makeup artistry are like those for a painter; you don't usually own just one.
"It's the most important investment," she said.
In addition to her colorful line of brushes, which are manufactured in New York, she puts together customized makeup palettes for customers. In Hendley's small shop at 125 Kentucky Avenue, across from the Carson Center, a refurbished card catalog dresser holds her organized makeup and she can pull out her director's chair for group classes. Classes range from one-on-one to group settings for a "ladies night out," when Hendley will sometimes have clients bring in their own makeup to help them utilize what they have and put together customized palettes.
A common misconception Hendley has faced is the lack of differentiation between makeup artists and cosmetologists and beauticians.
They're not the same, she says.
"I can't say before I went to school that I knew there was a difference," she said. "This is solely concentrated on makeup. Those areas complement this specialization and the other way around."
Whereas cosmetologists may develop some experience in makeup, Hendley said makeup artists focus on more advanced techniques.
"Makeup artistry is a diverse field that requires knowledge of anatomy, color, contouring, and media standards to create outstanding work. This knowledge base serves as the foundation for the artistry that can be achieved," she said.
Although Hendley has worked on models behind the runway and on pop stars for photo shoots, she's willing to work with anyone. One of her favorite products stocked in her shop is the Beautyblender, a hot-pink egg-shaped sponge which can be used to work in foundation easily. A part of Hendley's beauty classes involve helping clients find a routine that works for them. For example, some mothers may be looking for what Hendley calls the "five minute face," where they can get their makeup styled quickly. For those in a hurry, the Beautyblender can be the trick.
Bringing such trending items and techniques to Paducah is her goal in setting up shop, which is why she still makes regular visits to New York in order to bring back the latest in makeup artistry.
"That was one of the main conversations I had with myself in deciding to come home," she said. "I have to continue to bring back that experience."
The local response since she returned home has impressed Hendley.
"It's been more than good, it's phenomenal," she said. "I'm ecstatic I moved back. No question."
Hendley said one of her favorite parts of working in Paducah is collaborating with other local artists, such as photographers Glenn Hall and Brad Rankin. She also gets to work with her younger sister, 21-year-old Sarah Hendley, when she's home from college in Washington. Hendley's mom and marketing director, Missy Eckenberg, said the reason Erin Hendley has accomplished so much on her own is because she works hard at it.
While Hendley said she essentially is doing what her initial goal was in moving from New York back to Paducah - bringing the latest in the makeup artistry to western Kentucky - she said her short-term goal now is to ensure she keeps an artistic environment at her shop.
"I want to give back to my hometown," she said.
Contact Lauren Duncan, Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8692 or follow @laurenpduncan on Twitter.