Makeup Artist Feature: Melissa Solis of The Head 2 Toe Boutique
I recently was able to interview the owner of The Head 2 Toe Boutique, which is a full service boutique located on Glenwood Ave in the Carter Building.
How did you break into the industry? I heard it can be difficult.
I got my start by simply networking and keeping in contacts with people; Working on projects for exposure and experience than money. And once the quality and my skill set were recognized along with my eagerness to help with other things otherwise than wardrobe and make-up it helped to create a name for myself in the industry. I really worked hard, long hours, lots of travel (via bus) and it paid off. I always felt that saying no to a job [was as]…sure way to not get another opportunity. There were days that I would leave NC at 2AM via bus, arrive in DC at 7AM, arrive at set at 7:30AM, work till 10PM, get on a bus at 11PM to arrive in NY at 4AM, wait at Penn Station to be on another set at 7AM till 7PM and get back on the bus to head back to NC. My clients recognized my dedication and always requested me for all the shoots they ever needed an MUA for.
I see you started off as a MAC cosmetic artist, can you tell me a little more about what you did with MAC?
MAC Cosmetics is how I learned how to actually do make-up. I did not go to school and didn’t actually have any desire to be in the beauty industry. I went to school for accounting. I had friends who were MAC Artist and they told me that I should work with them on the weekends that it would be fun. So that’s what I did. I learned not only how to apply makeup to various skin tones but to also interpret what the client’s requests were. And it was my first experience learning how to deal with the public face to face. MAC is a fantastic company which welcomes different and creativity people. Becoming a MAC Artist is how I fell in love with people, fashion and make-up. I worked with them for 4 years till I decided to move to Raleigh, NC.
What made you decide to move from NYC to NC?
I was born, raised and lived in NY all my life. I worked for an aerospace company and MAC on the weekends. I loved my jobs, my co-workers my life. But I knew there were more to life than work, bills, and insane rents in really bad apartments! I just turned 25, and it was my first day back after the New Year. January 2nd I walked into my office and opened up my YAHOO and right there was the story by Forbes “Best places to live in the USA”. Raleigh, NC was number 1. March 1st I was a permanent resident of NC. It was the best choice I have ever made. Without the stress of working 75 hours a week, and most of my check going to cost of living I created the opportunity to do the things I have only dreamed of. Being a freelance artist full time, a business owner, a world traveler, and an all-around stress-free, drama free happy person.
What was your first “big” job? Do you have a favorite famous person you’ve worked with?
My first big job was not a big job but it gave me the chance to get into film. And that was for a feature film that was shot in Deep Creek, VA called Within the Darkness. It was a horror film and we shot on location for 16 days. It was a crew of 8 and a cast of 5 [with] no one famous, but it was my first big paid gig and it was an eye opening experience. Since then I have worked with independent film makers instead of big budget films. My reason is because my input is considered, as well as the relationships you create. You really get to know someone when you are on set for 15 to 60 days, living together, eating together and more so when everyone is only or 4 to 5 hours sleep.
What made you decide to start you own line of makeup? What makes it one of a kind?
H2T Cosmetics was an idea that I have been working on for the last 3 years. I decided to create my own makeup line because I would have to use various brands to achieve the looks that I wanted. I preferred to use items that were natural, animal testing free, hypo-allergic and not have look up definitions for the ingredients. So I felt there wasn’t an affordable makeup brand with high quality ingredients without having 20 different things in it. Also clients would ask what did I use, and I would list of the brands and I felt like it was time that when someone asked me I could reply “This is my brand, H2T Cosmetics”.
What makes it one of a kind is that you can pronounce the ingredients, everything is very high in pigment, and it is created by someone who is an actual makeup artist with over 10 years’ experience. It lets everyone become a makeup artist!
Who inspires you? Did they have an influence on you opening up your boutique?
My grandmother is my inspiration. And as much as a cliché as it sounds she is the only person that will ever tell me that my best is not good enough. She is the person that when I was growing up and would get a 98 on a test would punish me for not getting 100. So that has stuck with me. I don’t think I have ever said I am scared or can’t do something. It’s better to fail then succeed because if you just succeed and not fail you are only doing enough to succeed, but if you fail you have learned how to not only succeed but to be the best in what you do.
The boutique was inspired by my friends and North Carolinians. I am a huge people watcher, and I would see these beautiful woman all different sizes and notice that what they are wearing…And I have the fear of going out and finding someone else wearing the same thing as I was. I also could never find clothes that fit correctly, and would have to get most of my clothes tailored. So I try to carry items that you can’t find at the mall. So at the boutique 90% of the items there are only one of [them], which is then custom fit for the client.
And most people hear boutique and the service that we provide and think its super pricey. But I pride myself on my negation skills, so everything is under $100 and fittings are included into the price.
What challenges did you face opening up Head 2 Toe Boutique? (If any) What makes it unique to our area?
Head 2 Toe Boutique was all about location, which would determine the success of it. I knew I couldn’t afford a traditional store front, so my next idea was a showroom of sorts. After months of looking for something that feels right, I found THE CARTER BUILDING; it’s Glenwood’s Gallery and Retail Mall. It’s an amazingly creative building with artists of various fields; Jewelry designers, painters, furniture, vintage records, interior designers and etc. And the history of the building is amazing; it [has] been in the Carter’s family since the 30’s. Because of the building it makes coming to the Head 2 Toe Boutique unique. You can spend time with me but then roam around the 77 studios which equally are as unique.
Head 2 Toe is also different than other boutiques because we are a service boutique. Selling you an item that is not perfect for you for the sake of selling will not happen. Our priority is whatever item you leave with is perfect for just you. We want our clients to have a say so on what items we carry. When I shop I think of Lane a petite client, of Nikkie a client who tends to go towards feminine goth, Jennifer who like very lady like flowy dresses and the list goes on.
Do you prefer working with more famous clients or the women who come in for a girls night out?
I prefer to work with the women who to our girls night out event before working with anyone famous. I prefer to work with my everyday clients. Everyday woman are a lot more interesting.
Do you have any advice for our readers who aspire to follow in your footsteps?
My advice to readers is who aspire to follow my footsteps, is figure out what you are passionate about and make that your career. You have one life and you should live it the way you should go about it. If fear is stopping you from moving forward, then fear is your life. And I don’t know about you, but I determine my life!