Name: Fa Niang
Instagram: glamourstylefa (website: GlamourStyleFa.as.me)
So this week, we talked to one of the finest makeup artists around! She opened up to us about her background, her journey in pursuing her passions, and future aspirations. We couldn’t let her go without getting her thoughts on female empowerment though! Let’s see what she had to say!
Aissatou: Hey girl! Thanks for agreeing to speak with us, it means a lot! I’ve been so excited for this interview!
Fa: Girl, me too! I’m so excited for this whole thing, I really think it could go places! Thank you for having me.
Aissatou: I love it! So to get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your upbringing?
Fa: Sure. So I was born and raised in NYC! My mom came to the US in ’92 and has been here ever since! My dad was here before her so much longer but yeah, we grew up in the Bronx. My dad opened a restaurant on 116th in Harlem. My parents ended up separating and at first, it was hard for me to understand but as I got older, I understood it! My mom and I moved to Baltimore the day after 9/11. All of our stuff was packed up the day of and it was crazy – we woke up and the whole place was silent. There was nobody walking on the streets, nothing. My mom and I went to a nearby restaurant and they told us about the news. It was crazy and we ended up leaving the next day to Baltimore. My mom raised me as a single mom (and she did a great job haha). My older sister was living in Baltimore at the time but she got married and moved to Michigan and my mom and I followed shortly after. Now, I’m back in NYC doing my thing – I went to Cosmetology school and got my license. I have my own brand called GlamourStyleFa and I also work with another brand.
That’s pretty much it! ❤
Aissatou: That’s amazing. That last point you touched on is what I wanna get into. What is it that you do for a living and how did you get into it?
Fa: So I am a licensed cosmetologist and MUA (makeup artist). I went to school for it because you see, a lot of people in the industry are successful without a license. But I wanted to be more legit. I didn’t finish college and that’s something I chose! So I knew I couldn’t just go blindfolded in the industry – it’s my passion and I wanted to be certified.
You can be self-made but I’m thinking about the opportunities and possibilities of working with some big names. Having a license authorizes me to be on set, which a lot of people don’t know you have to be licensed to do! Without it, I’d be doing all this work with nothing to back me up.
When I decided to go to cosmetology school, I didn’t expect it to be as involved as it was. A lot of people think it’s playing with dolls (and I may have had some similar thoughts in my head). But it’s so much more than that! It’s chemistry and math! You have to know your measurements, how things will react when mixed with other chemicals, how to cut hair the right way, and so much more. You have to know about nail diseases, skin diseases, and all types of conditions. I had tests all the time! I’m talking every week to make sure I was understanding what was being taught and in the end, I had to take two state tests to become licensed.
Another reason I really got into it – my dad said I was always into fashion! He wasn’t surprised when I told them what I wanted to do. I was always telling my mom this had to match with that and all kinds of things! I went through a tom-boy phase but that didn’t last long! My 16th birthday, my mom wanted me to wear make-up and I said hell no hahaha! Later on, I started playing around with makeup and my mom actually opened up a salon for me! It was there that I really started to master my skills in doing other people’s makeup. I actually do people’s makeup better than my own now haha.
Aissatou: Let me just tell you girl, I have a much bigger appreciation for you and all licensed cosmetologists now! I was definitely one of those people who thought it was playing with dolls – I didn’t realize you had to learn all of that!
Fa: Yes girl, you have to be ready to handle all kinds of conditions and situations. You never know who may sit in your chair!
Aissatou: That’s a good point! Thank you for sharing that! My next question is kind of related: what advice do you have for young people out there with a vision or a dream?
Fa: Just go for it! I work at a salon right now that’s owned by a celebrity. I work on my own time too and I’m at the point where I want to establish my own thing! I get signs and think “maybe this is the push I need!”
Ragal yapp Yallah la! (Being scared is disrespect towards God!) In life, you have to take risks. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a mommy’s girl. I have talked to my mom on the phone 3 times already today and it’s not even 1PM, that’s how close we are. But when I made the decision to come to NYC to pursue my passion, I just had to close my eyes and go for it. I’m away from my mom but we have to get that fear of the unknown out of our heads and just go for it!
Aissatou: That’s so true! It’s one of those things that you won’t know unless you try and 9 times out of 10, we’re the ones holding ourselves back.
Fa: Yep, my advice is just do it. Take the first step.
Aissatou: Okay, now, you know I have to ask you about women. What’s your take on our position in society, especially in Senegalese culture?
Fa: Jigéénou Sénégal sonneu na. All the things that are imposed on us – in our society, we’re constrained to the household. If you are lucky and meet a man with compassion, you lucked out. But most don’t get that lucky!
Listen, I’m all for the traditional marriage norms – I love marriage and think it’s a beautiful thing. But we’re in a new age. Women have to plan and prioritize their futures, for themselves and their children. We have to have something for ourselves at the end of the day.
Aissatou: I couldn’t agree more. People think being pro-woman is the same as against-marriage! It doesn’t always have to be the case.
Fa: Like I said, I’m not against marriage! But you’ll never fully know someone until you live with them! So my thought is be yourself – become we women don’t show someone we’re talking to 100% of who we are; we try to present the best versions of ourselves so we can’t expect them to do that too. But be yourself and be genuine. People think I wear makeup every day! That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The real Fa has her hair in a ponytail and no makeup on most of the time!
Aissatou: I actually did think you were always with a full face beat haha but seriously, I love what you said about just being yourself and women prioritizing themselves too. It’s so important.
Now, let’s switch it up a bit and get back to the makeup. What’s your favorite brand? And have you had thoughts about starting your own makeup line?
Fa: Yes, I have a lot actually. In sha Allah one day!
As far as makeup brands go, I don’t have a favorite really! It changes a lot – I’ll like this for this company and that from that company and it is always changing!
Aissatou: Ah okay, well I look forward to your makeup brand one day in sha Allah!.
Who do you look up to, Fa?
Fa: It’s going to sound cliche but I look up to my mom. And really, I look up to any woman doing positive things!
I look up to my dad too because you know what, he has such good spirits! He recently was in the hospital and the hospital staff loved him! He was so popular because of his spirit – just so positive and funny. Even my friends couldn’t stop laughing when they came to visit him!. Those are traits I aspire to have.
People think I’m this bold girl. I’m actually very calm and I forgive easily. I don’t hold grudges because aduna amoul solo (life isn’t that serious).
Aissatou: I love what you said about not holding grudges. This short life is just not worth it.
Fa: Yep, it really isn’t.
Aissatou: Alright Fa, last question: what’s your life motto?
Fa: Just be positive – positive vibes. Energies transfer so we just have to live life as best as we can!
That last point Fa touched on is what I want to harp on: ENERGIES TRANSFER. It’s almost like she was reading my mind – her sweet and positive energy was definitely felt throughout this interview. Fa is an ambitious, confident, and beautiful Senegalese girl and I can tell you, her positive vibe inspired me. I’m humbled she joined us for this interview series and can’t wait to see all the amazing things she will do in the future.
Thank you for joining us Fa! ❤