Community Voices: In Conversation with Jules Monae
Community Voices is a series shining a spotlight on Black-owned, small businesses in the Bay Area. We talk about the COVID-19 crisis, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and how living simply and empathetically is our future.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in your career?
My name is Julienne Moore. I like when I'm called Jules when it comes to the hair industry, and makeup industry. I am born and raised in San Francisco, California. I started my career when I was 11, started off as a neighborhood braider, I actually started doing hair at a summer program and that's how I got started. I was charging a little bit of something for braids, and decided that I wanted to keep going, because allowance was only giving me so much, and I wanted to be able to shop. And so, years go by, years go by, and then I just kept kind of practicing and learning different techniques. I started off actually working on Barbie dolls when I was really, really young. But when I started getting clientele, was by the age of 13. And I would do hair on the weekends and then during the week I’d get in trouble. My mom used to get really mad, I used to get home really late after doing hair.
I went to New York when I was 14, with a friend and her family, and decided that I wanted to live in New York City. I wanted to live somewhere that was fast and trendy and something that would give me change. And from there, that's when I started working towards living in New York City. I got my license in 2011, and from there, when I moved to New York, that's where my career started. I worked with MAC Cosmetics, and I still currently work with them as a freelancer. I've been working with them for nine years. With them I became more of a seasoned makeup artist, where I got certifications to work for Fashion Week. I've done Men's Fashion Week, Bridal Fashion Week and Ready-to-wear Women's Fashion Week. I started doing that in about 2012. And then from there, even though I was licensed, I wasn't practicing hair and I decided I wanted to start practicing hair. And that's kind of where everything really started taking off for me. I worked with different news companies. I worked with BET for a little bit. After that, I decided to move back to San Francisco. And now I'm marketing to work pretty much anywhere. Bicoastal preferred, since I still work Fashion Week.
I'm a mother, I have a 14 year old daughter. I like to cook, and I love traveling. And I like being creative. I love inspiring and doing different things. I treat myself as a canvas. I'm constantly changing my hair and my makeup. I enjoy the “wow factor” of change. I’m a daredevil big time. I’ll travel anywhere at this point, when we get to go outside again.
How did New York influence you?
When I first got into makeup, I was working out of a salon in Oakland, and I was my friend’s braider. And she would have photoshoots. She actually had asked me to be a model for her. This woman did my makeup, I took some pictures, and I was obsessed with the makeup. I was like, Oh, yeah, this is my thing. I didn't really like makeup growing up, I wasn't really into it. I was the kid that was in the art room, creating random paintings, but I wasn't really into putting it on my face. So anyways, that's what inspired me to really get into makeup.
And then from there, I just figured out what company would help me get to that next level. And that's when I put on my bucket list that when I moved to New York, I wanted to work at MAC. So, when I moved to New York, I actually worked as a freelancer for a hair company out of Macy's. And then I went to 34th Street (MAC) in New York and was like, I want to be a makeup artist, what do I need to do? I brought my resume in, wore all black. And this is actually unheard of, but when I got hired, I was one of the only full-timers. Usually, they would hire freelance or part-time. So, they knew, I guess, that I was different. And they knew that I was bringing something different to the table. And then that's when everything just kind of went on from there. And I worked at 34th street for three years.
Then I left 34th Street, I was still freelancing with MAC, and then I started working on my own stuff. And that's when I ended up getting enough work in a salon out of Brooklyn. I was working in downtown Brooklyn, to be exact. And then I decided, Okay, well I've done freelance long enough and this opportunity came up, it was the MAC Studio, they recently closed it, but it was the only “service salon” that MAC had. And I worked out of there for a year and a half before I moved back to California.
New York really inspired me in so many different ways. It inspired me as an artist, it inspired me as a mother, it has inspired me as far as being fashion forward. It's inspired me in my self-worth. It's inspired me as a Black woman. I'm grateful that I lived in New York, it really shaped my adulthood. And it really helped me to realize that when you leave home, you discover something new about yourself, but also those discoveries can really shape your future. And so now, having that experience, I'm not afraid to take risks. I'm not afraid to live anywhere else. I mean, I can leave out the country. If you can handle the stress or if you can handle the fast life, New York is a place to get started because literally everything is there. It teaches you how to hustle. Even if you’re visiting, it gets you inspired and makes you want to care about yourself more. It almost forces you to as well. I was skinny living there. I worked out all the time. It was real. I was always on the go. I had 5am call times, 4am call times, so many different things.
A lot of people don't realize that if you put the work in and you get your license, and you go out there and get the education, your opportunities open.
What is your philosophy or approach when it comes to doing hair?
Overall, as a brand, my philosophy is to create mental health with beauty. That's my philosophy. I try to help people express themselves in the best way, in the most comfortable way. I ask them a series of questions. What do they do for a living? What is their norm? So that I can figure out what works for them and what they're going to be comfortable with. My biggest thing is being okay with something different, so that you can discover something new about yourself. Obviously, if someone's more conservative, I would choose something a bit more conservative, but typically, it's what is going to help you daily with your mental health and make you feel good about yourself.
What challenges have you faced as a small business owner?
Challenges that I have faced as a small business owner would be financially being able to provide products and travel and services for myself. Also, not necessarily feeling like I'm getting the recognition or respect as a small business owner, I feel that in our industry now, and just in general, a lot of businesses thrive, or a lot of consumers thrive off of following, and social media platform, being Instagram famous, if you will. So, I would say that those are my biggest challenges as a small business owner.
What do you love about being a small business owner?
I am able to constantly discover challenges. That has helped me to elevate my level of service and also my passion for what I've wanted to do. Because I do freelance, I love the fact that I'm smaller. So, it gives me the opportunity to still grow and work with companies that are looking for someone who's starting up.
For the most part I've always been freelance, always, because I love the idea of traveling. I love giving that “at home” experience to clientele. And salons I've worked in, they've been great, but there hasn't been a salon where I feel that that person can feel like they're at home. I get a lot of professional people who pull out their laptop, and they're doing work. And I wanted to make sure that I created a space where they’re comfortable doing their work, Zoom calls, especially during these times.
How would you like to see Black-owned businesses supported in this day and age?
What I would like to see across the nation for Black-owned businesses is more community-based support, and helping small businesses and larger businesses grow. What I would love to see is more partnerships with up-and-coming hair stylists, makeup artists, nail techs, massage therapists and such. I would love to see brands reach out and connect with those people who can help them move forward with their business. Because followers don't really dictate the talent, and it doesn't really dictate their professionalism. And sometimes I feel that as a small business owner, and many other people that I know, they get overlooked because of the number of followers that they don't have. And that's not necessarily the factor that should mean anything or should mean that that person isn't able to produce a certain amount of work, or network for that brand.
The Black Lives Matter Movement is at the forefront of social issues across the world, especially in the United States. As a black woman, what does this movement mean to you?
I try to not identify myself as a Black woman when I walk into spaces. I know that I'm tall, and I carry a lot of demeanor, but as a Black woman, I try not to say, Oh, it's because I'm a Black woman. I tend to say more, it's because I'm a woman, or because certain opportunities didn't happen or certain experiences as to why things didn't happen. I try to be amongst other women and say, like, we are a community, we are. I mean, as women we deal with so many different things even before being Black, so I try to create community around women by complimenting and showing support to all women as far as whatever, you know. Yeah, that's how I address it. For the most part, I literally don't go in there like, I'm Black. Like I know I'm Black, when we keep it calm and cool. But other women deal with the same stuff. People from other backgrounds deal with the same stuff. Just different skin color, different background.
What would you like to see from the Bay Area and Across the Nation in terms of supporting the Black Lives Matter movement?
What I would like to see from the Bay Area and nationwide as far as supporting Black Lives Matter is seeing people for who they are…. seeing people for who they are and not what they look like. Because in this industry I've been in a lot of situations where, because I'm creative, I've had green, pink, blue, hair. And I've had a lot of situations where people didn't respect me because of that, because of how I looked. And because in some cases, I was maybe one of three Black people in the space. And so really seeing people for who they are, and not for what they look like, or where they come from, you know, that's really important to me, I live for it.
And I'm always posting about the Black community on my social media, because we don't get the support and the love that we deserve. Most of the time, we are the spearhead to a brand, to a company, that really creates magic and network, you know. We carry a lot of style, we carry a lot of voice, and sometimes we don't feel heard in these spaces. And so that's what I would love to see. See people for who they are.
At AQUIS we go by the philosophy of Less is More, can you share what this term means to you?
I would say less is more creates a sense of transparency. When you have less going on, as far as when we're talking about hair and makeup, you're at your purest and being pure is beautiful. And when it comes to less as more as far as the company you keep, the less people you have around, and I mean it's okay to socialize and such, but you're able to be who you are and who you want to be. So less is more is definitely creating self-love and transparency.