BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Melissa R. Hibbert is a Los Angeles-based beauty expert and entrepreneur and founder of The GLAM Agency. A former corporate marketing executive, Melissa is now a “go-to” beauty expert and professional makeup artist for celebrity, corporate and private clients alike.
Melissa’s work can be seen on BRAVO TV, Oxygen Network, Lifetime Network, WEtv, OWN, TV ONE, VH1, BET, CBS, CENTRIC TV and a variety of syndicated networks. Melissa is now the recurring beauty expert for the “Glam Makeover” segment on The Real daytime talk show on Fox. In addition, Melissa’s work has been featured in leading beauty industry publications, including several digital platforms like Brides Magazine, Essence Magazine, Brides.com, BET.com, Essence.com, Ehow.com, YouTube and more. Further, her work has been published on the cover and in the pages of several beauty and lifestyle magazines, and is a frequent contributor to leading beauty and lifestyle blogs such as In Her Shoes, She Runs It, Small Business Trend Setter Magazine, Mogul in the Making and is a frequent contributor to the beauty column of Sophisticates Black Hair Magazine. In March 2015, the prestigious Black Enterprise Magazine ran two stories featuring Melissa with an interview discussing her leap of Faith from Corporate America to Entrepreneurship and Empowering Women Through Beauty.
In addition to being a dynamic, professional makeup artist, Melissa is the creator and executive producer of Behind The Glam docu-series, and in Spring 2015, Melissa embarked on a defining new venture, The GLAM Agency, the premier multicultural talent management firm representing leading Makeup Artists, Hair Stylists, Fashion Stylists, Manicurists, Beauty Bloggers & Lifestyle Experts. Her agency has a growing roster of clients including Apple Inc., Uber, OWN TV, Lincoln Motors, Nike Inc. and Creme of Nature. Melissa’s aim and focus are clear – to leave a legacy of service, empowering the world through beauty.
Melissa is a proud wife and mom and serves on the Board of Directors for The Art of Tru Light Inc., a non-profit organization that serves to make a difference in the lives of today’s youth.
Q: Where are you from, and where did you grow up?
Melissa: I was born in Kingston, Jamaica. My family immigrated to the U.S. where I lived in California till 1990, then we moved to Portland, Ore., where I attended high school.
Q: How old were you when you started your obsession with makeup and all things beauty?
Melissa: I was 14 years old when I became obsessed with makeup and all things beauty. I “secretly” picked up my first tube of lipstick on the way to school and I have been wearing red lipstick ever since!
Q: You are a renowned beauty expert now, but you didn’t start out in this career. Where did you attend college, and what degrees have you earned?
Melissa: No, I took a nontraditional route to beauty. I attended cosmetology school on weekends while in high school but decided not to pursue a career in beauty at that time. I went on to college, attending Fisk University and graduated with a B.A. in political science and public administration in 1999, then in 2006 I obtained my Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in media management from Metropolitan College of New York.
Q: What took you to California? How did you start your career there?
Melissa: After 10 years in New York, I was ready for a change – quite frankly, I was tired of being cold. I often traveled to California for work, and one spring while staying in Santa Monica on a work retreat, I made the decision that I would not see one more winter in New York. I moved to California in 2009 – I was still working in corporate America as the entertainment marketing director of the Los Angeles Times. To be honest, I was just about tired of the corporate life and walked away. In 2012, I started the pursuit of my passion to work in the beauty industry.
Q: What were your former roles/companies/brands with which/whom you’ve worked in media entertainment?
Melissa: I have had a phenomenal career in media entertainment while working in corporate America. I held positions in promotions and brand marketing, integrated marketing and entertainment marketing for corporations like BET Networks, Los Angeles Times, 944 Magazine, and UniWorld Advertising Group for the Burger King national account.
Q: What made you decide to transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship and from media to beauty?
Melissa: Entrepreneurship was a natural progression from the corporate world. I had accomplished a lot, traveled the world and made a lot of impact working for someone else. I decided it was time to make an impact for myself, and my own legacy and entrepreneurship was the route. Ironically, I am still working in media as a beauty professional – I am quite blessed to be able to work for some of my favorite networks – OWN, Bravo and WEtv, to name a few.
Q: What role did your parents play in driving your ambition and determination?
Melissa: My mom is entrepreneurial-minded and very determined. She is a risk-taker, and I know I get that trait from her. My dad is super hardworking and never complains – that quality is what I admire so much about him.
I now understand that ambition, coupled with desire and hard work, is the key to success.
Q: What makeup classes did you take and where? Who were your instructors?
Melissa: I consider myself self-taught. Although I went to cosmetology school, makeup courses were minimum. I learned by doing the work and practicing my craft. Over time, I had the pleasure of attending masterclasses with some industry veterans such as Sam Fine – and that experience enhanced my skills and knowledge and ultimately changed the trajectory of my business.
Q: What class or technique do you find to be most beneficial for a professional makeup artist?
Melissa: I think classes held by individuals/legends with a proven track record and a history in this industry are best – a class from Derrick Rutledge, Scott Barnes, Sir John, Sam Fine or Danessa Myricks to name a few, can be career changing. The other class that I think would be highly beneficial is my Beauty and the Business Masterclass. Most creative professionals do not have the innate understating of business – many have not gone to biz school and they tend to learn as they go and make many business mistakes – from invoicing to contracts.
Having business knowledge is vital in addition to great makeup skills.
Q: How many years have you been a professional beauty expert? What and where was your first professional gig?
Melissa: For over five years as a beauty expert, I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing individuals and brands. My first professional gig was on VH1 on the show Basketball Wives of L.A., and I have been working with television clients ever since.
Q: What are your thoughts about all the makeup tutorials available online now? How do people discern which ones are credible?
Melissa: Some of the makeup tutorials are dubious – it’s not rocket science to be able to do your own makeup flawlessly. I am not impressed by folks mastering their own makeup and launching tutorials. I am impressed by the online video tutorials that show skill and talent of makeup application on others – that’s where I can differentiate between a skilled artist and a “mirror” makeup enthusiast.
Q: How important is it for performing artists to have a professional makeup artist do their makeup for photo shoots – particularly for headshots?
Melissa: It is extremely important for performing artists to hire professionals!
Image is everything, and a great glam squad can not only change or shape public perception, but it can also land people opportunities and also sustain themselves among their competition in the industry.
Q: When working with celebrities in intense, fast-paced settings such as film, broadcast, TV, HD video, print and live/stage performances, media tours, press junkets and special events, do you have any tricks for keeping your composure, earning their confidence and completing the job with excellence while under pressure?
Melissa: I work well under pressure. I learned that attribute during my corporate years, and it has proved valuable to me now in the beauty industry. No two situations are the same, and it requires adaptability, poise and grace to deliver excellent work under pressure. As beauty professionals, we don’t get a second chance if we mess up on Glam for a client, so as we mature in the business, our confidence should mature with us to be able to handle any job.
Q: Has there ever been a time when you completed a look only to be told it was completely off the mark, or that they changed direction of the look so you had to start over from scratch? How do you avoid such an experience, or how do you respond?
Melissa: Yes, this has happened to the best of us, and the key is not to argue back; you have to kick in to solutions mode. At the end of the day we are providing a service, and there will be times when things miss the mark or a decision has been made that requires a change in course of the makeup look. As a professional, our job is to adjust and deliver the look!
Q: What inspires you?
Melissa: My beautiful 4-month-old daughter inspires me. She is the sweetest little girl ever. Even at a young age, she has a quiet strength about her that just tickles me. I am also inspired by beautiful things, surroundings, environments like a Chinese garden, art gallery, a well curated store, scented candles and the ocean.
Q: How do you stay current on trends?
Melissa: I often say, I don’t follow trends, I set them. Trends come and go. I want my clients’ looks to be timeless. I want 20-30 years from now for them to look back and still love their look. With trends, you can’t have that kind of longevity. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware of trends, I can speak to a trend and deliver it if required, but I don’t live to be trendy – just timeless!
Q: What are some highlights of your career?
Melissa: A few highlights – when I saw Oprah’s name on my paycheck. I worked on a show for OWN Network and a vendor. I received a check that said Oprah Winfrey Network, and it was magical because she is my hero. Another highlight was doing my first live makeup on television for The Real talk show on Fox. I appeared about six times, and it really was a pivotal moment as a beauty professional and provided me with a platform globally for people to know who I am.
Q: Who are some of your regular clients?
Melissa: My regular clients range from high-profile corporate brands and executives such as Uber Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John, or Tamara Brown of Think Common Entertainment; celebrities such as Lynn Whitfield, Angela Simmons, Teyonah Parris; and corporate brands such as Creme of Nature, Lincoln Motor Company, Ford and Ujamaa Box.
Q: Do you have a favorite beauty product? Technique? Setting?
Melissa: My favorite genre in the industry is editorial. I love to create beauty, and there’s something ethereal about being in a room creating looks that inspire women and can be seen in magazines or online daily.
Q: You offer wedding and bridal makeup services. Have you ever experienced a Bridezilla moment? How did you respond?
Melissa: Yes, I love bridal and I have certainly experienced my fair share of Bridezillas. At the end of the day, it’s all emotional, it’s a big moment and for most women, they have been dreaming of their wedding day. Many can handle it, but some are just way too emotional for the experience, and it makes it hard to not only work with them, but get through the day doing makeup and hair. These are the moments where I say my mantra: “This too shall pass!”
Q: What is your process for creating looks?
Melissa: Believe it or not, I do a lot of studying and research long before I even touch a client’s face. From studying his or her features, to previous photos – there is beauty in being prepared and having all the information in your head before creating. That is my process, which is why my work can never be duplicated because my approach is different.
Q: Do you have any pet peeves about makeup artistry?
Melissa: The main pet peeve I have is that people can underestimate and undervalue our worth. I am very good at knowing my value, but I have seen others struggle with that. So many people are entering the industry, it makes it hard to know good from great, but I believe in being steadfast on your value and changing how people perceive your worth.
Q: Did you ever face a period of discouragement or the feeling of not being good enough? How did you overcome it?
Melissa: Yes, when I left corporate America and entered this very competitive industry of beauty, I had some doubtful feelings, not of my skill but of the newness and starting from zero in this industry. I also had some discouragement from people who felt I should not have given up my “steady job” in corporate America. They didn’t get it and made me doubt my decision.
I overcame it by going back to the core – I believe in ME! When no one else believes, I believe in me, and that got me through.
Q: What led you to create The GLAM Agency, the premier multicultural talent management firm representing leading makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion stylists, manicurists, beauty bloggers and lifestyle experts? How many clients do you have?
Melissa: I felt there was a void in providing jobs and opportunities for beauty professionals who were not on the radar of the major known agencies. They tend to take artists/talent with a roster of A-list clients; meanwhile, there is a plethora of very talented beauty professionals and creative professionals who are more than capable of doing a great job. I decided I wanted to be an advocate for them! It has been a joy and privilege to provide them with employment opportunities and exposure. We have just signed out seven major clients, and I could not be happier with the direction of the business.
Q: Do you personally have an agent or manager? Is it important for artists and stylists to have an agent/manager?
Melissa: I am my own agent and manager! I am comfortable with that role for myself. As for others, I would say if they lack the business knowledge and organizational skills to manage their client load, then it could be beneficial.
Q: How important has it been to collaborate and network in the entertainment community? How do you form friendships in such a competitive world?
Melissa: Collaboration is key in this industry. I value networking as much as I did as a corporate professional. There is value in showing up and being in a room and being able to maximize the moment having genuine connections that can lead to opportunities.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Melissa: The most challenging aspect now is working such a busy schedule and being a new mom. Being a mom for the first time, I want to be very present for my daughter, so there are times when working long hours can be challenging. But when I get home and see her sweet smiling face, I understand what the sacrifice is all about.
Q: You are a frequent guest beauty expert on The Real daytime talk show on Fox, and your work can be seen on BRAVO TV, Oxygen Network, Lifetime Network, WeTV, TV ONE, VH1, BET, CBS, CENTRIC TV and a variety of syndicated networks, as well as countless magazines and online platforms. What did it take for you to establish your credibility? What was your trick to being asked back? Were you able to leverage the connections you made in your career in media entertainment?
Melissa: My credibility came from my hard work and utilizing social media to not only tell my story but to showcase my work. Once my name is “Googled,” there is plenty of information and articles for people to ascertain my success. I am called back and able to work with the same clients over and over again because I am easy to work with, I am business savvy and I have an incredible talent that ultimately makes them look good and smart in the eyes of their viewers, audience and in some cases, advertisers.
Q: You are also a new mom, the creator and executive producer of Behind The Glam docu-series, the founder of Beauty and the Business Empowerment Conference, the manager of your web content, a makeup artistry educator, and are writing a book. With so much going on, how do you stay focused, enthusiastic, energetic and motivated?
Melissa: I am big on self-care. I take time for me! I am a spa girl – I love to be pampered, and I make sure I take care of me always. Staying focused is easy – I have a daughter who is looking up to me and a legacy that I am committed to leave.
Q: What three steps do you suggest an aspiring makeup artist or stylist should take to begin their career?
Melissa: To begin their career, I suggest:
Master the Basics & Study your Craft
Invest in the Right Tools
Believe in Yourself
Q: Who were your mentors and what did they teach you?
Melissa: I always say my mentor from afar has been Oprah. She is without a doubt a guiding force in my life. She has taught me the virtue of being excellent in all that we do. She has taught me to be clear about my intentions and to understand my purpose – what I am called to do. She also has taught me about resilience – our past upbringing has some parallel, and it has taught me that our past does not determine our future.
Q: To what or whom would you give credit for your success?
Melissa: I would credit my success to the almighty God. Without question, God has protected, guided me and opened up doors for me that I could not see.
The minute I decided to change course and pursue my passion for beauty, I realized I was honoring my calling when things fell into place, and I know for sure, it’s due to my Faith and God’s favor on my life.
Q: What is next for you? What goals have you not reached yet?
Melissa: Next up for me is more television – I am working to be more in front of the camera. My goal is to do many more on-air beauty segments, and perhaps reality television if the right concept presents itself. And my book, it’s been a work in progress, but it is really a passion project. Once completed, it will be a game-changer. Stay tuned!
Connect with Melissa: