Mimi Hernandez is not your typical makeup artist. She has a business model with a professional outlook, all while still being a full-time college student. In the world of Instagram, she goes by @makeupbymimi9, with 10.7 thousand plus followers—and growing by the day. Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, 22 year-old Mimi has always been fascinated by the art of makeup, because it serves as a constant reminder of her Venezuelan culture.
I met Mimi in the swanky lobby of her Boston apartment in Chinatown. She texted me that she was running late and when she finally emerged from the elevators, she seemed to be on a serious phone call. She apologized in her thick Latin accent and said one of her clients in India wanted her to create five new videos using the products they sent her. I stuck my hand out to shake hers in our introduction but she immediately went in for a kiss on the cheek. Hernandez was wearing an extremely chic all-black workout outfit with her ombré hair in perfect beach waves, no makeup, but remnants of purple sparkles most likely from a video she mades minutes before she came to meet me. She immediately decided that talking in the lobby of her building would be incredibly distracting and suggested we go to her apartment instead.
Her apartment was incredibly spacious, yet warm with photos of her and her family in every nook. As I tried to find the bathroom in her high-rise apartment, I opened the wrong door and stumbled upon her makeup nest. I called Mimi over and asked her what the room is, and she flicked the lights and said “honey this is where the magic is made” and exposed the room in its entirety.
I stood in shock at how professional the small room looked. Aside from the cheesy inspirational posters, there was a white quilted couch completely covered in half-opened boxes of makeup sent to her from brands that want her to promote their products. At each end of the couch, there stood professional video lights. On the spacious desk, there was a large Macbook pro and four jars of makeup brushes in all shapes and sizes. Next to the jars are large containers of lipsticks, eyeshadows, mascara and fake eyelashes. She turns on the bright professional lights to show me how she makes videos for her Instagram followers.
Mimi’s Instagram tutorial videos typically start with her waving in the camera with the end result of the makeup process and then she begins showing the process. Each video is set behind a grey or white backdrop displaying Mimi from her chest up. Her olive complexion and perfectly arched dark brows are the only things that remain constant in each video. The music, the jewelry, the hair, the clothing and of course, the makeup are forever changing, which only entices followers to always look forward to what Mimi has in store. She ends each video by blowing kisses to her fans and doing a quick wave.
Unlike many makeup tutorials, Mimi chooses not to speak at all, and decides to show not tell. Her videos range from a classic smokey eye look to neon fuchsia, electric blue, and lime green eye makeup looks to appease all types of followers. She explained to me that she thinks making the videos look visually fun and exciting to viewers is a better tactic than sitting in front of the camera explaining step by step. “People lose interest in a span of seconds, so I try to keep it fun, light and easy”. She’s correct. When I discovered her Instagram (@makeupbymimi9), I was immediately mesmerized by how simple she made it all look.
Mim loves to talk. She explained to me that her love for makeup started when she got old enough to get her makeup done for parties in Venezuela. “In my community, there were always glitzy parties that my family would go to, and it was always very normal to have a makeup artist to come to your house and do your makeup.” At the age of 15, Mimi’s parents decided that Venezuela was not a safe place for her to grow up in anymore, so they sent her to boarding school in Switzerland. This is when Hernandez decided that she wanted to start learning about makeup techniques before moving to Europe. For weeks before her departure, she would take makeup lessons with the makeup artist that she would typically use for parties. And when she arrived at boarding school, she began doing makeup for her classmates and friends. Mimi explained that girls would line up in her room to have their makeup perfected for dances and other social events. “It ended it up sort of being a business venture for me because so many girls would ask me to do their makeup for different events going on at boarding school and I began charging them a small amount.”
“Beta, can I do your makeup? “ Mimi’s boyfriend of three years is Indian and she’s slowly adapted the lingo (beta means “sweetie or child”, a term of endearment in Indian culture) . She has been taking lessons in Marathi for two years and is almost fluent. I hesitantly say yes to her offer and she assures me that I will love it and it will look natural . She flicks on the professional light and positions it close to my face and her eyes began scanning every inch of my face. After the intense interrogation of my face, she got to work. Her work tactic was extremely organized. She knew exactly where everything she needed olive complexion was and she continued to grab products and placed them in front of the keyboard. Mimi’s face began to harden and I watched her eyes scan back and forth from her extensive makeup collection to my face. Her brain seemed to be racing with endless ideas. I kept trying to continue the conversation with her, but she kept hushing me to focus on her work. The silence continued for the next fifteen minutes, while she continued to brush my face softly with various makeup products that I had no clue even existed.
She smiled to herself and said “all done beta”. She positioned a mirror in front my face for me to examine her work. She was good. Really good. She successfully highlighted the good parts of my face.I kept catching myself looking in the mirrors in her apartment to catch a glimpse of the “Makeup by Mimi” creation. Now sitting in her living room near the fire place with Shakira’s “Chantaje” playing in the background, Mimi has her legs crossed on the couch continuing to chat about her love of makeup. “The act of putting on makeup reminds me of home, it reminds me of the good Venezuela ”. She successfully is able to translate her memories and passion to an altruistic cause. Holding her coffee cup close to her, Mimi says “making people happy is my ultimate goal in this whole venture”. Although it seems like minute way to exude happiness in the grand scheme of life, Mimi’s approach to makeup continues to have a good impact.