When she walks into the room, Renee Sanganoo has a quiet, yet fortuitous presence surrounding her. Statuesque and shapely, with bone straight hair, her makeup is laid: a perfectly even cat eye, a glowing look, and blushed cheekbones. For someone who has worked 14 years in the industry and risen to be one of the most coveted makeup artists, her humble nature is somewhat surprising.
Second-generation American, Renee is the product of hardworking Caribbean parents. Her mother and father, concerned on how she would support herself, desired a more stable career path for their daughter vs the uncertainty of entrepreneurship. Renee’s passion for beauty fueled her to push through the standards set for her by others, to create standards for herself.
Originally thinking she wanted to be a hairstylist, Renee started out in a small shop in Yorktown, NY. One day, she began perusing through “Face Forward” by Kevyn Aucoin, which planted the seed for her love of makeup. She was intrigued by the power of makeup and all it can do to create different looks for women. The book beautifully illustrates the art of makeup and the intrinsic application process as well as possibilities. This book is definitely a must-read for those interested in a career a makeup artist. This book, mixed with her fascination for helping woman embrace their beauty, solidified Renee’s decision to become a makeup artist, despite the opinions of others.
As I follow Renee’s career, all I can hear in my head is Rihanna singing “Work, work, work, work, work, work!” She works hard for the coin and I can’t help but think that her culture and upbringing is her driving force. Her parents always instilled the importance of hard work and though she went down an unconventional career path she never lost that work ethic. As a young girl who loved to give people makeovers, she couldn’t imagine it would lead to being the makeup artist for today’s biggest stars.
So passionate about her craft she didn’t mind taking only $5 of the $35 per face the salon charged clients for her makeup services. Reflecting on this experience, she reveals,
“It didn’t matter how much I got paid because it was practice. I knew the money would come but I needed to feel confident in my skill before I chased the money.”
The road to success is long and one cannot expect million dollar profits with part-time work ethics. Knowing this, Renee knew that she must be laser focused on not only developing, but also perfecting her craft. She got a job at Sephora to gain more product knowledge and practice application. Her experience at Sephora left her craving more and she went to work for one of the biggest makeup brands: Bobbi Brown.
“I was never comfortable in being stagnant.” ~ Renee Sanganoo
Renee’s talents and hunger for knowledge stood out as she quickly ascended in the company to a Regional Artist position, traveling to various company locations, something she still does to this day. Nevertheless, this was not enough, Renee desired more.
Continuing to follow her dreams and create her own path for success, Renee stepped out on another limb. Taking her artistry into her own hands by building a website so she could begin to reach a wider audience as well as getting a manager to help her achieve new opportunities, were catalysts in taking her career to the next level. In order to reach new heights, she had to put the personal investment in herself. While taking these serious steps, some of Renee’s friends looked at her passion for makeup as merely a hobby. Nevertheless, when she began glamming beauties like Bevy Smith, Christina Milian and Elle Varner, this could not longer be considered a hobby.
Seemingly like an overnight success; however, definitely a product of hard work and a little luck, I wondered what was her secret. She says, “Word of mouth.” In the age of social media, word of mouth travels fast and in her case, it’s traveling at the speed of light. Renee also attributes the power of words and speaking things into existence as a major key in her road to success.
“It’s like one day I would be scrolling through Instagram saying I want to do this persons makeup and next thing I know my manager is telling me they reached out to book me. It’s crazy!” ~ Renee Sanganoo
Having worked with so many big names I had to ask, what celebrities makeup is at the top of her wish list and, of course, she answered, “Beyoncé.” If Renee’s past power of words is any indication of what’s to come, these two ladies are sure to get in “Formation,” soon.
Renee’s humble nature has set her apart from the rest. She’s grateful and excited to work with each client no matter how big or small. Whether you are a Grammy-award winning artist or a bride to be, she will make you feel great about yourself and make your outside beauty shine as much as your inner beauty. Her tenacity, perseverance, and hard work have created a career that is exploding. Renee’s steadfastness and personality, despite others expectations, have exceeded her personal expectations. When you see that signature flawless makeup, know it was #ReneeMadeULook.