Welcome to Talking Top 10, a recurring series in which we feature the founders, CEOs, creators, and leaders who are shaking up their industries. Ahead, read our Q&A with makeup artist Kelli Anne Sewell and keep scrolling to shop her Top 10 must-haves.
Kelli Anne Sewell is a Texas-based makeup artist and beauty influencer under the Instagram handle @makeupxka. Her journey in the makeup industry officially kicked off about three years ago when she ended her dance career of 20+ years and found herself in dire need of a new creative outlet. Ever since, she's been serving up her signature soft glam looks on the 'gram along with genius tips and tricks, beginner-friendly tutorials, and even the occasional virtual master class.
While Kelli currently resides in Austin and works a 9-5 corporate job in technology sales, you'll officially find her in New York City this summer to pursue her career as a makeup artist and future brand owner full time. She's all about showing the real Kelli on Instagram, which means lots of stress breakouts, busy days, and behind-the-scenes shots of balancing a 9-5 job with growing a business, but most importantly, creating ultra-glam looks on herself and her clients for her thousands of followers to see.
Be sure to follow Kelli on Instagram for more info and some serious glam inspo.
February 8, 2021
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Tell us a little bit about your career journey. How’d you get where you are today?
I literally just started—kind of out of nowhere. I grew up dancing so I was always infatuated with doing my own makeup, but one day, on my drive home from my first post-college corporate job, I started @makeupxka mostly because I was so defeated and just wanted to do something creative. From there, I have always just been “me” on Instagram and tried to be a good person. I make it my job to connect with everyone I can and really understand my “community” so it feels like I am always talking with my best friends, which is cool. I watch a TON of makeup YouTubers and am obsessed with learning new techniques and tricks to evolve my craft!
What does a day in the life of Kelli look like?
A lot of coffee. I work corporate 8-5, so I try to post Instagram stories between calls and meetings. Some days I feel inspired to create looks, and others I feel more inclined to do the editing, emails, etc. I like to work out when I can and love a good meal and a spicy marg. On the weekends I'm doing branded work, clients, weddings, cleaning brushes, etc. So every day is different!
View Kelli's Essentials
How do you find balance in the midst of such a busy day-to-day schedule?
That’s a great question. I am actively trying to learn this and listen to a lot of podcasts on efficiency and productivity to see how others do it. My mom has always said I “burn the candle at both ends." It’s hard when you are so passionate about something, or a lot of things, because you end up giving your all to it all! Things that keep me on track are time batching my days, making sure to have “check-ins” with myself, and setting quality time aside with important people.
Looking back at 2020, what are you most proud of career-wise?
I truly feel like 2020 was the year that I gave my all to my makeup career, and in return got a lot back. I feel so extremely grateful as I know this was a really tough year for a lot of people. My fave moments were probably doing The Skinny Confidential’s Halloween makeup and working with SFK (Serena Fcking Kerrigan). ICONS.
What are some of your favorite beauty and skincare hacks?
I love using lipstick as blush—this is an old trick for that quick monochromatic look. I also use Neutrogena Spray Mist SPF 30 on the body for glow, which I learned from J.Lo’s makeup Artist, Scott Barnes.
What’s your best advice for mastering makeup when you have troubled skin?
This is tough, but less is more. Sometimes you just have to accept that you're having a breakout and let it have its tantrum. It happens to legit EVERYONE. Also, always stay moisturized. My derm told me dry skin is compromised skin!
How would you spend $20 in the drugstore beauty aisles?
Give me all the Kiss Looks So Natural Trio Lashes the drugstore has. Take my money.
You have five minutes to get ready—what products do you use?
Definitely Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream to start. Then I'll mix together CT Hollywood Flawless Filter shade 3 (very specific) and Armani Luminous Silk in my hands for a luminous tinted moisturizer. A little cream contour (prob Fenty Butta Biscuit, but depends on the day), brush my brows up with a tinted gel, and then use NYX Natural Lipliner with Laneige Glowy Lip Balm over.
Who’s your dream client?
So tough, but Kim K for sure. I know Mario has that under control, but her face would be a dream to work on. I would also love to glam Gigi Hadid. She is pure perfection.
What are you hoping to achieve in 2021?
I’m hoping to establish clientele in New York, officially be hired on to someone's “glam team,” make MONEY, and potentially start my Youtube career.
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