We had the good fortune of connecting with Leslie de Jesus and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Leslie, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was raised in the city of Victorville, California, being the oldest of my parents three kids. Here my dad grew his business, Leslie’s Discount Outlet, selling clothes, shoes, and household items at outdoor swap-meets and flea markets. When I was 12 years old he put me in charge of listing items on platforms like eBay and Poshmark. This is where I fell in love with the hustle and making my own money. I would go to school, finish my homework and then put all my energy towards listing items, learning how to make them sell, and shipping them out. My dad would pay me a few dollars for each item that sold and was always there to help when I needed it. Shortly after, I started selling mexican candy at school. Lollipops were a quarter and bags of assorted candy were one dollar. For my age, I was making bank and I loved it. As I grew older, my parents had all intentions of sending me off to college and so did I, but I had no idea what I wanted as a career. My talents academically were in math and science, so my teachers and counselors advised me to study engineering. I didn’t see anything else more interesting on the list so I chose engineering. What no one ever suggested for me was that I look outside of my academic talent. Since the age of 14, I began experimenting with makeup. I would wake up at 5am to do some crazy intricate eyeshadow for school everyday. Makeup was therapy for me, but I was too young to really consider making that a career. So then once I graduated high school, I moved to Riverside, California where I attended the University of California, Riverside and studied electrical engineering. Since day one of “Intro to Electrical Engineeirng” I knew that I didn’t belong there. I searched the list of careers again on UC Riverside’s website, hoping to find something that seemed more fitting but found nothing. I simply decided to just keep going and see what happened. The funny thing is I tried so hard to convince myself that I liked engineering for so long that I was actually good at coding and even decided to get a minor in computer science. I was a few months away from graduating when COVID-19 came into our lives and did what we all know. School became remote for our last semester and I spending more time with some of my friends I had made throughout the years. One of those friends is a photographer and one day called asking for a huge favor. The makeup artist for an upcoming photo shoot had canceled and he was in desperate need to replace them. He asked and I agreed to help even though I had never done makeup on other people. That day I did makeup on 9 models and they all loved it. Some even asked me to do their makeup again for further projects. It was on this day that I just knew that I had found my career. I received my bachelors degree that summer in electrical engineering and computer science and then focused all my energy into becoming a makeup artist. Since that change in fall 2020, I have become a makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics, done freelance work for more than 80 clients and counting, and am working toward being a licensed esthetician.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When I come up with a makeup look, I am always inspired by the faces I am working on. For me the purpose of makeup is to enhance the features of the face and then add a little sparkle to it. I have loved playing with makeup since I was 14 years old. Although for many years I did not consider it to be a career option for me, I would always practice and challenge myself to learn new eyeshadow looks. During the peak of COVID-19, I was not hearing back from the engineering jobs I was applying to and was just working at the Amazon warehouse while finishing up my electrical engineering degree. The opportunity to do makeup for a project came up and I took it. From the beginning of that project, something in me knew that this had to be my career. It was like something finally clicked and from that day on I put all my focus on becoming a makeup artist. It hasn’t been easy at all. I have faced difficult conversations with my family about not pursuing my engineering career, financial difficulties, and personal struggles that come with starting a business with no experience. It took a lot of strength and support from my close friends and family. I would not trade it for anything though because I have never felt more happy and in tune with myself. With all of this I learned that pursuing what you love is so much more rewarding than pursuing a career that seems safe, and that anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself and stay focused. I am grateful for every opportunity I have gotten and the education I received. I hope everyone gets a chance to see how powerful they can be by believing in their own abilities and keeping an open mind to never stop learning.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There is so much to choose from in the grand city of Los Angeles but if you’re riding with me for the day, this is what we’re doing. We are going for a morning hike at the Culver City steps, and then getting some amazing breakfast and coffee at Cafe Vida a couple blocks away. We can take a nice stroll around downtown Culver before heading down to Abbot Kinney in Venice to walk around and maybe do some shopping. We can grab lunch at the Butcher’s Daughter if we’re hungry again. If we want to keep it simple we can grab some drinks at Mom’s Bar or be a little more bougie and go to Sorry Not Sorry. We can even hit up the arts district and explore some galleries. Late at night we can keep the vibes going at Eighty-Two for some arcade games!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First I definitely need to give a shout out to my friends Luis Saldana and Miguel Aguilera. Luis, who first believed in me to do makeup on all his models for a shoot that I know was very important to him, without you reaching out that day, I don’t know if I would have ever gathered the courage to start a makeup business on my own. Miguel, who was always hyping me up, making sure I knew I was capable, and supporting me all the way, you made me a more confident and hardworking person. Next, my life partner Andres gave me all the emotional support I needed throughout the way, stopped me from giving up a few times, and even invested in my business to help me get on my feet. All my beautiful friends who gave me four hours of their sunday to be my makeup model for makeup school, all my friends who share and support my social media, recommend me to others, and have booked with me, thank you all so much. All of my love to all of these people. As Kanye said, “How much does the earth cost?” I would buy the entire earth for you all. Every good thing you sent to me, may it come back to you multiplied.

Instagram: https://instagram.com/lesliedejesusmakeup

Image Credits
Megan Odell Oscar Deleon

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