Not everyone will genuinely support you.
When people see you are rising with a purpose, the will consider you as a threat.
Group chats are toxic and it’s easy to fall into the negativity they create.
As you navigate the beauty industry, it becomes easier to decipher whose genuinely supported you especially through the hard times.
Never take it personal. This is a business. Always boss up.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kareem Maliek.
Kareem Maliek (He/Him/Sis), is a 25 year old self-taught MUA, Influencer and BLM/Queer Rights Activist. Raised in Queens, NY, Kareem began his makeup career at the age of 21 working for makeup retailers such as ELF, Ulta, Morphe and Sephora. In the start of Kareem’s makeup journey (April 2016) he began to notice the lack of representation for Black Men in makeup and began to post his looks in hopes to gain visibility for Black Queer Men in makeup. With his consistency and drive to make change in the beauty industry, he’s worked with brands such as Haus Labs, Trixie Cosmetics, Makeup Geek, Milk Makeup and HipDot (whom his collection was created with.)
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Makeup was indirectly placed in front of me (2013) prior to me launching myself as FACEDBYKAREEM in 2016. I used to do makeup for children shows back at a Summer Camp/Afterschool back in Queens. I began to practice more and turned to YouTube for help. By following content from Jackie Aina, Angel Marino, Aaliyah Jay and Troy A. Clarke- I began to notice there weren’t boys/men in makeup that looked like me. This was when Black Queer Creatives only had Poeticdrugs (Markevious Harris, ATL) as representation.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Definitely the misconception that I was trans or wanted to be a woman just because I wanted to express myself differently. My mom has always told me, even from younger I always had to defend myself because I had long hair and more feminine features. I knew this was something that I would have to face by putting myself out there back when social media wasn’t accepting and “inclusive”. Til this day, I receive a lot of comments addressing that I have facial hair and that I should cut it off. It’s 2020, your self expression and physical appearance does not determine your gender identity.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
My supporters, period. Some have seen my growth as well as my struggles I’ve faced. From all the moving around I’ve done due to being kicked out at 18, to losing family members that I was close with, they’ve been there and uplifted me each and every time.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting to create content? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One time I uploaded a YouTube video (now deleted) where I accidentally left in one part where I got very frustrated because I messed up my thoughts and kept doing it over. Then I realized “Wow, I need to not be so hard in myself and stop trying to be like the perfect YouTuber.” Since then, I stopped putting on an act and started to be more like myself on camera. I allow some mess up moments in my videos and turn it into funny/personable moment for the viewer.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self regarding life lessons, things you would like him to know what would they be and why?
This is a question that I think shouldn’t be answered with a “why” because I live with anxiety (and many creatives do as well). Thinking about the past can be very triggering for those who experience anxiety. I would tell him to trust in the journey, everything HAPPENED for a reason and live one day at a time.
What do you think makes your collaboration with HipDot stand out? Can you share a story?
With this collaboration, I’m the first Black Beauty Boy with his own collection. The message of the palette truly embodies inclusivity for complexions and artistry level but works for beginners and every day make- up lovers. Also I was able to create the entire first prototype presentation for HipDot in 3 hours, which ultimately was very close to being the same as the final product.
Which tips would you recommend to your peers in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Simply, be yourself. Keep an open mind to being uncomfortable, failure and growth.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Her name is Miss Hector. She was the director of the Afterschool/Summer Camp previously mentioned and was the one that saw me being a makeup artist before I even attempted to do it for myself. She purchased an entire large storage container filled with drug store makeup & a mannequin for me to practice with. Losing her just last year plays a big role as to why I kept going to reach this point.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Of course! I’m use my platform and my access to brands to speak to them directly, calling out what can be improved and fighting for inclusivity for all, but specifically for Black Queer Folk.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my journey” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
To be 100% honest, I won’t share the stories with my list of 5 things I wish someone told me because they are personal things I learned on my journey. These things honestly shielded me from going down the wrong paths in my career specifically with the people that surrounded me just last year.
- Not everyone will genuinely support you.
- When people see you are rising with a purpose, the will consider you as a threat.
- Group chats are toxic and it’s easy to fall into the negativity they create.
- As you navigate the beauty industry, it becomes easier to decipher whose genuinely supported you especially through the hard times.
- Never take it personal. This is a business. Always boss up.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Well, I started my movement back in 2016 with “Representation for Black Men in Makeup” Now I think it’s essential we stop focusing on just “Men” and shift the focus to Representation for Trans, Non-Binary, Femme/Androgynous Folk.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram (@facedbykareem), TikTok (@facedbykareem), Facebook (Kareem Maliek Rogers) and YouTube (search: FACED BY KAREEM).
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for allowing me to share my experience and my words of wisdom for everyone to read!