Kiekie Stanners, Senior Global makeup artist for M.A.C. Image supplied.
The word successful is often referred to as being influential, strong and thriving. A successful woman is all of those things. We are currently shining a light on successful women in both fashion and beauty, and New Zealand has many of them. When I think about a powerful woman, I think about someone that encaptures feminity, is inspirational and has a world-class creative flair. Kiekie Stanners, Senior Global makeup artist for M.A.C is a powerful woman in beauty for all of those reasons.
Over a decade-long career Kiekie has worked her way up from Fashion student at AUT to self-taught makeup artist, adopting the ‘fake it til you make it’ mantra. Kiekie shows us that you don’t need high-end training to be ‘somebody,’ it just takes passion and a natural creative flair. She has showcased her talents at Fashion Weeks all over the world and for some of the worlds most high-end fashion houses, as well as global campaigns and editorials, featured in the M.A.C Viva Glam 25th anniversary campaign as an ambassador and finally landing a coveted spot as a Senior Global makeup artist for M.A.C.
This kick-ass woman in power is an inspiration to many aspiring and up-and-coming makeup artists and is all about lifting other women up by creating stunning makeup looks akin to their individual styles, making whoever she is working on feel their absolute best. She has forged her own path and enabled other women to believe in themselves and their creative ability to forge their own pathways within the beauty world.
So, we had a chat with this successful woman and asked her where she gets her inspiration from, what success means to her and what her goals are for the future?
How do you go about creating a beauty look for a campaign or event and how collaborative is the process?
When working on either a beauty campaign or fashion show, the collaboration is very important. I like to make sure the storytelling aspect is there so every component works together. For me the makeup I apply needs to be the cherry on top – that it is harmonious to the styling, hair, situation it will be seen in and essentially be perfect for dictating whoever this ‘muse’ may be.
I like to work with the whole team to ensure the end vision comes together for everyone, and especially so if you are working with talent who of course has their own personal style. It’s so important to me that the collaboration is there. I’m really big on research too, it’s so important to do your homework and creatively put together ideas so the whole team can see your direction and mood, and be confident in what you are creating as the makeup artist.
What are your favourite products to use at the moment?
Due to our recent working from home situation, my favourite products have to be those that make you feel amazingly fresh, are lightweight to wear but enough for when you peek in the mirror you haven’t felt like you’ve really let yourself go whilst home!
I have become (even more) obsessed with M.A.C Lightful C+ Coral Grass Softening Lotion Spray whilst being at home. When it sits beside my laptop I’m literally spritzing my face multiple times a day and I swear it has been my saviour for revitalizing and improving the clarity of my skin since being at home (and going through multiple bottles!)
Top that off with the cult classic M.A.C Strobe Cream to enhance your WFH glow even more. I have been using the shade Goldlite as it boosts the look of dull skin and illuminizes with a gold reflect – perfect if you don’t feel like wearing foundation at home. Throw on an illuminating moisturiser instead!
And the M.A.C Powder Kiss franchise is another favourite of mine. The new Powder Kiss Liquid Lip Colour is my go-to product for the most comfortable at home lipstick. The formula is an ultra-smooth, hydrating liquid that has a mousse-like texture – so it doesn’t feel like you are wearing anything heavy. It’s so great for when you need a soft pop of colour but don’t want anything over the top. Not only have I worn it myself most days, I’ve used it on nearly all editorial jobs recently as it provides the dreamiest soft-focus lip colour.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I try to get inspiration from anywhere other than makeup! I find the more you reference makeup looks, the more you end up copying and not creating anything new. I still love flicking through a beautiful photography book or referencing history/culture to get inspiration from. Nothing is new, only reinvented, but it’s still so important to me to create perfection in makeup and enjoy the process – it is an art form after all!
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
It is hugely important and something that I take very seriously in my job. In the role of a makeup artist I am not only doing someone’s face but responsible for getting them in the most confident head-space for whatever they are about to do when they leave your chair – whether it’s performing, modelling, red carpet or walking down the aisle. They have total trust in me to get them feeling their best, and I’ve got to see the strongest women in their most vulnerable state. I’ve learnt to spot when a women is anxious in that space and step up my role to empower them. It’s so important to me – no matter how bold or courageous she may present, every women needs to be lifted up by another and then magic happens.
How do you personally define success and what does it mean to you?
Success to me is being proud of the work you’ve done and the life you’re creating. So long as you are staying true to yourself and honouring your own vision that is how I define success.
What are you most proud of doing?
I think I am most proud of inspiring up-and-coming makeup artists, and leading their way by giving back what I have learnt. My proudest moments always seem to be when someone tells me I inspire them and it reminds me to constantly focus on training and developing the next generation of artists.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Working on the M.A.C Cosmetics X Lorde global campaign, the M.A.C Cosmetics X Parris Goebel campaign, getting the cover of Vogue with Lorde and being asked to be in the M.A.C Viva Glam 25th Anniversary global campaign as a M.A.C AIDS Fund spokesperson. As well as working backstage in London, Milan, Paris, Shanghai, Sydney and Auckland Fashion Weeks for the last few years.
In what way can the beauty industry be used as a tool for good? Can feminism and beauty co-exist?
Of course! The beauty industry has changed so dramatically in recent times – which it needed to – and it’s amazing to see beauty campaigns that are diverse, unretouched and speaking to an authentic audience. It seems like such a no brainer to me, I’ve never understood the classic beauty industry systems, everyone wants to see themselves and be inspired by beauty. But there is still a need for beauty to be aspirational and make you feel something, a little bit of escapism, especially in our current climate. Owning your own beauty statement is the most feminist thing you can do! Beauty should never be about following a trend or wearing something you are told to wear – it must be something that’s empowering and your own personal styling statement.
What do you think we should all be doing as individuals to consume beauty products more responsibly?
We are overloaded with newness and marketing, especially on social media. It means it’s even more important to find products that work for you and your needs. Obviously, as a professional makeup artist, I’m a believer in researching products, trusting long-standing quality brands and getting to know what you love to repeat buy rather than jumping on the latest fad. I know I’m biased – I’ve worked for a beauty brand that was created for the professional industry and I completely trust the quality for both consumers and makeup artists alike. But perhaps instead of jumping onto the latest beauty brand to launch, take your time to curate what you would like to add to your collection that complements what you are already using.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you keep referring back to?
Forever be a student, good things take time and stay humble.
Where can we find you when you’re not working and how do you relax?
I’m not much of a relaxer, but I know a good trip out of the city to a small NZ beach town works. If not, champagne and dancing is my favourite way to chill out.
What are your goals for the future?
I would love to be able to work on and creatively pull together a global beauty campaign and be able to bring together New Zealand talent to make it happen. It’s time to get NZ industry creatives on the world stage.