We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I had always dreamed of owning my own business. But it was always an abstract idea, not a concrete goal. A few years ago I was reading a book called ‘Stay Sexy, and Don’t Get Murdered’ and there was a passage where the author used the phrase “Bigger Dummies Than You” and for some reason it really resonated with me! Bigger dummies than me succeed every day, why couldn’t I? There are less qualified people out there doing exactly what I want to do just because they had the audacity to start! It really inspired me to just jump in. If i’m going to be putting in the work to make someone else money, why wouldn’t I be willing to put in the work to make myself successful? It’s such a simple phrase, but it represented a mindset shift for me. Sometimes something so small can make all the difference! A few months after that, I had become a licensed permanent makeup artist, quit my full time job (probably prematurely if i’m being honest) and I’ve worked for myself ever since!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a cosmetic tattoo artist, a job that many people just don’t really understand. Like, why get so excited about eyebrows? But I love my job! Every day is something new and different. I get to make people feel good about themselves, make their lives easier, and in some cases help people overcome things they have been self conscious about their entire lives. I think what sets my business apart from others is the strong emphasis on inclusion. The beauty industry can seem very “one note”, like if you aren’t a particular esthetic, its not a space for you. I think thats so untrue and I always want my studio to be a place where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome no matter your gender identity, age, or skin type. Everyone deserves to look and feel their best, and if I can play even a small part in that I’m happy!
I got to where I am today through a lot of hard work and a lot of trial and error. When I decided cosmetic tattooing was something I wanted to pursue, I wasn’t in a super great place financially and trainings/licensing are pretty expensive! I worked two jobs and basically gave up anything that wasn’t essential so I could afford it. It was a rough time, but well worth it! Then, when I finally decided to quit my steady job and pursue cosmetic tattooing full time I worked for about a month and then Covid hit. Impeccable timing on my part. So, that was obviously a major setback. Our industry was closed for about 6 months total, so I really had to pivot and focus on other aspects of my business, growing my online platform, taking additional trainings, working on branding and marketing etc. Anything I could do to keep my clients interested/engaged while we were shut down so they would come back when we reopened. I was fortunate enough to have built a pretty loyal client base so I was super busy when we came back! Now over a year later, i’m still hanging in there and opening a new studio location! So I think things are going pretty well!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve been such a hermit lately, I’m probably not the best person to give recommendations! What’s it like out in the world. because I haven’t seen much of it lately haha. Some of my favorites lately have been the La Mesa Farmers Market, its cute and lowkey. Typically less crowded than a lot of the other farmers markets. I’m also obsessed with the vegan snickerdoodles at Split Bakehouse, so that is a must.
Of course theres always the staples like Ocean Beach, Balboa Park etc that I recommend to anyone traveling.
I’m really into like estate sales and thrifting right now, and my current favorite is a place called Consignment Classics, its a huge warehouse of vintage furniture and decor its like a huge estate sale!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Karen Killgarif & Georgia Hardstark. Two women that have literally no idea that I exist, wrote a book I happened to pick up that changed my life. One simple phrase from their book Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered helped me shift my mindset entirely and kind of lit the spark to actually do something instead of just thinking about it. And more practically, the women I have met in the permanent makeup industry have all played a part in my success. Having people who have been in my place before and know exactly what I am going through has been invaluable. In the last few years I have made a really conscious effort to surround myself with a really supportive and encouraging group of people. I feel like its too easy to fall into viewing people in the same industry as competitors, but really theres so much knowledge to be gained from having more of a “community over competition” mindset. Also, huge shoutout to my family and boyfriend for not acting like I had completely lost my mind when I told them I was going to quit my 9-5 and tattoo eyebrows for a living.