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Meet Jennifer Knowlton of Makeup By Jennifer K in Naperville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Knowlton.

Jennifer, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started doing makeup for special events when I was in high school – I was only 17. It all started when my best friend at the time went with me to CVS to pick out eyeshadow for fun. She convinced me to pick out two Covergirl eyeshadows. One was a light baby pink color, and the other one was white (I think they actually still make those colors). She gave me advice on how to wear them. When I started to wear those eyeshadows, I would get compliments. After receiving several compliments, I started to add additional components of makeup to my routine – eyebrow gel and bronzer for example. Before long, family and friends were asking for help with makeup. At 18, I was already doing makeup for large wedding parties and special events. I remember being in college – in the dorms nonetheless – and having friends come to my room for makeup for their “special night out”.

In 2003, I was living in Ann Arbor and thought it would be fun to work at Macy’s in cosmetics. Macy’s ended up hiring me part-time at Clinique. I’d say Clinique helped me begin my freelance career. I will always love Clinique. That brand basically taught me the ropes of makeup and skincare. By working with the brand and being surrounded by many other high-end brands and makeup/skincare experts, I was constantly learning and soaking in as much as I could. After a few months at the Clinique counter, I decided to start doing freelance makeup for weddings, TV, print, and special events on the side. I enjoyed working for myself and building my own business so much that I decided to grow it more.

Over the years, I not only worked for Clinique, but also Estee Lauder, Christian Dior, Chanel, and Lancome. I also worked with prominent clients such as People Magazine, FHLB Bank of Indianapolis, Sam’s Club, Century21, Van Andel Institute, and Grand Rapids First Assembly of God (TCT Network on DirecTV). I was also an exclusive makeup artist for Emmy Award Winning Producer and Creative Director, Joe Sindorf. I am now also certified in TEMPTU airbrush makeup.

Though I was only part-time freelance over the years, this August I was able to turn my business into full-time freelance. I actually was a corporate sales executive for different software companies in Silicon Valley and Chicago from 2010 to 2017. Last October, I quit corporate to go back to the beauty industry full-time and also focus on my freelance business. It was the best decision I ever made.

I love my job and love my clients. It’s the best feeling in the world to make people feel good about themselves!

Has it been a smooth road?
Back when I lived in Michigan, I had managed to promote myself online very well (before the age of social media). From 2005 to 2007, I was one of the “go-to” makeup artists in Michigan. I was extremely busy with freelance.

When my husband and I moved to California, freelance had to take a backseat. I focused on moving up the ladder as a sales executive and only freelanced every so often.

When my husband and I moved to Naperville, I was able to start freelancing more. However, I realized that I was going to have to work even harder to grow my business here. Social media makes everything much more competitive.

Alright so tell us more about your work as a makeup artist, your brand, what you focus on and are most proud of, etc.
I am a professional makeup artist for weddings, commercials, TV, print, film, portraits and special events. I also teach group makeup classes and private or semi-private classes.

I am known for my soft glam looks. As a makeup artist, I can create all types of looks, but most of my clients are looking for soft glam. I am also known for how I give my clients soft and glowing skin.

As a company, I am most proud of how happy my clients are. If my clients aren’t thrilled with how I am able to make them look and feel, I haven’t done my job. I am also very proud at how fast my business is growing. Word of mouth is truly driving my business right now. Clients that have a makeup application or attend a class almost always refer their friends and for that, I am extremely grateful. I also have an amazing network of partners.

What sets me apart from others? I’m genuine. My #1 goal is to make my clients glow and have their makeup look better than they could have ever imagined. I sometimes have clients cry because they are so happy. It’s very rewarding.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love Chicago because there’s so much to do. Not just in Chicago, but also the suburbs. People are so much nicer and more genuine out here too. In Silicon Valley, everyone is out for themselves and people are moving in and out of the area all the time. They are very transient there. Living in Naperville, there are lots of families and people seem to settle down there. That’s what my husband and I were looking for. A place where we could call home for many years to come.

What do I like least about our city? When the roads are bad in the winter.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photographer: Jolanta Wulf Photography & Model Sarah Lehnert -Photographer: Jolanta Wulf Photography and Model Kara Sherwin, Photographer: Monroe Street Photography & Model Tiffany Marie Baird -Photographer: Monroe Street, Photography & Model Jessica Grabowski, Photographer: Jolanta Wulf Photography & Models Kristina Sherwin, Tarin Malloy, and Kara Sherwin -Photographer: Jolanta Wulf Photography & Model Jenna Teegarden, Photographer: Jolanta Wulf, Photography & Model Jenna Teegarden, Photographer: Jolanta Wulf, Photography and Model Sarah Lehnert

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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