Happy Friday Fabbies! Recently I had a chance to chat with the ultra fabulous, Trinidadian Raina Williams, a veteran celebrity makeup and hairstylist, blogger, and business owner of her super successful lash line, Sassi. Raina is actually my “cousin”! She was married to my first cousin years ago, and they have a son together, Malachi. Raina, 38, has 3 boys total, and they live in New York currently.
Raina was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, (and has the BEST New York accent to show for it lol), and has lived quite a decorated life in the beauty industry. She has been a licensed cosmetologist for 18 years, included being licensed in the 3 states of: New York, Mississippi, and North Carolina. Over the course of her illustrious career, Raina has carved out a name for herself, possessing the skills to do it all. She has done hair and makeup for countless celebrities, including Marla Maples (Donald Trump’s second wife), Tara Wallace of Love and Hip Hop, Ericka Page White of TNTs, “Nashville Wives”, and is currently the resident hairstylist for the uber successful Bethenny Frankel, the creator of the Skinnygirl Brand, and also reality tv star of the hit show, The Real Housewives of New York City.
Raina’s catalog of work does not stop with Bethenny Frankel and other celebrities though. Raina has also had her work featured in many Hair Magazines including Hype Hair Magazine, Black Hair Magazine, and countless others. Raina has done editorials for Oprah’s Magazine O, and was recently hired as the hairstylist for a huge Adidas campaign shoot for Finishline:
Working with an ultra-famous celebrity who is Bethenny Frankel, Raina’s work is always featured somewhere, whether it’s in a newspaper, magazine, or the television show:
Raina does it all. Because she does hair AND makeup, brides seek out her services well:
In our interview, Raina shares everything from her journey to getting where she is now in her career, advice for aspiring hair stylists & makeup artists, her favorite makeup and skincare products, to what she has learned from working alongside Bethenny Frankel for the last year. Read and enjoy!
Me: What inspired you to want to work in the beauty industry?
Raina: I used to be in the military, and at the time, I was pregnant with my oldest, and I would braid other women’s hair in the military. This not only gave me something to do while I was pregnant, but it also gave me experience in doing other people’s hair on a consistent basis. After the military, I got married and returned to New York, living in Queens, and soon started working at First Impression Salon in Valley Stream, NY which was owned by Grammy Award winning rapper Cheryl “Salt” James from Salt ‘N’ Pepa. I learned soooooo much working at that salon, namely from my mentor Elena George. Salt actually gave me a Hair Salon bootcamp-style book, and that really propelled me to begin focusing more on starting a career in the beauty industry.
Me: Tell us about your journey: Did you go to cosmetology or hair school? Or are you self-taught?
Raina: I went to cosmetology school, and have been licensed for hair and makeup for eighteen years now. After getting married and having kids, I lived in North Carolina and Mississippi, and got beauty licenses there, so I continued doing hair in those states as well. During my journey, I also started a beauty blog, The Glamour Box, which had become very popular. After I split with my ex-husband due to domestic violence, I returned to New York and continued working in hair salons in Queens, but I knew that I wanted to do more. Makeup artists and hairstylists are VERY well-respected professions in New York City, and because of this, the jobs are competitive and taken very seriously. I knew that if I wanted to expand my brand and open up my clientele, I would have to venture to Manhattan, and so I did. I worked as a Session Stylist, where I would be hired to style clients’ hair for events or shoots. I then worked for a freelance company where the company uses hairstylists and makeup artists to get booked to do hair and makeup for women in New York City. It was through that company that I met many women in what is considered “high society”, who were socialites, celebrities, etc. I made a lot of connections and built my clientele list a great deal that way.
Me: You are a badass single mother of 3. How do you balance working and being a mom? Do you ever sleep?!
Raina: Girl yes! My kids are old! I get plenty of sleep! *laughs* My boys are 18, 14, and 11, so they are pretty self sufficient. And as far as finding a balance, luckily for me, I can pretty much create my own schedule so that I can make sure that I’m able to be there for my boys.
Me: You recently launched your amazing new lash line, “Sassi”! What inspired you to start your lash line?
Raina: I have always been passionate about lashes. I believe that lashes really bring out a woman’s eyes, making her look more youthful. I also wanted to be able to use my own product on my clients when I do their makeup, so starting my lash line was perfect. The name “Sassi” actually comes from my childhood, when a man in her church would always tell me “You’re so sassy! That name stuck with me, and the name “Sassi” was born for my lash brand.
Me: Aside from selling luxurious lashes and running your beauty brand The Glamour Box, you are also Bethenny Frankel’s resident hair stylist. What have you learned from working with Bethenny over the last year?
Raina: It’s actually funny how I even started working for Bethenny. I was hired to do her hair for a single event last year, and Bethenny loved my personality as well as my work. Her team reached out to me and asked me to style her permanently for her events, magazine shoots and while she shoots her show, The Real Housewives of New York on Bravo. And since working with Bethenny, she has definitely inspired me to level up business-wise. Bethenny is very organized and professional, so I was inspired to get my LLC for my business, and really start operating as a businesswoman.
Me: What is the biggest lesson you have learned in being a businesswoman?
Raina: I’m still learning! But I have definitely learned that you can not be afraid to put yourself out there. You have to speak up for yourself, let people know what you do, and don’t be afraid to network. I have gotten so many client referrals based on meeting certain people at events that I attended, or by telling people that I am a hairstylist and makeup artist. I also have a nice team of people that help me with building my business, from graphic designers to other stylists that work in the industry.
Me: What advice would you give to aspiring celebrity makeup artists and hairstylists?
Raina: Keep putting out quality work. The internet is your friend in this industry, where content reigns supreme. Get a good camera and always keep it with you so that you can take photos of your work. Get professional lighting and learn how to use it. Always, always, always be on time! Assist to other seasoned makeup artists or hairstylists when you can to help get more experience under your belt. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Be yourself but also be professional. Doing hair and makeup is very personal for the client, so great personalities definitely help when getting referred to do other jobs. There is a psychology to this business. When you’re dealing with somebody’s hair, you are also dealing with their heart. So you must keep this in mind when you are styling their hair. It is a very personal thing. Also, be sure that you learn how to do hair and makeup on many races. This helps you diversify your talents, and makes it much easier to get booked for jobs when you know how to do hair and makeup on all ethnicities.
Me: Who are your inspirations?
Raina: I have several, but the first one that comes to mind is Ursula Stephen. Ursula Stephens is the renowned celebrity hairstylist, and is the one that gave Rihanna that famous black bob that redefined Rihanna’s image from “good girl” to “the girl with the edge.”
Me: Rihanna’s haircut was ICONIC!!
Raina: I know! And I got the chance to meet Ursula once! I knew she was going to be at an event, so I brought my portfolio and asked her if she was looking for an assistant. At the time she wasn’t, but she could tell by looking at my portfolio that I had a ton of experience, and that an assistant would not have been a good fit for me anyway. She encouraged me to get 5 of my best pictures and have them ready at all times, and to also get into a salon and build clientele. I hung on to Ursula’s words because she is super successful. I somewhat pattern my style after hers.
Me: Let’s talk beauty products! What are your go-to brands for makeup? For skin care?
Raina: Ooooh I have a few. Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer is amazing and super lightweight, and she has an oil-free option too. Also, Better Than Sex Mascara by Too-Faced is bomb. MAC’s mineralized blush is amazing too. It makes your skin really pop. I also love Mac’s lip stains, because they last all day long. Lip Gloss balm from Fenty Beauty is great too.
For skin, I love Blue Mercury’s skincare products. I also love Rose Hip oil for skin. It leaves skin damp in the winter, and dry in the summer. Rose Hip oil is also great as a spritzer to apply to your makeup for a refresher. I love The Ordinary Brand as well. Also, if you’re not using my Sassi lashes, Rodan + Fields has a lash serum that works wonders! It really makes your lashes grow.
Me: What is the biggest mistake women make when applying their makeup?
Raina: The biggest mistake that I see all the time is that women put on way too much makeup. This ages them a great deal and it just not look good. There are tons of YouTube videos that help with how-tos on applying makeup and tips, etc.
Me: Describe your own personal everyday look: hair and makeup?
Raina: For me, I have acne-prone skin, but facials have been working wonders for my skin. I encourage every woman to get facials on a regular basis, because it really helps with deep cleaning your skin and leaving your skin feeling refreshed and hydrated. If you can go every month that would be ideal, but going every 2-3 months is certainly recommended. With makeup, I use Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation, Anastasia of Beverly Hills has an incredible Highlighter and Brow Dip Gel, and I love the Better Than Sex Mascara by Too Faced when I’m not wearing my Sassi lashes.
And currently my hair is loc-d, so it’s super low maintenance, and I just switch up the styles sometimes.
Me: What is the proudest moment of your career?
Raina: Doing Bethenny’s makeup for the Housewives reunion show was HUGE for me! I was on set doing touch-ups throughout the entire night, and while I’ve been on television before during her hair, doing the Reunion show was a big deal.
Me: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Raina: I will be running a full service bridal brand, where I will have a team of hairstylists and makeup artists that will service brides and their bridal parties worldwide. I will also continue doing major projects and editorials for major brands all over the world!
Raina is such a boss and wildly talented. I cannot wait to see what 2019 has in store for her, but I know that whatever she does, success is sure to follow!
To follow Raina’s journey, follow her on social media:
And to purchase her fabulous lashes, visit her website: https://www.sassibyrainalove.com
Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve!