Tiffany grew up the product of two military parents in Suffolk, Virginia. With an innocent middle-child smile, Tiffany said, “Growing up was pretty easy. I don’t have the hard knocks story of growing up in the hood. I came from a middle income home. Both my parents served in the navy and I was born in Japan.” Tiffany was what teachers would call a “High Character Kid.” She did well in school, participated in the marching band, a girly girl, but still active. It seems as though her sound upbringing is serving her well today in her professional life.

Tiffany and I sat down in the conference room of her home office in Owings Mills. Upon arrival I was graced by Tiffany’s bright smile and southern charm when she offered me a snack and a smoothie. This was our first time meeting and she’d won me over already! Tiffany is a graduate of Hampton University and began her post grad life as a medical student at . Tiff’s freelance beauty career began when she came to fork in the road and went “left.” Since that fork, Tiffany has built a loyal book of clientele as an entrepreneur, she launched her website, worked at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, was featured in Ebony Magazine, and most recently hired to do hair & makeup for the #1 news network in the world, CNN. “Left” was certainly the Right choice. Tiffany has a classic leap of faith story and credits her success to the ability to work across cultures and ultimately possessing a genuine character. I’m thrilled to present a talented beauty professional in this week’s #ShineHard conversation.

Watch the Interview!

Who did you look up to as a kid?

Tiffany: I would have to say my mother. She’s the leader in the household and a leader at work, but she knew how to be a wife. I love all the characteristics about my mother. When I think of who I’d like to be like, I think of my mother.

What is your passion and when did you know?

Tiffany: I think my passion is kind of beyond hair and makeup. I think hair and makeup is the vehicle to my passion. My passion is just to be kind. I like to make people smile, I really do. I like to be able to make people feel good. Whether it’s feeding them or whatever. Hair and makeup is so amazing because I make people feel great. To take someone from like “this” to like, “Guurrrllllll!” It’s just beautiful. Especially like weddings and special occasions. Amazing!

How did get started in the beauty industry?

Tiffany: I was in my first semester at Hopkins and midterm season has came up. Of course, I had to dedicate all my time to my studies. There was very little room to study for an exam tomorrow morning and make a contract for a bride on Sunday. It started to become a fork in the road. I didn’t really know where to channel my energy. I just knew to follow my heart. If I could get paid to do anything, what would I rather do? Also Hopkins is not cheap! To spend that type of money on an education that I wasn’t even sure of making a career was not a smart investment. I’m overjoyed that this plan is working out.

Tell me about Tiffany Lumpkin the brand and some of the work you’ve done.

Tiffany: It’s crazy that you say I’m an “established” hair and makeup artist because I look at my website sometimes and it’s an out of body experience. My brand has definitely expanded way beyond my wildest dreams, and I always emphasize in such a short amount of time. The opportunities I’ve been given are usually given to artists that have been in the game for 25 years. Like Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, that’s not something you do when you’ve only been doing makeup for three years. I do say that talent will only take you so far, it’s the personality and character that’s behind the brush. People need to know that you’re a good person, not just a good artist.

Johnny: 20/20, Good Morning America, Benz Fashion Week. Seems as though you’ve developed a formula that is attracting premium opportunities.

In your opinion, what skills must someone possess to be a successful beautician?

Tiffany: Professionalism. You can be charismatic, but if you don’t know how to handle business you won’t last. I can smile, we an laugh, but it’s about the business. You have to value what you do. At the end of the day, your rent isn’t going to get paid with eye shadow. But at the same time not every opportunity is going to come with a check. There are certainly more than one form of compensation.

Tell me about some of the people you’ve met and worked with.

Tiffany: I recently got to meet Tabitha Coffey. I also got to meet Paul Mitchelland Angela Styles, who is second in command to Kim Kimble, Beyonce’s stylist. Robin Roberts from Good Morning America. Everyone thought I was on Good Morning America, but really my mentor is Robin’s personal hair and makeup artist. I was simply invited on set. I try to correct people when they say I was on the show as much as I can. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities and met some really great people.

Who are your mentors? Who do you look to for guidance in this industry?

Tiffany: My mentor is Elena George. She’s amazing. She’s been makeup forever. Her big break was Salt-N-Peppa. She went to school with Salt-N-Peppa and from that she’s done Mariah Carey, she’s done Iman, Tyra (Banks). Name it? She’s done it! She’s legit! Elena worked for Disney/ABC and now she’s head artist for EG Gorgeous Hair & Makeup. It’s such a blessing to be able to learn from her.

What’s been your biggest challenge in the beauty industry?

Tiffany: I think awareness. Everyone wants to be known. Whether it’s for their cleavage or for their talent. Everyone wants to be known. We’re all guilty of it. Our first impression of people is how many followers they have. The amount of followers they have equals the more successful they are. Ignore the amount of money in your bank account, it’s the amount of followers you have. That can sometimes be a bit deceptive. You have no idea what someone has accomplished compared to their Instagram followers. For me it’s way more important to touch hearts and be kind and really connect with people spiritually than to get 5000 likes on a picture. I believe if I stay focused on my passion of making people feel good that the followers will come, naturally.

Despite that, what inspires you to succeed?

Tiffany: I get asked this question often and I say my unborn children. I want to be able to create a lifestyle for my children that I can be proud of. I don’t want to go into a retail store and have to get the cheapest stroller. I want to be able to afford the safest, best stroller. And of course, being able to support my current family too. All of them inspire me to succeed.

What frustrates you the most about today’s culture?

Tiffany: It’s hard to get me upset, but when you do get me upset, watch out. I have a heart for children and once upon a time being a pre-teen and knowing the pressures of being beautiful, I can just imagine the 12-year old girl who’s not that confident in herself watching the Youtube channel telling herself she’s not that pretty. There are so many ways to define beauty. What kind of upsets me is that in the media there aren’t many forms of beauty, there’s only one form of beauty. The pressures that are put on young women is what I don’t like.

So how do you respond to people that say makeup is superficial or what you’re doing is adding to the problem?

Tiffany: To be real, I wish I had some great answer to tell you like I was campaigning with young girls in Brooklyn, but I’m not yet doing anything that big. Even though I’m in the superficial business of beauty, regardless of the aesthetic, people should still connect with what’s on the inside. I want people to say Tiffany is very pretty, but her heart is way prettier. Tiffany is a great artist, but she’s super professional. What’s on the inside matters more.

At this point in your career, what accomplishment are you most proud of?

Tiffany: Well what just happened 24-hrs ago. Well, it’s pending, but to even have the opportunity to audition for CNN. The #1 news network in the world. Many of my opportunities have been 24-hr moments, CNN is about to put me at a level that is long term. In the zone, in my passion!

What is the #1 Factor behind your success?

Tiffany: I think I kind of touched on it already. I would say my character. My mother say’s the two F’s in my name stand for faith and favor *laughs.” It’s not my talent that has gotten me to where I am, it’s my character.

 What advice do you have for aspiring Artists & Stylist?

TiffanyPractice. With any type of craft, practice. Not just on yourself, practice on other people. Start with the family first! Your mother, your sister, your cousin, your dog, ask them because they can’t tell you no. Next is, study your craft. I am self-taught and I know that youtube is a great resource. I took a little bit from every single thing, whether it was what not to do or what to do. Instgram, books, study and practice. Once you got that down, locate some photographers that will test with you. At the end of the day, just be kind and treat people right. That alone will take you further than everything I just said.

Interested in learning more or connecting with Tiffany?

Twitter/Instagram: @TiffanyLumpkin