Today we’d like to introduce you to Bethany Johnson.
Hi Bethany, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m a licensed hairstylist and makeup artist. I work on a lot of different things including commercials, red carpet events, press junkets, music videos, editorials, weddings, and portrait sessions… And in between, I also drive around doing house calls for haircuts and personal makeup tutorials.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Oh man, no, it hasn’t been exactly smooth. It’s funny, I remember getting out of high school and just having no idea of what I wanted to do or be. I’ve always been creative, drawn to art, music, dance, theater… But I just didn’t see a clear path to a professional vocation or whatever. I knew so many people at the time who seemed to know exactly what they wanted, were already on the trajectory — you know, five-year plan and everything… and, I dunno, I just remember feeling sort of lost, like something was wrong with me because I didn’t have a strong and clear idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I know that’s probably a very common feeling, but it felt really unsettling to me at the time.
I was kinda floundering without a clear purpose for a year or two, and so I ended up reluctantly enrolling in college in Denver. Because apparently that’s what you do. So I spent a couple years taking random classes, but never declared a major. I enjoyed specific classes, I’d always gotten good grades, there were some pretty fascinating art courses, but college just didn’t feel like it was helping me figure stuff out. So I moved out to Martha’s Vineyard to study music performance at a conservatory type thing. I liked the East Coast, so then I transferred to Boston University to try college again. That lasted for about six months before I decided to declare myself “graduated.” I decided that whatever else I wanted to learn I would find outside of the traditional college/university. I studied floral design and worked a stint as a florist for a little while. I spent a year touring with a band, performing a kind of theatrical Rock Opera, riding around the country in an old beat down school bus that ran on vegetable oil.
Anyway, sorry, I’m kind of rambling. At some point in there I landed at the Aveda Institute, where I studied hair and makeup. And for the first time in my life, I actually loved going to school, I loved what I was doing. And the more I learned, the more I loved it. I guess in retrospect, it felt like all of the random experiences and lost months and artistic avenues and random jobs I’d had were actually uniquely informing my approach to hair and makeup — whether the theatricality of touring with the band, being able to understand actors or musicians, that sense of putting on a costume and inhabiting a part, or even just the aesthetic beauty and form of arranging flowers — all of it suddenly started to make some sense and come together. So I spent several years working at various salons in New York and Denver, started my own business, and eventually moved out to LA to work in all the various fields I mentioned earlier.
Anyway. Long answer.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I love the creative spectrum hair and makeup affords… from creating effortless, natural styles to much more quirky, edgy, freeform looks. I really enjoy working with a team and collaborating with people. These past several years I’ve been learning a lot more about non-toxic brands in skincare, makeup, and hair, and I really enjoy introducing my clients to these products that leave out harmful ingredients. I really value spending time talking personally with my clients about what they really want and need at any given moment in their life. Sometimes we’re in a chapter where we want to feel empowered and strong, other times we want to encourage softness and flow, or maybe it’s a season of breaking free and exploring new things…. and, you know, my job is to translate these things into a haircut or makeup look. How we feel affects how we look. The opposite is also true.
I am also focused on working with all hair and skin types, and I think that’s incredibly important! Our beauty industry, along with many other things in our country, is centered around white people. It is changing, but too slowly! I am committed to continually educating myself when it comes to my skills being inclusive of all.
I am precise and detail-oriented, but I also enjoy working in ways where I get to think outside the box and flow. I get regular feedback that the haircuts I create last for a long time and grow out really well. I also feel it’s really important to take the time to explain and demonstrate what products I’m using and how to recreate looks at home. It’s important to me that your hair doesn’t only look good the day I cut and style it. You need to know how to work with it, and in a way that doesn’t take forever to style.
What matters most to you?
What matters most to me in my career is being creative and inspired, and working with talented, kind, genuine people. It’s also incredibly important to me to represent diversity by including all skin colors, hair textures, body shapes and sizes. Continually educating myself is a priority, and taking time to pause, step away, travel, and refresh, helps me come back with new energy and inspiration. I remind myself not to make work decisions based on fear or solely on money, to prioritize what I value. And finally, I think it’s so important to support other creatives as opposed to competing or comparing.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: BethanyJohnsonStudio.com
- Instagram: bjohnsonstudio
Photograph of me: Trevor Taylor
1. Photographer: Marissa Mooney, Model: Shelby Date
2. Photographer: Stefanie Parkinson, Model: Nik Soluski
3. Photographer: Stefanie Parkinson, Model: Cynthia Arrebola
4. Photographer: Stefanie Parkinson, Model: Jordyn Alexis
5. Photographer: Stefanie Parkinson, Model: Clarissa Thineaux
6. Photographer: Stefanie Parkinson, Model: Deja Monet
7. Photographer: Stefanie Parkinson, Model: Annie Marie
8. Photographer: Stefanie Parkinson, Model: Yared Chavez