INSPIRED BY: DAMONE ROBERTS

How did you get your start in the beauty industry?
I sketched a charcoal image of Diana Ross in high school and it
won first place out of all 50 States, which allowed me the
opportunity to study for a Semester at Rutgers University under all
the great art teachers. One day the makeup crew didn’t show
up for the Drama Dept. and the teacher asked us to step in after
explaining to us that painting a canvas and face are basically
the same things. Looking back I now realize that this was my intro
into the beauty industry. First makeup job was at a counter for
Fashion Fair and then I graduated to MAC in the late ’90s. From
there I went on to do brows at Anastasia where she personally
taught me about balance and structure.

Do you approach working with a celebrity differently than working
on other clients?

Actually, I don’t. I treat all my clients with respect. I think it’s your
birthright as a human being. My staff and my celebrities always
tease me because I have no idea who anyone is, and haven’t
seen most of their projects. I’ve been busy building my own
dreams. It’s a lot of work running your own company. I remember
saying one night at closing to the staff how pretty the client that
came in earlier by the name of Megan was — they laughed and
said you realize that’s Megan Fox? Robert Downey Jr always toys
with me because I’ve done him for every Avengers/Iron Man film,
but have yet to see one. I’m embarrassed to admit, but I had
been doing The Kardashian’s for years and truly had no idea.

You have been working with some of your clients for many
years. What is it about working with you that keeps them
coming back?

I’ve worked with some of these clients for over 20 years.
Madonna and I have just reunited again recently and we were
talking about all the changes in our lives since we first met. I
never take my clients for granted. I realize they have choices. I
think the secret is to always do your best. Realize you are in the
service industry and it’s about your client, and not you. Try to stay
more on the positive train, than the negative. Your clients don’t
want negativity touching their faces. It’s all about your energy.
Lastly, you will be exposed to many things. Keep them to yourself.
People are watching and know who they can trust, and who
they can’t.

Your work on a celebrity can literally shift what people define
as a beautiful brow. How do you decide when it’s time to
make that sort of shift?

I’m an expert in my craft, but I’m still in the service industry and
am working for the client. I consult on what I think is best, but
ultimately I’m going to give them what they want. Many are very
clear of exactly what they want. Rihanna flew me to New York for
The Met Gala and literally knew the exact shade she wanted her
brows dyed and the shape she wanted to complete her look,
and it worked out perfectly.

Is there a shoot or project that you found especially
satisfying artistically?

It’s been such an incredible journey. Every time I think it can’t be
topped, something else comes along. Being a question in Trivial
Pursuit and on Jeopardy was huge, having OPI name a Polish
after me, seeing Sophia Loren order a “Damone Cocktail” during
NY Fashion Week, or Tony Robbins showing a video of my career
to a sold-out stadium of his fans are just some of the moments
that made me stop, look up and just give gratitude. Meeting
Diana Ross backstage in her dressing room at Radio City and
seeing my products on her vanity (full-circle moment), or
designing and being the face of MAC’s “Brows Are It” Global
Campaign (another full-circle moment) is very exciting to me.
I remember watching my girls Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and
Michelle Williams perform at The Super Bowl and thinking WOW
I’m a part of that. It’s been a magical carpet ride.

You use your social media to show your work but also to
inspire and to speak your truth on causes that are important
to you. Do you find any risk in mixing so many perspectives in
your voice or is it all a benefit to your brand?

You learn in beauty school not to talk politics, or religion with
your clients. I’ve gotten a bit braver as my brand has grown,
but I always try to be respectful because that’s a natural part of
who I am, but I’m learning that there’s power in being truthful as
well. Some things that have occurred politically in the last several
years almost do one a disservice to not speak up. It’s a thin line,
but I believe it can be navigated in a way that’s not too severe.
Honestly, I have lost a few supporters with some of my comments,
or when I post pics of Madame Vice President (who’s also a
client), but interestingly enough — when you lose 5 for
something like that, you end up gaining 10.

What’s next for Damone Roberts?
I want to keep pushing myself to my next. I recently closed both
Salons — 5th Ave NYC a few years back, and Beverly Hills right
before The Pandemic. I knew I had to go smaller, in order to grow
bigger. I recently opened up a small “beauty therapy lounge” in
Beverly Hills, which allows me the freedom to create more
products. I’m so proud of them and can honestly say they are
the best on the market for brows. Eventually, I would like to get
into full makeup products and skincare — maybe even hair at
some point. I also used to host a TV series on TLC called 10 Years
Younger. I definitely have the urge to step in front of the cameras
again, but it will have to be different than what we’ve done
before. I’m not interested in making people over again. This time I
want to show them they are perfect just as they are.

Words Michael DeVellis
Photos Damone Roberts