Jonathan Fernandez is a multi-hyphenate mogul.
From starring on VH1’s Love and Hip-Hop: New York to being a makeup artist for your favorite celebrities, Jonathan talents radiate on and off the screen.
Did I mention he’s dropping his debut makeup line this spring? That’s right, Jonathan Fernandez will be releasing his exclusive cosmetic line, ByJonathan on his e-commerce boutique this spring.
We sat down with Jonathan to talk about coming into his own, his debut cosmetic line and his future goals.
On Entering the Beauty Industry
Admittedly a fan of American painter Bob Ross, Jonathan was exposed to the beauty of painting and blending color to create a visual story. It wasn’t until he began watching his mother do her own makeup that he realized that his favorite medium wasn’t paint but makeup.
“As a little boy, I grew up in the 80’s where makeup was a big thing. I just remember sitting on my mom’s nightstand and watching her do make-up and all of her little tricks. […] I [remember] she would take her lipstick and sometimes dab it on her fingers and use it as a blush. I was always so fascinated I saw it from the perspective of art. I was infatuated with Bob Ross and painting and blending. So, I always just looked at her like she was painting her face.”
Consequently, this memory reminds him of how his passions and interests alienated him from his peers.
“When I was a teenager I went to a Catholic all-boys school and I just felt like I wasn’t really connecting with anybody. I wasn’t connecting with the students. I wasn’t connecting with the material the teachers were talking to me about. So, I said […] I can either stay here and be miserable for another three years or I can leave and enroll in a school that is specifically geared towards what I want to do which is cosmetics.”
Shortly after, Jonathan realized his true calling. Without delay, he dropped out of high school to pursue a degree in cosmetology. Initially, hair was Jonathan’s primary focus as he did makeup on the side but he ultimately chose makeup as his dream career.
On His Most Memorable Moment
Martha Stewart, Missy Elliot, and SWV are just a few of some of the amazing clients Jonathan has had the pleasure of working with throughout his career. But there’s nothing more memorable than his first big break from his best friend and Love & Hip Hop cast mate, Anais Martinez.
“The first memorable moment, for me, by far, was her performing at the Grammy’s. It was my first time ever looking at my craft on the television screen. […] It just made me feel like ok this is something real. This is something that I can definitely make a living out of.”
Jonathan, Anais and their childhood friend Bella made a pact that whoever made it out of the hood first would bring the other two with them. After winning a singing competition, Anais made national headlines and scored a performance slot on the Grammy’s. She knew she wanted someone familiar on tour with her so she invited Jonathan to be her makeup artist for her appearances.
“I was super young, I was 19. Then also on top of it, there was such an emotional connection. I was proud of myself but I was also proud of my best friend. […] It was a full circle moment. She kept her end of the bargain, she kept her promise. She up there performing on the Grammy’s stage. […] I’ll never forget that.”
On Support Systems
Jonathan’s path has not been easy but he’s grateful to be surrounded by empowering women that love and encourage him to chase his dreams.
“So much of my success I can attribute to women backing me up. So many times, in the world, the media likes to portray this image of the men being the backbone of women and that women built their success off of the backs of men. My life has been the opposite.”
“I can attribute 100% of my success to the women that I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by. Women like Anais, like K. Michelle, like Mona Scott-Young, like Stephanie Gayle. So many women who have uplifted me and have pushed my career so much further than I could’ve ever dreamt it. I have come so far for a boy who dropped out of high school and never even bothered to get a GED. I have a freshman education, that’s as far as I got and I left and I never looked back.”
With the launch of his new makeup collection, Jonathan is honoring these amazing women by naming products after them.
“Within my make-up line, all the women who have uplifted me and supported my career, I am naming a product after them. Anais is the queen of the highlight. She loves a glow and glowy cheeks so one of my highlighters is named “Anais”.
On Being on Love & Hip Hop
We all know that reality shows aren’t always sunshine and rainbows. Jonathan first made his VH1 debut on K. Michelle: My Life. This show explored the life of R & B singer K. Michelle and her team.
Now that Jonathan Fernandez is on Love & Hip Hop, he can sense the differences between the two shows.
“It’s so different. I was on the [K. Michelle: My Life] for three years and that was such a different platform because we were all friends. We all loved each other. It was a very positive show. There was really not much drama because it was just really cameras following her life. We were an extension of her life so they just happened to follow us as well.”
On Working With Friends
He finds that stakes are much higher on Love & Hip Hop.
“Being on Love & Hip Hop was just so different because I feel like this is a platform where everyone is competing for camera time. Sometimes you find yourself in situations where you say one thing and you think you are doing the right thing and people take it the wrong way. It’s been quite the roller coaster ride.”
Not only are people vying for camera time but the extensive history between cast mates often makes situations personal.
“Sharing the platform with friends like Anais and a lot of other people, […] there’s so much history. We are so intertwined and so invested in each other’s lives that even when you think to yourself ‘Well, today I am going to have a great day because I don’t have any drama I don’t have any issues with any other cast members.”
“Something can happen to your friend and what are you going to do? Are you going to sit there and dig your head into the sand? Or are you going to sit up and say hold up, we come in a pack? If you are going to do something to her, you are going to do it to me too.”
On ByJonathan Cosmetics
ByJonathan Cosmetics is a conscious makeup collection.
“I am on this whole health kick. I have been watching all these documentaries on food and the things we ingest and even the things that we put on our faces.”
In light of ethical beauty, Jonathan has dedicated his time, energy and expertise into curating the best ingredients for his line.
“We think it’s just make-up. How deep can make-up penetrate to harm our skin? When there are all kinds of ingredients in makeup that we aren’t even aware of like Titanium Dioxide which is so bad for your skin and it’s in everything […] Parabens which are not great. They clog your pores. […]”
Ultimately, he wants to debut a line that is gentle enough to wear for long hours. Additionally, he wants to ensure that the ingredients are non-toxic.
“I don’t want to put out a product that in 10 years, 15 years or even 20 years down the line can cause cancer or just any kind of skin ailments.
Let’s not forget, it going to give you a healthy glow.
“I am all about skincare. I’m all about great glowing skin. I am all about natural looking makeup. Even if it’s heavy, I still want it to look natural.”
On His Dream Makeup Client
If Jonathan had the opportunity to do anyone’s makeup, past or present, his answer would be two iconic music powerhouses.
“Whitney Houston and Bette Midler.”
Houston’s personality pique’s Jonathan’s interest.
“I have seen many behind the scenes documentaries of Whitney when she was in the glam room, in the make-up. Whitney just looked like she liked to laugh, play pranks on people, and [have] good conversations. It just looked very much like what I like to do with my homegirls all the time anyway.”
Similarly, he’s inspired by Bette Midler’s bold self-expression.
“Bette Midler is just such a firecracker. I follow her on Twitter and she is a […] hoot. She is so funny. She’s so witty. Her timing is perfect. She hates Donald Trump and I do too. The way that she antagonizes that man on Twitter gives me so much life.”
Being a celebrity makeup artist looks like a glamorous job. And it is glamorous. It includes friendships with Hollywood elite, exclusive red carpet events, and opportunities to travel around the world. Despite all of the perks, the job does have its sacrifices.
“The most challenging thing about the industry is […] the financial instability. It’s not a 9-to-5 where every week you know for sure what you are bringing home and retirement plans and 401Ks and health insurance. Those are all things that are stressful like mentally stressful. Sometimes you don’t know if you will be working next week.”
At times, it even forces his family to be placed on the back burner.
“I have two nieces that I co-parent with my sister financially. I’ve missed out on so much of their lives because I’ve been on the road and I have had to move for jobs and the long hours. I just feel like I have missed out on a lot of moments.”
On His Favorite Beauty Trends
Just a few months into 2018 and we’ve already seen some amazing beauty trends like the golden glow from Fenty Beauty’s Killawatt Freestyle highlighter in Trophy Wife. Similarly, we’ve also seen some not so great trends like Halo Brows.
Currently, creativity in the beauty industry is at an all-time high. We asked Jonathan what he’s loving about beauty right now.
“What I am excited about is that it’s looking like people are reeling back on the makeup. It’s becoming more about natural beauty. For a while, we got lost there with the paint-by-number faces. Everybody was looking like a Transformer with the heavy color variations. […] Now, it’s becoming more subdued and a little bit more natural so I am here for that.”
Furthermore, he’s raving about our brows getting a make-under lately.
“I’m also here for the way subtler brows. For a second there we were getting lost in the thick heavy sketched out brows and I think that’s fading away. I am very excited about women looking elegant and beautiful again, not like a stencil.”
On What to Expect from His Make-Up Tour
With countless years of experience, Jonathan wants to give back and share some of his tips out on the road. This year he will be launching Jonathan’s Make-Up Tour in major cities across the country.
“You can expect to be the first to try my makeup out because I am going to have my make-up with me on the road. I have been to a lot of makeup classes […] and I wanted to create an environment where people felt super comfortable. People feel like it’s conversational, they can reach out. They can get up and walk around and look closely. I want people to feel like no question is a stupid question.”
For instance, think of Jonathan’s master class as an awesome best friends gathering. There will be great conversation, a few laughs and of course, you will leave with a flawless makeup look.
On His Five-Year Plan
If Jonathan could convey his five-year plan to anyone, it would be a combination of his favorite entrepreneurs. He wants to combine his love for beauty, hosting, and connecting all in one.
Overall, he would love to have a multifaceted career where he’s on television and simultaneously working on his “labor of love” ByJonathan Cosmetics.
“If Mario Lopez, Kevin Aucoin, Andy Cohen and Wendy Williams all had a child it would be me in 5 years.”
On What’s Next for Him
With beauty, television and hosting on his mind, Jonathan is focused on growing his brand. Equally important, he’s planning to devote more time to his family.
“The show starts back up pretty soon. I can’t say if I am coming back or not. […] But assuming that I was, that would start back up in May. Aside from that, I want to focus on the missed time with my family and build my own little empire.”
Additionally, he will begin radio hosting.
“I am going to be a radio personality as well. I got a gig on Hits 101.9. Every Friday, I am going to have a one hour show.”
Want more from Jonathan? Follow him on his Instagram account @iamsojonathan to keep up with the latest from him and to catch the release of ByJonathan Cosmetics.