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Meet Tiffany McKinney of Xquisite Xpression Hair Salon & Beauty Boutique

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffany McKinney.

Hi Tiffany, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My love of makeup and fashion began at the tender age of five. It was just my brother and I at the time, so the basement in our home was like our playground. For me, it became my creative space. My mom was into makeup and fashion so she had all this fabulous clothing, lots of shoes and this visually appealing collection of makeup. My mom also knew how to sew, so she was always working on new designs and had patterns, fabric and all the latest magazines laying around for inspiration. I often enjoyed putting on my very own little runway fashion show featuring myself, my dolls and my little brother. (LOL). As I got older, my love and passion for makeup grew stronger.

Creative outlets such as singing, theater, music videos, beauty commercials, magazines and movies all influenced my intrigue and love of makeup and fashion. When I was in elementary school, I started modeling, doing school theater productions, singing and competing in pageants and talent shows, so I really began to practice basic techniques on myself. For inspiration, I would often look at music television shows like MTV, sitcoms and movies. The problem during the early 80’s was that there wasnt alot of melanated representation at that time. There weren’t many young girls or women on television or in movies that looked like me. This was perplexing but not a hindrance for me wanting to continue to explore makeup.

When I was in high school, my aunt was a Mary Kay Cosmetics Consultant so I would often go over to her house and just stare at her products, ask questions and ask could I sample them. My intrigue would often result in her educating me on the various products, their usage and what products I needed to use on my skin…etc. This fueled my desire to learn more about the art of makeup application. I remember the day I saw Brandy’s “I wanna Be Down” Video and discovering Sam Fine, the genius behind the beautiful and flawless looks of celebrities such as Patti Labelle, Gabrielle Union, Queen Latifah, Iman, Vanessa Williams and countless others. I immediately purchased Sam Fine’s first book “Fine Beauty: Basics and Beyond for African American Woman”. This book is what turned my makeup light switch on and started my true road to discovery.

As my passion grew stronger for makeup, I started studying other artists such as Derrick Rutledge (Oprah’s Makeup Artist), Renny Vasquez and countless others to help perfect my skills. Soon family members and friends started to take notice of how my personal makeup application skills had improved. Then God shifted things for me, and before I knew it I begin getting calls to do makeup for parties, date nights, school pictures and other occasions. A good friend of mine Jazz Saxophonist Corinthia Cromwell blessed me with the opportunity to do the makeup for her CD project. After that blessing, God just opened up doors and windows for me. I started receiving calls to do makeup for weddings, photo shoots, fashion shows, bridal expos, theater productions and much more. At the request of my clients, I also started conducting beauty and empowerment workshops to teach women how to apply makeup and just feel good about themselves inside-out. I also started providing personal makeup lessons and mentorship to young and upcoming artists. I found that teaching and being able to impart that knowledge that I’ve learned is so fulfilling, rewarding and such a blessing because I didn’t have that when I came into the industry.

God just continued to blow my mind. My schedule became to busy that it made it difficult to travel around efficiently like I did before because my appointment request was rapidly increasing. So in 2015, with the help of my awesome husband Godfrey McKinney, Tiffany’s Glam Suite was born. We decided to open up a suite to accommodate the influx of clients we were receiving. In the glam suite, clients had access to all makeup services, lash services, and some retail. This space was only approximately 12 x 12 sq. feet. In a matter of months, we outgrew that space. It was time to look for a bigger space. I told hubby the vision that God had given me for the next space. I wanted women to have a “one-stop” shop where they could come and get a full beauty experience including hair, makeup and fashion. We began looking for spaces in the area and the frustration began to grow because I wanted to find something sooner than later. One evening, hubby and I stopped for dinner at Valentino’s Restaurant and noticed there was a sign on the door of a storefront. I told hubby I wanted to check it out. I walked across the street to read the sign and low and behold it was a salon for rent!! My God at work, yet again. When we got inside, it was a full salon with equipment, it just needed some interior love.

That same year, I got an email with an invitation to travel to New York with a beauty team to work New York Fashion Week. That was an incredible and invigorating experience. I got to meet and see some of my favorite celebrities’. In 2017, the same team got called back to work NYFW, and I jumped at the opportunity to work. It was an awesome feeling seeing my work come down the runway once again in beautiful fashion as this is what I used to do with my dolls as a little girl now it had come to fruition. Images featuring my models were published in various local magazine’s covering the show by Getty images and to name a few. To date, my work has been featured on Maryland Public Television(MPT), WJZ Channel 13, Corinthia Cromwell Cd Cover, in Vital Magazine and in Luxe Kurves Magazine, branding photoshoots, and marketing campaigns, to name a few. I have also been blessed to travel internationally to do destination weddings.

As a makeup artist, one of my chief goals is to make my clients look and feel beautiful and stunning. However, in addition to feeling beautiful on the outside, I also want them to feel confident and empowered when they get up from my chair. My overall goal as a Makeup Artist is to ENHANCE every woman’s natural beauty and to EDUCATE and EMPOWER her! I feel that God has not only given me these gifts to just touch a woman’s face but rather touch her spirit and soul in the process. True Transformation happens from the inside out. I often get some people who say “Tiff girl you transformed so and so”. I quickly and nicely correct them and say “no honey, I don’t do transformations, I do enhanceformations!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Obstacles and challenges are not always roadblocks or risks, instead they are often opportunities in disguise and can serve as the path to great success and achievement. It’s been 13 years that I have been blessed to pursue my purpose and passion. Have there been times when I wanted to quit or times when I questioned the level of the gift that God had put in me, absolutely!! However, those experiences and challenges helped to make me a better person, a better professional, a better mom and wife.

Some of the earlier struggles I faced was that I didn’t have anyone to mentor me or guide me in the beauty industry when I first started out nor on the salon side or retail side. I would often ask people in the industry for insight on different things and would never get a response or I’d get info in pieces. I was never met with that one who would say, “Tiff let me mentor you or genuinely help and guide you. I would attend networking events and try to mix and mingle. However, in some instances, I found that unfortunately people weren’t willing to share or be genuine. The beauty industry is very competitive and it’s a very saturated marketplace. I used to get angry and discouraged sometimes. However, a friend said to me “what God has for you is for you and HE will make room for your gift”. So like I said not obstacles but an opportunities!. It truly just made me grind harder. This meant studying, researching, educating and equipping myself with the proper tools I needed in order to be successful.

When you are just getting your feet wet in any industry, you are fresh and new, you are hungry and yep thirsty but not the thirsty in today’s slang(lol). This is great but one must air on the side of caution because my experience when I was hungry and excited for exposure, work, etc., is that not everyone has your best interest at heart and people will try to take advantage of your kindness, your enthusiasm and try to “pimp your gift” for their gain! In some instances, I lost time, opportunities, money, work, and my self-respect during that time. In hindsight, I don’t regret those experiences because it fortified my work ethic, sharpened my self-awareness and discernment and deepened my sensitivity toward other artists who are young and need guidance. Whenever asked, I don’t hesitate to share, educate, and or empower them so they avoid making the same mistakes. Overall, this has been a rewarding journey of self-discovery, growth, courage, overcoming fear so I could be my BestSelf!.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Established in 2016, Xquisite Xpression is a full-service beauty salon dedicated to consistently providing great customer satisfaction by rendering excellent service, quality products, and furnishing an enjoyable atmosphere at an acceptable price/value relationship. At XX, we provide a full gamut of hairstyling and beauty services such as hair extensions, haircuts, coloring, treatments, hair braiding, locs, waxing, tinting, makeup application, airbrush makeup application and eyelash application and more. We also have a variety of retail offerings onsite such as cosmetic products, the latest clothing trends, fashion accessories, and jewelry. We have the capability to glam our clients up from head to toe. We are available on location for any event, including weddings, photoshoots, fashion shows, proms, birthdays and any other special occasions. We also offer group and individual makeup courses designed for those interested in learning how to effectively and properly apply makeup or just sharpen and enhance their current skill set.

What sets us apart from others is that our salon is very family-oriented. We have a staff of seven and everyone is at the top of their game in what their respective specialties are. What makes XX great is that we all genuinely love and appreciate one another. The relationship that we have for one another on a professional and personal level translates and reciprocates through our work ethic and down to our clients and our salon culture and atmosphere. I am happy to say we have an environment that is warm, inviting and empowering. Our clients always say they love the environment at our salon because it’s “drama free and so beautiful inside and my team and I make sure the leave looking and feeling beautiful too. Moving forward, I want us to continue and expand upon that blueprint because that’s what a salon visit should be a beautiful experience for all parties involved.

As a makeup artist, my purpose is to make my clients look and feel beautiful on the inside and outside. I love to empower and inspire women. Every woman wants to feel confident and loves the person she sees in the mirror. As beauty professionals, it’s our job to help her achieve that goal. I feel that God has given me this gift to not only touch faces but to touch souls in the process.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
After a tumultuous year of a global pandemic that caused massive changes across industries, things have now started to “normalize. The pandemic has definitely impacted the beauty industry and caused a shift on how we operate and render services to our clients. We have seen a rise in e-commerce and digitization as many American’s were reluctant to come out for anything. However, the beauty industry has remained steady because for most once things opened back up, having services rendered was therapeutic, it was a release and served as a sense of normalcy. We currently have products on our website that our clients can purchase and in 2022, we will be expanding services so we can provide more services to our clients through e-commerce.

I think beauty in the next normal will definitely continue to shift as more consumers will be concerned about the ingredients and implications of beauty products and their lasting impact on our health and well-being. Most consumers like the idea of sustaina­bility and products that are environmentally safe, etc. I believe we will the creation of even more plant-based, vegan and biodegradable products that follow the principles of green chemistry.

Lastly, I truly believe that the beauty industry will stay on the path of inclusivity, rejecting the notion that the one-size fit all model works because it doesn’t. Many companies have recognized the power of diversity and finally creating products and services that speak to a wide demographic and not just one section or particular group.

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Image Credits

Cle Mooring Carliss Jones

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