Our Stories: Yes I’m 16 years old and I’m a working, makeup artist – Kandice Ambersley

In this installment of Our Stories, a makeup artiste, Kandice Ambersley shares how she became involved in make-up artistry at the young age of 16. For many people, Jamaica is pictured as an island paradise – white sandy beaches, a beautiful and vivacious culture, rich and wholesome food, and attractive people. And while that image is not far from the truth, if the lens is focused on the inspirational stories of ordinary Jamaicans, you’d find a sharper, richer and truer image of the Jamaican experience…this is Our Stories!

What were you doing at age 16?

Probably preparing for exams, planning outings with friends and family or trying to figure out what career path you wanted to venture into.

Meet Kandice Ambersley – Make-Up artiste and entrepreneur

At 16 years old, she seemed to have figured things out already. Now, 18 years old, Kandice is already carving out a name for herself in the beauty industry as a makeup artist Thanks to the support of her family and friends, she has been living the double life of a student by day and make-up Artist by evening.

Now let’s delve into the beautiful story behind this skillful, make-up artist, high school student, and entrepreneur.

1. I know you are still in high school so how long have you been operating your makeup business?
I got interested in makeup in 2015 for personal reasons. I used to do make-up for my friends and they pushed me to start my makeup page (on Instagram). I started doing appointments with clients other than my friends late 2017, so late last year.

2. Instagram! Yes, that’s where we saw your work. Way to go! What sparked your interest in make-up artistry?
I just liked seeing the pallets and the colours in the pallet and how the Youtubers used them. I realized that I had a passion for it.

3. Okay so you kicked things off in 2015, what were you doing prior to that?
Before 2015 I was a very shy person, so I didn’t take it up at the time. Being a twin, my sister is much more outgoing than I am. She has always been more expressive and talkative, so I got used to her talking for both of us.
In 2015 however, I decided that I was going to start my business. I was just branching out and I realized that I really liked it and I could reach far in it.

4. So you express yourself with art, is makeup artistry the only artistic expression you enjoy?
No. I sing, I did art in school, I dance and I do hair (hairstyling) however, make-up is the only one that I took up as a trade

5. Who, in a general sense, are your clients?
Well, I basically started out doing makeup for my friends and family when they had special occasions; persons at my school, church and sometimes I get connected with other individuals.

6. Do you intend to complete professional training in make-up?
Yes, it is on my list of things to do. It is difficult to get that training done now because I am in school, but I will do it once I get the time.

7. How do you manage school and your make-up artistry business?
To be honest, sometimes I struggle with time management; however, I love make-up and I have my family who is very supportive, so I’m not doing this alone.

8. Which area are you pursuing in school?
I’m pursuing dentistry so I do Pure Math, Chemistry, Bio and MOB (Management of Business) or I would like to be a cosmetologist.

9. Why Dentistry?
Well, I’ve wanted to be a dentist since I was four years old. I have always been obsessed with the aesthetic of why people smile, and I just wanted to be apart of it. I found it interesting as a child to see people laugh and I wanted to create experiences like that for people.

10. Where do you plan to study after leaving 6th form?
I intend to go to UWI if all goes well if not then UTECH.

11. Now let’s talk about your family. How does your family support you?
My mother will pick me up and drop me off at my appointments and my twin sister follows me to my appointments as well.

12. Do you have male clients?
No, not really. I only had 1 male client recently.

13. Are you verse with all types of makeup application?
I do all types, I’m learning to do special effects as well.

14. What is your advice to young Jamaicans who have dreams but they’re somewhat shy or afraid to pursue them?
My message is that they should break down the barriers and push through. If you don’t fight for what you want who will fight for it for you? A dream without a plan is just a dream.

15. What challenges do you face, if any?
The main challenge that I face is people probably overlooking me because of my age, being young and not certified people don’t think I am able to do make-up for them. (However, I am addressing that challenge…) I broadcast myself more, stop watching people and I don’t allow the opinions of others to get me. If I listened to some of the comments I would not have started my business.

16. Five years from now when I am doing the follow-up interview where will you be?
Hopefully, I would have graduated from dental school, built my brand more, have more clientèle, got certified. I also want to start classes where I teach makeup. People ask me all the time what they should use, so if I have classes I can help others who were once like me.

What is age when you have ambition and a game plan? Forget age and pursue your passion! ‘Break down all barriers and push through’; strong words of encouragement from the young but knowledgeable Kandice Ambersley.

All the best Kandice and thank you for sharing your story with us!

To view Kandice’s work or to book an appointment, visit her Instagram page.

Our Stories is a feature which shares the other side of Jamaican entrepreneurs: their innermost thoughts, inspirations, and personal stories. Are you a Jamaican with a story to share? Contact us [email protected].

About the author

Ashleigh-Ann Mowatt

Ashleigh-Ann Mowatt is a journalist who practises her craft everyday. Ashleigh-Ann loves to tell stories, human interest stories or stories of the heart. She hopes that by sharing these stories, she is ultimately helping persons to lead better lives. Check out her other stories on her blog,