JAM | May 17, 2023

Shameka McPherson: From being a rebellious teen to now a thriving entrepreneur

Candice Stewart

Candice Stewart / Our Today

Reading Time: 8 minutes

We have all, at some point, interacted with rebellious teens whose futures we envisioned and wondered what heir life would turn out to be.

For Shameka Seivwright McPherson, her journey took her from rebellious teen, to a now thriving entrepreneur in the beauty industry.

In an interview with Our Today, Seivwright McPherson said, “I wasn’t the typical teenage girl. I wasn’t the best or the most behaved child either. I became very rebellious because my parents were strict. I made decisions on my own regardless of what they thought,” she said.

“I never graduated high school. I went from school to school until I went to one of those educational institutions that had a structured curriculum for CXC subjects. I remember being expelled from one school when I was in grade eight and another when I was grade 10,” she said.

“I was, however, very good academically but I had behavioural problems. I was involved in a lot of fights and I did not listen to anyone about my behaviour. Now that I am older, I realise that it wasn’t just behavioural problems, I was in a space where I wasn’t able to express how I felt. When I did express, I was told that I was being rebellious. I even went against everything my parents, especially my mother, asked me to do,” she added.

Rebellious teenage years

Seivwright McPerson said that at one point, her mother took her to the police station for the officers to speak with her about her behaviour.

“I didn’t like school and I didn’t think it made sense. I already knew what I wanted out of life and I did not see where getting an education could help me with that,” she said.

In the teacher’s head, I was her worst student and she told me that I was a cruff and the scum of society. I started to believe her. In my head, I fit the script.

Shameka Seivwright McPherson

One of her reasons for disliking school was triggered when her favourite teacher told her that she was not going to amount to anything.

“In the teacher’s head, I was her worst student and she told me that I was a cruff and the scum of society. I started to believe her. In my head, I fit the script,” she shared.

Seivwright McPerson said that at one point, her mother expressed how she had given up because she ran out of ideas in how to help her daughter do better and become better. However, her father, who is now deceased, said he was going to give her one more chance.

She shared that she sat a few CXC subjects at the educational institution and did well, noting that she aced her favourite subjects, Principles of Business (POB) and Accounts.

Hot girl boss lady

She shared with Our Today that she knew she “always wanted to be hot girl and a boss lady” who independently made her own money, highlighting that as a teen, she would use her mother’s eyeliners and lip gloss and wear them to school.

Though she liked beauty, he aspirations were not limited to that field. ” I remember I wanted to become a pilot, a flight attendant, an accountant or an Accounts teacher,” she said.

“I knew from a tender age that I was going to be a boss lady and to me, that could have come in any package, as long as I was a certified boss lady. I actually wanted to become a flight attendant because I was fascinated by the ladies who worked at Air Jamaica and I associated them with beauty and being hot girls. I thought they were flawless and very pretty,” she said.

Seivwright McPherson pointed out that the school based assessments (SBAs) she did for POB and Accounts were the catalysts “with a hint of fate” leading her into the world of entrepreneurship.

“I remember that for CXC, I had to create businesses for my SBAs. So, for POB, my business was ‘Shameka’s Collections’ and for Accounts, it was ‘Shameka’s Hardware’,” she said.

As she grew into young adulthood, Seivwright McPherson entered the world of work and became a master of sales, customer care and secretarial in the jobs she held.

From corporate to make-up to skincare

While in the corporate world, she “became more fascinated with beauty” and recalled paying for makeup school by using her mother’s credit card. Though she did it without her mother’s knowledge, Seivwright McPherson made full use of it, after being reprimanded.

“My mom’s focus was on ensuring that I had an education up to the tertiary level, but I wasn’t interested in any of that. I wanted to do beauty. I even considered beauty in fashion, but I knew that I loved makeup,” she said, highlighting that her brother, encouraged her to become a makeup artist’.

While slowly engaging makeup, she struggled to maintain employment in the corporate world for extended periods of time as she felt like she did not belong. Her dream was to make her own money, on her own time. So, she held firm to her dream of being the “hot girl boss lady” that she aspired to be.

“That’s the start of how I became a makeup artist. I created my first business, ‘Doll faces by Reinabella’. The name came about because my dad used to call me a beauty queen. I looked for it in French and used the translation,” she explained.

My brother suggested that I use my name but I did not want to use my name at all. I eventually caved and started to use my name to build my brand. That is when Shameka’s Artistry came about.

Shameka Seivwright McPherson

The name ‘Reinabella’ did not last very long as she was again encouraged by her brother to add her own identity to her craft.

“At that time, I would do makeup for photoshoots and video shoots. My brother suggested that I use my name but I did not want to do that. I eventually caved and used my name to build my brand. That is when Shameka’s Artistry came about. It took a while but I officially registered my new business with the Companies Office of Jamaica in July 2019,” she shared.

She said that as a young and upcoming makeup artiste, she would feel horribly when attending to her clients getting ready for their high school graduation.

“There’s a pain I used to feel when I did makeup for girls graduating from high school. I didn’t get to have that experience, so seeing what I could have done always hurt. I have since healed and overcome that. I even wrote a poem about it about,” she said.

“After that, I felt the urge to do more than being a makeup artist. I started distributing cosmetic items with another person. Then, COVID-19 came. When that happened, not many people wore makeup because of the masks we had to wear. So, I didn’t do much makeup. I had to adjust and pivot,” she added.

In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Seivwright McPherson said she learned how to do body waxing after being introduced to someone skilled in the craft.

“After that introduction, I then enrolled in additional short courses in body waxing, vagacials, body contouring, and even advanced facials. I still wanted more so during the pandemic, I did my research and enrolled in as many digital courses as I could manage. They were free and I realised, through my research, that the ‘beauty’ I revered all my life was rooted in me becoming an esthetician,” she shared.

Currently located in Portmore, St. Catherine, Seivwright McPherson refers to herself as ‘Portmore’s favourite Bestestician’, serving clients in the services she learned primarily during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manoeuvring difficult times

Seivwright McPherson, says that she really loves what she does because it gives her peace of mind and makes her happy.

However, being an entrepreneur can sometimes be seasonal as there may not always be business coming in. In addition to the occasional income insecurity, she highlighted that she is a married mother of one. So she is faced with challenges in managing her business and her family life from time to time.

“When it comes to overcoming my struggles, I use my determination. I do not allow my circumstances to dictate how I approach my days. It’s never easy but I always say that ‘the fire furnace is around me but it can’t come near me’ and everyday, I tell myself that I am here for a purpose and I have to fulfill that purpose in overcoming my struggles,” she said.

“I am also a critical thinker. So, I analyse everything with a fine tooth comb and I always weigh my pros and cons. As a Christian, I pray a lot and ask God to give me direction, she added, noting that there are times that she goes on a fasting and consistently prays over her business.

Seivwright McPherson also told Our Today that she is grateful for the support she receives from her husband, her son, her mother, and her friends.

“I lean on my husband for support and he constantly encourages me. He is a 9-5 type of man while I am the almost 24/7 woman with my business. We have our disagreements but we are in this together, so we make it work. My mom is also very supportive. At first she didn’t understand what I was trying to do but now she gets it,” she said.

Future of Shameka’s Artistry

Seivwright McPherson hopes that her brand will one day become a household name.

“I want to transform Shameka’s Artistry into an institution to teach the services that I offer. Through my business, I also want to be a positive impact on teen girls who falter along the way, just like me when I did when I was young. I want to be a positive influence on girls in such a way that they understand that they are everything that people negatively tell them that they’re not. I also aspire to become a business coach one day,” she said.

She also hopes to expand her business in terms of branded products.

“I already have a product line called ‘Pretty Kiity by Shameka’s Artistry. It is an intimate care product line for aftercare for persons who do body waxing. The line includes a scrub, gentle wash, and also a moisturising oil,” she said, noting that she plans to expand her product offerings with a product line for other skincare.

She shares that this next step is still in the developmental stages but she is excited for the future.

Pep talk for girls

“We are living in a world where people try to shut us down so that girls and women don’t have a voice. I will ask you to blow that trumpet and say ‘I can, I will, I must’. It may take you a little time to start on the journey to your dreams, but when you start, you will succeed. Life will always throw you a curveball but it doesn’t determine how you catch that ball,” she said

“Go at a slow pace. There are baby steps to the top and anything that comes fast doesn’t work. I encourage you to strike a balance and fight for what you want. If you have your business idea or your goals and you’re not doing to work to achieve them, ‘it nuh mek nuh sense’,” she added.

Connect with Shameka’s Artistry @shamekasartistry on Instagram

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