At 17, Ariel Lewis walked into Towson Town Center looking for a job at the Bobbi Brown makeup counter. A year earlier, Lewis had fallen in love with the brand after the mother of a family she babysat for introduced her to the cosmetics.
“It was the first time I had seen a luxury beauty brand and was blown away by the beautiful packaging,” says Lewis. “I remember deciding there and then that I wanted to work at Bobbi Brown.”
But being too young for the makeup counter, Lewis was sent away without a job. Still, that didn’t stop her.
“I was persistent,” Lewis remembers. “I must have been turned away a dozen times before finally being allowed to demonstrate my abilities. I brought a friend and did makeup on her, and without ever doing it before, my eye naturally grabbed the right colors and brushes.
“I have always loved making people feel good, and I believe makeup is a tool to do just that.”
Today, Lewis, 33, is one of the premier makeup artists in the Baltimore-Washington corridor with two booming businesses — Airbrush Makeup By Ariel, which focuses on bridal makeup and hair, and A-List Experiences, a brand activation and experiential marketing company. (For more than two years, Lewis has served as Jmore’s “Beauty Beat” consultant.)
“I love connecting with people, and makeup is a way to have that impact in a positive way,” says Lewis, an Ellicott City resident who has a studio space in Columbia. “I created A-List Experiences after making a name in the wedding industry because I wanted to figure out how to use our talents and services in an outside-of-the-box type of way.”
A-List Experiences provides corporations, nonprofits and individuals with the opportunity to curate a pop-up beauty experience. Lewis works closely with photographers, videographers, nail technicians, licensed barbers and custom clothiers to create an “experiential entertainment experience.”
“It’s a fun way to utilize our skills in a different way,” Lewis says. “I love business and consistently want to evolve our business and brand. I am not afraid of doing something different from everyone else.”
With approximately 75 artists working alongside her, Lewis also does on-demand beauty services for commercials, television, magazine editorials or any type of special event. She is an advocate for the use of clean, chemical-free and organic makeup.
“Our signature look is clean, classic and timeless,” says Lewis. “There are trends I like to try, but my main clientele are people who want to look like the best versions of themselves as opposed to an overly glamorized version.”
Lewis didn’t take a linear path to becoming an entrepreneur and makeup artist. Born in the Mexican port city of Veracruz, Lewis moved to Timonium when she was 5. A member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, she spent her childhood and young adult years as an active congregant, teaching Hebrew school on Sundays after becoming a bat mitzvah and being confirmed.
After graduating from Dulaney High School, Lewis attended Towson University for undergraduate and graduate school, receiving a master’s degree in speech therapy. For four years, she worked in the Howard County Public School System as a speech language pathologist before deciding to become a stay-at-home mother.
“In the process of deciding to stay home full-time with my daughter, I realized that wasn’t going to be the best choice for me,” says Lewis, who has an 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. “I needed an outlet, and makeup became that. It was the perfect opportunity for me to do something I have always loved as a side gig for a little extra cash and to have contact with people. I didn’t intend to start a business. It was an organic process.”
Lewis has been trained by some of the top celebrity makeup artists and done makeup for such celebrities as Jessica Alba, Michael Phelps and Gov. Larry Hogan and his family.
She says she is proud that her children will grow up watching her do a job she absolutely loves.
“I have gotten to experience being a stay-at-home mother and a working mother, and I’m grateful to have had both experiences,” says Lewis, who has been married for a decade to her husband, Eric. “Being a mother, a wife, a dog owner and business owner is a lot to juggle, but Eric is so supportive and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“As a woman, a Jewish woman and a Mexican person, I am a minority in all the classes and I’m proud of that,” she says. “I think those niches have always helped me grow.”
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