Interview with Keniece Burks
Her-bal Whole Health & Beauty Spa Pro Keniece Burks is an Esthetician in Tennessee. Her extensive knowledge of skincare and emphasis on beauty from within makes her a great asset to our PocketSuite Pro community. Keniece talks to CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro and Managing Editor, Sean Litteljohn about stepping out on faith and the importance of mentorship.
How did you start your skincare business?
Well, so I started out as a makeup artist on the platform, of course. I was a makeup artist and that is what I did. I graduated with a degree in accounting. I was an accountant for two years until I stepped out on faith and I became a full time makeup artist.
What was it like initially?
I found PocketSuite in 2015. That’s when I quit my job in 2015. I just started to do a lot of freelance work. I worked with an artist that really taught me a lot. She had worked with President Obama. She had worked with Kanye West on his fashion shoots, fashion shows, and things like that. So I got a lot of experience working with her. After about six months of working with her, I branched out on my own. From there, one of my mentors who had been in the beauty industry over 20 years, probably longer than I have been living here on this earth, she recommended that I go back to school. She said, “I think that you would be great as an esthetician because you’re working with skin.” She heard the things that I would say when I did makeup about how a woman’s skin is typically not where she wants it to be. And I couldn’t work miracles in an hour with makeup.
Fast forward, how’d you get to where you are today?
In January of 2017, I went back to school to become an esthetician. I opened up HER-bal Whole Health & Beauty Spa. I just switched the name from just my makeup brand to a full service esthetic beauty brand. I’m really big on whole health. So I paired the two together and that’s how I run my business. That’s what makes it so unique because it’s not just about I’m going to get you to where you need to be topically, but we know that it starts from within. So you have to work your way from the inside out. That is really what’s going to help you to maintain that healthy, glowing skin.
I just switched the name from just my makeup brand to a full service esthetic beauty brand. I’m really big on whole health. So I paired the two together and that’s how I run my business.
You said that you stepped out on faith. What was the “ah ha moment” that triggered your faith walk?
Actually, the artist that I said that I worked with when I was still helping out at her company, she called me one day for a video shoot. She couldn’t make it. She needed someone to be the makeup artist for a musician here in Nashville. I was just like, “Oh my gosh.” I’m like, “But I work a nine to five. What am I going to do?” So what I did is I made it work. On my lunch break, I’m like, “What time do they need me there? I can be there at 12:00pm.” So that’s what I did. I took my lunch and I took an extended lunch. It was about a two hour lunch. I was like, “I’ll just make it up.” That’s what I did.When I was on that set, that video shoot, I was just in awe. They loved, the artist and her whole team, loved the makeup and just my passion – the passion behind it. I only got paid… Well, I won’t say only because that was a lot for me doing what I was doing. Of course, at that time I was making more money being an accountant, but I got $100 from this shoot and I literally was calling my mom and everyone. I was just like, “Man, this is really what I really want to do. This really woke up my spirit.” It just really did me well. So I think that had a lot to do with it because after that, I started receiving a lot of reminders from God. I’m just like, “You know what? Let me just have some faith. Let me have some faith. Let me do what I came here to do, what I was birthed to do, my calling, my passion.” And that’s what got me here.
It sounds like mentorship has played a really important role in your life and work.
Oh my goodness. First, you have to get clear in your own mind that you do need mentorship. I think that is very, very important because I feel like so many people think they can just YouTube and Instagram their whole way through. For some people, that may have worked, but for me, I needed someone hands on. I’m a visual learner. I’m in a hands on field. So I would definitely say reach out to someone. If someone is doing something that you want to do, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to them. You’re going to have to strip yourself of any pride. I’m not saying belittle yourself, but you’re going to have to really reach and touch who you want to be connected to.
How did you find your mentors? Or did they find you?
What I did with the artist that I did my apprenticeship with, she had an ad on Instagram and was saying that she needed help, she needed artists. I was like, “That’s me.” Literally, I was like, “Oh yeah, let me go for it.” Literally, we met. We had a meeting and we instantly clicked. She was like, “Yeah, let’s get to work.” I’m like, “Okay, great.” But then when she called me for the video shoot, I’m like, “Oh, you’re ready to work fast.” So I would definitely say be looking out for stuff like that, because I was always on the search for those things, always praying for them. I have a discerning spirit on what is for me. Then I’m going to stay in that line – that lane. Get in alignment. I think that’s very important that you are in alignment.
As far as my mentor, I met her because she was my hairstylist. She did my hair. Yeah, she did my hair and I saw that she had a full salon with only herself and another artist in there. I was like, “How are you keeping this afloat? This is beautiful.” She just gave me a lot of jewels. A lot of knowledge about how she was able to be highly successful and not need 100 people in her salon to keep it going. So it’s kind of like they found me and I found them – type of thing, but I was open. I was open minded.
Check out our comprehensive Esthetician Resources for everything you’ll want to know about becoming an esthetician pro including options training, certifications, associations, licensing, and more!
What is the main character trait that someone needs to be an esthetician?
The first attribute you need to be willing, able, and open to working with people. Because in my business, this is a journey. A lot of my clients, they’re not just coming for one treatment. They’re coming for several treatments. So you have to be open to dealing with maybe you have a client that’s like, “Oh, I’m scared. My skin is peeling. My skin is dry. What should I do?” Or you may have a laid back client that’s like, “Oh, I know it’s going to peel. It’s cool. I’m fine. You don’t have to check on me all the time.” So you really have to be open to that because they’re almost like your babies. They aren’t as knowledgeable as you about this practice. You are the expert.
The second quality you need is patience. You really have to be patient because this is going to be a long journey. I have clients that have been coming to me for over eight years. Then I have clients that have been coming to me for about two years, but I treat everyone the same. So you really have to be patient.
Finally, of course, it has to be in you. It has to be your purpose. My purpose is people. So it really has to be in you and skin and whole healing. So nothing can turn me away from that. I don’t care if I ever had a run in or something bad with a client that wouldn’t turn me away because this is truly my calling.
What are the pros and cons of what you do?
So the pros, you get to meet so many beautiful people – women, men, adults and teenagers. You know what I mean? So that is the pro. They come from all different spectrum of life. So it’s so good to just be able to learn about their different backgrounds and how they want to become healthier and how they want to get their skin healthier. So that is a big pro for me, because of course people are my purpose. Any cons? Cons for me in this business is not having an assistant.
What are the main reasons why people decide to quit and not pursue this career?
I would say a lot of people equate success with how much money they make. At the beginning, for myself, I can only speak from my experience, it just doesn’t work like that. If you are really called to this industry, if you are really called to whatever industry you want to be in, you’re going to really have to know that money doesn’t just fall off trees. Then you’re also going to have to have a work ethic like nobody’s business. When it doesn’t work out, either people, they can’t fathom that, “Oh, the money isn’t there, so I need to go back to my nine to five” or whatever they were going to do. Or they’re like, “Well, I have been doing this and I’ve been doing that.” And it’s like, “A thousand other people are doing that too? So let’s try something a little bit more innovative.”
Jersey Mikes was one of my favorite places to go. I would go in there and literally one day this happened, this is so serious. One day, I was just passing out cards in Jersey Mike’s, waiting in the line, get the food, pass out a card. A young lady was like, “Oh my God, I’ve been looking for a makeup artist for my prom.” And I’m like, “Whoa, when’s your prom?” She said, “Oh, it’s Saturday.” This was a Thursday. She had not had a makeup artist and her prom was two days away. So just doing things like that, really taking it back to the old school way with marketing. And when you don’t have them as clients already? What has worked for me is putting those boots on the ground because we get too comfortable in today’s society. So I say just do things that others aren’t doing – go the extra mile.
When you look ahead, what do you see?
Oh my God, global. Global. I really see it as global. I’m working on some products now, some of my own products. I do love the products that I work with now and the companies, the brands, the manufacturers, I love them. But I’m called to make my own products. So global spas. Where you come in and you don’t just get a facial. I plan to have therapists in my spas. I plan to have, yes, health coaches. I will soon be a certified health coach. So I plan to have health coaches in my spa. I just see greatness ahead, even more greatness.
Any message for the PocketSuite community?
Thank you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you guys. I’ve been with you since 2015. I tell people all the time, “I don’t see me going anywhere.” I know you guys have helped me a ton, especially with those contracts. They ask me for recommendations, I always say, “PocketSuite”. They’re like, “Anybody else?” I’m like, “No.”