Makeup artist Simpcw travels the world for Indigenous fashion shows
Makeup artist Joey Roo travels the world to share his expertise in applying foundation to Indigenous models.
Roo, 28, of the Simpcw First Nation’s Band, started working full-time as a make-up artist in early March, and they are soon flying out to Indigenous fashion shows in Australia and Paris.
“Honestly, it’s just a dream. Meet native designers and models, [and] to have this sense of community all over the world is amazing.
At the event in Australia, Roo will show other makeup artists and models how to use MisMack foundation, a product that works for a variety of skin tones. Roo will ensure that the foundation is applied and matches each of the models skin tones correctly.
The makeup company, which Roo works full-time for, donates palettes to Indigenous models and makeup artists in attendance.
Roo hopes that with their work, no Indigenous model will be sent out with a “white face” – a term for the fact that makeup makes a model’s skin look lighter, and which Roo says is still too common. . And, there is a distinct lack of options available to BIPOC makeup wearers in supermarkets and major retailers in Australia and Canada.
“It literally breaks my heart, that in the year 2022, that [whiteface] is still ongoing,” they say.
Indigenous fashion around the world
Roo is represented by Fashion Speaks International, an Indigenous modeling and fashion consulting agency in Kamloops, which helps organize Indigenous fashion weeks around the world. The show in Australia would be the first-ever all-Indigenous fashion show in the country, said agency owner Kim Coltman, who has partnered with two Indigenous fashion designers in Australia.
“I formed a coalition of [Indigenous] fashion industry professionals for six years. And we work with indigenous people from Singapore, France, Australia, New Zealand, all over Turtle Island,” she says.
“So we really connected around the world and tried to bring together indigenous people around the world.”
Makeup was part of the healing journey
More locally, Roo will also provide make-up services during Victoria Eco Fashion Week in late April.
Roo says they are living their best life, traveling the world as professional makeup artists.
“When I was little I watched TV and watched Gossip Girl, and I saw them go to fashion shows and lavish events, and now it’s my life,” they told IndigiNews by phone.
Roo spent time living in Victoria when they were in their early twenties, where they suffered a lot of trauma and loss. In 2019, they moved back to Kamloops, closer to where they grew up, and began to heal. The artistry of makeup was a major factor in this process.
“It was part of my healing journey, and I was doing it as a creative outlet, and then my neighbor asked me to do her makeup at her engagement party,” they say.
“I came to the party and then all the other girls were like, ‘Can you do my makeup too?’ and I was like, ‘Well, I better start charging for that!’”
For several years, Roo worked in construction as a drywall installer while also working on her own as a freelance makeup artist. Gradually, their skills improved, and eventually photos of their makeup work were released.
Some of their work has also been exhibited at the Salmon Arm Art Center, where a curator introduced them to Missy Mack, the owner of MisMack, a local makeup company in Kamloops. The couple hit it off and she invited Roo to work in her new storefront in Victoria. Roo returned to the island and went into labor in March.
“I was a full-time drywall worker,” they said. “And now I’m a full-time makeup artist.”