Photo Above By Ali & Paul Photography
Story by Danielle Debley
I believe a lot of brides think hiring a makeup artist is a want, not a need for their wedding when it actually is a need,” says Veronica Lugo, owner of Vero Leigh. She enthusiastically speaks about her passion for bridal makeup and the importance of having a great makeup artist.
Born to Be an Artist
Lugo was always an artist, as were many in her family. Whether it was a painter, an interior decorator, or more, she was always surrounded by artists and their works.
“I was an artist before, hand working on canvas. One day I picked up this book, Making Faces, by Kevyn Aucoin. It was all about highlighting and contouring and how that could totally change someone’s face. He made someone who looked rough and grunge look soft and beautiful like Marilyn Monroe. It fascinated me and I felt like I needed to reevaluate; I wanted to do that type of artistry, makeup, for the rest of my life,” says Lugo.
Honing in the Skills
Lugo began to work for makeup stores including Sephora and Ulta. While working at Sephora she became certified and was ready to join their pro team, which travels the world and attends fashion shows. Then, her mother got sick and she had to put all of that on hold to come home.
“After that, I started working at Ulta in Mechanicsburg. Within six months I was promoted to the Cosmetic Manager position. I’ve always had a passion for leadership and teaching as well, so I turned the position into that. With doing that, we changed the entire feel of when people came in to shop for makeup,” Veronica explains.
“A lot of the brands would also send reps to teach us about certain ingredients and why they launched certain products. It made me super hungry to ask questions such as ‘What’s the core ingredient?’ or ‘What does that do?’ ‘How does that benefit your skin or your makeup product?’ I think that’s where my passion to eventually make my own makeup line came from,” says Lugo.
In the Wedding Industry
Around five years ago, after leaving Ulta, Veronica decided to step out on her own and do makeup for just one wedding to see how it went. Within the first year of having her own business she booked five weddings. Within the second she was up to ten, and things have continued to progress. She booked thirty weddings in 2018!
“If I didn’t have a passion for doing wedding makeup I would’ve thrown in the towel during year two,” says Lugo. “Year two was the year of me saying to myself ‘Okay Veronica, dust the dust off of your business minor and get to it!’ It’s not just about artistry, it’s a lot about the business end of it too.”
With her degrees and skills, Lugo has what it takes to maintain a successful business in the wedding industry. Her psychology degree gives her great skill in the relational aspect of her career, while the business minor balances out all of the technical aspects. Growing up as an artist has given her an eye and a feel for what each bride wants and needs as well.
When asked about her favorite part of doing makeup for weddings she quickly responded “Obviously the wedding day!” She then went on to detail which moments mean the most:
“I think to narrow it down, there’s two parts. One is the minute I arrive. The minute I arrive sets the tone for the rest of getting ready that morning. I sometimes like to be the first one to get there. The second part is when I’m in the middle of it all. The girls are playing their favorite playlist and I just start to act like I’m one of the bridesmaids! Because in that moment, I shouldn’t make them feel like I’m a vendor; I should make them feel like I’m an honorary bridesmaid,” says Lugo.
A Personal Touch
Lugo believes in making every bride feel special, connected with, and tries to build trust with them.
“I do little virtual coffee dates with my brides and I think that sets me apart. I want to get to know them first and once I get to know them, then I get to know what they want for their makeup. Makeup is very psychological. Each bride has to be vulnerable with me and I have to be sensitive to that,” says Veronica.
“I want brides to know the importance of why I, or any makeup artist, is there. It’s not just to put a nice cat eye on you or lashes, it’s so that we can support you. Hiring the best makeup artist is not about hiring skills (which yes, you should have great skills) but it’s also about hiring someone who has personality, who is going to jive with your girls and with your team. It’s so much more about the relational part of it than the skill part,” explains Lugo.
Tips, Tricks & Tidbits
Lugo suggests booking a makeup artist at least a year in advance. “The Knot and Wedding Wire and publications like that seem to say book three to six months in advance, but most makeup artists will look at their calendars now and they’re already all booked up that far out,” she says.
“I always give my brides their getting ready timeline a month in advance. Wedding planners never know exactly how long I would need, and for brides it’s helpful,” says Lugo.
Not only does Veronica dedicate herself to each and every bride on their wedding day, but she also launched her own cosmetic line in the summer of 2017. Now, she offers ten different shades of velvet liquid lipstick and one highlighter shade. You can purchase her lip line at Three Little Birds Boutique in their Mechanicsburg and Hershey locations. If you’re not local, you can always shop online as well. To book her for your wedding or any special event check her out at www.veroleigh.com