I’m currently smoking weed. How perfect is that?
I always wanted to be a makeup artist. I have a very early memory of being with my mum in a MAC Cosmetics store back in London—I was no higher than the countertop—and being fascinated by all the colors. Recently, my step-father found a wish list from when I was six or seven years old, and at the top of it was this makeup kit that I wanted. Looking at that, I was like, Damn! I really was adamant that this is what I wanted to do.
I don’t want to make people not look like themselves—I pride myself on allowing people’s natural beauty to shine through. I love color and how it represents different moods. Leaving a person’s skin looking natural allows me to work on top of it, as though it were a blank canvas.
I pride myself on allowing people’s natural beauty to shine through.
I moved from London to Paris when I was 19 years old. I found myself having spent all my savings and not really knowing what to do. A lot of my photographer and designer friends encouraged me to start doing makeup for them. That gave me the courage to teach myself and start doing it.
When I moved back to London, I was introduced to another makeup artist through my mother who took me under her wing. I was her assistant for over a year, and I learned so much from her. She taught me how to handle myself on set. There are times when the shoot’s run over, and our wrap time was definitely supposed to be four hours prior, but we’re still there. She really reinforced the idea that even if you don’t necessarily want to be there, you have to maintain your vibrance and some level of gratitude for being there. I’ll never forget that. Even when you can see everybody else getting annoyed—the models getting frustrated that they’re still there—you keep the energy alive. You make it fun. At the end of the day, we have amazing jobs.
I have so many memories of being nervous on set at the beginning. Of being scared that someone would turn around and say, “Why are you here? You can’t do your job! This is really, really bad work!” I had that paranoia for a long time. But then it never happened. So I was like, I guess I’m okay at this! I guess people like what I’m doing.
If I’m working with a new client that I don’t know very well, I won’t smoke before I go to my shoot because I really want to be on point. I want complete clarity. I also want this person to trust me and not think I’m some stoner coming on set, because I understand that can sometimes be the perception. But a large part of my clients know me for being a stoner. I blast it all over social media. I’m very open about that. People trust me with the work I do even when I’m high, so it’s quite nice that I can be openly blazed on set. If anything, I sometimes encourage other people, like, “Oh, guys, it’s lunch break, maybe we should share a cheeky joint outside!” It really brings the team together.
Once I had smoked in front of my mum, I didn’t feel like I had to hide it from anybody. I know the person I am when I smoke; I’m not ashamed of that person. It’s more that I still give my mum the motherly authority when it comes to certain things. If I’m thinking about posting a risque picture, I’ll run it by my mum. And she’ll be like, “Maaaybe don’t post that one.” She’s very, very liberal, so I know she won’t automatically say no. Sometimes she’ll be like, “Fuck it, you look cute, do that one.”
I know the person I am when I smoke; I’m not ashamed of that person.
My mum is from the French Caribbean. She moved to Paris when she was 12 or 13 and moved to London in her early 20s. My mom, out of her entire family, is the only person who left France. Either you leave the Caribbean and move to France, or you stay in the Caribbean. She’s the only one who ventured out and learned a whole new language. She really took that extra leap.
My mum is a stylist, a vintage collector, a writer, and a painter. Art has definitely been in my life from the moment I was born. I know my mum was hanging out with a bunch of artist friends before I was born. I think my brother and I were destined to have some kind of creative profession.
I was about 14 or 15 the first time I smoked weed. My dad smoked weed, and one day I decided to roll up my own makeshift joint. It probably looked horrendous. It’s funny, because how I am when I smoke now is very similar to the first time: I went onto the balcony and looked out while I smoked and was like, this is really, really beautiful. Then I went back inside and carried on playing with my friends.
Weed has taught me to be one with myself. It’s about being in tune with yourself. I would definitely say it’s different for everybody, which is why I would never say, “You should do this, you should do that.” This is what I do. Figure out your way, and let me know how that goes.
It wasn’t until 2015 or 2016 that I really dedicated myself to the “stoner life.” I haven’t looked back since. My husband played a large role in that, for sure. He was a really good, functioning stoner, and enabled me to see life as a stoner as being productive and artistic.
I wanted to change the perspective that you can’t be a productive stoner.
My husband and I go out of our way to acknowledge that it’s 4:20, no matter where we are. It could be 4:20 a.m. or 4:20 p.m. Obviously we’ll smoke a joint if we can. It got to a point where we were like, we should document this. I started putting these 4:20 videos on Instagram. It’s a moment of being present—like, let’s just celebrate this moment for a second. Creating a timeline of those moments throughout the years is kind of what I’m trying to achieve. A series of moments of me being present and celebrating that with whoever I’m with, or by myself.
I think there’s always this negative connotation around stoners, that if you smoke weed all the time then you’re just lazy and not really doing much. Being my stubborn self, I wanted to go out of my way to document how much I smoke weed, and how much I accomplish when I do. I wanted to change the perspective that you can’t be a productive stoner.
I moved to New York in the summer of 2016. My husband is from here. I was back in London, and I’d just started to build a network there. I was adamant that I was going to stay in London, and he was adamant that he was going to stay in New York. Finally, it got to the point where one of us had to decide.
I went into a major depression for the first year. It was horrible. I didn’t really plan it. I was so upset because I thought I’d just thrown my entire life away. After a while I was like, Okay, I’m still here, so I have to do something. I can’t stay in this depressive state and not make any effort. I need to actually go out there and meet people and make new friends. I had such a tight group back in London that I felt there was no way I could get the same thing here. But I realized that I hadn’t given New York the opportunity to show me what it had to offer.
One of the major things that helped me was practicing Buddhism. My mum’s been Buddhist most of my life. I would occasionally chant if I felt that my life was in a bit of a shambles, but for the most part I never took it seriously. When I was going through that difficult first year in New York, my brother—who’s three years younger than me and just got a residency at the Victoria & Albert museum in London—said to me, “I would never tell you what to do, but I think that practicing Buddhism would give you some sense of stability and also confidence that you can actually do what it is you want to do.” I was like, “You know what? I’m going to take you up on that, because it’s true that you never tell me what to do. And so far you seem to be killing it, so maybe I should take a leaf out of your book.”
When I would chant in the morning and in the evening, I’d be reminding myself what my determinations were and what it was that I wanted to achieve in New York.
It helped, because the main point of Buddhism is cause and effect. Every day, putting in a cause and getting an effect. When I would chant in the morning and in the evening, I’d be reminding myself what my determinations were and what it was that I wanted to achieve in New York. I couldn’t chant in the morning and then turn around and not do those things.
It’s interesting to see how different people practice Buddhism all over the world. In London, the way in which they welcome people is very different to how people are in Paris: Paris is very closed. When I finally made the determination to really take my practice seriously in New York, I had so many people behind me like, "Yes! We’re going to help you, we’re going to support you." I love New York Buddhists. I think they’re so awesome. They have this energy that’s unmatchable, and that says a lot about the people of New York.
Now I love the city. I’m so grateful to be here, and I’m so grateful that people support what I do and love the artwork that I create and encourage me to make more. I couldn’t imagine myself being anywhere else, which is so wild.
I love going to Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe, which is where my mum’s from. That’s one thing I love about living in New York: I can go to the Caribbean and it’s only like three-and-a-half hours, four hours. I went to the Caribbean a lot growing up, but it’s been so nice to build my own personal relationship to it. I’m from London, and I’m so proud of being from London, but I’m increasingly reminding myself that I’m also from the Caribbean. I need to keep that relationship alive and soak up as much of it as I can.
I’m working on my first major film. I got kicked out of high school, but the one thing that I really did well in was film. My film teacher definitely pushed for my school to not kick me out, based on how well I did in film. But at the end of the day, they did.
I’m working on my first major film. I got kicked out of high school, but the one thing that I really did well in was film.
It’s an art film, a political art film. But having spent so much time in the fashion industry, I can’t help but have some kind of fashion element to it. Visually, it will be a beautiful fashion film, but it will have a much deeper meaning.
It’s giving me so much anxiety because I’m branching out of what I’m known for. I’m going back to the vulnerability that I had when I first got into makeup. I think it’s important that I put the film out there for myself and for the people, but I also need to prove to myself that I don’t have to limit myself to just one thing.