Social media has not only changed modern society as a whole, but it’s also changed the lives of thousands of users who have based their careers on the platform by informing, entertaining, or simply sharing parts of their everyday lives. Ani Goulayan is one of the content creators that thanks Instagram for helping her fulfill her dreams in ways beyond her imagination. The makeup artist’s growth of over 1.3 million followers within the last nine years has served as the key element for her current empire under her trade name, Vanity Makeup.
The Armenian-native immigrated to the United States with her family in 1992, where she spent the entirety of her childhood and adolescent years residing in Pasadena, California. Goulayan says her love for makeup began as a love for art and creating drawings with oil pastels. She didn’t pick up a cosmetics brush until she turned fifteen, at which point her love for artistry transcended onto her face as a fresh canvas.
The young creative used all of high school and the beginning of college to teach herself how to produce a wide variety of eye looks by practicing in the mirror and recreating pictures from magazines. Her first makeup gigs consisted of photoshoots she’d work on for free in exchange for prints of photos to add to her portfolio. Shortly after, she landed her first salon job. Initially intimidated by the intensity of the industry, she began to feel that perhaps makeup wasn’t going to be her choice for a long-term career. But once she was convinced to take her second salon job and pursue her true talent, she took advantage of an unseen opportunity and it changed the course of her life forever.
Instagram in 2012 was very different to the digital platform we recognize today. Users were still trying to get a gist of the app, attempting to figure out its purpose while simultaneously posting static photos of anything they’d find interesting. Goulayan, however, saw the platform as an opportunity to gain exposure for her makeup looks beyond her immediate pool of clients. She started off by creating dramatic eye looks on only one side of her face, and then proceeding by photographing a close-up shot of her artistry with a beginner’s Canon camera. She followed up by using Photoshop to enhance the colors of the eyeshadows. Once she started posting on her @vanitymakeup account, her talent began to spread like wildfire.
At the time, in lieu of the ‘Explore’ page, the social platform contained a ‘popular page’, where the app’s best performing posts were featured for 24 hours. @vanitymakeup’s eye looks were featured on a consistent basis, which helped her gain an average of two to three thousand followers practically daily. Her creativity quickly gained traction and became admired on a global scale, creating a significantly large fanbase. Before she realized it, she had become one of Instagram’s very first beauty influencers.
The combination of her success on social media and the rising trend of full-glam makeup gave Goulayan the perfect leeway to turn her talent into a career. Due to hundreds of requests from local followers, the artist began teaching makeup lessons out of the salon she was working at. Her small classes of 40 students would hit capacity in a matter of minutes, all while requests for larger classes kept pouring in. She says it wasn’t until she’d sold out a masterclass of 120 students that she realized the level of success she was exceeding.
In 2016, the digital creator became a full-blown business owner, opening the doors of one of Los Angeles’s first makeup academies by the name of Vanity Makeup School. Business boomed from day one, and the risky endeavor resulted in an instant hit.
And as if millions of followers, a digital career, and now a stand-alone business wasn’t enough to fill up her plate, Goulayan also began working on founding her own cosmetics line in 2018. Despite lots of trial and error in choosing a product for the first launch, she felt it was “only right” to debut the company with the product that assisted her in going viral nine years ago.
Vanity Makeup Cosmetics was born in February 2020 with the launch of the Sculpt & Glow Contour Palette. The cosmetics line released five shades of the product, aiming to fit every skin tone from fair to dark. The palette’s purpose is to help enhance the features of the face while also giving it the extra glow it deserves. All elements of the line’s products, from the packaging to the formulation, is custom made by the CEO herself.
“I don’t cut corners in anything I do, especially when it’s for a dream as big as this one,” the business owner said. “I always imagined what it would be like to make my own makeup… and now it’s a reality. I’ve been working on this for a really long time and I’ve tried to make it the best it can be based on the knowledge I’ve gained over the last 12 years. This is definitely only the beginning. There’s still a lot more work to do.”
Vanity Makeup Cosmetics is set to release two more launches before the end of the year. Goulayan also lets us know she has an upcoming secret project that’ll debut around Summer 2021. “I can’t disclose what it is just yet… But I will say that it’ll broaden the spectrum of makeup on a global scale,” the entrepreneur shared.
To witness the glam first-hand and follow the rest of her amazing journey, follow @vanitymakeup on Instagram.