Gabriela Cardenas, Celebrity Beauty & Makeup Artist
LASM x TDR: We have the beautiful and very talented Gabriela Cardenas. Makeup Artist, Hairstylist, Entrepreneur, Salon Owner. Boss Babe in the house! You recently opened your salon…
Gabriela: Yes.  It’s Heaven’s Beauty Lounge.
LASM x TDR: Heaven’s beauty lounge. And you named that after your daughter, right?
Gabriela: I did. I did, it’s her legacy. That’s what we hope for..
LASM x TDR: When you told me that, I was like, oh my God, that, and then you, I didn’t even realize your daughter’s name is heaven. So, the last time we saw each other, you actually had an article that was published in L.A. STYLE Magazine. It was beautiful. You gave the “How to get that sun kissed look.”
Gabriela: Yes.
LASM x TDR: And now we get to talk to you about what you’re doing today. So how long have you been at your salon? When did you open it?
Gabriela: I opened this year, January. So we’re going on a year. My year anniversary is coming up, so I’m still excited about that, January 12th. I went into the year like that’s it. I’m not working for no one any more. I’m doing my own thing again. And with God’s grace it was open within like a month.
LASM x TDR: That’s amazing. So tell audiences a little bit back. Let’s backtrack. How did you know originally that makeup, and beauty, and hair was in your destiny? It was really what something you wanted to do?
Gabriela: I grew up around a bunch of hairstylists. So my mom’s a hairdresser and my aunt, my older sister. And I really thought, “Oh this is fun because everyone was doing it.” So my Barbie’s were nonexistent when it came to being plain. They all had like short little crazy bobs because I would chop all their hair off. And if you dip a Barbie’s head in like Kool-Aid, it will turn the color of the Kool-Aid. I learned how to dye hair with Barbie.
LASM x TDR: That’s crazy.
Gabriela: So my Dad would get mad like, Gabby, stop ruining your Barbie’s, they are expensive. And I was like just dipping them in Kool-Aid and cutting the hair. So really early on, I was just infatuated with like the beauty aspect of it. And I started just like cutting my cousin’s hairs and doing makeup for like my friends in junior high. And then high school people were like paying me like 20 bucks and like do their makeup for like prom and, very sweet fifteen and sixteens. And I’m 100% self-taught when it comes to makeup, but I did go to beauty school to get licensed to do hair. Really early into doing hair. I realized I loved to make up more than hair, although I was really good at hair, but my passion was makeup. It just came naturally. And so my first celebrity was Barbra Streisand.  totally fake it. Do you know what they said fake it till you make it. Like I had no idea what I was doing on someone else because I was just doing my own makeup. But…
LASM x TDR: Wow. I love it.
Gabriela:  … She wants my hair style;  So that’s how I met her. I was working at a Bruno and Sunni’s in Beverly Hills. That’s the first salon I ever worked at. I interned there and then it became, I got hired as an assistant and just kind of came up. But it was pretty awesome.
LASM x TDR:  Did you do her hair or makeup?
Gabriela: Well I started at like I would shampoo her hair because she used to go to the owner and I was assistant. But makeup was different because like, she asked like, does she do makeup? And they’re like, oh yeah, she’s a makeup artist. Okay. And this is a long time. We’re talking about like it’ll be 20 years. So yeah, it was really different than now. We didn’t have social media, we didn’t have anything that we have today. So it was just, I feel like…
LASM x TDR: Which is what we talk about, divine alignment.
Gabriela: I owe 100%.
LASM x TDR: And boldness. Like, yes, I’m good. I can do it. Like, sit down Barbara.
Gabriela: Yes, totally. That was an experience.
LASM x TDR: It’s like you’re reliving it right now at this moment. Like I feel you. We are all laughing because we’ve all been there at some point of whatever career we’ve been at. So even audience members at home. But that’s, and if you haven’t go do it. Just do it.
Gabriela:  Go do it. Just do it. I tell people that all the time. Don’t let fear hold you back.
LASM x TDR:  I mean, so, from that point like you started with Barbara Streisand which all of us love and have mad respect for. But recently or more recently, I heard that my friend in my head Kim K, that you have some type of link or connection with that with a little show called Kim K’s Glam Squad or something like that.
Gabriela:  Glam Masters. So it’s a makeup competition show where it’s kind of like Chopped, but for makeup artists. And it’s crazy. So you, first of all just being on the show and just get it on the show was like an honor in itself. They say there was like hundreds of thousands of applicants and they were interviewed. But I got selected; I was one of the 24. And at that point I competed. It was crazy, crazy, crazy. But it was such a great experience. And yes, you can see that now on Netflix because now they’re like replaying it, but it’s Glam Masters by Kim K.
LASM x TDR: I got a question. So for the makeuply challenged that are here. What are you doing that’s a contest in this makeup a show? I mean how does it work?
Gabriela:  Like what’s the whole concept behind it? So they basically will throw a challenge at you and say, you got an hour to create this look with these tools. Mind you have none of your own tools. You don’t know any product that you’re using. So it’s like the Pantry, when they pull up, open that pantry on shop. Like it’s the same thing, but for makeup. So you’re running and pulling product off wall. You don’t know what you’re like, even, I have my kit. I’m used to working out on my kit. So when I don’t have my kit, I’m like a lost puppy. I don’t know what to do. So that alone is just really intimidating. And then they’re giving you challenges that, I’m a beauty makeup artist. Most of my clients are red carpeted stars. So, here they gave me a rainbow challenge. Like you can only use the colors of the rainbow. I’m like, my clients don’t walk around wearing rainbows. I don’t, you can only use the colors of the rainbow. And I was like, holy crap. Really intense. And, and it was, it made me almost like question my career because I was like, maybe I suck because I, it’s so hard, but you don’t know what your challenge is going to be. So at that moment and you go up there and you’re with three other makeup artists and they’re like, your time starts now. And I’m like, oh my God, this is for real. Like this is happening. Why did I even put myself in this situation?
LASM x TDR: I bet you slayed it.
Gabriela: You guys got to watch. 
LASM x TDR: What’s with that rainbow. That rainbow.
Gabriela: I had nightmares about that rainbow.
LASM x TDR: When does this air?
Gabriela: Yeah, it did already. It did, it actually aired in April of this year. Yeah. So now you can watch it again on Netflix.
LASM x TDR: Which episode is it?
Gabriela: My episode is Episode 5 and I believe it’s called the Rainbow Challenge. 
LASM x TDR:  So what was it like actually working with Kim Kardashian? Because both of you are beautiful ladies. Beautiful ladies that are entrepreneurs that actually started young. Both of you have that in common. So what was it like? Did you actually have an opportunity to interact with her? We know clearly you are already a boss before you were ever on there because we go way back guys. And so, but I know that you were challenged to go to new levels and beyond working on that show, did you ever have an opportunity to interact or to meet other people that were in the industry that you feel have influenced you or have inspired you from that experience?
Gabriela: Yeah. With Kim, it was different. She was more behind the scenes. I interacted with all the other hosting and judges that were on the show which makeup by Mario, which is her makeup artist. So that was the intimidating alone because he’s like judging me, doing her makeup.
Gabriela: Laverne Cox is the main host. And so I interacted with all of them, Candy Johnson and as Dana Roberts. But Kim was, she’s very behind the scenes and, but she is the one that actually selected me. She handpicked the 24 artists, so that was pretty cool to know that she handpicked me… and the rest of us, I should say. But just like I said earlier, like just being selected and just even getting on the show was an honor because there are so many makeup artists out there.
LASM x TDR: That really speaks to the boldness that it takes to be an artist. I mean, not only just in that season or last year when you did the show.  That’s an example of you speaking out your creativity and being confident in the gift that you’ve been given. But I mean, this is two decades later. I mean, you’re an expert at the craft. So when we rewind a little bit, I want to go back to inspire audiences that maybe haven’t taken that leap yet, or they have a gift and they know and they just haven’t activated it. And when you’re an artist, you’re creating an art form, whether it’s on somebody’s face or an actual canvas or any really creative medium. You’re putting yourself out there to be judged in that sense. So how did you, did you ever experience a mental block in the process of showcasing your creative ability or challenges when you were coming to? Because I know you said you started doing hair in high school, right? Was there any season maybe in your high school days or maybe even college when you were choosing it as a career that you experienced? Maybe some push back from yourself.
Gabriela: The funny thing that you say that. No. For me, the pushback came later in life like after had been doing it for so many years. And I started questioning; did I choose the right career? Because it’s really tough, especially when you’re out there really working for yourself, freelancing. And so freelance, there’s no guarantee like you may be working, have a great Gig for like three months. But then it stops and then, who’s going to hire me next? Am I going to get something? And by the grace of God, I would always get called. But then there was a time where I did have a little dry spell where I was like, oh my God, like how am I going to live and I can’t imagine doing anything else because it wasn’t like, I love doing this. I just feel like you’re as strong as you are and no one is going to ever be able to do that for you. So if you don’t have that mentality, if you don’t have that strength, if you don’t have that faith in yourself, like you’re just barely really, really easy to just fall. And just most recently, we’re just opening up my salon; I came across a lot of challenges. I don’t have a partner. This is all me. I went into this knowing that I wanted to do something for myself, also for my daughter and just kind of let her know, like, who cares that people say women can’t do what men can do. And it’s not as easy, but it’s a little harder, but we can. And I think that kept me really focused on just not giving up because I came across so many obstacles in the process of just before even opening my door. But again, if you don’t do it, if you don’t fight and you don’t, you don’t believe in yourself, like no one else’s. You have to do it for you and you have to know and just believe that it’s going to all work out.
LASM x TDR: You pulled through. That’s powerful.
Gabriela: Yes.
LASM x TDR: So, now that, okay, so we’re taking a look at you obviously established that you were gifted in beauty from Barbie days. You made it more beautiful. And then you continue that, I mean, you’ve been selected from hundreds of thousands of makeup artists to be on this show that was highly competitive down to 25. We see that you have your salon. What’s in the horizon for Gabby? What, when are you going to give back to the other pupils of art and makeup?
Gabriela: Well, I didn’t even mention but I have been teaching for the last four years. So I also am a makeup instructor at a world renowned makeup school, which is cinema makeup school.
LASM x TDR: I love it.
Gabriela: And yes, I’ve been. And that’s so crazy because I wasn’t taught. I’m like literally self-taught. So to be teaching these aspiring makeup artists, giving them the knowledge, giving the real, because I’m like, I’m going to give you real set of experiences and what really, really happens. Because all this school is all bias like that. That’s not what it’s like out there. It’s really, really crazy world. And for women, cause there’s a lot of men makeup artists, but for a woman, and I’m sure some men go through it too. But the lot of the stuff that we deal with, a lot of the sexual harassment that the people don’t really talk about, but it’s so real.I have gone through so much and I can’t even begin to tell you how it’s been so challenging for me too, I’ve lost jobs. I haven’t gotten jobs because I don’t, it’s such a, such a dark industry on top of it and people don’t talk about it enough. And there’s currently a show that I’m on now, that I’m working on. I’ve been working on it for two years. But, I’ve gone through my challenges with that too. And then scared to speak about it because you don’t want to lose your job. And then you don’t, I don’t not want to work anymore in the industry. So it’s tough. And it’s tough and something that you just have to be really strong in. And you have to be a strong women and know that you will say no, and don’t be scared of saying no because there’s a lot of stuff that I’m not going to elaborate on, but there’s a lot of stuff that you will face in this industry, no matter if you’re an actress, if you’re a makeup artist, you were a hairdresser, but just being in the industry and like really being involved in. You can come a lot, across a lot of things that just people don’t talk about. But I do. I do, like my students, I let them know like, it’s not that pretty 24/7, like this is not what it all seems to be. It’s really not. Yes, it’s good money. And then if you love it, it’s great. And you just have to be strong enough to get through it and not like cave in and, just don’t fall into that trap because it’s really easy to.
LASM x TDR: Then it goes back to that belief and that fight because if you believe that this gift was given to you and you’re not going to stop fighting.
Gabriela: Correct.
LASM x TDR: If that door closes, we’ll then it wasn’t for you and they didn’t deserve to have you on set. Then another one will open…
Gabriela: Exactly.
LASM x TDR: … keeping that going that momentum.
Gabriela: Yes, that’s true. That’s very true.
LASM x TDR: I think is very important to stay true to self and not cross that line. So you don’t have to. Exactly. I was going to, I want to chime in on that too. I really do appreciate you being bold enough and courageous enough. And I’m grateful for people like you being put in these positions and being given the opportunity to be on these platforms because you have the courage to speak up where some women do not. And so mad kudos, mad respect for you, Gabby…
Gabriela:  Thank you.
LASM x TDR:  … for doing that and for bringing that into your interview. And I love how you let the ladies know that you work with. You prepare them for the process and you prepare them to ask themselves this question. How bad do you really want it?
Gabriela: Yes.
LASM x TDR: Because it’s not going to be just all glitz and glam. It’s not; there is a price to be paid for your passion. My mom used to call it the triple p’s, price, pay, passion.
Gabriela: Love that.
LASM x TDR:  And so I appreciate you sharing that and enlightening our audience. And giving an example of success because you’ve showed a track record and a reputation that continues to get you hired to give you now this platform teaching at this school, it’s been awhile, and it’s been four years. But how the consistency of your work and the excellence of it continue to open doors for you despite those other doors that were closed, when someone tried to present you to darkness, when you said no.
Gabriela: Yes.
LASM x TDR: Success without compromise.
Gabriela: Absolutely.
LASM x TDR: There you go. So locally, that’s where we can find you. But what about internationally? What about working with brands and just, I mean I’ve heard, and I’m aware of industries and not just makeup, but I mean, when you think of Hair, you think of tech spaces that they have experts in the field go out. And teachers bring products to market. What do you think about that?
Gabriela: I think it’s really amazing. I think the, the makeup industry has evolved so much and there’s so much more that we can do with it than we could back in the day. And coming from, being an old school makeup artist, I’ve seen the industry just evolved so much. And a lot of these brands to face, being one of my favorite brands. I thought it was so cool that they start just taking makeup artists that have a lot of experience and taking them on trips and, and just bringing in a new products or testing the products and actually going off of makeup artists opinions before launching them, things of that nature. It’s pretty awesome.
LASM x TDR: It’s almost like a focus group, testing the market…
Gabriela:  Exactly. But in a beautiful place like Bora Bora, like it’s crazy.
LASM: So where can we find you? Where can everybody out here be able to find you and follow you on social media? Check your works, see what’s coming next.
Gabriela: Perfect. My Instagram is M-U-A-G-A-B-Y, makeup artists Gabby, abbreviated MUA. My website is, and it links to basically all my social media platforms from there. So…
LASM x TDR:  Heaven’s beauty lounge. So what are all the services that you offer at Heaven’s beauty?
Gabriela: My favorite ones. Well, we are full service and we do everything except for nails? So, lash extensions are one of our big ones.  I’ll take care of you. Come on by. But we do. We do makeup, hair, lashes, spray tanning, facials, micro blading, and permanent makeup. Pretty much everything except for nails when it comes to the beauty industry. 
LASM x TDR: Hair extensions. No nails.
Gabriela: No nails. But that’s a very particular market.
LASM x TDR: Is it? Okay.
Gabriela: Yeah. It’s, but, soon.
LASM x TDR: Hold on. One more thing for the holiday’s season. What would you say as a beauty tip or makeup tip that ladies could look out or trending now, or maybe a favorite color?
Gabriela:  Well, fall in general, in winter time. A lot of parties going on, a lot of things like that, a lot of festivities. It’s really easy because a bold lip is kind of all you need right now. Bold lips, some Mascara, a little bit of bronzer and you’re like a five minute facing, you’re good to go. Then that bold lip makes a statement and it’s like all you need without having to do all the eyes and everything. So it’s a little quick fix.
LASM x TDR: And I really am interested in hearing this and finding out what it is. I want to know what your super power is.
Gabriela:  My superpower. I’m a mom.
LASM x TDR:   That’s the one.
Gabriela: That’s my super power right there. I manage and I juggle and some days I’m like, oh Lord, I don’t know how I did this but I got through this day. Because just being a mom alone, I mean seriously, it’s a lot. And being a businesswoman and an entrepreneur, like I’m busy, I’m so busy. But I managed to do it in. And I did get a little super power the minute that my daughter into this world because it changed and I had learn …
LASM x TDR: The game was heightened.
Gabriela: Yeah. 100%.


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