Bendiane Zephir, better known as Bennie and founder of Bennie Cosmetics, was born in Haiti and migrated to the USA from a very young age. Living in Haiti, the 29-year-old makeup artist attended Jacqueline Turian kindergarten and Nouveau College Bird. In the US she went to Wilton Mannor Elementary school, North Lauderdale Elementary school, Silver Lakes Middle School, Richards Middle School, and Northeast High School. Her college years were spent at Florida Atlantic University, Tallahassee Community College, and she finally graduated with a Public Relations bachelors degree from the historical black College, Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University.
Becoming Makeup Artist
It all started when Bennie decided to do her mother’s hair and makeup for her wedding. The wedding planner, who is the owner of Maria’s Party Planning in Fort Lauderdale, decided to have a picture of Bennie’s mother on her wall and a lot of clients started to inquire about the look. They would always ask the event planner about the makeup artist in question and from there Bennie started to get referrals. She became known under the name “Ms. Fabulous B Artistry ». Bennie is a self-taught makeup artist. “ I do a lot of research on Google and YouTube and use my creativity to create my signature makeup style”, she tells us. Although Bennie obtained her Esthetician Facial Specialist license from Palm Beach State College, she had been doing makeup 7 years prior. “Makeup has always been my passion so it came naturally”, she admits. And 9 years later Bennie Cosmetics is ranked as part of the best Haitian makeup artists.
Before getting fired from her 4 years cooperate job in the mortgage and finance industry, Bennie always felt stuck at the company. She would sit at her desk planning her next moves pertaining to makeup artistry. This is when she came up with Bennie Cosmetics and created her liquid matte lipstick line, Smooched. While working at this particular company, Bennie felt bored and was looking for a way out. One day her boss interrogated her about her poor performance and Bennie told him the truth about how disinterested she was at work. She admitted that she was going to school for her passion. Her boss understood and even inquired about makeup services for his wife. After speaking to him that day, with a lot of prayers, Bennie’s wish was granted. “ I told God I didn’t want to quit since he gave me that job and that he would have to be the one to take me out”, she tells us. She legalizes Bennie Cosmetics and one week later her boss fired her. It was a big relief for Bennie and since then she has been her own boss.
Going into a career in the arts in a Haitian household could be challenging. A lot of traditional Haitian parents want their kids to be lawyers, doctors, nurses, or engineers but Bennie’s mother was always supportive of her choices. « All she wanted me to do was to make sure I had a degree as a backup plan”, she says. Bennie’s family and friends were always supportive from the beginning. She mentions Marjorie, her best friend, as the person that she always runs to when she has ideas in her mind. « I am very thankful for her”, she tells us.
After Bennie got her bachelor’s degree, she moved back to West Palm Beach and started a photography and makeup business with Joel Lafortune the owner of Lafortune Photography. She was the makeup artist and photoshoot director. Then she started working with Abdias Laguerre, founder of Lux media, as a video shoot makeup artist. “I am now a full-time makeup and facial specialist, which allows me to treat my clients’ skin so that it’s nice”, she informs us.
Benny has worked with: Rutshelle Guillaume, Nedjy Jean, Tico, Djakout, Wide Michel, Tvice, Tamy Michel, Klass, Ti Tanbou, Princess Lover, Miss Haiti International Esther, Lovely Joubert, Nadege Telfort, Lux Production, New Vibration, and the list goes on.
What fascinates Bennie about this profession is the reaction and smile on her clients’ faces. Transforming her clients’ faces and enhancing their beauty. “I love making beautiful people beautiful! That’s my saying”, she says. In the process of making people beautiful, she loves to use high-end products and only uses Smooched By Bennie Cosmetics on her clients’ lips and uses her line of eyelashes Vavavoom Luxury. She has never used any Haitian cosmetic products but she would love to try as long as they are of quality.
Kill them with kindness is Bennie’s motto. Once she had a customer who was known to be rude, Bennie took advantage of that knowledge and used it to her advantage. The client started off as mean but Bennie treated her professionally and kindly. During the session, the client expressed a few outbursts of her rudeness but Bennie kept it professional and made her feel comfortable. In the end, she was very pleased with her makeup.
Tuez-les avec de la gentillesse est la devise de Bennie. Une fois, elle a eu une clients qui était connue pour être impolie, Bennie a profité de cette connaissance et l’a utilisée à son avantage. La client a commencé à être impolie mais Bennie l’a traitée professionnellement et avec bonté. Au cours de la session, la cliente a été rude, mais Bennie a gardé son professionnalisme et l’a mise à l’aise. À la fin, elle était très contente de son maquillage.
Fashion/ Makeup Artistry in Haiti ( Bennie’s Views)
Art de la mode et du maquillage en Haïti (Point de vue de Bennie)
Having a career as a makeup artist can be really rewarding with hard work. “I am not in Haiti, I live in Florida but yes it pays my bills well”, she states boldly. When it comes to the fashion industry in Haiti, Bennie sees a lot of creativity. “ I love it! It’s very unique and vibrant”, she admits. There is a lot of Haitian makeup artists emerging nowadays and competition is always on the rise but Bennie tries to stay in her own lane to better her skills every day.” I am my own competition”, she says.
What is your advice for upcoming Haitian MUAS?
“I would advise them to stay in their own lane and work on personalizing their work. Don’t ever make the mistake of trying to compete with someone else. We are all unique in our own way. Not everyone will love your work but those who do love your work will love it and they will support you, cherish them. Makeup is an expressive art and can’t be interpreted the same. Focus on your craft and do it with all of your heart.”
More of Bennie’s work