Some of Alexandrea Erbert’s earliest memories of makeup involve collecting lipsticks, especially fuchsia ones — her favorite color at the time — with the help of her mother.
What Erbert, 35, didn’t known then was that her hobby could lead to an actual career. She now works as a self-employed makeup artist in Manhattan, an endeavor she embarked on in early 2019.
Erbert grew up in Hutchinson and Derby, but she initially lived in Manhattan from about 2006 to 2009 while she was married to her ex-husband. After they separated, she eventually moved back to Manhattan in October 2017 with her three children, ages 5, 9 and 12.
“I’ve just always wanted to be here,” Erbert said. “I missed the atmosphere. I love the people because there’s so many friendly people here. … It has a really nice vibe and I love the look of the place.”
Erbert said she truly started to become interested in makeup as she entered high school, but it was more of a hobby at the time. She’d experiment with looks on herself or her friends, and Erbert said she started to more deeply research techniques, trends and history around seven or eight years ago.
“I find it therapeutic every time I do (makeup),” Erbert said. “I’m just in this happy place, and it fills my heart with joy. It just makes me feel good, and seeing other people feel good is one of the biggest parts of it. Seeing a bride happy or just someone getting their makeup done for family photos or just a night out ... It’s a combination of things and I think that is a big take that I get from it.”
As passionate as she was about beauty, it took a personal tragedy for Erbert to reassess what was important to her and what would fulfill her.
Erbert’s younger brother and father died within a few months of each other in late 2018. Erbert said she was at a loss for what to do, and she struggled trying to cope with the grief.
“My dad always used to compliment me or encourage me to do what I like to do, he always had nice things to say,” Erbert said. “I just woke up one morning and was like, ‘I need to do something. I need to fill that void that I’m missing in my life,’ and makeup was just one of those things. ... That’s what really kicked me into deciding to do this full time. I figure my dad would have loved seeing this and would have been proud of me.”
Though she enjoyed working as a customer service representative with her coworkers at Westar Energy — now Evergy — Erbert decided to take the plunge and begin building up her portfolio and client base, starting Makeup Artistry by Alexandrea in 2019.
While the pandemic threw an unforeseen wrench into her plans, just as she felt she was getting to a solid place in building her brand presence, Erbert said she just tried to take the situation day by day until she figured out ways to safely work around people and events began to take place again.
“I kept my faith, stayed positive about it,” she said. “Everyone’s going to get through this and I can continue to do what I’m doing ... I just woke up every day thinking, ‘What’s going to happen today? Hopefully tomorrow’s a better day,’ just trying to get into that mindset of positivity.”
Erbert said she enjoys doing any look or occasion, from weddings and date nights to dramatic Halloween looks.
She said while she obviously tailors her skills to what her clients want, she tries to play up people’s individual features.
“I want them to see the beauty they already have,” Erbert said. “Everyone has a unique look to them that I see and I can find the beauty within that. I try to point out that this is still you. I try to steer them away from the idea of the falseness of Instagram (and) how everything is filtered.”
Erbert said though her career is built on the idea of it, beauty is nothing more than a concept and there is no one look or face that is beautiful.
“I’ve researched so much about beauty from 300-600 years ago because I’m kind of fascinated by it, and the standard of beauty changes,” she said. “I really don’t think there’s an actual face to beauty and I think that it’s just a concept because we are all beautiful in our own way. We are who we are without the makeup.”