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Queen of Beauty: Lauren Cosenza

AU alum Lauren Cosenza turned her passion into a beauty-full career. This professional makeup artist has worked with notable clients such as Victoria’s Secret, Elle, Cosmopolitan and Rent the Runway, but she hasn’t stopped there. She is a blogger, freelance writer, video personality and beauty consultant/expert. The best part? She gets to do what she loves every single day — and that’s beautiful.

HCAU: Your current position: describe what you do and what you like most about your job. What is a typical day like?

What I love about what I do is that every job and every partnership is different – there is no such thing as a typical day. This is definitely not your traditional 9-to-5 office gig! Some days I’m doing makeup on set, some days I’m on camera myself, some days I design facecharts for makeup launches, some days I brainstorm in meetings with magazines — and some days I sit in my pjs writing articles from my couch… then hit the gym for a spin class. I truly get to curate my life, as my friends at SELF magazine like to say. And it’s a beautiful thing to get to pick the projects and people you work with and build your own schedule every day, week, month. I love the flexibility and the constant newness. It keeps me inspired. I couldn’t be more passionate about what I do and I am grateful every single day that I am able to make a living doing what I love.

HCAU: Can you tell us about your professional background? How did you transition between public relations, the magazine industry and the beauty industry? 
My career path was definitely non-traditional. I studied Communications with a focus in PR at American and interned at both Hill & Knowlton and Burston Marsteller. I then worked in advertising at McCann Erickson as an Account Executive, followed by Cosmopolitan magazine as an Account Manager on a Beauty and Fashion list, followed by Shape magazine as the Executive Beauty Director, later Executive Beauty and Fashion Director and ultimately Brand Development Director – and then I up and left publishing to start my own company.

Although it may not seem that way on the surface, each segment of my career was the perfect launchpad for the next. More importantly, I was able to see the opportunities and signs and follow them and, most importantly, I was not afraid to take risks. At critical junctures, I was told by some very successful and well-respected industry figures that I was committing “career suicide,” yet here I am – alive and doing my thing. I chose to chart my own path by following what I felt was right for me in my gut and in my heart. I never listen to doubters or haters.

HCAU: Where do you see yourself in five years?
As for the future, I think your life changes with every decision and every step so I don’t have a formal 5-year plan. On top of that, the world changes, technology changes, industries change at such a rapid pace these days that to me, it’s more important to be on the pulse of what’s happening now and what’s happening next. That’s not to say it isn’t important to have a vision, which I do, but I believe the most successful people have the ability to quickly adapt to an ever-changing landscape, find creative solutions and determine a new direction. So while I have a loose vision, I will be successful no matter what because I’m not stuck on a plan that may no longer be viable as the industry changes. For this very reason, my business is built on multiple revenue streams and not a single trade.

HCAU: What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite thing about my job is the magic that lies in transformation – whether it’s the art of creating something very editorial on a model, or simply making a regular woman feel beautiful and see herself in a totally new light, or giving a makeover to a woman who has just beat cancer and is ready to reinvent herself. Beauty is more than skin deep. There is something amazing that can happen with transformation.

HCAU: What advice do you have for college students working toward your field or profession?
My advice is not profession-specific…

Never listen to doubters or haters. Silence the noise.
Don’t follow any path but your own.
Passion over paycheck! (Believe me, the money will come.)
Listen to your heart.
Dream BIG.
And one piece of advice that always stuck with me: People spend their whole lives waiting for the net, but only once you jump will the net appear.
Take risks. Take a chance on yourself. You only get this shot at life once.

HCAU: How has AU helped you succeed in the professional world?
The professors I had at AU actually worked in their field whether it was PR or Advertising or Media – some were speechwriters for current presidents. So they had real world experience and we worked on real world projects. It was not just theory or rhetoric. Their insights were invaluable and they all strongly recommended we intern at top agencies or companies. If they hadn’t stressed it as much, I would probably have kept my retail job (which I also LOVED) in DC over the summers. It was those internships that got me thinking about working at an ad agency post-college – and that’s where it all started for me.

HCAU: How do you stay updated with news in your industry? Do you have a favorite beauty brand or product?

How could you even ask??! Of course I don’t have a single favorite beauty brand or product – I love testing them ALLLLLL (another job perk is coming home to fun packages with goodies!!).

As for industry news, I read WWD religiously. I also read all the beauty/fashion magazines, blogs, sites, etc. I fully immerse myself with what I do because it is my true passion.

Lesley Siu graduated from American University in May 2013 with a BA in Film and Media Arts and minors in Marketing and International Business. Originally from Hawaii, she loves photography, fashion, travel, social media and everything Parisian. She has interned at GLAMOUR magazine in New York and Washington Life Magazine in DC, but her proudest accomplishment is founding Her Campus American in 2011 while interning in Melbourne, Australia. You can usually find her reading a magazine, enjoying a hazelnut latte or posting a photo on Instagram... and sometimes, all at the same time. Follow her on Twitter: @lesleysiu and visit her blog.