Celebrity makeup artist Jami Svay talks business and beauty

The Charlotte-based beauty entrepreneur opens up about her new franchise, advice on landing major deals and spring beauty trends.
Jami-Svay-photo-Olly-Yung

Charlotte native Jami Svay is no stranger to the beauty industry. She began her beauty career more than 15 years ago once she realized that makeup artistry would be an artistic outlet that combined her passion for color and fine art. Now a sought-after beauty expert, Svay’s work has graced the pages of world-renowned publications, and her business savvy led to the creation of Tastee Cosmetics, a national line of natural lip products designed for QVC.

Her work with Charlotte Hornets owner and NBA champion Michael Jordan proved that she could have just as much success in her own backyard. Next month, she will take another big step with the grand opening of an IDOLIZE Brows and Beauty spa in Huntersville. Svay, and her husband Sam, are the owners behind the franchise located in Torrence Village at 9826 Gilead Road, Suite C-108.

IDOLIZE provides eyebrow and facial threading, lash and brow services, and other beauty services at affordable prices. The Charlotte-headquartered company has eight locations — five in Charlotte, two in Raleigh, and one in Richmond, Virginia. Expansion plans will bring the beauty brand to Texas, New Hampshire and New Jersey.

Svay talked with QCity Metro about lessons learned in her career, why she decided to open a franchise in the Charlotte area, and what customers can expect at the grand opening. 

Q. You’ve been in the beauty business for 15 years as a celebrity makeup artist. Why is now the right time to go in a new direction as a franchise owner?

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Svay: I feel like now is a good time to become a [brick-and-mortar] business owner because I finally feel like a leader. I’ve been in the industry for 15 years. I’ve created a national line of all-natural lip products for QVC, done [beauty] work for iconic brands such as Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta as well had features in Allure Magazine and on Fox News.

My experiences have led me to a place where I’m ready to build a team, guide others in reaching their goals, and help share beauty with the masses.

You travel between LA, NYC and Miami, so you have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the fashion and beauty industries. What went into the decision to open a franchise in Charlotte?

Charlotte is home. I remember what it used to be, a small Southern city. It’s grown into a major metropolitan area and it’s continuing to grow.

While living in New York, I found myself wishing that Charlotte had some of the entertainment, shopping and beauty offerings of the big city. I kept saying, “This is great. I wish we had one back home.” Now that I’m home, it feels good to be a part of the growth that is happening in this city.

Speaking of home, you and your husband have three children and are business partners. How do you balance family and entrepreneurship?

There’s no secret formula. You take it day by day, and every day can look different. We make sure that we take time out for each other, just the two of us. It could be a quick escape for coffee or a weekend trip to the beach. I love our time together.

I told him the moment that we start feeling like this is a business transaction and less of a marriage, I’m out! Seriously, we are intentional on keeping each other and our family at the center of everything.

Jami-Sam-Svay-photo-Olly-Yung
Jami Svay and husband Sam. Photo: Olly Yung

You’ve had big opportunities including working with Michael Jordan, Julianne Moore and The Property Brothers. What advice would you give small business owners and entrepreneurs on positioning yourself to land major deals?

In the time that I’ve been in this business, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve noticed that the way companies do business is changing. I created Tastee for QVC before social media influencers and [their] followers existed. Now, it’s about how many followers you have and less skill. I would tell business owners to try and be ahead of the curve, be trendsetters and show customers how their product/service can benefit lives.

Speaking of going back in time, in September 2019 you tweeted, “I wish I had a time machine. #regret” What advice would you give the version of yourself 15 years ago?

I tweeted that message shortly after my brother-in-law had been killed by a drunk driver. We didn’t get to see him a lot. I wish we had more time. I started to think about my career. I was spending all of my energy trying to get to the next level. I didn’t really enjoy each stage of my journey. 

If I could give my younger self advice, I would tell myself, “Jami, take your time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Most importantly, appreciate every moment.

What can we expect at the grand opening in April?

We are excitedly preparing for the grand opening next month. Attendees can expect fabulous brows, lash and facial applications for 50% off. Vonyetta Snow from [radio station] Power 98 will be in the building. This will be a great opportunity to network, ask questions about beauty services and have a good time. We’ll also have champagne and lite bites.

IDOLIZE-Brow-Beauty-Huntersville
The interior of the new Idolize Brows and Beauty set to open in Huntersville. Photo courtesy of Idolize Brows and Beauty

As we’re gearing up for spring, what beauty trends will be popular?

Bright colors will be the trend for Spring 2020. Before, it was just a pop on the lips, now it’s eyeshadow and blush, giving a great nod to the ‘80s (think Vanity or Grace Jones). I love the Juvia’s Place palettes. They’re all amazing!

The IDOLIZE Brows and Beauty grand opening celebration is slated for Saturday, April 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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