Many of you have met Kara Waggoner because she works for Makeup by Holly Beauty Partners. Kara does hair and camera-ready makeup for many of my Personal Branding Sessions. I wanted to experiment with my Profoto B1 (lighting equipment) and I asked Kara to be my subject. What I didn’t know was what a photography transformational experience she would have. I mean, look at her…Kara is gorgeous! Guess what, we all have insecurities – we all focus on what we don’t think we have. We had a lot of fun on the shortest day of the year (Dec. 21st). We started in Carytown and then we went for a quick stop at Pump House and ended up at Belle Island. We fit a lot in a short amount of time. In the end, we captured gorgeous images and Kara’s self-confidence soared! 

Read Kara’s story…

I have a huge confession, and yes I’m guilty…


As a makeup artist, I am blessed to work with gorgeous women of all ages and races. I eagerly show up to work, ready to create my masterpiece and am extremely comfortable and happy in my zone, behind the camera, as a part of the “crew”.

I immediately take note of my client’s striking eye color, warm and cool skin tone, the unique individual color of lashes and brows and aim to create the perfect palette blended just for them to enhance their natural beauty.

Sitting in the makeup chair, looking back at me, often times I instantly hear self-criticism such as “I hate my wrinkles,” “You’ve got your work cut out for you!” Or “Can you hide my age spots? They used to be freckles.”…Just to name a few… Yet none of those things come to my mind within the first 5 minutes of interacting with these stunning entrepreneurs, businesswoman, young models, seniors, and brides. I am quick to respond, with a bold and sincerely truthful, “Girl, don’t be silly- I don’t see that when I look at you!” …Or “You don’t realize how GORGEOUS you are!”…..“Don’t pick yourself apart, we are our own worst critic.”

Well, I must confess, I have been a hypocrite. Turning 30 was the hardest year EVER for me in more ways than I wish to count. I ate my way around feelings, yo-yo dieting into depression and gained 20 pounds in 2 years.

I was lost in what 30 “should” look like according to social media and Hollywood’s unrealistic, unachievable “size 0, wrinkle,  pore-free” standards. Or how about the never-ending public discussion about my ovaries… “Honey, when are you two having kids, how many do you want? Well if you want two, you better start trying now, you know after 35 is a geriatric and high risk” ….. Uggh- that’s another story…

In our beauty industry, we are always searching for the BEST anti-aging products, hottest weight loss fad, and secret nip-tuck appointment to hide our aging body’s “flaws.” I even went to a liposuction consultation and left embarrassed and empty (not to mention I would have been broke lol) with my “before photos.” I was emotionally drowning, my skin was breaking out, none of my clothes fit, I hated myself in pictures, not posting hardly any except the ones I felt “skinny” in… (whatever that means). How many social media platforms do I have to hate my photo on? FB, IG, LinkedIn, Twitter, OMG!  So much pressure! Ironically, here I am telling my clients how they shouldn’t be so hard or judging themselves? I knew something had to change, immediately.

In September 2017, I put my money where my mouth was an took control of my life, actually practicing what I preached! I started eating a “Plant-Based Whole Foods” diet, and gained back my health, confidence, dropping 14 of those self-inflicted pounds, my energy levels have skyrocketed, and feel like I have a whole new wardrobe (really just my closet clothes I couldn’t part with, ya know the ones I would throw in the floor with contempt after I couldn’t get them zipped). One word- I finally feel FREE to be 31 and fabulous. I stopped complaining and got my mojo back. Aging is inevitable, I’m just doing what I physically have control over to personally FEEL my best! The rest falls into place. My age spots are still there, I have new gray hair and I have stretch marks and don’t even have kids yet! …and yes I am still loving ME!

Thanks to Kim’s talented eye behind the lens, I took a leap of faith and said “This is my time, I’m going to shine.” I was SO nervous stepping into my “first outfit,” under the bright lights…truly I had no idea how intimidating that was! She was so patient and is such a pro with her gifted art of photography,  she took the lead, making me feel 100% comfortable the rest of the shoot! I was able to loosen up and have FUN! I feel better than when I was in my 20s. We all deserve to celebrate the journey. I worked hard, I feel beautiful, and I love life!! This photo shoot was indicative of 2018, a new year, new journey and another year OLDER! Cheers!

Aside from being healthy on the inside, this journey has allowed me to view my artistry in a new light. Ladies let’s take care of “ME” – let’s lift one another up! I am beyond blessed to be surrounded by such beautiful, powerful, and successful women. I certainly am more empathetic as to the challenges women face on a day to day basis. Yes- I will always promote a healthy anti-aging daily and nightly routine with good skincare, and heck if you freaking want the Botox.. Get the freaking Botox!! But do these things to pamper yourself, NOT create a false identity to hide your midnight Oreo binge behind (I’m speaking 100% from my personal place here ). I will always wear a full face of makeup, and dye my grays, but to each our own! Be true to yourself, listen to what your body is telling you. Take care of you, ALL of you, take time out for YOU! Dance to your own beat, stop comparing yourself to others, yes it’s hard! I still struggle every day, let’s be honest we are emotional beings, how can we not?  Keep growing, pushing forward, making positive changes. YOU are worth more than gold, and you DESERVE to celebrate life and feel like a million bucks.

After seeing my branding session come to fruition, I could not believe how confident I looked and felt in the images! We always tend to see ourselves differently in the mirror (especially in the mornings). I honestly had low expectations so that I wouldn’t be depressed when I hated how “fat” I looked. So ridiculous! Kim is SO talented I never questioned her ability to make me shine, but actually believing in myself? That’s the true battle. Hair, makeup, wardrobe, and you’re on your way to the top! I can honestly sit here and tell you that I am in awe of these photos. I truly see myself in a different, more positive light. This experience has changed the way I view my inner and outward beauty for the better. It has definitely increased my confidence, and I believe in myself! I can do anything! I am powerful and successful and beautiful. I will continue to strive to better my mind, body, and soul daily and remind others that WE are in this together!

About Kara Waggoner:

I fell in love with makeup artistry over 13 years ago. My journey began with MAC cosmetics where I became a professional licensed artist and explored my creativity. After becoming advanced certified, I moved to Tampa, Florida to take on a new challenge with the company as a store operations manager. My life’s journey took me to the big apple, New York City, where I opened and managed the Shu Uemura Counter in the flagship store, Bloomingdales, on 59th Street. I was trained under the lead master artists of the Shu Uemura brand and embraced my new city life. Since then I have shared my love for beauty as a Territory Manager for Laura Mercier, and most recently opened my own Artistry business, an on-site location makeup company now in Richmond, Virginia.

After getting married on October 2015 to my prince charming, I became a “dog mom” to our sweet baby girl Lilly and if I ever win the lottery, dream of opening an animal rescue. I am dedicated to following my heart’s true passion as a full-time airbrush makeup artist and am honored to work with such talented vendors in my adventures. “I believe women are pretty without make-up and can be pretty powerful with the right makeup.” – Bobbi Brown.