Jo Baker Is on a Mission to Democratize Makeup With Bakeup Beauty
The celebrity makeup artist talks to InStyle about her new line.
Makeup can be intimidating. It's an art form, after all, and the techniques involved are often an entry barrier for those who may not be well-versed in cat eyes or contouring. Enter celebrity makeup artist Jo Baker. The newly minted beauty founder is hoping to open the world of makeup to anyone who wants to join with her new line, Bakeup Beauty.
Created in partnership with singer Grace Gaustad and launched earlier this year, Bakeup is a collection of bright color palettes, embellished face adornments, and spiritual skincare that celebrate everyone's uniqueness. Baker, who has over 20 years in the beauty industry and whose celebrity clientele includes Lucy Boynton, Natasha Lyonne, Olivia Wilde, and Priyanka Chopra, to name just a few, became a makeup artist because of that connection between beauty and emotion.
"My love of makeup definitely comes from more of a love of what art and creativity — plus people — can create," Bakers says. "So it's kind of a combination of all of that, which led me to keep pursuing makeup as an art form for expression."
It comes as a shock to no one that Baker's inevitable transition from makeup artist to co-founder of her own beauty brand would live up to the very high standards of makeup aficionados. You can find bright and bold colors in the most compact palettes (one palette is barely the size of my very small hands, making it easy to take it with me wherever I go) to help you create unique looks with a high color payoff and long-staying power formulation. But it's Bakeup's mission to create a safe space where everyone can express who they are that really sets the company apart.
In a conversation with InStyle, Baker talks about her love of bold and fun makeup, partnering with singer Grace Gaustad to create Bakeup Beauty and beauty in the metaverse. Below, read our interview.
I have a few words that come to mind when I think about your style of cosmetic artistry, but how would you define the makeup looks that you do?
It's wearable and editorial, modern but bold. I'd rather have cool, confident, bold, striking, unique, [and] individual [as] the words that I want to be associated with. Not just, "Oh my God, [my client] looked gorgeous," or "Oh my God, she's so pretty." Those words feel so dated in today's time. I want girls to look confident, cool, bold, unique, and completely themselves.
Was that always your style? Or did you start with the classics and evolve into these really fun looks?
It was the latter, for sure. I always wanted to do fun things. But to be honest, when you want to get rehired, the last thing you want is an agent, manager, or publicist saying, "Oh, she's great, but she's going to do something wacky." 15 years ago, it was just a different style of doing makeup. You think of Scott Barnes [or] Kevin Aucoin, who's my idol, back in the day.
We go through so many different evolutions in the beauty industry. I love it, but then it was all about being beautiful, attractive, gorgeous, [and] glossy. You were more tanned than you could ever be on holiday. You were almost plastic, fantastic beauty. It was definitely like, "Give people what they want, so they know you're good." And that's what I did — I did what people wanted.
What made you want to change course and go for bolder, more unique styles?
One day I was like, "I've had [enough of] making sure everyone in the room is satisfied before me." I felt a little bit suppressed, and I started to push people out of their comfort zone little by little. And by the time Lucy [Boynton] and I met, she was so utterly open, and we bonded, being two Brits in LA.
Lucy always has the most fun makeup looks. Tell me what it's like working with her.
Her whole persona is very much Twiggy: '60s, quirky, cute, alternative, fun, [and] not your classic sexy siren in Hollywood. She actually loves all of the references and the points of interest that I do too. So it was very easy for me to be like, "Oh, '50s housewife blue. She's a serial killer, she's had a martini, and her husband's legs are sticking out the fireplace."
We would actually laugh and joke when I'd be doing the makeup; we would almost create these alter ego women. They were all confident, strong, and bold. We were making vignettes of characters that really allowed Lucy to play the role. As an actor, that's her number one goal: to lean into a role and feel inspired to play a character. So the pair of us together was just fuel on the fire. It was a perfect kismet meeting with two people just daydreaming the same stuff.
Let's jump into BAKEUP. Did you always want to have your own makeup brand or is that kind of something that developed in more recent years?
I think every makeup artist in the world dreams of having their own makeup line. You curate your kit, and [it] becomes your own personal line of other people's stuff. You keep what you love; you mix and blend this and that. This dream of what if I could make this, but it was smaller? What if I could have my kit, but it was in a suitcase? How cool would it be to be a makeup artist and carry around a chic suitcase, and just open it up like a doctor? I have my own fantasy of what it is to be a makeup artist, and maybe it doesn't have to feel like I'm carting around two suitcases full of makeup. I've always thought, "There's so much excess in my kit. There's so much excess in this industry."
There is a lot of excess in makeup and beauty in general. Is that why Bakeup consists of these tiny makeup palettes?
I don't want people to feel like they have to choose. I've spoken to so many people over the years who have bought that one Tom Ford Palette or their beautiful Dior palette. The shadows are phenomenal. They're beautiful, and they're the most prestige lines in the world. But you're committed to that palette because, one, it's expensive. Two, it's heavy and bulky. And three, you better love those colors for the next 10 years because you're going to spend 10 years using that palette.
I don't think people have that level of patience or commitment anymore. I think people are much more interested in dipping in and out, curating their own little makeup station at home [and] having little things they like — just like makeup artists do with their kit. People want to find what they like, and I'm trying to make that a small, tiny thing, so they can access all the colors I have in my kit. That's how the micro palette was born: wanting to give people a taste of what it's like to open up my suitcases.
Traveling to Japan a lot, I was always absolutely blown away by the teeny tiny packaging [and] how [it's all] chic, slimline, playful, and futuristic. I would fill a suitcase and return with all their drugstore stuff because it was amazing. I was like, "If I had a makeup line, I would want to get rid of all the weight." The extra stuff you don't need: the extra applicators, the extra mirrors, [and] all the stuff that can't be repurposed or recycled — it's just baggage. I'm trying to do a baggage-free makeup line [that's] carry-on friendly.
Why did you want to partner with Grace Gaustad for Bakeup?
In short, it was just having someone that gave me the freedom to express [myself] and also [be] encouraging. We both could do the same for each other. It's the same with Lucy Boynton. When you meet someone that trusts you implicitly, fast friends are made. One thing led to another with Cristina Carlino, Grace's mother, overseeing this beautiful relationship that was transpiring and building, and also seeing the healing that was happening in the makeup chair and how different Grace was from the clean face into the makeup afterward, and being like, "Oh my God, this is so valuable as a tool; I wish we could share this with the rest of the world. I wish other people Grace's age, whoever could get a tiny piece of how healing it is to have your kit open up and create magic. The rest has been a very fast rollercoaster of people coming out of nowhere and supporting us. I had no idea it was actually going to become this and happen. I'm so grateful.
What does collaboration look like between the two of you? Do you two sit down and talk about product launches that you want?
Being the co-founders, I'm the creative director, and I am basically the chief boss on all things that are visual, creative, and the makeup direction. The art of BAKEUP is all me. Grace is very much a muse and co-founder. We also intertwine on ideas. Grace has a lot of input on the skincare aspect. Grace has been quite instrumental in the spirituality aspect. It's been really interesting to have someone half my age's point of view on all of this stuff. But Grace really gives me full trust and vision for all things color and all things creative.
What sets your brand apart? Why do that for Bakeup?
It was this sense of we play where you play because we didn't want to miss anybody. I think even shooting our campaign, we shot with this model called AJ, who is into short shaved hair, is having a boob reduction, and does Muay Thai boxing five days a week. She was like, "Yeah, I don't wear makeup." And I totally get it; I don't wear makeup every day. But then I did all these ornate gold stickies around AJ's eyes, and she was just like, "Oh my God, this is cool. I'd wear this; I don't wear makeup, but I'd wear this." That's when I was like, "Bingo." These are the people I want to make sure that there are tools for them to play around with. I love the possibility of reaching people that may never have thought or wanted to pick up a beauty product.
Additional reporting by Pia Velasco.
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Read the original article on InStyle.