Clarendon-born make-up artist making it big internationally

March 20, 2019
Yolondo Salmon-Thomas
Some of Salmon-Thomas’ products.

Not many females can turn a hobby into a full-fledged successful business, but 29- year-old, Jamaica-born Yolondo Salmon-Thomas has done just that.

Over the past two years, Salmon-Thomas has gained a steady audience and a growing customer base with her popular make-up tutorials online via her Facebook page Playing in Makeup by Yolondo LLC.

She has been attracting thousands of viewers and loyal customers with her, unique concept of creating a make-up line using only Rastafarian colours: red, green, gold and black.

“These are powerful colours and they represent my culture and also bring a uniqueness to the make-up industry. The main colours for me are red, black, green, and gold, which very much represent Jamaica. I cater to everyone, and internationally, more people are gravitating towards Rastafarian culture. It’s eye-catching,” said Salmon-Thomas. “My line brings a uniqueness to the industry because most palettes have a black casing, and ours is multicoloured, and it represents our vibrant Caribbean culture.”

According to a recent financial report, the global cosmetic products market was valued at around US$532 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach approximately US$863 billion in 2024. The self-taught make-up artist hopes that she can carve out a bigger slice of this lucrative sector.

“For me, make-up is a creative form of self-expression. And it’s really good fun to play with. I’ve been playing with make-up my whole life, and now, I am making a living from it,” the Old Harbour High School graduate said.

Salmon-Thomas hails from Mitchell Town in Clarendon but migrated to the US in 2006.

She began working as a make-up artist in 2011, doing gigs backstage on reality shows and in countless video and photo shoots for reggae and pop artistes.


She eventually attended a make-up school in Manhattan to gain certification, and for the past five years, she has been a certified, professional make-up artist.

In 2017, she established her own cosmetic line in New York, with a capital investment of US$10,000. Since then, she has shrewdly built her business.

She has trademarked her designs and established a limited liability company that specialises in wedding make-up and special-events make-up.

“My next goal is to get a full line of make-up that is suitable for all women of all races,” she said.

With more than 12,500 followers online, Salmon-Thomas has used a mixture of online channels and traditional advertising to build her multiracial and multicultural customer base.

“The first live Facebook video we did, I got a few viewers, and that inspired me to keep doing it. My client base really increased after a few months as people were captivated by the vibrant colours. I have mostly US customers, but I now have customers in France, Ireland, England, and the Caribbean, especially Trinidad,” she said.

This summer, Salmon-Thomas wants to launch two additional palettes to supplement the cosmetic line that already includes eye shadow palettes, highlighters, luxury mink eyelashes, Matte Matte lipstick in 12 shades and make-up brushes. She is particularly proud of her Jamrock Universal Eyeshadow palette.

“I name my eyeshadow palettes, which have 30 different shades, with words that Jamaicans use every day such as irie, zeen, gudgud, fluffy, ya-so, and wah gwaan,” she said, laughing.

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