Turning Hobbies into Careers | Jennifer Chang
Jennifer Chang is a 26 years old whose family immigrated from Taiwan to the US when she was 8 years old. Her hobbies right now include modeling, makeup, and photography. You can find her makeup related activities on Instagram and YouTube.
What made you want to become a model and at the same time, pursue a career in makeup?
I think being a model is something a lot of people fantasize about at some point in their teen years. For me, it started in high school, just from being obsessed with Seventeen Magazine and having a friend with a sister who was a professional model at the time. A combination of parents not being supportive and my assumption that models had to be 5'8"+ and under 130 lbs prevented me from exploring it until after college. When you're just starting out, you do a lot of collaborations, and makeup artists were hard to find; so my interest in makeup originated from trying to make myself look better for photo shoots when a makeup artist was not available.
Do you think that the makeup and modeling industry go hand in hand?
Absolutely—they are mutually beneficial, and by being in one industry you're inadvertently somewhat involved in the other. Makeup artists are always looking for models to showcase their art, and models are always looking for makeup artists to help them look their best.
How do you balance both of those?
Honestly, it's hard. I work a full-time job so modeling and makeup are both side gigs for me, and I find that I go through phases where I'm really dedicated to one while the other takes a backseat. At this moment in time, I've taken a step away from modeling to funnel energy into creating makeup content. I'm still listed with an agency for modeling and take jobs through them, but I'm finding that I don't have time for a lot of collaborations anymore.
Is your family supportive of your career being solely based on art?
I have a Bachelor's of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota and I'm a full-time packaging engineer at General Mills, so my career is actually as an engineer. I call this my career because it's what pulls a steady paycheck. From a young age, my parents never pushed me to be one thing or another as long as it was enough to put a roof over my head and food on the table. I don't think they would have been supportive of a career solely based on art due to how hard it is to be successful in the field and how few people achieve it. My dad passed away 8 years ago and I'm not sure how he would have felt about my modeling and makeup gigs now (he put a lot of emphasis on academic success), but my mom is supportive. My husband has always been supportive, and he has even started photographing for me to create content!
What motivates you to create the work you do?
I like being an engineer, but sometimes I feel like I went into engineering because I was good at it and not because I absolutely LOVE it. My interest in modeling and makeup has always been there but I didn't have the time or the means to get into it until after college, and I love it. I'm motivated because I like to learn about myself and I like to grow and get better at anything and everything. I learned that I enjoy makeup and modeling, and I like to create and get better because I'm not one to half-ass anything. Also, at the risk of sounding narcissistic, I like looking my best and I like to document it when I look great. I think everyone does even if they don't want to admit it :)
What do you hope to gain from creating your YouTube videos?
My first priority is to just create cleaner more creative looks—I want to improve my makeup skills and create great content that people enjoy watching and trying! I am always over the moon when people comment on my videos, telling me how my video has taught them something or how they tried my tutorial and loved the way it turned out. Secondly, it would be awesome to produce a steady income from it regardless of how much or how little it is. I think a lot of people start YouTube and talk about how much they love creating content and how they're not there for the money, but at the end of the day everyone wants to get paid for their time and I'm not ashamed to admit that one of my goals is to generate some sort of income. I do love creating videos though and I am fortunate enough to have people (subscribers) that support me and watch my videos for me to earn a few dollars here and there.
As an Asian, how do you feel as if you are represented fairly when it comes to the beauty and modeling industry?
Asians are notoriously underrepresented, especially in the modeling industry. We are statistically shorter and the modeling industry skews tall and skinny. We are simply at a genetic disadvantage. The industry has taken steps toward inclusion of all body types (think Aerie's campaign to not photoshop models) and I hope that someday we will be represented in equal frequency as other groups of people. Our culture also puts a lot of emphasis on going to school and being engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc, and the arts are frowned upon, so there just are not as many of us that explore these fields.
Do you hope that putting your talent out there will encourage other POCs to pursue their dreams as well?
I hope so. Above all else, I hope people just get out there and try different things. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't, but if you think you might like something, try it!
How has living in the state of Minnesota affected your career, if it does at all?
The market is small and saturated, especially for modeling. There's just not enough work to go around. The beauty of creating content for YouTube is that you can do it from anywhere, and I don't feel as disadvantaged there. As an engineer, there are a lot of big companies around the area that employ engineers so I'm happy about that.
What has been the hardest makeup look you have done?
My recent series of Halloween makeup looks (mermaid, galaxy, unicorn) was really out of my comfort zone. I was pleasantly surprised to receive positive feedback and am motivated to try more creative looks!
Who are your fashion/beauty icons? Whose look inspires you?
Ariana Grande, Roxette Arisa Howe, and Jessica Wang.
What is next for you? Do you have any hopes, dreams, plans you are excited about?
Keep doing what I'm doing to grow in my art, but also gaining technical knowledge in my engineering career. There's just so much to do with such little time! Also, both my husband's parents and my mom are ready for us to have kids. We're not ready now but someday we will be.