Jasna Bukvic-Bhayani wanted to open a makeup artistry school, but the N.C. Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners wouldn’t allow it unless she agreed to teach esthetics and bought thousands of dollars of unrelated equipment. Now, along with the Institute for Justice, Bukvic-Bhayani is suing the board. Carolina Journal Associate Editor Lindsay Marchello sat down with Bukvic-Bhayani to talk about her experience with makeup artistry in North Carolina and how occupational licensing got in the way of her dreams.  

LM: Tell me about how you got involved with makeup artistry in North Carolina. Talk about your experience with makeup school? 

JBB: I actually went to esthetic school in North Carolina. Esthetic school covers parts of makeup artistry, but it was just not enough for me to learn all of the tricks and trade. Really the only way to do that here if you want to is to work for a counter or like MAC, you’ve seen them at the mall before. Those are the only way you can learn more about makeup, and they are able to train you because they sell products. So there isn’t any school just for makeup, so I decided to open up a school of my own and focus on just makeup artistry. The school would focus on playing with colors and just teaching people about how to apply makeup, and students being able to have a career and work for themselves like freelancers and not have to go to esthetics school or cosmetology. They could just take a class and be OK. That was when we actually got into a problem with the state. Someone on Facebook actually reported me and they came in and told me I would have to be shut down, that I can’t open my school. It is crazy that you have to take this class for nine months just to learn makeup and you don’t even learn about it.  

LM:  Tell me about the curriculum in esthetic school.  

JBB: So, esthetics school was basically everything about the skin and skin care: waxing, facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, oxygen facials, so nothing that has to do with makeup. There is a part that covers it but that’s just basic colors and anatomy of the face, but that’s it. You can’t match it, you don’t learn how to do eyebrows. It just didn’t cover enough. 

LM: How long did it take you to go through the courses? How much did it cost? 

JBB: Six months. It cost about $8,000 to go to school. That’s on the cheaper side. It goes up from there.  

LM: When you came up with the idea for a makeup school, did you have any idea the board would come knocking? 

JBB: I had no idea. I researched and tried to read some stuff about it, but it was all vague so I couldn’t really figure out whether I could do it or not. I decided to get on social media and see how many people would be interested in the school without really getting set up right away. We got a lot of attention and a lot of students interested, including some estheticians and cosmetologists. One of the clients, or one of the girls saw the post and was upset about it and reported me. I didn’t know that would happen.  

LM: What was it like when the board investigator came to see you?  

JBB: She came in and all of my staff was there at the time, so she took all of their licenses and was not going to leave until I got there. We all thought it was an inspection, like a regular salon inspection. Everybody was calling me, so I came in and we sat down in our conference room. She was just telling me that I had been reported and that she was doing an investigation saying I had a school I was operating and it’s illegal. I didn’t understand, so I asked her questions. There are schools through Groupon or LivingSocial, makeup schools and classes, there’s YouTube tutorials, there is MAC, so you have this going on everywhere and, granted, all these freelance makeup artist, most are not licensed, they didn’t go to esthetics or cosmetology school and they do TV shows and Broadway. There’s so many things that they do, but it’s not illegal. I was so confused and tried to find a way so we could still have the school and she just told me that I couldn’t. There’s no way I can do it. It is not possible unless I open up a cosmetology or esthetic school, which would require a whole new setup and licensing. 

LM: What are some of those requirements? 

JBB: The board wanted me to open up an esthetic school, and I would have to have a building zoning and have it in the right place. With that said it would have to have individual, private rooms, which, for a makeup artist, you don’t need separate rooms or that kind of privacy. Every room would need a sink which requires plumbing. A lot of times it is hard to find a space where you can have a sink in every room. The requirements include equipment like stables — we use chairs for makeup artist — it would include lamps, steamers, and just basic equipment, which would require a lot of money.  

LM: How did you come to the decision to sue the board?  

JBB: I was just really mad and pissed off. I thought it was just neglect. The inspector mentioned I could appear before the board and try to change the law, so I asked her if there was anyone else before that had done that. She said a few people tried but nothing happened. I think it was just so neglectful, that field has really perfected itself these days, like makeup artists are not what they used to be. They are so talented and skilled without knowing how to do facials or hair. They just have a skill of their own. I thought that was a great idea, and I wanted to find out how we can separate the law and really have makeup artist have their own identity.  

LM: How did you get involved with the Institute for Justice?  

JBB: There was a case that I found online, and it was in Nevada. It was the same situation. A makeup artist attempted to open up a school and she was shut down. She went against [the board] and she won the lawsuit. I did some research and found out who the lawyers were representing her, and I reached out to them and told them that I had the same problem. I asked if they would take it and they did. Working with IJ has been amazing. They are so great and they are so knowledgeable. They are so invested in our case. The support from them is awesome.