This week’s New Celebrity is building her brand on more than just talent. Tajia Reed, better known as DoniDarkowitz on social media, sat down with New Celebrity to discuss her experiences as a beauty content creator. Taj has built her platform on makeup and transparency. DoniDarkowitz was created in defiance of the mystery surrounding social media. When Taj started her journey, there was no one there to give her advice or direction. Echoes of “Just go for it!” were not helpful, so Taj made it her goal to do makeup, have fun, but be transparent about the beauty community, especially working with brands as a POC. Inclusivity and representation are very important to Tajia Reed, so she’s breaking down the gates of social media and sharing her experiences with others. Keep reading to find out how she started, what she has learned from working with brands, and much more!
Before embarking on her influencer journey, Taj was working miserable 9-5 jobs, which included a cupcake store. To make light of her position and be festive, she created makeup looks that corresponded with the cupcake decorations. It was nothing beyond a hobby until Taj was fired from the cupcake store. From there, she began using makeup as a distraction. Her talent soon led to recognition from some of her favorite creators, like Rocio Cervantes, @rocioceja_, who was one of the first influencers to encourage Taj to post more. As more and more people began appreciating her skills, she got a comment that changed the game:
“‘You know you can get paid for this, right?’… Okay, bet.”
From that moment, Taj focused on making her content into a career. Every single day for 9 months, DoniDarkowitz created new looks and posted them on social media. She wanted to practice, improve, and continue putting out unique looks. “It didn’t matter what it was, it didn’t matter how crazy it was. Whatever was new, whatever was hard. I wanted to be the Instagram model.” This did not always mean the greatest looks were created. Taj admits that when she was starting, they were pretty bad considering the trends! During that time, matte skin, matte lips, and thin eyebrows were at the top of social media buzz, but that doesn’t look good on everyone. After coming to this realization, Taj decided “I’ll just do everything else, there’s only one way and that’s up.” She began to try new things that were slightly more out of the box and it helped her brand grow exponentially. Don’t believe us? Take a look at her signature bleached brows as proof of her individuality.
Not only did her talent and skill generate 120K followers on Instagram and 384K on TikTok, but her strategy, networking skills, and business mindset kept her engagement multiplying. “Anytime I have a conversation about where I started. Transparency. I was lying. I was tagging everyone and not using any of their products.” She knew that brands like Too Faced, Urban Decay, Kat Von D, and Anastasia Beverly Hills would love her looks, so even if she couldn’t afford their products, she still tagged them! It was the only way she could think of to get exposure on a budget and it worked. She received her first PR package with over $700 worth of product for her to build with. As one of her first collaborations, she worked extremely hard and gained the company thousands of views and engagement. After a while, she became confident enough to ask for a raise. She knew that “closed mouths, don’t get fed”, so she stepped outside of her comfort zone to get what she wanted! She now works with multiple brands, including Beats, that consider her creative input. She wants brands to be happy working with her, so she tries to foster those relationships to gain creative freedom and trust. Taj is confident knowing the companies she is collaborating with are not looking for glass skin, but quality content. She no longer worries about the texture of her skin, hyperpigmentation, or acne because brands are looking to see what you create with their product, not what you look like.
loves recreating her older looks. By revamping her previous makeup looks, she can try out new skills that she didn’t know prior. As a self-taught makeup artist, she admits that “when you aren’t skilled, it’s easy to become overwhelmed”. Even following along to Youtube videos was difficult because, more often than not, some makeup artists are entertaining rather than teaching. Most will not explain what to do or how to do it in a step-by-step fashion that is easy to follow. What helped was breaking down the looks in her head. Once she understood the basics, she was able to build on them. Thinking of her makeup looks as a Rubric, she explained that “knowing the tools that you need to do your ‘assignment’ will help you do it easier.” Once the look is created, only half of the work is done! DoniDarkowitz knows that there is so much that goes into her social media career that it has become more than just a fun app on her phone. “This is not just social media. This is a job, I’m getting paid.”
“Come sit and watch me sit in the most awkward position and have to refilm the same clip 40 times over to get the transition right, then I have to get the right lighting, then I have to go back and edit to look natural. There are so many parts to everything… and that’s JUST TikTok.”
DoniDarkowitz has opened up Tajia Reed’s life in so many ways. She has impressed herself with her skills, gained confidence, and become more assertive in her life because of the love she found for makeup. Her platform has allowed her to speak on issues that matter to her and give her the freedom to do whatever makes her happy. Whether that is makeup, cooking, or even musical theatre! New Celebrity is excited to see where Taj’s talents take her, we will continue to encourage and support her in any path she takes. Find out how you can show your support for your favorite creators tomorrow!