Kiva Cusack is better known as Little Kiva, an Irish YouTube sensation with the almighty gift for make up artistry. Kiva started her YouTube channel, LittleKiva, in May 2009 and has since gained over 116,000 subscribers and over 13.5 million video hits! She is currently the #1 Most Subscribed Beauty Channel & Guru in Ireland, and ranks #16 Most Subscribed Channel in Ireland. Kiva’s videos include make up reviews and tutorials for everyday looks but also special occasions like birthdays, Halloween and formal looks. She always gives all the details of products & brushes as well as tips on how to apply and create long lasting looks, Little Kiva’s Teachnique™. A big fan of the smokey eye, famously worn by singers Beyoncé, Taylor Momsen, Nicole Scherzinger, Demi Lovato and Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards.
Killer Fashion: Your YouTube channel has over 116,000 subscribers, how does that make you feel?
Kiva: Amazing! My goal was to get to 100,000 and originally I did the videos for the laugh. I try to make them not too serious, and I like to give out information but I don’t want the videos turning into product advertisements; that there’s personality in the videos. I realized that the more subscribers I gained, the more views for my videos just skyrocketed, so yeah having over 116K subscribers is amazing.
KF: You run a make up course at Waverly Academy, how did that come about?
Kiva: Well, two years ago I was contacted by the Waverly Academy asking to meet with the owner. At the time I felt I needed more experience before I could decide to teach a class. I was working in Inglot, in Dundrum and realized this wasn’t what I want to do, I wanted to progress and grow as an artist & a person. and when I worked in the LA Make Up Academy in Dublin City, it was exactly what I wanted to do. Giving make up lessons was more personable and more enjoyable. So I contacted the Waverly Academy and we set up the Little Kiva Makeup Course. The course is based around everything I wanted to know in college but didn’t get to learn, so it’s brilliant to teach that. The course is a one-on-one class, so it’s not too big. (Courses start Monday 1st July 2013; 10 Evenings of Makeup Magic €45 per evening – course €450)
KF: Are there specific looks you will teach in the course?
Kiva: I try to teach everything: skills, tricks & tips. Of course everyone wants to know how to do a perfect smokey eye look, so I will definitely teach that. It’s a lot about teaching the techniques rather than creating specific looks (Little Kiva’s Teachnique™). I love to teach, it’s really enjoyable! The course is designed so that you can finish and go work at a beauty counter but also a personal way to know how to do your own make up, your friends’ make up; you don’t have to become a make up artist it’s another option. Students are really interested in why they’re doing it and what products they’re using.
KF: Favourite make up brand?
Kiva: Hmmm I love Sleek MakeUP because they’re affordable, they’re made for any skin tone and skin type so everyone can use it, and can be bought online so everyone can get it. They’re not overpriced and the packaging is so sleek, they have strong colours, which really do blend well. Illamasqua are really funky and they have a really unique way of advertising; their photoshoots and visuals are just amazing. There’s no brands I dislike, because all make up brands have something good, there’s at least one product that’s great.
Little Kiva’s Top… Beauty products
- An eyeshadow base is definitely an essential product to have. I don’t think you should apply eyeshadow without having a base down. MAC Paint Pot in Painterly is a simple one, great for all skin tones. It has a little bit of coverage and prevents eyeshadow from creasing, and they help to blend very well.
- One of my favourite foundations would be Revlon ColorStay, though it is heavy in coverage it’s rather waterproof so it stays on really well. But you need to find the right one for your skin type and what you want from the foundation.
- I absolutely love contouring. I would choose Sleek Make Up Contour Kit in Medium, because even if your skin is light or dark, the Medium Shade is a really nice colour and it even comes with a little highlighter, which is perfect for keeping in your handbag.
- Sigma Beauty sell a huge amount of good quality affordable brushes, Sigma Beauty E25 is an example of an essential blending brush. Lip brushes are also essential, you can work the product into your lips so it will last longer. I would advise to get make up brushes.
- Brush cleaner is also necessary, because if you have a dirty brush your make up won’t go on the same.
- Brush cleaning is definitely one.
- Figure out what kind of skin type you are because not all foundations will work for your skin, (dry skin + matte foundation won’t work!). Find out what foundations work for your skin type.
- Colour matching is rather important, for face and neck. (The orange face-white neck look is not good!) What I prefer to do is get a lighter foundation that matches your neck and chest, and you can build with bronzer to darken it.
- Blending is important. You can overblend and there is a fine line where all the colours will mix together, so I would say blend so there are no harsh lines but don’t overblend so you lose colour or definition. A blending brush is one of the main tools to have in your make up bag.
KF: Have you been asked to do make up for people’s special occasions? (Birthdays, weddings etc.)
Kiva: Yes I do freelancing make up artistry now, as my business has grown from YouTube. I’ve been able to work for fashion shows, photoshoots and big events. I did the British Irish Designer Showcase in honour of Her Majesty the Queen at the British Embassy, with Lancôme. It was really fun being able to do something like that! Our group of make up artists were the last to sit down and we were actually in the Queen’s seat about ten seconds before she were to enter the room!
KF: What’s the most bizarre look you had to create for a client?
Kiva: Halloween would be the main time when I get to go a bit mad on the make up. People usually stick to the safe options, but previous clients don’t mind going a bit over the top and being daring with colour & glitter, which I love to work with. When new clients want a brown smokey eye, of course I want to make them happy, I usually advise something that’s similar to the brown that has maybe a purple undertone that stands out a little bit more.
KF: Would you like to become a make up artist for film, television & music or do you prefer fashion-related work?
Kiva: I like a bit of everything, it’s nice to mix it up and have all the options. I prefer to be working high end stuff, I’d love to do the visuals for beautify companies like Illamasqua; anything new, exciting and creative because that’s what I really enjoy.
KF: Smokey eye looks are very popular (loved by singers Beyoncé, Taylor Momsen, Nicole Scherzinger, Demi Lovato and Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards), is there a particular smokey eye look you love the most?
Kiva: One of my favourite styles is the cat eye shaped smokey eye look. It lifts the face a lot and elongates it. It doesn’t mean you have to have two wings on the side of your eye, it’s just to pull your face up a bit. It also depends on your eye shape. Light and contrast on the eye are important, because it gives the illusion of depth; do a cat eye shape and add a lot of light on the inside to make it nice & bright and add definition. A lot of people make the mistake of just adding a whole lot of black. (Taylor Momsen, we’re looking at you!)
KF: Is there anyone in the entertainment industry whose make up looks you admire?
Kiva: Probably Kim Kardashian, because her make up is completely caked, which I love haha! She has really dramatic contouring, her highlight and shading is great and she wears large eyelashes; her look is really glamorous. Her skin always looks so beautiful.
KF: Is there any artist/celebrity that you would love to make up before a big awards show?
Kiva: I’d actually like to do Nicki Minaj’s make up, because she’d probably let me go a little mad. She always has a similar style of make up and often wears heavy black lashes on the outside of her eye, and I’d like to change it up. I think I could do something different and that she’d be up for it. And I’d love to work with Jennifer Lopez. Her skin is always so dewy and it would be interesting to know what products she uses and how she uses them.
KF: What’s your favourite aspect to being a make up artist?
Kiva: The best part is people’s reactions at the end. Halfway through the make up might not look like much and it all comes together when the whole look is complete. Usually I ask what my client wants while doing their whole make up but don’t show them until the end, and then I give them the mirror and the ‘wow factor’ reaction makes me feel so good to be able to transform someone. I once worked with a girl who had alopecia, and she had been feeling so down and just needed a pick-me-up; her eyelashes and eyebrows had fallen out. I was able to use products and show her how to use them, and know that they would last long. I literally drew a new face on her, showing her how create texture and she was so happy when she was leaving, and that made me feel good then. It’s little things like that where I can help people out make me happy to be a make up artist.
KF: What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?
Kiva: I would love to have a Little Kiva make up line, where I would first start off online and would eventually like it to grow so I could have a make up store. I would be very particular about the standard of my brand, where I have the best of the best for my clients. I’d also love to be teaching all around Ireland, grow as an artist in all different areas, and also do some make up for television. I’d love to know where my YouTube channel is going be in 5 years’ time, but I guess you’ll just have to wait and see!