DOWNEY - Ever since former Miss Downey Ericka DeRemer Brannon became regional trainer for the Pacific West/Orange County region of MAC Cosmetics, one of several independent divisions of the giant cosmetics firm Estee Lauder (whose brand line includes Clinique, Bobbi Brown, and its signature Estee Lauder brand), she has invested her assignment with her characteristic focus and drive.Result? Last July, the Warren High School (1996) and Cal State Long Beach grad (2000: communication studies, emphasis in interpersonal communication) was selected as one of only five finalists in a guest category, the 2011 Makeup Artist of the Year, sponsored by the North American Hairstyling Awards. NAHA is said to be the most prestigious award coveted by hair stylists. The finalists were chosen out of hundreds of thousands of makeup photo entries. Brannon has since at least her high school days known the excitement that surrounds such events. She was born in Paramount but raised in Downey. Crowned Miss Downey at age 16 in 1995 when she was still in high school, Brannon twice went on to be a Miss California USA finalist while in college. She also held the title of Miss Long Beach in 1998. She is an only daughter of Downey businessman and community member Gary DeRemer. At age 17, she moved out of the house and lived in the Cal State Long Beach sorority house. From 1998 to 1999, she worked for MTV Rock-n-Jock and the following year, as an intern for Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune (1999-2000). (She worked at the Outback Steak House in Lakewood some nights as well). She had meanwhile begun as a MAC Cosmetics makeup artist at Nordstrom Cerritos; she was to spend 2-1/2 years there, from 1998 to 2000, when she was promoted to resident trainer in Los Angeles (2000-2002). At this point, she had already glimpsed the glamour radiated by celebrity. In 2000, before college graduation, feeling adventurous and feeding her curiosity, she and then boyfriend Damon Brannon (who was to later become her husband) went on a backpacking trip across Europe. Some of the18 European countries they crisscrossed, and which they negotiated by walking, riding on Vespas, and snoozing their way at nights aboard the fast-moving EuroRail, included Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, England, Luxembourg, Germany, Holland, Austria and Switzerland. They even (successfully) tried paragliding, off a 6,000-ft. mountain in Austria. Their second European sojourn was in 2001, after her graduation from college. They marked the nine weeks they spent in Europe by becoming engaged, when they were visiting Prague, in the Czech Republic. The two were married in September. 2002, and have three sons: Jakob, 6, a first grader at Newcomb Academy; Mateo, 4, preschool; and Ryder, 2, preschool. The Venezuelan-born Damon is half-Russian and half-Irish. They reside in Long Beach. As regional trainer, with headquarters in Orange County, Brannon is responsible for making sure that all 650 MAC Cosmetics employees and makeup artists in the region (Brea, Lakewood, Cerritos, Downey, etc.) get sufficient and appropriate training in the essentials: product knowledge, technique and artistry. So the next time you visit a Macy's here in Downey or Brea or Lakewood or Cerritos, the 15 or 20 makeup artists who serve at each MAC Cosmetics station as demonstrators or actually doing makeup work are sure to have gone through the training paces and phases bearing Brannon's imprint. To be sure, she is out constantly in the field, dispensing her knowledge and her expertise to her makeup artists - to better serve the needs of actual and potential clients who come by their stations. She has at the same time, as part of her job, conducted such workshops as MAC pro SCP, pro product workshops for all staff (for transition into a pro location) as well as airbrushing workshop for all staff, in a new location; airbrushing workshops for trainers in OC and pro members (8 hours); ethnic women workshop in Macy's Newport; IT body painting workshop; and a music video makeup workshop at Lakewood and Montebello. She has also become expert at body painting. It has developed into a freelance business opportunity for her. She calls it "transformational makeup." Making sure she's not violating any conflict of interest issues with MAC Cosmetics, she says she provides the service to MAC Cosmetics as an independent contractor and at other times as an employee body painting specialist. She says demand for it is wide because it gives people the feeling of being, at least temporarily, particularly for show business purposes, truly "unique." Think Dennis Rodman, or any TV, movie or video set or show that might require a temporary transformational makeup, and she can fill the need. She adds that the painting can last up to eight or nine hours. Brannon's work has gotten her into close contact with celebrities, of course, over the years. To mention a few instances: Elton John tribute show, body painting, 2001; Heather Locklear, makeup for the 2001 Emmys; Jennifer Aniston and Cindy Crawford, makeup (for both) for the 2004 St. Jude Charity Show; Jamie Foxx, makeup for the Ray Charles Tribute, in 2005; New York Fashion Week, Sept. 2007; Gelila and Wolfgang Puck, house call for the Oscars, in 2009, 2010, 2011; Khloe and Kim Kardashian, house calls with Tiffany Johnston, Sept. 2009; Florence & the Machine, body painting/air brushing 17 dancers, Aug. 2010; and more. Brannon clearly enjoys her work with MAC Cosmetics and is thrilled with the monetary possibilities body painting can bring. "Makeup isn't just art, it's who I am," she says. "Women will always need makeup." She has this bit of free advice to aspiring makeup artists: "If you want to be an artist, paint as many faces as you can. Don't be afraid to push your artistry [to the limit]."
********** Published: October 06, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 25