If you’re a business person in Hollywood and your clients include Beyonce’, Madonna, Diana Ross, Nicki Minaj, Robert Downey Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow, Taraji P. Henson and Channing Tatum ( just to name a few) you can rest assure that you are doing something right. That is the case for the fabulous, but humble eyebrow guru, Damone Roberts. Over the past 15 years he has taken Beverly Hills by storm. His salon is located on Wilshire Boulevard, just steps away from where Julia Roberts made her dreams come true in the Penthouse of the Beverly Wilshire hotel with Richard Gere in Pretty Woman!
So, how did a kid from the projects in Oakland, come to have an eyebrow empire in the heart of Beverly Hills? I caught up with Damone, during a V.I.P. event at his salon, in conjunction with Sony’s ‘Angry Bird’s’ film. Because what better way to honor the birds than to sip on champagne, while having your eyebrows sculpted to perfection?!
Damone opened up about how he achieved his dream, that no one thought was possible. And he dropped a few dimes and words of encouragement, that every entrepreneur should hear. Of course he spilled a bit of tea about his favorite celebrity clients…I mean, he spilled a little lemonade.
Check out our interview below and if you’re ever in Beverly Hills, stop by his gorgeous salon and be treated like a queen! Your brows will never be the same! Damone Roberts Beverly Hills, Inc. 9669 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90212
How did this become your dream?
“My dream was always to create a name for myself in the beauty industry. I didn’t really know how that was going to happen. I started off as a make-up artist and I noticed that even if you didn’t have any make-up on, if you did the eyebrows it would totally transform a persons face. And once you have good eyebrows you never want to go back to bad eyebrows. Ever! And the salons been here 15 years in Beverly Hills on Wilshire Boulevard. We do 200 people a day! Kid you not. And it’s 90% eyebrows. We do lash extensions and body waxing. But, 90% is eyebrows.”
“People think that you have to limit your dream. I don’t believe in putting a ceiling on your dream because in the past, every time I thought that I couldn’t take it to a higher plateau, the higher power has shown men that it’s definitely possible.”
What has been the most difficult thing you’ve gone through on your journey and how did you overcome?
“The hardest thing is when you own your own business, you got to find the right people that can bring your dream to fruition. And everyone doesn’t really have the same work ethic as I do. I find that being a man of color in a predominately white, extremely wealthy, we live in a surreal existence. My clients own American Express and Netflix and their last name is Hilton. It’s just a world that is not realistic to a lot of people. So, a lot of times, when you deal with people on that level. it’s all they’ve ever known. And I come from the complete opposite. I come from the projects of Oakland and I built this from the ground up. So, I’ve been in the room when there’s a family of six in a one bedroom apartment eating cans for dinner. To the 50 million dollar home with a butler serving you dinner through white gloves. So, the gift from all that for me is that I’m comfortable in any room. I’m just thankful for the journey, because like this event that we’re doing with Sony Pictures and Angry Birds, that came out of nowhere. I did a deal with Oprah before, I did a deal with Disney, OPI, I just did a MAC collaboration for the first time. I started with Mac before I started doing eyebrows, so to come full circle and to now collaborate with the worlds #1 cosmetic company, and do a collection with our names together…it’s just been a crazy journey.”
What’s your greatest insecurity and how did you overcome it and learn to love yourself?
“I learned a long time ago that it’s not cocky to own your own light. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, no one is going to. When I left MAC 15 years ago, everyone told me I was crazy, because no one would be into the eyebrow thing, but I believed in myself, I believed in my higher power. I knew that I had a work ethic beyond compare and that if I believed I could make it work, I could make it work. That comes from having a strong mother and being raised in the projects, you gotta fight! And I think sometimes fighting for yourself is not a bad thing. My shop is in Beverly Hills and I have people that walk right past me and ask to speak to the owner and I tell them he’s not here, he’ll get back to you! Ha! But, it’s hard, I had one employee that worked with me for a long time. She was a blonde haired girl. And her father didn’t like the fact that she was working for me. And he would do everything in his power, to get me in trouble with the state board, the EDD. He ended up costing me $70,000 for a fine. Now, again, I don’t come from money, so I had to learn this as I went along. No one taught me business and how to invest in stocks and bonds and things of that nature. So, with that being said, a lot of times when I opened my first business, there were things I didn’t know that I was doing wrong. So, it’s been a really hard road of learning. But, I started out as an artist and I’m leaving as a businessman.”
What has been one of your moments with a celebrity, when you were like, ‘I can not believe this person is in my salon or in my chair?’
“There’s been so many. I grew up like every other gay boy, obsessed with Madonna. I remember the first time Madonna came in, I was just like, I couldn’t believe Madonna was in my salon. Ah, Beyonce’ you know, it’s Beyonce! And we’ve had some really good private conversations. And I remember her saying to me that she wanted to be free as an artist. I really don’t want these restrictions that everyone is trying to put on me, I want to tell my story. And this is before Lemonade. And I love that she just let it all go and did it. And that’s what art is. But, Madonna and Beyonce’ would be the top 2. I met Dianna Ross once at her show backstage at Radio City Music Hall. And Dianna Ross is one of the last living legends. And she knew who I was. And I was in shock, I started crying. I was like, ‘You know who I am?’ She said I even use your products! Look! And she pointed to her dressing room table. And my stuff was right there and it’s just a moment I will never forget. It really truly made me weep. I get Christmas cards from the President and the First Lady. And I’m like, Wow! The Obamas’! I recently was a jeopardy question. I’m a trivial pursuit question with Madonna, so now we’re a piece of pop culture together! Again, it’s been such a journey.”
Do you have days when you’re in awe that this is your life?
“Yeah I do. We’ve been here 15 years, and I kid you not, no exaggeration. About 2 years ago, I was closing up the salon one day, I was leaving work, everyone else leaves at six, but I’m here until like 2am. And in December Beverly Hills is beautiful. They light every tree you can imagine, there’s no budget, they just go crazy! And at 2 o’clock in the morning it was just me locking up the salon and I looked and I turned around and I saw the lights and the reindeer and Santa and everything else, and it just hit me and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, you’re here. You’re right across the street from Neiman Marcus ans Saks Fifth Avenue. And I had a moment and I literally sat right on the curb by myself and just cried. And I started praying and thanking God for the experience. Because 13 years prior to me having that moment, I had been so busy, I hadn’t even stopped to take it in. And that’s a problem that so many of us have is that we’re so busy going we don’t take it in. And now the first thing I do when I open my eyes, is say Thank You.”
Amen! Damone was so likeable and open. I completely understand why he is so successful. For more about Damone, visit his website www.damoneroberts.com