Erika Papa is an excellent resource of makeup and beauty knowledge. Her expertise has built into a major Instagram following, one that recently surpassed 50,000. For anyone looking to know which products and techniques are ideal, be it for yourself or someone close to you, Erika is the perfect person to follow. She was kind enough to join me for an excellent Q&A in unison with Pop Culture Spin. Read my interview with Erika below and check out her various social media accounts.
Pop Culture Spin: Erika, thank you for joining Pop Culture Spin on this interview. To start, can you please share where you’re from and based at the moment?
Erika: Thanks for having me! I’m born and raised in Michigan and I’m still currently based here, although I don’t plan on living here forever.
PCS: Was the world of beauty something that drew you in dating back to when you grew up or did it develop into an interest later on?
Erika: Beauty was an interest since I was very young. I was asking my mom to buy me mascara and nail polish in elementary school! In middle school I was wearing eyeliner and by high school I was wearing false lashes and hair extensions. In high school I was part of a program where I went to cosmetology school for half of my school day and after that I worked at Sephora. There was never a time in my life where I wanted to do something else with my career.
PCS: As you say yourself online, makeup is your passion. What’s your first memory of using makeup or being intrigued by it?
Erika: When I was young I remember sitting by my mother in the bathroom while she did her makeup…I would always try to get into her makeup bag and a few times I succeeded which resulted in some hilarious photos!
PCS: Has your expertise in this area been mostly self-taught or were there others along the way who helped shape your knowledge?
Erika: I’ve always experimented with makeup but as I got older I have had some guidance. During my time at Sephora I learned a lot about makeup, brands, and got plenty of hands on experience as well. But even well before Sephora I was watching online tutorials daily and would constantly be practicing and trying new techniques. I feel like when it comes to makeup artistry some people just have it, that natural instinctive talent…but that doesn’t mean makeup skills cannot be learned and mastered because they definitely can be.
PCS: How do you feel society is doing regarding its current beauty standards – are we in a quality place or still far from it?
Erika: I would say we have made major progress but we still have a long way to go. I think the main issue is that people need to stop judging and boxing people in with their own opinions. If someone wants to wear a full face of makeup to the gym or purple lipstick to the grocery store that should be okay. Makeup is like an outfit…it’s self expression! Plus at the end of the day it all washes off anyways! Man or woman I don’t think anyone should be judged for wearing makeup or the way they dress. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we have to come together and lift each other up instead of tearing each other down because every single one of us is beautiful in our own way. Outer beauty means nothing if inner beauty isn’t present!
PCS: Your love of makeup has built into a large social media following. Has your social media experience been largely positive or have portions of haters ever surfaced?
Erika: The good far outweighs the bad, but of course I do receive hate from time to time. Whenever I get reposted by large accounts with millions of followers I will get some negativity and I really used to let it get under my skin, but as my following has grown so have I. When you’re constantly being judged and critiqued by cyber-bullies hiding behind a computer, you learn to not take it to heart. If you have a good heart it can be hard to understand how someone could be so hateful, but I just block the haters and say a prayer that they find happiness in their own lives. There will always be some people that just don’t like you for whatever reason but I have so many amazing friends and even strangers giving me such love and support on a daily basis that at the end of the day none of the hate really matters. I have built such an amazing relationship with my followers and they are such a blessing to me. I’m just being myself and if that bothers people then that’s too bad because I’m not stopping any time soon!
PCS: Can you provide any advice/tips to those interested in improving their makeup application techniques but unsure of where to start?
Erika: Yes! This day and age all you have to do is go on YouTube and there are endless amazing beauty tutorials teaching you how to do everything from a basic winged liner to a dramatic cut crease with glitter. I have personally learned so much from YouTube tutorials…there are so many experts out there giving out their knowledge for free!
PCS: Do you primarily buy your favorite products in stores or is online shopping your preferred route?
Erika: Hm…that depends. If it is a favorite that I have tried before and I’m repurchasing I will gladly grab it online from the comfort of my own home! On the other hand if I want to try out or find some new products that don’t have many reviews yet I will gladly take a trip to Sephora, Ulta, M.A.C, or Nordstrom to test it out in store before buying.
PCS: You also seem to have a heavy interest in fashion. What’s your thought process like when putting an outfit together and deciding which styles work for you?
Erika: Well the first thing I take into consideration is obviously the weather and the current season (I live in Michigan and can’t just throw on shorts year round!), next depending on my mood and the makeup I’ve planned out for the day I will try to coordinate something that will complement my makeup without looking too matchy. I do try to keep the theme of my outfits and makeup cohesive though. For example if I’m sporting an edgy makeup look, I’d pair it with an edgy outfit and if I’m wearing a glam look I’ll go for a more chic option.
PCS: Outside of what we’ve already discussed, what other passions in your life are important to you?
Erika: A big part of my life that not many people know about is health and fitness. My father is a world champion body builder and a television personality with a background in nutrition so I definitely gained my interest from him. He also suffers from Crohn’s disease and although I have tested negative, I do have many food allergies and sensitivities. Because of that and some other ethical reasons I eat a vegan diet and exercise regularly to stay feeling my best. Knowing so much about food and fitness has really enabled me to stay in pretty good shape and in turn I have many people ask me how I do it. I love to share food recipes on my Snapchat and just inspire people to live healthier lives overall. It’s a good feeling to know you’re helping people make healthier choices and helping save the environment and the animals at the same time!
PCS: Is there anything on the horizon here in 2016 that you’d like to mention to your followers?
Erika: I can confidently say a YouTube channel is in my future but I can’t guarantee a date any time soon. I want to make sure that when I do start my channel, my content is quality and that means I need the right equipment. But one day I plan on starting a beauty channel so I can teach my techniques and inspire people…just how I’ve been inspired by other you-tubers!
PCS: Thank you again for having this Q&A, I hope it has been an enjoyable experience for you. In closing, where can those interested find you on social media?
Erika: Thank you for having me! I had fun answering your questions. You can find me pretty much everywhere these days! I used to only have Instagram but I recently decided to make Facebook and Twitter accounts. Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are all @erikamariepapa. I also have a second beauty page on Instagram, @beautybyerikamarie created to share and support other artists. My Twitter is the only different username @theeerikapapa.