Kellyn Willey, owner of Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics. All photos courtesy of Kellyn Willey.
Warning. If you drive down Boulevard near Grant Park on Friday between 2 and 9 p.m., Kellyn Willey doesn’t want you to get distracted by the bevy of beauties selling lemonade in front of the red storefront of Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics and wreck the car. Instead, stay safe and beat the heat by stopping a while to sip some refreshing juice and support animal shelters and nonprofit rescue groups.
While Kellyn didn’t found the boutique which aims to help any gal capture the glamorous look of the movie stars of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, but since 2009 when she took over as owner, she’s been living a dream come true. She was hired as a make-up artist/shop girl with little responsibility in 2007, but her talents in photography and graphic design helped persuade her boss not just to promote the then-just-23-year-old to manager but eventually to take over the entire business. In just a couple of years and proving that Retro style is timeless and recession-proof, Kellyn moved Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics to Grant Park, tripled the square footage and partnered with Christine Starr Cookus’s Lucky Starr to sell vintage clothes on site as well.
ATLRetro caught up with Kellyn recently to find out more about Ernie’s Lemonade Stand and what’s new with Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics, as well as get a few make-up tips and keep up with her upcoming misadventures in her alter-ego as Madame Willey of burlesque troupe Minette Magnifique.
What’s Ernie’s Lemonade Stand and why should ATLRetro readers be sure to drop by on Friday?
Ernie’s Lemonade Stand is the brainchild of myself, Jillian Udelson and Liz Henderson—two major advocates for rescuing animals on a local and global scale. I was just speaking with them a few weeks ago at a photo shoot I was doing with Jillian and Liz’s pit [bull], Dash, about how I have an annual lemonade stand, complete with genuine pin-up girls as servers, in front of my shop to bring in extra business. We just thought giving it an actual cause to support was an exciting way to bring new attention to it.
Is that also a good time to take a look around the shop? Anything new you’d like us to notice?
Absolutely, my newest vendor, Lucky Starr, who sells incredible vintage apparel for both men and women at unbeatable prices is having her huge SUMMER BLOWOUT SALE! It’s 25% OFF everything she has and we will also be doing the same in my shop with various vintage-inspired corsets size S-XXL, stockings, ruffle panties, hair accessories, jewelry and even cosmetics!
How’s it going having Lucky Starr as a partner? You’ve been together now for six months, rights?
I <3 Christine, owner of Lucky Starr! I can’t imagine having my business without her. She adds a flavor of authenticity to my boutique which truly gives our customers that feeling of being swept away to Paris and stumbling into a tucked away, chic yet naughty little boutique with everything you’ve been looking for as a fashionable woman, since you were a young girl.
How did you first get interested in glamorous make-up and hair? Is it a love that goes back to childhood dress-up or did someone inspire you?
My mother really. She is still the most glamorous woman I know and she takes such amazing care of herself. She taught me that you CAN have it all as a woman. You can have a career, family and be beautiful all at the same time. Her biggest secret to her success was waking up early. She always taught me to wake up early—like two to four hours earlier than wherever you have to be first in the morning—and take care of YOURSELF FIRST! Whether it’s doing your hair, makeup, working out, eating a balanced breakfast, meditating or all the above. The morning time is the best time for “me-time”.
Kellyn in her Madame Willey persona poses with some members of Minette Magnifique.
Does Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics only do appointments or are walk-ins welcome, and about how much does it cost to have a makeover?
We mainly are by appointment only, but we accept walk-ins for all beauty services. The one and only PinUpGirl! Makeover costs $85 and includes full vintage hair styling, makeup, brow sculpting, false lashes and a spa quality skin prep. During the warmer months, we also apply a flexible sealant spray to your makeup after it’s completed to hold it in place for hours and hours against perspiration, humidity and smudging at no extra charge.
What’s the most fun makeover you’ve done and why?
I love giving makeovers to people who never have the opportunity to treat themselves. I guess one of my more fun makeovers was a client in her 60s who was a teacher, a breast cancer survivor and had been growing her hair back from the numerous chemotherapy treatments. She just came out radiant, and her smile blossomed the second I got her on set. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing clients enjoying to look in the mirror at themselves and simply smile.
Who are your clients—burlesque queens, theater performers or just ordinary women who want a little glamour in their lives? Do you have a typical client?
All the above. Our most popular client, on average, is in their mid-30s and looking to glam up their life with something more unique and tailored to their personality. Unlike many other beauty bars, my staff and I really get to know our client, even if they are only with us for a few minutes. We give the client what they are looking and make them feel self-assured.
Who’s your favorite vintage pin-up girl and why?
The incomparable Rita Hayworth. She knew how to turn it on, and she made it all look so easy. She could either be soft and innocent with her wide eyes and bright smile making you feel so joyful and carefree like in her musical, COVER GIRL, with Gene Kelly. Or she can smolder and sizzle with her luscious curves and quick yet perfectly timed hair flips in GILDA. She really teaches us women how fun it is to be a woman, and when you are having fun, you are confident and confidence is so very sexy!
What’s the biggest make-up mistake women make when trying for a vintage look and how can you correct it?
The cursed black cat eye. The look that we see Dita wear as her signature style. So many woman don’t find the right type of liner or the curve of the wing off the eye lid is too curvy or large. My best trick to fixing this common mistake is using a felt-tip liquid eye liner. My favorite liner for the perfect cat eye is by NYX Cosmetics called “Super FAT Eye Marker” sold at ULTA. It’s around $6 and HUGE and takes me less than 30 seconds for the perfect cat eye. If you don’t like a fat line or have smaller eyes, this product also comes in a “skinny” marker. It’s the BEST felt marker liner I’ve ever used and lasts all day, even in the heat. It’s so gentle that I can even line the bottom lash-line of my eyes. It’s instant sex appeal.
Performing with Minette Magnifique.
We have a few private events this month, and next Saturday, July 16, Miss Darcy Lemmonier and Luna Lynxx are performing in the Shakespeare Follies at 7 Stages. It’s going to be a great show and the girls have some new pieces to share. Many more shows and appearances to come in the fall.