Inside Makeup Artist Nam Vo’s "Glowy" Loft Apartment in New York City
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we tour makeup artist and influencer Nam Vo's minimal New York City loft.
The need to create is in Nam Vo's DNA. The naturally gifted makeup artist and influencer has received widespread attention for her infectious personality and beautiful makeup looks which she primarily creates in her minimal and ultra-chic New York City loft.
After dropping out of school to pursue a career in makeup, Nam went from working as a beauty artist at strip clubs to working freelance for magazines. "I always sucked at school but I was good at lunch, making friends, and making girls feel pretty," she shared with Bed Threads Journal. Now, the much-loved beauty guru is renowned for creating her flawless and glowy "dewy dumpling" makeup look on herself and her clients which she masterfully shares on her Instagram account.
This iconic dewy look, her natural ability to command an audience, and her love for sharing has garnered her close to 370k followers on the app. "Ever since I was a kid, if I ate pizza or a new candy I would tell everybody about it. And as an adult I’m doing the exact same thing, I just have a bigger audience," she says. Nam has also created her famous radiant skin look for the likes of model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and established herself as a Beauty Global Artistry Ambassador for Marc Jacobs.
The pandemic was one of the driving forces behind Nam investing in a home that she loves and can comfortably work in. As a makeup artist, plenty of natural lighting was a must and the large arched window in the open-plan living/dining area keeps her New York City apartment looking fresh and inviting. The ultra-stylish living room is perhaps the star of the loft with its luxurious marble tables and curved boucle sofas.
The home aptly utilises shades that mimic a dumpling. From the flooring to the walls, everything is swathed in warm neutral shades. The dialled down palette combined with curvaceous furniture and decor creates a look that's utterly soothing and acts as a calming retreat and workspace. "My mind is very busy, and I’m a shopaholic so I wanted it to be clean," she says.
The pared back hues and comforting aesthetic continue in her loft-style bedroom which overlooks the dining space and can only be described as a glowy sleep sanctuary. Here, white, Oatmeal, beige, and tan offer up a dreamy palette that looks carefully curated to create the cosiest of spaces.
We spoke to the beauty guru about the advice she would give to those looking to enter the industry, how she creates her makeup looks, and exactly how she's styled her chic new home.
Recreate Nam's look with our Charcoal throw.
Hi Nam! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make a lot of glowy beauty content for the world. I started as a makeup artist, and I’m still a makeup artist, but it sort of veered into its own thing when Dewy Dumplings came into fruition. I make more glow for the world in many forms.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I think that I’m truly a right brained person and I have to create or make, whether it be in my furniture choices, my nail polish, my makeup. I think it’s innately in me to just want to create and make. My brain is just always thinking in a creative way.
It's funny because everyone is different. Growing up I was never really good at school and I never got good grades and I dropped out early. Coming from a strict Asian family they were always like, “Oh god, she’s not a smart one”. But I think that we kind of have to rethink that because I will go to a place 10 times and I still won’t know how to spell it and my mind can’t absorb any numbers, but I can creatively concept things in my sleep. I can remember what somebody wore the first time I met them, but I might not remember where or their name.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?
I always sucked at school, but I was good at lunch, making friends, and making girls feel pretty. So I think I was really meant for this line of work. I even think that I was meant for influencing. We’re all influencers in our own right, but I’m a sharer.
Ever since I was a kid, if I ate pizza or a new candy I would tell everybody about it. And as an adult I’m doing the exact same thing, I just have a bigger audience. I’m a natural sharer, whether it be food, hair, cardigans. I think that sharing and advising is very natural for me.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I know a lot of makeup artists start plotting and putting together looks, they write or have a moodboard, but I’m such a spur of the moment person. When I do makeup I open up a palette, my kit, or my makeup closet and then I’ll just find something I like and go from there. It really is such a natural spontaneous thing.
I don’t really think deeply about things – I just go for it. And that’s what happened with Dewy Dumplings. Everybody was like, “What a great marketing idea!” But I literally just spat out those two words one day and then my life took a new turn. I don’t even think about makeup a lot, I just kind of do it.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to further your career
When I first started out and I watch those videos, I seem a bit like a salesperson. I think in social media what you really have to do is be candid. I think for me personally I speak to my audience in the exact same way I’d speak to my girlfriends. I’m not trying to be all perfect and professional, I’m quite candid. I like to keep it real and I think that really resonates with people.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your career?
Sometimes I need to take my head out of my asshole and let my ego go. Often times I work with brands and they tell me what they want, but sometimes I feel like my idea would work and look better. But it’s not always about what I want. Obviously I hope people hire me because they can look at my body of work and see what it is, but I think I need to just let go of my ego sometimes.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?
I literally have to pinch myself because I’ve made a living out of being me. For example, before this interview I decided I wanted to curl my hair and then I decided that I may as well film it. It’s something that I’d just naturally do. I’m sharing things like my favorite fragrances, my favorite skincare, how I curl my hair.
I love when women channel their divine feminine. I’m all for inner beauty, but it just doesn’t photograph that well and I think there’s something very powerful about looking good because when you look good you feel good and then you project that. I think that’s a very powerful thing.
When I talk to dumplings and I meet them and they’re like, “I got this serum because of you and it cleared my breakout!” it feels tremendously rewarding to know that I help inspire people to be their most glowing selves.
What advice would you give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?
It's one thing to be a talented makeup artist, but it’s another to be able to present that to the world. Social media is a currency and there are so many talented makeup artists. There isn't a lack of talent in this world, I think there’s a lack of really knowing how to connect and showcase. I think when it comes to makeup artists, everyone is trying to be a star, which I don’t think is what it’s about. It's about knowing how to share your craft and your light with the world.
You don’t have to be in front of the camera, but you need to share with people how you create looks. A lot of makeup artists will just show a picture, but we want to know things like what’s in your kit, why you chose this foundation, your thought process...
My advice is when you’re starting out, humble yourself and say yes to as many things as possible, even if it doesn’t pay. You don’t know if you’re going to meet a great photographer, you don’t know what doors that will open. And when it comes to social media, it’s intimidating but you have to understand what your brand and voice is. You have to be original and do what’s natural to you. A lot of makeup artist emulate each other, which is human nature, but to stand out in an extremely competitive industry you have to really organically have your own voice.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
Less than a year.
Recreate Nam's look with Oatmeal in our Build Your Own Table Bundle.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
In New York I spent my life living in closets, tight spaces, like everyone does. I used to always say, “If you live in New York and have a dining room, you’ve done something right in your life”. Covid made me have to up my budget for my living situation. I used to be a makeup artist that would go on set all the time but now I work from home, so I invested a little bit more.
I kind of manifested this apartment, I let it come to me. I needed to have a doorman because I receive so many packages, and very, very important is that I needed to have Jesus lighting. It's got high ceilings and it's south-facing so I get amazing lighting. As soon as I saw the apartment during the day I was like, “I’ll sign now.”
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I call this apartment my ‘dewy dumplings loft box’. I designed it because I want to feel as though I’m living inside a lantern in the clouds. My mind is very busy, and I’m a shopaholic so I wanted it to be clean. It’s almost a little bit like a museum, it’s very, very minimal. I think the saying “cluttered home, cluttered mind” is so true.
It wasn’t until this apartment that I truly loved every single thing in my home, every fork, plate, rug etc. I’m a very messy person, but I think when you work hard and you take pride in everything that you’ve bought, you actually want to take care of it.
What is your favorite piece in the home?
My favorite piece is my lounge which I got from Spain. It's shaped so beautifully. When my friends come over everybody likes to take photos on it, it’s a bit of a statement piece. It’s really unique and almost a work of art on its own.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I’m all about lighting and one thing I would like to add is a massive mirror but probably something custom made as there isn’t anything I like on the scale I’m looking for.
Which is your favorite room in the house?
The dining room because I eat here and I shoot my "glow jobs" here. I have this concrete table and it’s very clean and it’s my work/eating table.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
Well…you’ve got to be born with the taste. But my top tip is invest in the key pieces. There are things you can go cheap on but the big statement pieces I would invest in. Keep it simple. There is so much good furniture around and you can get inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram, there’s just so much. But I think you should just pick things that make you feel comfortable and relaxed.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I can’t talk about anything, but just know when it comes to Dewy Dumplings put your sunglasses on because it's just going to get glowier and glowier.
For more from Nam, follow her @namvo