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Meet Trailblazer Rosanna Nykanen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rosanna Nykanen.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in musical theater here in San Diego, so I had to learn how to do my own makeup and hair from a very young age. Those skills upgraded as I started styling my friends, and then designing the looks for entire productions (specializing in hair extensions and creative character makeup). Soon after, I got my license in Cosmetology, I moved to Nashville, TN, and while waiting for my license to transfer between states, I started working for MAC Cosmetics. I learned A TON through the company and eventually moved up into their Artist Training and Development department: training artists throughout the state in artistry, customer service, and product knowledge, and simultaneously building up my own freelancing on the side. In the Nashville industry, most of my work was in photoshoots, videoshoots, and awards show (CMA’s, Dove Awards, Grammy’s, etc). My husband and I decided that it was time to move back to San Diego just under 4 years ago, and instead of transferring with MAC, I decided it was time to work for myself and dive into the thriving wedding industry here. While I still love creative work for photoshoots or music videos, I have fallen in love with being such a transformative part of someone’s wedding day… it’s the perfect opportunity to really show someone how gorgeous they are.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have definitely been struggles, but that’s just life. I think the most difficult thing right off the bat was to choose wether I wanted to stay with my stable, consistent job working for someone else, or go after a more satisfying but also completely unknown future working for myself. I knew that I could make a difference in my client’s lives either way, but I could only build the life I really wanted for myself by choosing the latter and completely committing to it. I prayed fervently, mostly pleading for God to reassure me in some way that I was doing the right thing, and thank Him for each opportunity that came my way. I also cried a lot… and I mean A LOT to my husband who continued to remind me that I was good at this and I just had to keep moving one step at a time. There were a few other curveballs I had to figure out in the process: leaning into the instability of self-employment while managing the panic disorder I’ve dealt with my whole life, being super pregnant and still taking jobs because I didnt want to risk losing momentum, balancing a business alongside #momlife, working through a major car accident and injury to my dominant shoulder and wrist (not ideal in this business!), and by far the most difficult: contracting a very painful and minimally understood stomach condition called Gastroparesis — my stomach was paralyzed for about a year and a half… I literally couldn’t eat. There were days where I would be physically ill all night before a wedding, go do the job employing all of my energy, get back into my car when it was finished and just cry on my way home, where I would collapse on the couch and not move while my husband took care of our toddler. You never know what you will come up against in life, in business or otherwise… while making responsible decisions along the way is key in preparing, I think the hardest things to get through are the things you can’t possibly expect until you’re faced with them. It’s in those moments that taking a breath becomes essential… let the crazy feelings come, allow yourself to be overwhelmed, acknowledge that you feel like everything is going to crumble — then keep breathing. Remember that it’s ok to feel that way, and feeling that way doesn’t change what is true: that you will keep breathing and it won’t always feel that way. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family, lean into them when it gets hard, be honest with yourself, and know that you are enough, no matter what. Go to sleep, take a shower, shut off your phone, give someone a hug, and talk to Jesus. Or just make it though this one moment if that’s all you have in you, and try again later. That seems so insignificant to list out like that, but that is for sure how I get through the struggles, and how I’m able to love on my clients regardless of what’s going on, and that is probably why I’m still working now.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Rosanna Nykanen: Makeup. Hair. Art. – what should we know?
Well, the short answer is that I do all kinds of hairstyling, hair extensions, and makeup for all kinds of events and projects, as well as on-site touch ups service and my kit is cruelty free with vegan, all-natural, and organic options as well. More specifically, I am well practiced in event-worthy updo’s, vintage/retro styling, boho braids, and editorial styling, as well as airbrushing, natural makeup, glam looks, drag techniques, face/body painting, and special effects, and I will stay on site to keep you looking perfect in every photo. Besides artistic skill, I’m known for cultivating connection and caring…I love makeup and hair, and I’ve devoted a long time (more than 14 years!) to hone my skills, but more than anything, it is the vehicle that I use to take care of my clients and hopefully help them see how beautiful and valuable they already are. That’s why I offer on-site touch-up service to my brides… I look at weddings from an “on-set” perspective coming from my background in photo and video shoots. On a shoot, it is expected to have the makeup artist on set to jump in between shots, powdering here and touching up there, or resetting a wave in just the right spot… why wouldn’t you want the same care and attention to detail on one of the most photographed and special days of your life?! That’s when the real magic happens… the tiny connections and moments nobody can plan for when I can jump in and reassure a nervous bride who’s never worn makeup before, or tame your windswept hair with a cordless curling iron, or even just remind your mother that she is still lovely as I touch up underneath her eyes from the streaks of happy tears. That’s probably the main thing that sets me apart from others… I care a lot about each of my clients, and I thrive when I’m in the position to help support them in every possible way, and that doesn’t just end once your initial look is finished.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
Of course my mother… she worked full time while also getting her master’s degree and then license in Marriage and Family Therapy, maintaining straight A’s, cultivating her beautiful relationship with my dad, and constantly investing in not only myself and my brother, but all of our friends, and an entire youth group of kids (who still keep in contact with her!). She is resilient, protective, and continually overcoming anything that could be treated as an excuse.

She gets it from her mother, my Nana, who started her work before the sun rose and didn’t sleep till long after it set, after coming to America from Sicily when she was 17 without a single word of English; she built a strong legacy and loved on everyone around her as well.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Jennie Corti Photography, Andy King Photography, Katie Branch, Kylie Rae Photography, Eli McFadden

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Vanessa

    July 30, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    YES! Rosy did my hair and makeup for my wedding in March (the first photo with the STUNNING braiding is me!) and I just can’t say enough about what a talent she has. And she’s also just a delightful human being!

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