To Top

Life & Work with Barbara Gillespie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Gillespie.

Hi Barbara, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome at the age of 14 and spent months in the hospital paralyzed, waiting to die. Although I eventually recovered, the experience of making peace with death at a young age changed me.  After I got better I decided life was short . . . and I didn’t want to waste another second! The life of leisure and partying my peers in Peru enjoyed wasn’t for me, so I focused my efforts on becoming a professional makeup artist.

I’ve been doing makeup professionally for six years now (I just turned 20). I had over a dozen students learning from me in Peru before I left for the United States.
I came to this country last December to be a maid for Vail, Inc. at Crested Butte. I had never even left my home city of Lima (Peru) before. My goal was to save money to buy expensive makeup, then go home to Peru and expand my business. Life had other plans…
A few weeks later I met my husband, Kevin. We fell in love immediately, getting married the same month (January). He’s been ultra-supportive of my dreams, so at the end of ski season, we moved to Boulder seeking a bigger market for makeup.
He’s an experienced startup founder and entrepreneur; he runs the business “behind the scenes”. We came up with the name, did market research, and launched a makeup studio located in Central Boulder.
I do special effects makeup, colorful stage makeup, natural/bridal makeup, exotic makeup for going out, makeup lessons, and offer an unlimited makeup monthly subscription.
My goal is to eventually create our own line of cruelty-free, organic, hypoallergenic, and waterproof makeup. With enough hard work, we plan to build the next great makeup dynasty!
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It wasn’t easy while I was living in Peru. Even after recovering from my disease, starting a new business is difficult in Peru. People in my country are mostly poor, so makeup opportunities were few and far in between. I didn’t get discouraged, not one bit! Even as I was re-learning to walk, I managed to level up my makeup skills quickly. Within two years I had my own makeup school up and running.
Being in this country was so new for me.  I am still adapting to different culture, different food, and different ways of thinking. As I said I had never even left the city of Lima before, much less been on a plane – I screamed as we took off. Once I arrived and saw the natural beauty here in Colorado, the impression it made was too much for my brain to handle. This led to homesickness and depression for a while.
It’s a completely different set of challenges here in America. Starting Makeup With Barbie wasn’t easy, but I’ve been lucky to have help along the way.  It took a year of planning in Peru just to get here.  How did I do it?  I had the unwavering support of my mother Ursula, my stepfather John, my younger brother Antonio, and my younger cousin Domenico.  They’re still a constant source of support.  Now that I’m married I also have the support of my husband and my mother-in-law.  I’ve learned that success takes plenty of hard work but it isn’t done alone, it’s teamwork!
In the last six months I’ve had to learn English, how to live on my own, how to start and run a business “American style”, and I’m even learning to drive a car. The challenges I’ve faced have been a bit much at times, but somehow everything seems to be working out. Take it from a Peruvian . . . America really is the land of opportunity!

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Personally, I’m an immigrant still learning your language and culture. Professionally, I am a full-time makeup artist and female entrepreneur. I do wedding makeup, natural makeup, colorful makeup, special effects or costume makeup, and makeup lessons. My specialties include weddings, colorful/stage makeup, and portrait makeup for situations like prom and corporate shoots.

What sets me apart from others? Dedication to my work, punctuality, and ethics. I’m finding my work ethic sets me apart from me competitors as a number of my bookings are the result of other makeup artists who cancel or don’t show. All of my pricing is up-front on my website. I show up early and stay late. I may not be the cheapest game in town, yet I provide top-notch, hassle-free services for all my clients. I go out of my way to be the very best, dedicating a full day each week to learning the latest techniques to stay on top of my game.

I’m proud to be using only the best products and to have a professional studio. I am also proud of the path that I have followed to become the person I am today, both professionally talking and personally. In six short years, I’ve gone from paralyzed and dying in a Peruvian hospital to a successful makeup artist in Colorado.

Outside of work, I enjoy going to Water World with my husband (we have season passes), eating at new restaurants, hiking, cooking, and camping. We have a six-month old Goldendoodle named Chewbacca. Also, my husband and I are planning to start a family next year if things continue on their current path.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Makeup with Barbie is much more than just makeup, it’s an entire experience! I provide a safe space to share in a makeup experience like no other! My goal is to bring out the youth in us all. Makeup with Barbie comes with the experience of being with me, a lovely 20 years old girl who loves to see everyone happy. They can hire me (Barbie) from any place in the world. We travel wherever you are. You can visit our website for bookings

I’m also seeking models to create content for my portfolio. Nothing boring here; we’ll have fun creating musical Tik Toks and Instagram Reels in addition to photos and videos. I like to showcase the makeup transition with style! Afterward, I’ll tag you from my high-profile social media accounts. If you’d like to become a model, please contact me with a couple of photos by email, or by text 719-653-4274. Thanks in advance loves ~ Barbie

  • $120 – Natural makeup session
  • $160 – Colorful/Stage makeup
  • $200 – “Your place, Your choice” makeup
  • $1,200 – Day Fee (on set)
  • FREE – Wedding Makeup Trial

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Personal photo (with white background) – Yumefarfan_photo (insta) First photo – Gonzalo Espinoza Second photo – Alejandra Cuevas Third photo – Adrian Zuniga Fourth photo – Madison Covas

Suggest a Story: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories