We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Longhi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I believe taking risks has played 100% role in my life.
I grew up in Southern Maryland, where the high school I went to had special programs that you had to apply to. By the time we were in 8th grade we had to pick which programs we wanted to apply to. I applied to our cosmetology program, the program where I had family members, my friend’s parents, and people in my life telling me it would take me nowhere, that it didn’t have a “real career field”. I didn’t care, I knew what I wanted, so I applied. You had to apply, write an essay, interview into the program, where hundreds of other people try to get into to, they only accept 20 applicants. I was lucky enough to be accepted.
By the time I graduated high school at 17, I was a fully licensed cosmetologist, and then came the point where every kid starts planning college, and their future. I decided to attend trade school, another route that I was told would take me nowhere. At 17, a month before turning 18, I packed up everything I had, drove to Florida with my parents to attend Cosmix school of Makeup artistry and move in with a complete stranger. Being 15 hours away from your family, friends, and everyone you know at 17 is scary, you don’t know what you’re doing at all.
By the time I was 18 I was a fully licensed cosmetologist in Maryland and Florida, licensed permanent makeup artist, licensed tattoo artist, and a fully certified makeup artist in both beauty and special effects. I always knew I had to be in a field where I could be creatively driven. Shortly after graduating trade school I started a full time job at a private label cosmetics manufacturer where I had no clue what I was doing, but I knew I had a love of anything color, art, and imaginative thinking.
Next thing we know the world changes in 2020, and everything comes to a stop. I was furloughed from my full time job and now sitting at home like the rest of the world. I began painting and customizing shoes for friends and family to earn some money while still doing something I love. Shortly after realizing the demand that people had for custom art, I opened my Esty shop and began selling on Etsy and another marketplace platform called The Custom Movement. I began receiving orders from random people all over the US and internationally for my art, something I never thought was possible. My shop grew as I learned how to create digital art, I then added stickers, keychains and soon to be apparel and art prints.
It was always my dream to be in a field where I felt like I could fully express myself in a creative realm. Did I think in a million years that I would be where I am today? No.
Every risk I took led me to where I am today and made me the person I am today. I wouldn’t change that for anything.
If I could tell you to do anything, it would be to follow your heart, your dreams to do what you want to do no matter what anyone tells you, no matter what someone has to say about it. Take that risk.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The thing I love the most about customizing shoes, is that someone out there is literally wearing my art and showing it off. I am very proud to say that I have sold my products to 43 different states, and 7 different countries. Another thing that I am very proud of is creating custom shoes for some of my favorite influencers, and see them rock them all the time!
I overcame challenges by being driven by what I love most, creating and designing. Seeing peoples reaction to opening up their packages of the art I created, makes me so incredibly happy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I absolutely love taking my friends to Wynwood walls when they come to visit, taking them to Deerfield Beach to lay out in the sun in the winter, going to Papa Migos for some amazing birria tacos, exploring the massive Sawgrass Mills mall, trying New York Grilled cheese company, and Charm City burger company!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom, she is a very talented painter and artist, I believe that’s where I get my passion from! She never once told me not to do this or that, or that I had to go to college. Also my best friend Jobi, she asked for a pair of vans for Christmas, that’s when I knew I had make her custom vans! They were the first pair I created for someone else.