Karuna Chani is a master of her craft. The Queens native has more than 22 years of experience as a Manhattan-based makeup artist.
She says it's something she's always been passionate about.
"Makeup comes innately to me," she said. "It's blind love."
What You Need To Know
- An estimated record 2.5 million weddings are set to take place in the U.S. this year, and many will be Asian American weddings
- Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are the fastest-growing minority in the U.S. Between 2010 and 2019, the AAPI population grew by 25.5%, according to New Economic Research
- Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders now make up 5.8% of the U.S. population, or 19.1 million people, and many are invested in holding on to traditional cultural events, like weddings
- In 2019, AAPI households earned more than $783.7 billion in income. After taxes, AAPI households still held $543.4 billion in spending power
Her specialty lies in transforming women of color — in particular, South Asian clients — into stunning brides.
Chani leans on her own heritage to style traditional — and not so traditional — looks, giving brides the perfect makeup and working with hair partner Julissa Lopez to complement the often multiple colorful outfits they wear during a South Asian wedding.
It is a growing business market. While Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up about 6% of the U.S. population, they account for about 7% of total spending power in the country, and represent $425 billion in spending power.
Chani sees demand growing for her specialty bridal services, but says that wasn't the case during COVID. She revealed she had to permanently close her NoMad office when the pandemic struck.
She said it felt like she lost her identity. However, now there's a return. She calls it boom-time.
"Twenty-two years in the business, I have never gotten this many calls and emails," she told NY1.
Her client, Nitya Chugani, is getting married this July. She flew in from Florida to have Chani try out looks now. She says getting a wedding date and a venue that could accommodate Indian wedding rituals and customs was virtually impossible.
"Everything is booked, and everything has gotten really expensive," she said.
Chani chimed in, saying it is hard for her to keep up with demand for her services.
"It is insane this year.... It's a backlog of two years," she said.
When NY1 asked how that makes her feel, she responded with a smile, saying, "Exhausted, but excited at the same time. I really love what I do."
And she said nothing makes her happier than seeing a bride's reaction when her work is done.
Chugani said she was thrilled with her trial, and can't wait for the big day. When the session was done she joked, "Really beautiful! Am I the same girl?"