Honolulu makeup artist Jonathan Freitas spends his days making people feel beautiful - inside and out. He's been practicing his craft for 13 years, always as a representative for the makeup line Motives.
Jon and me
Freitas's days are a mixture of meeting clients, teaching new Motives reps, and doing makeup. He has a small studio in The Co-op in Ward Warehouse where he does some of this, and he goes out to provide makeup for events, weddings, photo shoots, television tapings, special effects needs, and lately, Halloween costumes.
Today, he's an established industry professional. Sometimes, he says, it's a surprise to him where he landed in life.
Ooh, all the pretty colors!
After graduating from Kamehameha Schools, he studied psychology and sociology at Seattle University. Freitas has always liked children - absolutely evident by the way mine quickly takes to him - and decided the best combination of his talents and interests would be to work as a Kamehameha Schools dorm advisor. "I could interact with the kids, but not in a clinical setting of a therapist's office," he explains.
He moved back to the Islands in 1993 as an advisor for the boys at Iolani Dorm. He married his college sweetheart and found himself a father shortly thereafter. His three children are 21 year old Janya, 18 year old Chrislyn, and 13 year old Ethan. It was an ideal job that let him spend a lot of time with the kids.
It was a fun period- young children, the early blush of marriage, a rewarding job. Then things started to dissolve in the early 2000s, reaching a low with his divorce in 2007. He got full custody of the children, which was fulfilling but extremely draining.
Freitas says he hit rock bottom for five years. "I was a single dad. I was exhausted. I felt angry that my wife just left the picture. I stuffed my emotions until it ate me alive."
Additionally, near the end of this very difficult period, he started questioning his identity as a straight man. "I met a new friend, Shawn, at volleyball. We became good friends, but then I felt something else going on. I denied it to myself at first because I thought it wasn't acceptable to have feelings for a man. It was a big struggle to accept my homosexuality, and a slow coming out," Freitas recalls.
In the end, it was a talk with his mother that helped nudge him into his new life. "My work with Motives was taking off. I really enjoyed it and saw this as my new career. I had come out as gay. I wanted a change, and decided to quit my job at Kamehameha and move into my own place for the first time!"
A story from his parent's life inspired him to take the plunge. "After my dad retired from the Air Force in North Dakota, my parents wanted to start a new chapter of life. They knew they wanted to move to Washington State, but weren't sure which city. They just packed up the car and drove west until they hit I-5 and the road forked. Should they go north or south? They took a guess and ended up driving to Tacoma, where life worked out wonderfully for the next two decades," Freitas recounts.
His dad found a job with Boeing, and his mother went to college to become an RN. "Have faith. Take risks. Just know things will be OK" are the lessons he takes out of this story.
In 2013, he took his own risk by quitting the dorm advisor job, having faith that full time work as a makeup artist in Hawaii would pay the bills, and not hiding his sexuality from society. He and Shawn moved into a house in Aiea.
It's worked out better than he ever expected. "To think, I worried about so much, and for nothing. Fear of the unknown is worse than reality."
Jon and Trini Kaopuiki in Halloween Week costume for KHON2's Living 808. Courtesy: Jon Freitas
Freitas loves his work. "I'm paid to help people feel beautiful!" It's taken on a life of its own, with recent higher profile clients who include Jourdan Miller , winner of CW reality show America's Next Top Model; Keke Lindgard, the current face of Ralph Lauren; Emma Wo, Miss Hawaii USA 2015; and Trini Kaopuiki, host of KHON2's Living 808. He and his team also secured work for the Kaypee Soh Spring 2016 ready-to-wear fashion show, and Honolulu Fashion Week (Motives was the official cosmetic line.)
Gratitude, positive thinking, and self-care are a big part of Freitas' daily routine. Every day, he makes sure to spend time with positive thoughts that could include meditation, readings, audio tapes or podcasts, or videos like TEDTalks. "It helps ground me and keep me positive. I still get set back by negative interactions, but the disappointment lasts for minutes, rather than hours or a whole day."
Freitas also wants to spread this positive energy. "It's my personal mission to make everyone I meet, every single day, feel better about themselves. When I give people makeup lessons, especially at schools, I ask the kids, 'You can learn to put on cosmetic makeup, but what about your personal make up- that which makes you up inside? How can we make that or keep that beautiful?"
It's a question he asks - and strives to answer - for himself every day.