Today marks a really exciting milestone for me because I am beginning a new chapter of my work. I have been extremely blessed and humbled to be thriving in an eleven-year career that I've taken in so many unexpected directions. So let's start from the beginning.
Beauty was something that was never associated with me as a kid. I often felt like I was the smart but plain, overweight one who didn't quite connect with the images I dreamt up and sketched in my diaries. I was fascinated by these computer-generated ideals and I remember that I'd spend hours just drawing new characters that I saw as beautiful.
I think when you apply pressure to compounds you result in a number of unexpected changes and I've been through some heavy years. I remember getting to a point where I was so tightly wound, I felt such a disconnect from my reflection and at some points, I couldn't even imagine a future. I wanted to see myself as me. And that is when I changed. I was thirteen, I felt very little control over my life and I was sick of meeting everyone's expectations and excelling at them when I was so miserable. So there began my, for a lack of a better word, transformation. I remember not eating for an entire summer and losing weight, and the more I changed the more peoples responses to me changed. That taught me a lot. If I could control this aspect and I'd have better responses, what else can I transform?
Makeup for me was a way I could change my experience of reality. By taking my sketches off the page and onto myself, I saw the reactions change. I used to hang out with a lot of alternative kids as a young teenager and it was so alien to my culture and what I had grown up around, but I didn't fit in either and so I was led into this alternative world. Instead of being shamed for my uniqueness, I started to become praised for it and it fanned a fire in me. I got hotter and it gave me a reckless confidence that my life could be changed by my intentions and that is how it happened.
People started to be drawn to me that I'd never even considered would be interested and I began to get noticed. I remember waking up and showing my mum the myspace message I got when I was approached to cast for Alexander McQueen by an editor of Dazed and Confused magazine, it was surreal because that world was so unattainable, but we booked the train tickets and I embraced what was to come.
I'm an extremely hard worker and I saw being a model in 2008 as a complete challenge. I had a lot of no's thrown my way and a lot of bizarre conversations with agencies about my style, how I presented myself and what my gender was. I think constantly being questioned about something irritated me enough that it became my unthought reaction to refuse to answer it. And despite the stream of questions, I made it work. I took all my spare time from my studies to cast, to test shoot, to network with photographers and it became my first ever job.
I travelled to Japan at the end of that year, it feels surreal typing that because it will be ten years ago by this Christmas. I shot with an American photographer and then built up my shoots and kept it moving. It was amazing but to think I was seventeen... I'm not entirely sure how I was this confident as a kid but I went off and continued to make it work. On the last shoot I did before NYE, I remember the photographer asking me who did my nails because, during this time, deku nails were like a huge thing in Asia. Basically the nail designs we see over here since 2015, they were really popular and he was amazed that I'd stuck all the jewels and flowers on myself, with my friends help haha. But he then asked me if I did my own makeup and I was like, of course. I have to be in total control over everything I've created and he wanted me to come back to create new looks for his other shoots. It just made so much more sense to do that and I came back to the UK with a new purpose.
I started to ask my friends if I could do their makeup and began taking their photos with my looks on them. I got given the Making Faces book and I used to be obsessive with my research. Anyone androgynous or the club kids to me, became my murals and I used to search Geocities for these blogs that had all the images from the 80s & 90s. It let me to discover Mathu & Zaldy, I then saw Mathu in the Janice Dickinson Modelling Agency show and I was like obsessed with his photography. I became more interested in learning about creating the final images and started to express myself through new ideas. My style was mega different to what everyone was doing at the moment, they'd just discontinued a lot of the creative makeup you could buy in mainstream stores for a more natural look? Max Factor discontinued their pan sticks and white erase, Mac became extremely conservative and moved their colour products to Pro. It was impossible.
I remember reaching out to Jackie Beat on myspace and I asked her how she did her makeup and she was kind enough to actually respond with a huge list of how she applied it, the Coty powder used to set and I remember it to this day. I doubt she remembers me paha! But I am forever grateful for that. I started to copy the contour styles I saw Kevyn show in the books, I paid attention to Mathu's complete looks and I started to notice things in my own face that I didn't like. I became obsessive and it led me to take my highlight right up against the nose contour. It was literally like a mission for me to find this ideal image of perfection which never was possible. I noticed my nose was wonky from being broken in school, I saw my face was not symmetrical whatsoever and I would try endlessly to create the closest I could to a CGI aesthetic.
I began to really pale out my face with white makeup, use the highlight under the eye to edge up to the nose contour. I remember everyone was constantly critiquing me on this in my early videos and saying that it was the wrong thing to do. Look at where we are now, hey? Drag Race came out on television and you got to see more of Mathu's impact, how the queens would come onto the show and the styles would change. I created more elaborate makeup looks and I asked to work in the Mac store in my hometown. They said I had no experience but invited me instead to assist Terry Barber at a Master Class which became my first big job. I started to work in the same way I'd created my career as a model and I built up my book.
I was extremely experimental with my own makeup, I wanted to try every single look I could think of and take inspiration from the murals I had on my walls but add my own twist to the images. I saw a huge amount of resistance from the people that were big on myspace back in the day and a lot of people took issue with me and were very nasty about it. I knew that if I wanted something to work, I had to work at it and I was not scared of being told no or be on the receiving end of some dumb comment. I just knew I had to focus and do something that was unique, that wasn't part of the crowd and my work from that era I think stands out because it still is as strong, all these years later. I began to order my first prototype products in 2009 whilst finishing my art foundation and Youtube became a prominence in my life.
We'd always been playing around with social media, I started off with a huge myspace account when I was a kid. But it was a different ball game. It was very new, there was no content there. The only makeup tutorials when I was looking for relevant shit, was Eve Pearl and some How-To online platforms. I remember seeing Brian Nation, an LA makeup artist called Coric? Petrilude. Alex Reed Thompson. Richie Nickel. There were a few boys in makeup but they were distinctly unfeminine. You had to apply to have an Adsense and the majority of the makeup content was extremely basic. Pixiwoo and Wayne Goss stood out a mile off. Lisa Eldridge was bringing the Vogue covers to the platform. It was an exciting place to work in. The content I'd filmed for 5AT or MJ was just silly blogs, me going to castings or the fan mail I'd get, it was never like a tutorial that I could sit there and learn from. So I decided that's what I'd do. I was not going to show my personal life, which was tumultuous for a number of reasons. I was going to create tributes to all the amazing people that inspired me and show them how to elevate it with my own techniques.
I began on JHCosmetics, I got again a lot of resistance because I'd just parted ways with MJ who was the extremely relatable, open book. I was the person who wasn't showing their real personality, I was completely different to the other androgynous or transgirls because I had this Bowie haircut, I was working in an area that was perceived to be impossible to break into and I was hungry to win. That's not the JH my friends knew and it was a precautionary tactic. I knew what I wanted, I went out there and did it and it started to gain traction. I build some basic looks on JHCosmetics and I started my first colour projects, Pete Burns looks. But it met with an obstacle. I remember when I woke up to see my account hacked through and the Adsense had been taken off and at this time you couldn't have custom thumbnails if you didn't have the monetisation so it completely jacked up my plans. I had to make a switch and I created JHMemoires.
Originally, JHCosmetics was going to be the main brand and JHMemoires was going to be my side hustle, so I could put the cosmetics together in one area, the vlogs in another. I could leave space for JH to be a unique area of entertainment. But it threw a spanner in the works. I began to create content all through December of 2012 and did 30 days of videos, I remember struggggling to get them all done as I had no money and no equipment, but I did some really beautiful videos that I think stand out still today. My mermaid look was becoming more renown and I entered a competition Lime Crime had run at the time, my photo was submitted and went viral across their page and the mermaid was born.
I created some new acne content that caught a wave, I started to notice how the celebrities would release their music videos and they were constantly searched for so I became keen to do the looks on the day of the release. It listed me next to the original music video and I started to get the buzz. It grew, I started to make thousands of pounds every month for the first time and I was like... this is sick. This is a way to make a living. Brands reached out to me and began to send me items, I started to make more money and I kept it moving. I brought my makeup contacts onto the platform and created so many early campaigns with Mac, Rimmel and Liz Earle. Despite all the drama surrounding me and my friendship with MJ, you couldn't deny that I was doing it in the way it was meant to be done and my creativity was an organic thing. I wasn't focused on making views I was focused on building a living for myself and I kept it going.
I found out about Simon Cowell's the YouGeneration competition from Pixiwoo's video, I found out that there were twelve categories and I thought... omg I really should do that. I had red hair and I was getting my beard through more than I'd ever had it before so I thought, let's flip the script. Let me actually try and paint on a boy look and turn it into my every day and I remember doing it super last minute and spraying blue hairspray in my hair for the final look. I sent it off I think at the last day and honestly forgot all about it.
I had finished up my art studies, made a mini fashion collection and was in a place where I really wanted to go back to branding my makeup and I desperately yearned to make it in the lab. I knew about the course at London College of Fashion and I'd just turned down a position doing menswear there, so I reached out to the uni and asked what I'd need to do to get on their MSc course instead. They said I needed an additional science A Level and I almost went back to study one. But out of the blue, a friend had introduced my work to acclaimed perfumer Roja Dove at an exhibit and he was so curious about me that I received an email that I was invited to meet him in his perfumery in Harrods. I went, I cheekily asked him to give me a reference and he agreed, I got into the course! I think honestly, it was another moment where the universe was pushing me into place and I think the same day I was filming my entry it was my final interview before being accepted, it was literally that last minute.
I found out that I had made the finals and they asked to skype with me at a time, I was like okay, this is new, I knew I wasn't gonna win my category but I thought, I'm gonna show up with my new blonde hair and I'm gonna look outrageously classy and go out with a bang. I saw that Jim Chapman had been selected to be the presenter, I knew that Gleam was behind all that groups work from Zoella to Pixiwoo to Tanya Burr and I think Wayne Goss at the time. I connected to the convo, started waffling on out of nerves and bam. She won.
They gave me a cash prize then, which was amazing to me and I started to get on with my course at university. Months go by and I am doing several interviews and we had to do some press for the competition. I sent off everything they asked of me and I planned to use my mini win to propel what I wanted to do with my course, which turned my makeup brush idea into a full brand and learn exactly how to speak the language of a technician. I started to get very creative and I worked on some projects during this time which I honestly would never have released until I was confident enough that they'd be of the level I wanted them to be, I'm just that way. I live in my own bubble and I am the only critic that matters so it's hilarious nearly five years later I'm going to be coming out with some of them shortly. It was just an amazing feeling to know that it was coming together. I knew I'd never win the entire contest over the other categories but I knew how I was gonna make it work for me and so I did.
The youtube grew, I became very successful for my transformations and Now magazine asked me to be involved with a beauty feature every week. We did an amazing transformation on their beauty team and I continued to shoot more makeup work. I became the first bitch to go viral for that and I began working on loads of the Drag Race Queens as a makeup artist. I got to do lots of celebrities and I was being booked to appear at different places up and down the country and it was going brilliantly. Out of the blue, I got an email from Syco whilst the contest was still finishing the last category. Congratulations. You have been chosen as the grand prize winner and we would like your bank details. An announcement would be made in a month but do not say anything yet. The actual fuck? I was elated. It did not make sense to me that I had won. I didn't even think about what was going on here, I was just ecstatic that I was gonna get my first big cheque. I was twenty-two and coming from a one bedroom basement flat I grew up into that, was a life-changing moment.
I spoke to Sam from Pixiwoo who was kind enough to congratulate me and invited me to go and meet with the director of Gleam. I was floored, everything was coming together. I was the first trans person to ever have won a reality talent contest like this and Gleam was going to run the show. I didn't even think to question why I was being paid off before the contest was even finished, which actually discounted the last category. I didn't even ask why it was not formally being paid. It was literally a wire transfer and it came through like the fuck! It was insane. So I met with Gleam, I was in full glam mode confident of the world, and the question came. Do you ever look like a boy?
I've never felt that caught off guard before. Having to question my gender expression is one thing when you're a kid, I'm a young adult and I've just proved my skills with my work, I've proved my talent with this competition, I've proved my dedication to my goals with my education. What exactly would require me to be questioned after that? When I could see that there are ten girls signed with Gleam who have less viewership and significantly less of a resume. And this is when I started to get angry about it. Because when you're in the eye of the storm you don't realize that you're not the norm. This was something that really put a moment of doubt in my mind about my gender and it was a defining moment for me. Because to this point, I had come to terms with the fact I was JH, JH used female bathrooms and presented as such. JH was as worthy as any other lady. But apparently not. And this annoyed me. I can't be anything other than honest about this because you get to a point where you are tricked into a false sense of security that we truly are all going to get the same opportunities, but we're not.
So I focused on my youtube, I started to see what other people were doing with endorsements and I began to align myself with new things. I flew off to LA to speak at Drag Con, I launched Perfect Androgyny. I worked in the Loreal the Brush Contest, I designed my first products to go to market. I was determined that if I was going to not gonna be allowed to have the same backing as these other people that I would show them that you are going to regret saying that by looking at the money that you could have made. So I took every sponsorship deal and I made a lot. I not only accepted proposals sent my way, but I found new brands to work with. Holidays, trips, cars, wigs, makeup, surgery. I reached out and managed every deal and got every item I ever wanted. Glassware for my house, rugs, a washing machine. Everything. And I worked hard at it. I had foresight, I put clauses in my contracts that allowed me to privatise my content after it was live for the period agreed, and I built and built and built. But I also still had that doubt and I needed to be sure of things. So I asked my friends who were stylists to help me try and do a boy look because I thought, if I can turn myself into all these transformations then surely I can do a boy. And it was a wild ride.
The only way I can describe this period was like going through puberty again. To be in LGBT environments and be almost transparent to gay men or to be fetishized into this creature that was turned into a sexual object with no emotions, was a rough thing to digest. I was shocked people paid attention to what I said more when they thought I was male. I was also shocked that people were so complimentary of me because I was used to being the model chick but when I did the boy look it was like people were absurdly over the top. Extremely complimentary. And I didn't want that. There was a really bad incident that I've mentioned somewhat of on my platforms, but ultimately 2016 was a tough year. People I had confided in, trusted and elevated on my platform tried to parasitically take what they could before either showing their true intentions or abandoning me, during a period where I really would have used a lot of support. I had started to notice something untoward happening to my left eye. It got worse and worse, to the point where I was at my mum's house and I began to cry blood. I couldn't see under lighting, I couldn't do makeup, my work had to stop. It was a right of passage and I think now, looking back, it was the period of extreme growth for me and I'm grateful for it. But my God, I did not feel that then.
I kept up my obligations and attended Drag Con again, I hosted a panel. I was asked and refused to go on the Ellen show, there were talks of me going onto a popular reality show you all know and love which I won't say, American Beauty Star, This Morning. I said no to doing a cosmetic advert and I refused most of the opportunities that came my way. I was not interested in what was going on in the US despite being in the same management as these new boys in makeup. I saw them have these absolutely contrived storylines being pushed out by PR companies about how they were so hard done by for being themselves and I was looking at them as individuals that I'd hung out with like, you are such a false image. These people were retail makeup artists that really craved media careers and I was so confused by that. I never saw Youtube like a tv show I saw it like a guidebook so when the platform changed, it went too far for me to continue to respect what it was. I was getting extremely frustrated with the way they were trying to market themselves because it almost smudged out a lot of artists that were trans or androgynous. I found out that brands like Wonder Brow had taken my thumbnails and forced me to be in a cosmetics advert, which essentially built that brand. I took it seriously and was compensated. I also found out that Google wanted me to be involved in their Influencer campaign but I said no, so they asked me to be in the Highlights and they made me the Google homepage with some work I had already done, despite not creating new content. It just was a really strange situation to be in because having every opportunity come naturally to you that these other people were thirsty for was telling. If that isn't a sign that God had a different plan then I don't know what is..
But I held on and I moved through that period with hesitation about the future. I knew I had to heal, I had to keep quiet and I had to do the work I enjoyed, so I did a lot of makeup that became the backbone of my book idea, Agitprop. Then, towards this time I started to meet the Baron.
This was someone who I was really intrigued by, we started to become friends and our conversations basically never stopped. We spoke all day every day and still do. He was really worried about me after a night out where I had lost my purse & got me a cab home which I thought was really chivalrous. He also sent me a pizza cos I was moaning about one and doing cute stuff like that was what stood out to me. We began to talk about hanging out more and he sent me a huge bouquet of lilies. Then another one came. We made plans to do something for my Birthday and he took me out to this mega night in London and it was fantastic. We became extremely close from then on and he helped me through a lot of my recovery after my eye injury and I have to say, I am so lucky to have found someone this amazing. He get's super annoyed with me at times but out of caring. He was also very mysterious because I had absolutely no clue what he did for work. I had absolutely no idea he was a tv presenter here and then went off to create Idol in the US, I had no clue that he's part of this lineage where there's a Museum & he's still doing all these incredible things like launching tv shows, directing music videos, creating brands, managing artists like Gaga, putting Fenty's deals with Rihanna together. I did not know. Even the house I was dreaming about that I described in that stupid alien vlog I did four years before, was his house. With an indoor pool and servant staircase. I didn't even know he had shares in fourty venues around the UK. I feel like I've had this princess diaries moment or something but it is just even more insane to me that he's so normal about it all. In truth, I almost stopped dating him a few times when I found out about it and have been honest about it because I knew people would think it was me being an opportunist, but I had no clue. I have had relationships with people in the public eye and I've never had anyone be open about it and I was scared that it would be the same. I also was scared people would not appreciate my own work. But God plays funny tricks on ya girl cos it was meant to be. And I am so happy & can't sing his praises enough.
So that was last year. By twenty-five, in full view of the world, I had become a seven-figure earning business and I came from nothing. I've had nearly 40 million views on my youtube with no viral video and I am so proud of that. I helped my mama get a house, which consisted of buying back my granddads house that was almost lost after he passed, which is now a home for my family. I've recovered completely from my eyesight & I've been able to lessen my attachment to labels.
I've rebuilt my work relationships and have completed campaigns in areas I thought were new for me. I have never been interested in becoming a highly watched sales person nor am I interested in becoming a meme like, I didn't know what this platform was going to be and it has given me so much, but I must be missing that gene. I have a plan. I am going to have fun with that plan.
So I chose to do some important last parts to my work, I am so excited to have created a campaign with UNICEF, I have a new video coming with Google which is in collaboration with the United Nations. I get to talk about my love of marine life and I'm so proud of it! I have some work in Toronto coming next and my first syndicated campaign in the UK. I have a video with Mugler which I'm waiting for a musical moment for. I am developing a succession of new art pieces, a merchandise line and an alcohol. I am eager to create some final looks for fun which I can link to my new book, but they are for me. I've started to release my transformations that I've been holding on to since the issues with my eyes really started and I'm so happy that they are going so well.
I conquered every aspect of what I intended to do, she won. That was my lane to achieve and I achieved it. I am glad that people have taken so much inspiration from the work so far, I hope to share my new work with other LGBT people but my life is not for sale and I do not plan on rejoining the social media culture that we have today. I can't describe how grateful I am but as with that moment in Japan, as with that moment with Roja, as with that moment where I got that question about being a boy, I'm listening to the stage directions. And we are in a new era.
So here we are today! I am so excited to be back, to be happy and to have the world to conquer. I think that as an LGBTQ Icon, as recently called by Faith Matters paha, I've gotta say that you have to have a strategy and work your entire ass off until you achieve what you want. Once you've got it, you don't have to keep perpetuating the same shit that got you there. Build something new. Do not do it for the wrong reasons otherwise the universe will cut off your assets. Try and keep yourself authentic and organic in a way that you can look back at your whole timeline and be proud of yourself for doing it. Sometimes things do not go the way you expect them to so prove people wrong and make it into something better.
I am very excited to be using my platform and moving into new work, I'm starting my new diary and we will be delving into the world of Lifestyle and Travel. I love to cook, I love to take photographs and experience new places and things. I legit have an exec putting the battery in my back and you best believe we're working on some revolutionary shit. So whilst that's coming together, I'm gonna have some fun. I hope you follow me on my next chapter and enjoy my journey.