With a few strokes of a brush, Kent State student makes a business out of passion for body painting


Kent State student Carrie Esser poses in her self-painted body paint. 

Erin Simonek

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Some say in order to be a successful business student, you must have unique business goal to be standout and be successful. Carrie Esser has been body painting for over half a decade and plans to turn her passion into a career.

Esser swished her brush back and forth, creating a tuscan inspired paint with green, white and gold details accompanied by glitter, long eyelashes and gold pins in her hair.

“Body painting in general is an experience even though you eventually have to wash it off, it’s something that if you get to see it in person that’s a very special moment,” Esser said.

Esser’s first creation was a sugar skull she created for her Halloween costume back in 2013. From there, her passion launched.

“I was in an economics class and we had to start a product or a business. I was going to do the talent show with some friends and do a song called ‘Madhouse’ so that kind of gave me the idea to combine the name Makeup Madhouse and then it stuck ever since and I’m really glad that I did because it’s a catchy name and people remember it,” Esser said.

When Esser chose Kent State as her school, that’s when she started gaining some fame. 

“There were people who recognized me from social media and that was a very flattering experience it was very interesting I have never encountered anything like that,” Esser said.

Esser is an entrepreneurship major and said she’s been able to use the program to apply it to makeup and body paint.

“Since I already have my creative and artistic background, I wanted to build different skills that I didn’t have,” Esser said. 

She competed in the NYX Face Awards and placed third in a entrepreneurship pitch competition on campus.

“The whole time working for the judges and mentors, we were working for the final pitch day where we presented our 5-minute pitch and then we had 5-minutes of questions with the judges,” Esser said.

Esser has received over $6,000 worth of products from cosmetic companies who have taken notice her unique skill.

“One of the ways I know I’ve stayed humble is that I always under sell and under charge which I’ve been trying to work better on doing because I know that my work is worth a lot but it’s just so hard for me to charge people,” Esser said.

Esser claims her friends and family are some of her biggest inspirations. 

“They’re always encouraging me to be the best that I can be and just keep pushing myself and without them I wouldn’t be pursuing this as a business,” Esser said.

A.J. Lundstrom is Esser’s boyfriend and Julia Stoll is one of her best friends. Kent State brought all of them together.

“The first time (Esser) painted me it was the end of my freshman year. It was just surreal just watching it come to life on me and I remember looking in the mirror the first time, I couldn’t even say words cause I was like, that’s like me right now,” Stoll said.

“We had both gone to the Comicon this past year. Every two minutes there was people just coming up to us asking to take pictures and giving her compliment son her work,” Lundstrom said. “I felt like I was in her shoes for a little bit even though I wasn’t the one who did any of that but it just felt good having people look at her work and getting compliments on it.”

Times haven’t always been easy for Esser; she said she’s doubted not only herself, but her career goals during lows throughout college.

“I have had just a small handful of times a design I hate enough where I don’t take pictures or I don’t ever post it and it frustrates me a lot when that happens because it’s a waste of time and materials,” Esser said.

Moments like those are what showed her perseverance.

“I definitely see her going places she had gotten in contact with a lot of people who are interested in hiring her for work so I don’t know where she wants to go but she can go wherever she wants to go so the sky is the limit for her,” Lundstrom said.

Esser’s friends described her as being humble even through all of her success.

“I liked she could bring her talents to other places in the world because wherever she goes with it, wherever she moves, wherever she wants to go she can,” Stoll said.

“I really just want to get these projects moving and then I can really create a domino affect to propel Makeup MadHouse,” Esser said.

Esser graduates in May from Kent State and plans to apply her art working with business and marketing companies.

“It’s not about covering yourself up. It’s something I use to express myself. If I need a boost of confidence or if I want to feel a little bit more beautiful that day I’m really turning myself or someone else into a work of art, like living moving art, and I think that’s unique in itself,” Esser said.

Erin Simonek is a Kent State journalism student. Contact her at [email protected].