MiMi Johnson is a makeup extraordinaire, beauty entrepreneur, autism awareness advocate, and mother. Her son, Channing, is on the autism spectrum and in this profile, she shares her personal and professional journey.
Tell us about yourself.
I have over 9 years of experience in the beauty world as a sought-after makeup artist and entrepreneur. I work on some popular television shows on networks such as Bravo and VH1 and also service celebrity clientele, including Angela Simmons and Kenya Moore. I have also been published in magazines such as Essence, Runway, The Knot, Occasions, Modern Bride and Jezebel. As a beauty influencer, I've built a social media following of over 40,000 followers and have been a brand ambassador for companies like Colgate, Shea Moisture, Strength of Nature, and Family Dollar. I'm also the owner of the beauty boutique The Glamatory located in Smyrna, Georgia and I am the creator of GrindPretty.com. I graduated from Clark Atlanta University, with a B.A. degree in Marketing. I'm also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and a mother of one.
What was the journey of your son's autism diagnosis? Did you face any challenges along the way?
My son, Channing, was a late crawler and walker, but I was told that it was typical of little boys, so I didn't worry. But I started getting concerned once he wasn't speaking at 2. I noticed he liked to spin objects and not participate in typical play. I knew something was off at the point. So I went to get his hearing checked, from there they saw red flags for autism. My son was diagnosed with autism at 2.5 years old and I was devastated. I didn't understand why this happened to my baby and I never knew anyone else with Autism. This was all a new experience for me.
How do you balance raising Channing and your successful career as a make-up artist?
I became more determined than ever to succeed in my career. I wanted to prove to others that beyond circumstances, with the right support system and hard work you can still pursue your dreams.
I wouldn't be able to do this without seeking help and support. I want to also be able to have the resources and money to give Channing any and everything that he needs! It's very hard at times, but I sacrifice a lot of my personal time, and split that between Channing and my career. In the end I know it will all pay off.
earlier this year, you did a special photoshoot to raise autism awareness. what inspired you?
I have a pretty strong social media presence with over 40k followers and I'm also about to be on a new show on AspireTV. What better way to use my platform that to shed light on Autism Awareness! I also was able to support another Autism mommy, Meelah of 702, with her P.R.O.U.D. foundation. What made this even more special is the level of support from my cast mates and celebrity clients. It was completely special.
What advice do you have for other parents raising a child with special needs?
It is going to be ok! It's also ok to cry at times. But once the tears have dried away, then put forth a plan! You are your child's advocate and protector, so play a very active role is seeking the help that he or she needs.
What are your hopes for Channing's future and for the future of autism awareness?
My hope is that my son can live a happy life. His life may seem different from others, but that he is content with himself. My hope is that more schools and public establishments embrace Autism and become more educated. They are different, yet special, and want to be loved and treated fairly like anyone else.