WHY/HOW DID I LEAVE THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND BECOME A MAKEUP ARTIST?
This is the question I am frequently asked-it’s a fair question, but it’s a long answer! When I was very young, I would sit on the counter in my parents’ bathroom and watch my mother apply her makeup. My mother, a fine artist (specializing in watercolor wash and pen and ink), would do her makeup in less than ten minutes. My mother used no brushes whatsoever. She would use her fingers, a sponge and some pencils to execute what I later learned were highlight and contour techniques; slimming her nose with black greasepaint, altering her brows with highlight and a brow pencil, redefining her lips with base and then lipstick.
As a teenager I worked after school at the local drugstore, the best job in the world! During the slow hours, I was able to eat all the candy I wanted, and play with all drugstore’s’ makeup (Bonne Belle, Yardley, Revlon, Max Factor). For my 21st birthday/college graduation gift, my mother set up a private makeup lesson with a well-respected Chicago makeup artist. After that lesson, I would experiment for hours with my new, pro cosmetics, sitting before my newly purchased, vintage, oak dressing vanity table and mirror.
Even though I enjoyed doing makeup, it was just a hobby: I never once considered makeup artistry as a real profession. Instead, I used my double major (Education and Psychology). For two years, I taught first and second grade children; for one year, I worked as a probation officer. I attended law school, graduated and was licensed to practice law.
I worked as a commercial litigator and then a corporate transactional lawyer, for about 10 years. During those years, I married and gave birth to three adorable daughters. When my husband was financially able to solely support the family, I quit my job and stayed home to raise my three daughters.
While I loved being a mom, I never really felt comfortable in the role of “just” a stay-at -home housewife. I periodically would interview for part-time legal positions. However, each and every time I interviewed and was offered a position, I would turn it down; it just didn’t feel “right”. I finally realized that I was no longer enthusiastic about practicing law; it was no longer a defensible or viable reason to leave my daughters with a babysitter.
When one of my daughters was in a middle school play, I was asked by the committee of moms to help with the play. I was fortuitously assigned to do makeup. I had always assumed that everyone knew how to apply makeup; doing makeup for a middle school play was when my personal light bulb went off! I discovered that I had a talent that was unique. I realized then, and only then, that I was totally inspired when immersed in makeup. Even though I was already in my 40’s when I finally found my “calling,” it was time to recognize that being a professional makeup artist could be, would be, and had to become my profession.
I was euphoric -I had stumbled upon an “old friend”, whose value I had previously underestimated. I enrolled in the (now defunct) continuing education department at Columbia College, Makeup Artistry Program, where I absorbed as much information as was given and loved every minute of it.
Upon completion of the program, I became “that mom” who applied makeup on her daughters, her daughters’ friends, relatives, anyone, whether they wanted it or not! I started pounding the pavement (pre - internet) for bridal and any other freelance work I could find. I took every job I was offered, from the most menial and servile, to bridal to male grooming, and finally to commercial media makeup, where I settled into my niche.
In 2003, Columbia College discontinued its Continuing Education program; there now was no state-certified makeup artistry program in Illinois. Feeling that I had nothing to lose, and that I had sufficient freelance experience under my belt, I created a program that not only rivaled, but also greatly superseded the Columbia College model. In 2006, I founded Make Up First ® School of Makeup Artistry, with the approval of the Illinois State Board of Education.
Over eight years later, I am still constantly working to enhance the School: offering a more comprehensive curriculum, on- the- job training, pro product information and sales, assisting with job placement, and hosting amazing guest instructors and workshops. I can honestly say that I am even more passionate about the art of makeup than ever, and my quest to further my artistic expression has no end in sight.
Conclusion-It is not always a straight path one takes to find their passion. Here is my path:
First and Second Grade School teacher Adult Probation Officer Attorney Stay-At-Home Mom Freelance Makeup Artist Founder and Owner of Make Up First ® School of Makeup Artistry
What will be next…Motivational Speaker?! Stay tuned!