THE FOURTH INSTALLATION IN THE BelleBoss SERIES!
I hope that with this series, I would find a way to appreciate the incredible South Asian women of our generation, who are breaking boundaries and paving new paths for themselves. Moreover, I would like other people to take a little bit of their time to realize how incredible the women around you are. Especially if you are a woman! I hope that at least one woman’s story in my #GirlBoss series will inspire you to follow your dreams, your vision and most importantly your heart. Even if that means breaking a few rules and many societal prejudices along the way.
1)Could you give us a little background information (intro) about you?
My name is Vithya, most people call me Vee. I just turned 33 and I am a self-employed Hair and Makeup Artist. I am from London.
As I am self-employed, most of my time is spent on Bridal looks, saree (our traditional bridal wear) ironing and preparing, dealing with clients, bookings. I also create YouTube videos, vlog and blog, travel around the world to do Masterclasses, and one-to-one tutorials at my home. Whatever spare time I actually get, I read fantasy books, go to the cinema on my own, have long dinners with friends, or annoy someone to play a board game with me!
2. How did you get into makeup?
I remember being 12 years old and just admiring models in magazines. I was so interested in recreating the looks. I would always experiment on my sister or little cousins, and took it up as a hobby whilst I was growing up.
Coming from a traditional Tamil family, they expected me to be a science or maths major. I did as they pleased, only to then beg them to let me have a shot at the hair and makeup thing.
A Saree designer contacted me via social media one day and asked me if I was a makeup artist. I asked her what gave her the idea! She assumed I was based on my profile pictures. I was so excited and went to a local drugstore to buy a few high street brand makeup, and accepted her offer to do hair and makeup for her Fashion Show. That Fashion show changed so much for me, and I decided to take up this path.
I hold a BSc Honors degree in Biology and Psychology, and now a Diploma at London College of Fashion.
3.Could you tell us a bit more about the first fashion show you did?
That first Fashion Show was scary. I had a small beauty box of probably 20 items and a few brushes and was told to get eight girls ready. I had 6 hours to do their hair, makeup, and Saree dressing. I did complete it in the time provided, and I thought I was going to die of a panic attack, but on the contrary;
I was on a high. I was so excited, the adrenaline was pumping in, and I was so passionate.
I knew right there and then, that this was the field I wanted to be in for the rest of my life.
4.Do you have any hair care tips for stronger, healthy hair?
Try and not use heated equipment on a regular basis. Do some research on hair products( as most have a lot of damaging chemicals in them). I always believe natural remedies work. Ask your mum or grandmother, as they would probably be able to recommend a ton of herbal ointments or oilsI also wash my hair only twice a week, to reduce excess oil production in my hair.I use hair masks regularly.Diet, pollution, and water we wash in also make a difference.
5.How did you start building your clientele?
Social media initially got me the first few clients. Back in 2008, we only had a Facebook Page. Once a few people had booked me and spread the word, word of mouth brought me in more clients. It was very hard at the beginning, but I guess starting any new business is hard.
6.How does your culture influence your career or even you as a person?
I predominantly do bridal jobs in the Tamil community, so it does help. You have to understand our culture and the marital rituals. I think brides and their families take comfort in the fact that they have someone who understands and knows a lot about the culture. Since I also grew up watching Kollywood movies (Tamil Film Industry) it also helped my career getting some of the South Indian Movie stars ready for shoots or shows. That changed my game!
I never grew up having a lot of Tamil friends, but this industry has helped me stay rooted and cultured.
7.How did you convince your family / get their support for the career change?
The only I way I was able to convince my family to allow me to venture out, was by completing a science degree for them. I casually told them, that since I hold a degree, and if the makeup stuff doesn’t work out, I can always get a great job and earn well. That was a relief for them, and thinking it couldn’t possibly work out for me, they happily agreed.
Of course, today they are extremely proud of me. They encourage and support me!
8.Could you share a memorable moment in your career or client you have worked on and why?
I once was booked to do a surprise makeover for a 21-year-old. She was apparently in love with my work. The look on her face when she saw me was priceless. She told me then and there, that one day when she marries, she would book me. Many years later, I get an email from her asking to book me for her wedding. I was so honoured and so excited that she still had faith in me and still loved my work.
When we met for a trial, she was so chilled out and completely trusted me with all the looks. She was one of the most easiest Brides I have ever had, and I felt like I was getting my own daughter ready. I put so much love and passion in getting her ready, that Sapi is still one of my most talked about Brides to this day.
9.If someone was just starting in makeup what advice would you give them?
Be patient and do not ever doubt your passion.
10. If someone wanted to become a professional makeup artist what advice would you give them?
Customer service is everything. An answer to every email, every message, make every person who inquires or books you, feel absolutely special. Some of these girls are so nervous and so stressed with their wedding planning, that is is up to us to make them feel calm, and take at least one worry off their list. So be professional. Treat them they way you’d like to be treated.
11.Which country that you visited during your makeup career, did you like the most? Why?
India. I will always have a soft spot for India. Chennai to be precise. Chennai always shows me so much love and support, and my number one fans/followers are all from there.
I love their energy, the vibrancy, the culture, the forwardness, the movie industry, they are so trendy when it comes to bridal attire, and I have just had some amazing experiences over there and met some unforgettable people in the industry.
12. Do you have any holy grail makeup products that you stick by?
I am always very loyal to my beauty products. When I believe in something, I find it very hard to let go, no matter how many products are apparently better than what I use.
I have used the MAC Prolongwear concealer for the past 7 years. I have also used the MAC Spiked Eyebrow pencil for the past 7 years. My newest love is the Bobbi Brown Foundation Sticks.But my holy grail makeup product is the MAC Studio Finish concealer in NW30. I can live without any other product, but this product.
13.Are there any struggles you have faced professional/ personal since you started your makeup career which has helped you grow as a person?
I never thought I was a very tolerant person until I started this job. You meet all kinds of people. I think at the beginning of anything you start, you are vulnerable, and people can see that. I used to be treated very poorly by clients and their families, or even other professionals in the industry.
I have cried numerous times and have almost quit my job. But then I learned to not take things so personally
We should never judge others as we don’t know what their pain or struggles are, so I have learned to be professional; do my job, wish them well, and say goodbye. I learned to be more tolerant.
14.Where do you get your saris and Indian style jewelry from?
I personally travel to India and purchase them. But a lot of the times I get sarees and Jewellery gifted to me so I can promote their businesses. Chennai shopping is divine, but am planning to do a Mumbai and Hyderabad shopping trip.
15.You once said you would like to start Tamil Bridal Courses. Is that something you would still like to pursue? What are your future dreams for your business?
Yes, it is something I would still like to pursue, and build my own academy and hire my own assistants. The plan was to start on it in 2018, but since my husband and I are still deciding where to live permanently, I cannot make that decision until I work out where I will be based at.
I am also writing a book, and have a few other projects that I have in the pipeline and will take a good 2 -3 years to complete.
16.How have you balanced your personal life with your makeup business?
Oh I have lost a fair share of friends, and even had several family members not understand my line of business, my crazy schedule, or how exhausted I get. It is though, and I rarely get time to meet friends to socialize.
I also find it hard if/when I face personal problems, but still, have to be energetic and approachable at work. Sometimes you have to be two different people. You can never call up and take a day off work, or pull a ‘sicky’, or decide to spontaneously go on a beach trip because you need a little break.
No, work is work, and as much as I love it, it can be very hard and draining. And I know everyone out there who runs their own business would be able to relate to me.
People think it’s a glamorous life and so easy but on the contrary.
Either way, it is not something I would ever trade. I love doing makeup, and I love being my own boss. And I am grateful to God every day! I feel very blessed.