Although a multi-billion dollar industry, the world of beauty still remains notoriously difficult to break into! Below, Natalie Wood, Owner of Make-Up by Natalie Wood, talks to us to openly about finding a career that resonates with you in the Beauty, Fashion and Arts industry, along with the importance of using networks to build your career…
Full name: Natalie Jayne Wood
Current title/company: Freelance Make Up Artist and Student
Educational background: Certificate in Make Up Artistry, currently studying towards a BA Fashion at LISOF.
Current city: Pretoria
Describe your path to becoming a make-up artist, photographer and yoga teacher.
This is a path that I did not know I was on. To be honest, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and a lot of the time I am still unsure of where I am going – but I have no complaints, it is part of the adventure. Although it was not my initial choice for a career, make up is something that I have always been interested in. As a young child I used to watch my Mum put her make up on every morning – it fascinated me… It did not take long for me to follow suit, my friends being my first subjects (willing or unwilling). The older we were, the more willing they became and as more and more people asked me to do their make up – I realised that my interest in the art could be turned into a career.
In 2011, it became apparent that I would be more successful if I honed my skills and formalised my profession, which is why I chose to study make up part time at LISOF. This led to meeting some wonderful people, and building a contact base – which I believe is essential in every industry. I still draw on this contact base, and people I have met through various projects for work – these projects include photo shoots, weddings, matric dances and editorial work to name a few. Whilst studying at LISOF, an interest in the fashion industry and its workings was awakened and thus, I am now studying towards a BA in Commercial Fashion.
Photography was a favourite past time of mine. I delighted most in seeing how one could capture part of a person’s essence in just a split second – which is why I chose to take fashion photography as a subject, one which I thoroughly enjoy. This goes hand in hand with my love of make up, which is why I have incorporated it into my job description – I am really looking forward to where this path will lead me.
Last but not least – Yoga. Training to become a yoga teacher was something that just happened. It was an overnight decision and one of the best I have ever made. It has helped me to maintain balance in my life, gain confidence, earn an inner peace and created an incredible faith in the divine – which supports me, daily. Through this uncommon, but beautiful journey I have learnt so much about myself, and those around me. I am so grateful to be spending my days doing something that I enjoy, and I look forward to what lies ahead every step of the way.
Make-up artistry has become very mainstream and it may be particularly difficult to have a breakthrough in the industry. Surviving on mere talent in the world we live in is sometimes not enough! Give us a glimpse into the relationship between talent and hard work – do you think one can survive without the other?
Talent may definitely give you a head start in the industry, but it is hard work and perseverance that helps you win the race. These are attributes that most definitely cannot survive without one another. I try to remind myself that “every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them.”
Could you describe the business acumen and knowledge one needs to combine with their artistry and talent?
It is essential to know your worth, and to value it. If you do not, other people will not and this could lead to not only unsuccessful business endeavors, but could cause some self-depreciating, difficult questions that may need answering.
I feel that you should have a standard rate for specific things, and ask for it – irrespective of how you may feel about asking for compensation (it is not something which I enjoy), it is vital for personal growth and allows you to establish yourself as a main player in the industry. Document everything that you do – whether it is invoices, calendar dates or photographs of your work – this gives you a foundation to build on. Stimulate your desire to learn, it is an instrumental skill in the industry – new ways of doing things and new ideas are constantly being developed, and in order to grow as a professional and build your portfolio, an open mind is key.
How did you ultimately determine the type of career you were most passionate about? When did the “aha” moment take place?
I cannot say that I had an “aha” moment, it was more of a “this could work” moment. I was in a difficult space in my life, when other dreams were not coming into fruition and I was feeling very frustrated and confused. It was at this point that I needed to find a job, and the first one to come available was working for a well-known make up brand as a make up artist. At this point, light was shed on my situation and I realised some of the opportunities that could lie ahead of me if I stopped trying to control my future. Yes, it was not my intended path but I do not regret taking the first step onto this path. The results of my uncertainty and frustration are wonderful, and I can honestly say that I am a firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. My life thus far is proof. I once read “sometimes, on the way to a dream you get lost and find a better one” – I could not agree more.
Are you satisfied creatively?
I don’t think that I am ever satisfied creatively, which is the beauty of it. I constantly push myself to do more, learn more and experience more so that I can grow in my profession, and as an individual. Every day is new and exciting, and I look forward to being stimulated artistically and trying new things. At times, I am not satisfied with the outcome of my work – which is a challenge that I want to overcome, it makes me aspire to do more and push myself harder so that I constantly work towards being the best version of myself that is possible. To me, the most wonderful part of my job is a happy client – when it is possible to contribute positively to the way someone feels about himself or herself, it is the most rewarding feeling.
As an artist and curator, what have been your biggest obstacles and how were you able to overcome them?
One of the biggest obstacles that I had to face was the way that people perceive my job, and their ideas about the kind of person a make up artist should be. I was made to believe that being a make up artist was only ever something to fall back on if I failed in other areas of myself, I did not perceive it to be a serious enough career to pursue. Constantly being concerned with what other people thought about me (often because of my own beliefs) was exhausting and had such a negative impact on my confidence, that some members of my incredible support system intervened and made me realise that I am the only one who can control how something affects me. At this point I became aware of just how blessed I am to be doing something that makes me happy every single day, and how so many people wish for such an opportunity. This was an awakening for me, and through growing the love for my abilities and myself – I began to love my job even more. As a student it can be hard to balance studies and work, which is why I learnt the value of time management early on. You have to be organised and structured in order to maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle from which you can fully commit to the diverse areas in your life.
What is a typical work day like for you?
The most exciting part of my job is that everyday is different – new clients, new occasions, new locations, and new ideas. This is what keeps my energy levels up, and a smile on my face. Being a professional make up artist is involves a lot more admin than would be expected. One of the perks with this job is time flexibility, hours are not typical and thus you can plan your appointments around your needs. Typically I organise myself, my kit and purchase any new products for the project a day or two before hand. This allows time to prepare myself in the morning – your appearance is an essential part of your job, the way you look shows what you can do, and thus you are your own advertisement. When I arrive on location I make a point of introducing myself to those around me – although I generally work alone, often these projects involve a team and it is important to be involved and approachable. It is then that the wonder of make up begins, what is involved at this point depends on the brief or occasion – either a matric dance or an avant-garde editorial, it may include doing make up for ten different people at a wedding, or possibly only one model at a photo shoot. If I am working on a shoot (my own or someone else’s), I constantly check the model and photographs to ensure that everything is as it is meant to be, and if necessary touch ups are done. When the shoot is called I pack up, and head off to my next appointment.
What is most fulfilling about being a make-up artist and creative?
Working with people is absolutely the most fulfilling part of my job. Seeing a bride who feels beautiful on her big day, or playing part in an artist watching their story come to life is a gift. No matter how I am feeling, or the kind of day it has been – being a part of these special moments, and watching these individuals light up and fill with a sense of accomplishment that is the most rewarding, beautiful part of my job.
Advice for aspiring creative?
Network as much as possible – even if you are shy, meeting people and creating contacts will prove to be one of the greatest things you do for yourself.
No matter what anyone else says, thinks or does – never give up.
Above all, value yourself. It is the most important thing you can do – whether it is in your career, a relationship or daily decisions. You are the only one who can determine your worth.
Morning or night?
Definitely night. Unless I am supplied with sufficient amounts of caffeine, this is an unlikely change.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
My grandmother. The classiest woman I have ever known. I would bring a notepad and write down every tip and piece of advice she had to offer. I find what I can remember of her invaluable. I would most probably sushi. Maybe tea and macaroons? My cravings can swerve dramatically.
I wish I knew how to… Sing. I think everyone around me feels the same.
African women are… beautiful, and so strong. An inspiration to many.
South Africa is… my home.
Worst money mistake… I was a depressed student living on a budget, which I blew on leather boots as retail therapy. I lived on their smell for the rest of the month.
Best investment… Most probably those leather boots. Haha. No seriously, I think it has to be Lancome Hypnose mascara. Oh, and my future of course.
Image provided by Natalie Jayne Wood
Photographer: Mari Theron
Stylist: Scharizna Snyman
Motivation in 3 words… Always be yourself.