3 Experts who turned their unique skill into a career in fashion and beauty
I remember a school project from elementary school where I had to write and illustrate my own mini children's book. My teacher photocopied it and used it as an example for all of her students in years following and I still recall that as a pivotal moment in realizing that being creative was totally my jam.
I shifted from the stereotypical careers you dream about as a kid like, "I wanna be an astronaut" to "I actually want to be a writer." My parents always supported that, but deep down were probably shaking in their boots thinking, "How the heck is my daughter going to feed herself?" Spoiler alert, I'm employed.
And more and more people seem to be tossing the safe careers aside to just pursue what they love to do. And it's working.
Rolando "Rolly" Robinson, editorial designer and makeup artist
"I have the knowledge, the skill set, the technique and the creative vision to do it, so why not, right?"
Rolly is not your average makeup artist. He is a makeup ARTist — emphasis on the "art." He works for StyleCaster as their editorial designer and he's responsible for extreme beauty transformations like this one. And believe it or not, he taught himself almost everything he knows about makeup. And you guys, this isn't the average mascara, lipstick, and you're out the door.
"When I first moved to New York, I was living in Manhattan and I worked as a makeup artist for Sephora. The training there was excellent, and that’s how I was able to extend my knowledge," he tells me. "All my friends would say 'you need to do this for a living, you’re so good!' The more I heard that, the more I believed it. As I took it to the next level and really began to become crafty at artistry, I realized I was doing something that no one else is doing."
And, my friends, a star was born. "Once I began working on editorials, is when I thought 'Okay, now you got this,'” he says. "Being an artist is something that comes naturally. I don’t think it’s a skill that can be taught. You either have it, or you don’t. BUT, I will say that there’s never too much to learn. I learn new things more and more every day!" Amen!
His best makeup tip for some parting words: "Embrace the human fingers. They are the best beauty tool you could ever use!"
Adriane Dye, personal stylist
"Through referrals, [I] started going into women's closets mixing and matching their clothes and taking them shopping."
Adriane Dye has been picking out clothes for her friends since she was a teenager. Eventually, one of them finally told her she needed to get a marketing plan together and make it her business. "At the time I had just left the insurance claims adjusting industry and was looking to go back into the industry at a different company but felt that that wasn't where my heart was," she tells me.
After starting an out-of-her house business helping women put together outfits and shop, she also applied for a job at Nordstrom and became a personal stylist. But, she says about her love of fashion and retail, "I didn't really buy all the fashion magazines. I liked better 'what do you have in your closet and how can we make it work for you?' Instead of following every single trend, how to make the trend follow you." I mean doesn't every woman want to be so cool that trends follow them?
I imagine that getting women to break out of their comfort zones is one of the hardest parts of the job. Adriane assures it me, despite that, that it's the best feeling. "I had one of my favorite clients, Paula. She is about 62." Paula needed an outfit for a wedding that was on the casual side and Adriane picked out something unlikely for her.
"She wanted to be able to dance so I put her in an Eileen Fisher harem pant jumpsuit. Basically MC Hammer pants, but it was a jumpsuit, and some patent leather oxford lace up shoes, a white T-shirt and a red Bolero jacket. She looked like a million bucks. She didn't want to put it on." But she did. And she loved it.
The Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus rule book says that women love to shop, but that is not true for a lot of women because finding something that fits our body and the occasion perfectly is freakin' exhausting. Adriane happens to have a knack for it, and it helps pay her bills.
Tiffany Masterson, founder of Drunk Elephant Skin Care
"If you're passionate about something, you'll do it well and if you stay true to yourself, it will be different and unique."
About a year ago, I received samples from this amazing then-new skin care company. I immediately wanted to know more as I was slathering their serums on my face and marveling over the pretty packaging — I learned that the line was founded by a woman who simply started asking a lot of questions about beauty products.
Previously a director of communications, she had the opportunity to sell a bar cleanser from Malaysia. "I had been struggling with my own skin issues and never could find a line that worked well for me," she explains. "That was really a time for me to research and ask lots of questions about products, ingredients and people's skin care routines, what was working, what wasn't and what people really wanted. I had been struggling with my own skin issues and never could find a line that worked well for me."
So, why not make your own? She did, and the results are the very serums and lotions and potions I was putting on my face as I realized I had found my skin a soul mate.
But the whole line is non-toxic and manages to make more natural products that work like the synthetic, clinical ones that are so common. So, of course people criticize.
"Me, my strategy, my brand name... you name it," she tells me of being doubted. "That can be toxic so you remove those people from the picture. I try to surround myself with people who know more than I do, who have been successful in the beauty industry and who share my values. Everyone has an opinion; the trick is to decide whose opinion matters to you."
So, dream on folks. As Tiffany reminds me, "It's usually just the simplest ideas that are right under our nose that can make a big difference."