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How my career in Hair and Makeup started

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Before my career in hair and makeup started, I’ve always had a love and passion for the industry as a whole. From a very young age, I was borderline obsessed with beauty and fashion. When I was around the age of fourteen, I read every fashion magazine and kept up with makeup trends. My mom always loved trends as well and was pretty good at doing her own hair when she was younger, so she taught me how to do a couple of up-do’s early on. In high school, I dressed in my own unique style, which was very different from most. Whether or not I was trendy or quirky would be a matter of opinion. Nevertheless, my style was my thing!

The Pursuit of Makeup

When I turned eighteen, I decided to enroll in fashion design school. I never fully pursued it, and I didn’t complete the program. For whatever reason, I felt I needed to find something else that I enjoyed. I decided to move on to other things. I worked in retail for a while, and managed a clothing store, held some office jobs, but never really felt truly fulfilled with what I was doing. I always dreamed that one day I could do make-up for a living, but I still felt that I just loved it all as a whole; make-up, hair, fashion, and photography.

There was a pretty big gap from the time I decided fashion school wasn’t for me, to the time I started pursuing professional make-up artistry. I remember I used to walk by the MAC make-up counters, and read up about make-up artists that were backstage working fashion shows, and I would  think “Wow, If only I could do that, I would be the happiest girl on the planet!” I had no clue where to start. This was a time before make-up artistry became “a big thing”. It was right before YouTube artists started surfacing, so the craze had not yet begun. There were no make-up schools close enough to attend. I would either have to move away or travel, which at the time,  just wasn’t an option for me.

Beauty School

It took me a few years of fear and feeling undecided before I even started. I decided one day eleven years ago, as I was writing new year’s resolutions, that I would find my way. I enrolled in a local Cosmetology school and decided to become a licensed Esthetician. This would also be a great way for me to learn about and care for my own personal skin issues. This course included make-up basics, and I thought for sure they would teach me something to help me get started. Well, not exactly! There was a basic chapter that we went over and read, but we didn’t even have any models to work or practice on; that was pretty much all they offered. The reality is, that everything in life really is what you make of it. I took bits and pieces of that chapter and really applied what I learned in that class, to faces I practiced on.

Working as a Salon Professional

I finished the course, took the exam, and became licensed. I was now ready to do skincare professionally, and make-up too, right? Boy, was I ever wrong! This is where it can get a bit tricky. Finding a job fresh out of school with no experience in the field proved to be rather difficult. Every company that I applied to wanted experience. I actually had to rent a room in a salon for a while first, just so I could gain experience, and eventually apply at a high-end salon. Although my experience was limited, I did find a nice salon. I started as the full-time “Salon Coordinator” part-time Esthetician/Makeup Artist “. I was only able to fill in for the full-time esthetician if she wasn’t available. Fortunately for me, she had no interest in doing makeup, so I was able to accept everyone who came through the door wanting make-up done. I didn’t know it at the time, but working as the salon coordinator was actually a blessing. I learned how to run a salon on my own, all while honing my multitasking skills. I became quite good at it, and eventually worked my way up to full-time “Esthetician & Makeup Artist”.

My First Year as a Beginner in Makeup

Luckily for the clients that sat in my chair, in my early years as a professional, I had some basics down pat; because I had dabbled in make-up from such an early age. I also had a basic set of brushes, and make-up I had picked up here or there for my kit. I also had the knowledge and training of proper sanitation, and so I was able to produce basic bridal looks rather well. Fortunately, the salon was across the street from an event venue and the salon would book brides from there. Business would also get pretty busy for prom season, as well as for homecoming, from the local high school down the street. At this point, YouTube was becoming pretty popular, and although I was able to pick up some tips and tricks from “You Tubers”, it wasn’t enough for me to really learn the way I wanted to. In my opinion, YouTube is not the most reliable source for learning professional make-up artistry. I researched make-up labs with experienced celebrity artists, and that was a game-changer! I became more confident, and picked up new make-up tips and tricks, for television and photography. I also sought out local educators, and read any books I could get my hands on. I ordered DVDs and instructional videos, and took advice from anyone willing to give any sort of helpful hints!

Gaining Experience in Makeup for Photography

I dove head first in to testing with photographers and did this for years. I worked at a trade show with a brand creator for professional cosmetic line. She had plenty of experience in the industry, and I was grateful that was willing to share her knowledge. Her advice to me was, “If you really want to do bridal well, then you really need to do some testing, so that you really understand lighting and how your makeup will translate in pictures”. That’s exactly what I did! I can’t say I’m a pro at lighting, but boy did that make a huge difference for me. I started getting these pictures and nothing looked as I thought it would, so I would go back and try again. I also tested as many products as I could get my hands on, just to see what they looked like in pictures. I really learned a lot from trading work with models and photographers, and working on a “trade” basis.

Building a Portfolio and Resume

I continued doing photo shoots throughout the years which also helped me build my portfolio of work, and I connected with many different professionals in the industry. I worked on a low-budget film. I worked with a local director and did some infomercials and commercials, which gave me production experience. It also started requiring me to do hair. Some brides also began asking for both and hair and makeup as well. Therefore, being the person that I am, I wanted to learn to do hair well, and I decided to become a licensed hairstylist.

My First Experience Working in Hair and Makeup for Stage

Right after graduating from cosmetology school, I did an internship at The Sarasota Opera House with an Emmy Award-winning Celebrity Makeup Artist and Wig Designer. The internship lasted the entire Opera Winter Season. It was quite a challenge. I worked with some incredibly talented ladies in the wig and makeup room, and learned more than I ever dreamed! It’s something I will always be proud of because it wasn’t easy, and took some real determination to get through the entire internship!

The Domino Affect

After gaining a lot of experience and building a long resume, I have been able to work with some major television networks, and I eventually landed a job as an on-call Artist for HSN. If you’re familiar with the Home Shopping Network, then you know there are famous guests on the air, on a daily basis. I gained valuable experience working with different celebrities. At this point, I was working in and out of the HSN studios. I worked in different salons, continued booking freelance work, and from there I have worked with some major celebrities, including an A-list actress. Two seasons ago, I landed the title of the official makeup artist for our local NFL Buccaneer Cheerleaders. I co-own a salon that opened last year, and I’m returning this year to the Tampa Straz Performing Arts Theatre for my second season with Opera Tampa. Meanwhile, I still work some weddings during the wedding season!

Hard Work Pays Off

When I look back at my own story, I become misty-eyed, because it hasn’t been easy. It has taken some serious patience and time; not to mention the substantial monetary investment. I am grateful to so many, for giving me that one opportunity that always led to another. I continuously look forward from one year to the next, because I have barely scratched the surface. I know there are more experiences out there for me, and I’ve learned firsthand that if you really love what you do, you can overcome any obstacle.  All of these experiences have finally given me the sense of fulfillment that I longed for. I truly love this industry, and I could never see myself doing anything other than what I do. I’m not regretful of many mistakes I may have made along the way, except for maybe being scared to start. From each mistake I have made,  I have learned something that has helped me to better at what I do. As long as I can help it, I will never stop trying to learn something new! Here’s to many more years in the “The Beauty Biz”!

So there you have it! How I got started in the beauty industry! I hope enjoyed reading this short story of mine just as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Stay with me for more blog posts! Til’ next time friends
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Nereida Padilla

The Official Makeup artist to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders

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