Intro to Makeup By Nichola

Hi, I’m Nichola – welcome to my first blog post!

I thought it only fitting for my first post to tell you all a little about Makeup By Nichola, where it started, where it’s at and where it’s going!

I’ve been so excited to start writing a blog for some time, but it’s never been the right time. You know, that thing called life just kept getting in the way but for some reason, today seems the right day. So here I am, sitting on the tube writing on the notes app on my mobile after a looong and tiring evening at work in the wigs department on a London show (I’m lying, it was a pretty great evening at work actually, the wigs looked fab, everything ran smoothly, I had great chats with the cast & creatives and I finished at a decent time, it just sounds like you work harder when you moan about your job, right? Anyway…) I decided to finally put pen to paper. Or finger to screen keyboard at least. Here goes!

Makeup By Nichola started back in 2005 when, after studying performing arts for 3 years I realised I was not cut out for that life. Mainly a life of endless auditions and knockbacks, being judged and living off microwave noodles between jobs. No thank you! So I started to look at what else I might like to do that didn’t involve frequent anxiety and constantly searching for the next job. I thought about a career behind the scenes. I’ve always been pretty creative and the magic of set design and creating a character’s look has always amazed me, often before the performance. I stumbled on the website for The Delamar Academy in West London, offering a complete Makeup Artist course which looked amazing! Seriously, have a look and tell me you don’t want to have a go at everything you see on there. Long story short, I saved up, enrolled and can honestly say loved every minute of every day of my time there. I was excited to get up and travel the 2+ hours across town to learn something new and so very cool (does that sound a bit geeky?) every day. I had found my thang!

After qualifying, I was lucky enough to get work straight away. I worked on fashion shoots and music videos, commercials and film; where I spent most of my time creating bloody sfx scenes of cuts and bruises, oh and not forgetting that time I created a blood-soaked intestine for a zombie to devour out of an actors stomach, or that eyeball that burst when bitten. And yes, it was awesome! I was never happier than when my fingers were stained with fake blood at the end of the day. After a couple of years working behind a camera I landed my first West End theatre job in the wigs and makeup department, it was THE BEST! Creating beautiful hair and running around backstage during live performances each night was a real buzz, plus there was a bloody scene in my first role and I got to do the makeup for that too. Winning! Life was good and I felt so incredibly lucky to actually be working in a job I loved.

The Intestine scene!
Torture makeup for a scene in Marguerite The Musical

Of course, there were ups and downs. Periods without work and longer periods working for pennies just to create contacts and gain more experience. Long, anti-social hours. Then the recession came and I ended up temping in an office in the city for a while to make ends meet. Not a drop of fake blood to be seen through the sea of Mulberry handbags and Blackberry phones.

During my time at the office, I would still work weekends doing short shoots and occasion & bridal makeups locally. I had never wanted to do bridal when I began my training but after the sister of a close friend of mine had been let down by her makeup artist I reluctantly stepped in, and have never looked back. All the things I thought I would hate about working in bridal, I loved! I mean, how can you not love being part of that exciting buzz? Working in stunning venues surrounded by beautiful flowers, dresses and gushing mothers! And I can honestly say I haven’t met a single bridezilla yet, every bridal party I have worked with have been so lovely and friendly and working in bridal has been a complete joy.

It took a while for me to take the leap back into freelancing again but boy am I glad that I did. This time I knew what I loved (and what I really didn’t!) and I now have a career that involves all of those things and fits in around my wonderful family. I have Makeup By Nichola!

Okay, that line was a bit cheesy but it’s still true! Now, I do the school run most days, I go to my kid’s school productions and love being Mum. I swing (that’s the actual term for it, seriously. It basically means ad-hoc) at West End theatre shows for the WHAM department (much better term! that’s Wigs, Hair And Makeup in case you hadn’t worked it out) and I spend most of my working hours making brides feel and look beautiful.

Being part of the wedding morning means I get to witness such special moments and sometimes even be a part of them. I’m always so grateful when a bride chooses me to be part of such a special day, one she’s possibly dreamt about all her life!

I’m extremely grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had in my career and all the amazing people I’ve met along the way. I am also very grateful for having such a supportive husband and family, without them none of this would be possible.

What it’s all for, right there

Makeup By Nichola is still growing and that is exciting. I’ve recently taken the step to use only cruelty-free products in my professional kit. It has been a slow process – I have only been restocking my kit with cruelty-free bits for a while but there were still some staples in there that I didn’t think I could go without. But, the cruelty-free and vegan market is changing and there are soooo many more things available now. Plus I am a sucker for trying out new products (not that my bank balance approves!), so I’ve made the change! And I’m LOVING the items in my kit, I’ve discovered some real gems! My aim is to have a completely Vegan and Cruelty-Free kit eventually. If you’re interested to know more about cruelty-free makeup, then pop back soon as I’ll be writing some more blog pieces about the products I’ve tested and what has made it into my kit. Or if you have a cruelty free or vegan product you think I need to try, please get in contact, I’d love to hear about it!

Who knows what the next couple of years will bring but right now owning my own business, continuing to watch it and my family grow is pretty awesome.

Oh and in case you are wondering, I’m not still on the tube! It’s taken me a few days to finish this blog but I’ve loved writing it. I hope at least one of you that reads it will take something positive from it, perhaps spur you on in your career or encourage to discover what is important to you, but I also wonder if it will affect you in the same enlightening way it has for me, just writing it.

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