Up close and personal

Having spent the afternoon with Vanessa, it was clear how she is able to fit the equivalent of my working week into just one of her days. It was her energy, knowledge and most importantly, her passion for what she does. No matter what the task in hand, albeit applying make-up to one of her brides (which I have to say is a very impressive list of some 250 and growing), to applying green paint to a dragon or mascara to a dame or even sitting at a desk in the City doing her role within marketing; everything was carried out with a vast amount of energy and passion.

If I were a bride I would certainly be booking my special day with her, she is a great person to be around.

Good luck with the awards; you are a true winner in your own right...

When did you discover your interest in hair & make-up?
"When I was growing up I loved playing with make-up and playing with people's hair. So it was at a very early age really".

How old were you when you started training in hair and make-up?
"I was in my mid-twenties when I decided that I wanted to make my childhood dream come true, I set myself a goal that I would be qualified in beauty and make-up by the age of 30".

I'm guessing that you achieved that goal?
"Yes, I did and it's one of the best times of my life. Being an 'older' student I was very nervous about the whole training/studying thing. I set the goal and just worked really hard towards acheiving it. I have to say it was also thanks to the fact I had fantastic teachers along the way, it really helps".

If you trained in beauty how did you end up being the director of your own business?
"It's funny really, once friends knew I had trained in make-up they started asking me if I would do their wedding make-up. I dreaded it, I actually didn't like putting make-up onto other people!". Why? "Well make-up is such a personal thing, I loved playing around with my own style of make-up but applying it onto someone else is a whole different ball game. Then it just grew from there really, friends were telling friends and so on. I then decided that although I had my NVQ in make-up if I was to continue working with brides I really needed to develop my skills further so I researched several collages. I decided to train with Delamar Academy at Ealing Studios. The training was outstanding and I met some fantastic make-up artists that work on a daily basis with A list celebs".

When did you finish your training?
Vanessa laughs, "I've not finished training!".

Really but you run your own hair & make-up business?
"You never finish training, everyday I learn something new. When I teach students they often tell me things I didn't know, or new techniques or products available. That doesn't mean I don't know my job I do but we learn all the time. Hair & make-up is a fast moving industry and will continue to change".

You said 'students you teach', so you teach as well?
"Yes, not as often as I once did but I was a trainer at Herts & Essex Academy some years back, it was there I met one of my best friends, Victoria. We have both supported each other for years in growing and developing our business', Victoria runs 'Victoria Kay School of Beauty in Harlow'. If Victoria has any students requiring advance training she usually calls on me to help out".

So let me get this right, you run your own hair & make-up business and sometimes teach,
surely you have no time to do anything else?

"Mmm, if only that were true. I am still a partner in my original business, which again is hair and make-up. When my business partner and I started the business I had only trained in beauty and make-up, she had spent years working with hair. As we both specialised in our own areas it was a great joint venture to be honest, as time went on I knew that I was keen to develop my skills in hair. I then qualified in bridal hair and decided to set up my own baby - Blushing Bride by HCT. Although both business do pretty much the same thing it works. I do also get involved in a number of other ad-hoc projects, I recently worked with a large corporate business as they were doing a photo shoot for their annual report. This year I have done a few corporate filming videos, for all kinds of things internal firm dramas and awards". Just as I thought that was the end of the list. "Oh, and I still work in the City a few days a week, I have worked for the same firm for 18 years now January will be 19! They have been a huge support in my business and I love my job there too. I work in Marketing which has enabled me to build my own business with the skills I've gained throughout my 18/19 years".

Wow, I'm impressed. I see from your portfolio that there are a few people with green faces and men in drag...What is that all about?
"Don't say that people will wonder what else I do, that's work from panto's I was involved in" as she points to several pictures of people looking like dragons, witches and men in some rather colourful make-up. "I worked on a number of pantomines in London, Cinderella, Aladdin and Jack and the bean stalk".

Sounds interesting.

What do you enjoy the most, brides, filming or photo shoots?
"That's not fair, I love them all. I guess if you're going to make me choose then I would say brides".

Why surely working with brides must be extremely stressful?
"Not at all, I enjoy being a part of the brides day. You know when you're wanted around and when to make an exit. I think that's where people skills come in, obviously it's important to be of a high standard in your work but understanding another persons needs is slightly more difficult. It comes with time I guess, but no I don't really find weddings or brides stressful. Maybe other people do but I don't".

If you could make over a celebrity who would it be?
Vanessa grabs her copy of Company magazine and starts flicking through it. "I don't know, I really can't think there are so many to pick from, I know who I wouldn't want to do". Who? Kate Moss she's so perfect, I like to have something to work with, something to test me really".

I guess it is time to close the interview, but just before I go I do have one other question.
Yep, someone tells me that you're in the final of The Wedding Network Retailers Awards 2008 is this true?
"Indeed, I have to say it came as a lovely surprise. When I got the phone call I just wanted to shout but the award is actually for my joint business with Hannah (Vanessa's business partner), so I was frantically trying to phone her to give her the news. We are currently in the final four which I have to say is fantastic especially when we're up against one of our biggest competitors!! Fingers crossed, we find out Saturday 27th September".
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