As promised, today’s blog post is an interview with the lovely Kiera Louise Harrison, my talented makeup teacher. From the moment I met Kiera, enquiring about her Make Up Artist Masterclass I felt inspired! The 12 week course I am taking with her takes an absolute makeup beginner through to the professional level but the makeup academy Kiera has founded also provides a number of other makeup and hair courses. Check out her Facebook page here.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked Kiera if she wouldn’t mind giving me an interview for my blog and she happily accepted. So I made a list of the things I was dying to ask her and arranged to talk with her last week half an hour before the start of our last lesson. Tomorrow we will have our practical exam (eek)! So, because the interview is a bit long (and transcribing from a recorder is taking much longer than I thought it would) I’ve decided to produce the interview in 3 parts.
So let’s dive in Part 1 of the interview, shall we?
Q: Kiera, you are a successful, young entrepreneur, owner of a professional make up academy and a professional makeup artist. What is the secret of your success?
A: Wow! What a question! I suppose there isn’t one secret. I would probably say that it’s a combination of lot of different things, the main thing being continuous hard work, continuous research about the industry and continuously striving to be better I suppose.
Q: What is your first memory of make up?
A: I was a tomboy growing up. I was never interested in makeup, I played football, I was more interested in building a tree house than lipstick and then I suppose growing up as I got into my last year of high-school all my peers and friends were all starting to look really glam and I thought “Ooh, I need to start doing this” and I saw my mum applying some bronzer and I tried it and from then I was just “Wow, I love looking tanned” ; and to be honest that was all I ever used to really wear. A little bit of bronzer, a little bit of lip gloss. Then it was only as I went to college, I went to uni and I started working part time in a photo studio that is really when my love for make up really started to come out and progress really. I loved watching the transformation of people and I really loved seeing how happy they were once they saw themselves. I suppose that sparked the passion for it really. It was working at that studio.
Q: Is that how your make up love affair begun?
A: Yes. I’ve always loved art and I’ve always been quite a creative person. So I suppose makeup for me then became a form of expression for painting the face, if you like. I’ve always been experimental with colours and liked playing with things that stereotypically you wouldn’t be taught, just to create beauty really.
Q: When did you become a professional makeup artist?
A: At 18, working at the photo studio part-time while I was at uni studying Media Styling. Then I got the opportunity to work at the BBC as a makeup artist and that’s when it begun to flourish and I decided that that I want was the avenue I wanted to go down professionally as opposed to it being a hobby.
Q: What prompted you to qualify as a makeup instructor and what steps did you take to meet that goal?
A: I was working at MAC Cosmetics and during that time I was working on various different roles. One of those was working in the Events Team and I came back from London Fashion Week they approached me and asked me to become a Trainer. I wasn’t sure if it would be something I would enjoy but decided to give it a go. And when I stepped into it and started learning more about the products and showing people how to use them (I was also a product specialist so basically my job was to use the new collections that came in and design a look with them and showing the team how to wear it). So I suppose that came hand-in-hand with my art background and my creativity, which I really enjoyed. I loved teaching people. Found it so rewarding, watching somebody grow from knowing nothing to then being that expert so that sparked another trigger in me.
So I talked to my dad about this and said “I’m really enjoying this” and he asked me “What do you see your future? Do you want to stay at MAC all your life”?And I said, “No, I want my own make up academy but I always thought it would be in my early 50s like before I’d take that plunge”. And he said, “If that’s the goal that you would like to do, then I think you need to get a teaching qualification”. Initially I thought I had had enough of uni and it wasn’t all I thought it would be as I was sick of academics, but I went back to uni and did my PGCA which is a teaching qualification. I did that part-time while I continued to work and while I was there I got offered a teaching post at Bolton College teaching make up to young students. I decided to drop my days at MAC, going part-time while still being present in the industry and picked up 2 days teaching at the college.
To find out more about Kiera’s experience of teaching at college and how she was motivated to create her own academy stay tuned to my blog for Parts 2 and 3 coming up soon.
For now, I’ve got to go and study and prep for my exam tomorrow. Wish me luck!!!