By: Nikita Shah
We had the opportunity to sit down with Stefanie, co-founder of Sweven Beauty, and talk beauty and business. We love her tenacity and courage in pursuing what makes her happy and her dedication to her clients. She shares great insight with us about what it takes to make it in the beauty industry.
Could you introduce yourself to our audience and let everyone know who you are and what you do?
My name is Stefanie and I’m a makeup artist in Toronto and I started the brand Sweven beauty about 4 years ago with a close friend of mine. We offer hair and makeup services that’s mobile so we’ll come to you and get you glammed for whatever occasion you have.
When did you first become interested in beauty and makeup, and who was your inspiration?
Honestly I’ve been in love with makeup and the beauty industry for as long as I could remember. I remember as a child going into my mom’s vanity and taking her makeup and just playing with it. As for inspiration, I feel like JLo is the ultimate inspiration. She’s ageless and timeless. Her makeup; hair; everything is always on point.
I would agree, she’s one of the OG beauty queens.
How has your perception of beauty and makeup changed since then?
I feel like, especially in my teenage years, the more makeup the better. I’d load it on because I didn’t have great skin growing up so makeup gave me a lot of confidence but I felt like I had to put on a lot to cover up, whereas now I want to enhance what I have. So you rock your flaws but you look a bit better just rocking your natural beauty.
I feel like when people do that they look more like themselves.
Yeah I agree! You’re not changing your look entirely. Everyone needs to be unique in their own way and that’s what makes them beautiful. So we’re gonna make you look like you, but better.
I love that, is that how you go about your business as well?
Yeah definitely. I always go into each client asking them “what do you envision by the time we’re done,” so I get a sense of what they like and don’t like and we’ll go from there. It’s all about them and what they envision and what they want with their hair and makeup.
How did you find yourself starting your own business?
I went to school for business and then I did a post-graduate certificate in digital marketing so I was actually working in the corporate world doing digital marketing for a few years. It wasn’t in the beauty industry and I felt like that was lacking because I wasn’t passionate about the industry that I was in. Every Sunday night and it was like “ugh tomorrow’s Monday and I don’t wanna go into work” and I don’t feel like work should be like that, you should love what you do.
All my friends were like “you should go into makeup, you’re so good at it and you love it” and so one day my girlfriend and I decided to take a makeup course while I was still working at my previous job. I was taking this course 3 days a week during the work week, so I’d go in until 9pm. I loved it, it was so much fun. So after I completed the course I decided I was just going to dive in, so I quit my job and then started my business.
That’s such an inspiration, good for you!
It was very scary but it was probably one of the better decisions because I never feel like “oh my god tomorrow’s Monday.” I don’t have anxiety about it, I love what I do and I don’t feel like I’m working. I feel like that’s so key because life’s so short. You have to love what you do, especially if you’re spending so much time doing it. Working for yourself is tough but it’s so rewarding because the work that you put in, you get out of it too. It’s so much more motivating because you see the end goal, you see the outcome of your hard work.
So we touched on this already a little bit but how do you go about making sure the makeup you do for your clients match their personalities?
We get talking; it’s just about the initial conversation. I’ll always ask some standard questions like “do you like to stick with neutral colours or something more colourful?” and “what is your daily routine?”. That’s so key. If someone only wears, for example, just moisturizer and sunscreen and then you go and put all the different steps on them, they’re going to feel like it’s too much. So getting to know them and seeing what their daily routine is like and really understanding them, that’s key to the outcome of the makeup and how it will reflect their personality.
Is that a conversation during your appointment or prior?
Usually right before the makeup application but I try to follow all my clients on social media so I get to see them in their "natural habitats."
Yeah! So then you can see what she looks like going out with her friends and if it looks really natural you know that’s what she likes, or if she goes full glam then you know you can do fuller lashes or more contour cause I can get a vibe of what she wears or usually has on.
That’s great, I’m sure your clients really appreciate you taking that extra step for them!
Haha yeah but I don’t tell them that.
So you just seem a little psychic!
Yup! And I usually start with a little bit less. It’s easier to build it up so I’ll do a softer eye and they can tell me if they want more. It’s easier to build so I start with a lighter hand and build it up as they want that.
What is your “golden rule” when it comes to working with your clients?
Leaving knowing that the client is happy with their look. If they’re not happy then I’d leave and feel so bad about it. So I just want to make sure that they're happy with the look because they have to wear it and rock it, so it’s all about them.
Have you ever had to look on someone that you didn’t necessarily jive with but it’s what they wanted?
Yes, definitely but it’s about them so I’ll tell them what I think but at the end of the day it’s what they want. That’s all that matters.
When looking to hire a new team member what do you look for in a makeup artist?
First I’ll usually do a phone chat to see how our personalities mesh and I’ll go through their Instagram or their portfolio. I think what's most important is meeting them in person and getting hands-on experience. I’ll be the client and they’ll do their makeup on me. That’s the most important aspect. I think also personality is key. Makeup you can learn and grow. Your makeup doesn’t have to be great but if people love you they’re going to book you.
Yeah that’s true in all forms of sales, as long as your customer is happy and they like to work with you, they're going to come back to you even if you’re not number one.
Exactly, it’s about building that relationship. If they like you and like having you around and enjoy the conversation, they’ll likely book with you again. If the makeup artist is miserable that energy is not good.
When it comes to something as personal as how you look, you really want to trust the person who’s doing your face.
How has your job changed since the beginning of the pandemic?
It’s changed a lot. I’ve really had to switch gears. Before the pandemic I didn’t enjoy posting pictures of myself. I would get models or friends to post tutorials but now I’ve had to do it on myself. Obviously, we’re not doing makeup on people during the lockdown. We're switching focus more towards Instagram and digital spaces rather than being face-to-face with clients.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m a very outdoors person, so I love going for walks and hikes. I love working out, going to the gym, and meeting my friends. I’m very active, I would say.
Are you still able to do some of those things during the pandemic?*
Yeah when the days are nicer we can meet outside. When it’s too cold, it was harder. The wind just gets me. The wind in Toronto is something else.
Do you have any favourite spots for hiking?
I grew up in Niagara so my fav hiking spot is called the Gorge. It’s in Niagara-on-the-Lake and right across is Buffalo. It’s my favourite hike. I haven’t found anything like that in Toronto but I love going by the water on a daily basis.
What advice would you give to a makeup artist just starting out?
Collab with people in the industry. There’s lots of photographers or Instagram influencers that you can collab with. Get your name out there. Just post! Don’t be afraid to post yourself; post your friends; post your work. Get out of your comfort zone. If you have an idea just do it. Don’t be afraid because you don’t know, that idea might land you something that you’ve been wanting to do.
That’s great advice! I think that applies to a lot of different creative industries. People should just be more brave about putting themselves out there.
A lot of times we’re our own worst enemies. We over-think things. You never know what will come out of your ideas.
You never know how your will resonate with people and how they'll respond.
Exactly! That’s how I feel about posting on socials. I post it and don’t even look at my phone.
I think that’s the best way to do it. It’s out there and it will be what it will be.
It was a joy getting to know Stefanie and her approach to life, beauty, and business. We hope her tried-and-true advice helps up and coming MUAs break into the industry. Don't miss her takeover on the Lithe Instagram page!