As a child I was very creative and mischievous, recording radio shows, writing songs, singing, dancing and putting on grand musical performances at bus- stops in return for sweets from my regular audience. Having an audience was a bit of a big deal. I took my creativity with me everywhere, until the age of 27, when my world came grinding to a halt. In 2007 I contracted a rare illness which doctors could not fathom. On one of my regular visits to A&E I stopped breathing, my body emptied itself of oxygen and for a couple of seconds I was no more. I wasn’t ready to go anywhere, I hadn’t yet given my grand performance and I’d be damned if a little thing like having no oxygen was going to make me extinct. My body rebooted and I was back. It took me a year however to get back to some kind of normality, all my creativity was gone and I was literally surviving.
Every strategist knows that where there is a problem there is a solution, you just have to have the determination to find it. In the words of Jack Sparrow, “the problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem”. While I could no longer write, sing or dance I thought there had to be another way I could express my creativity. Some way that I could step outside of the protective comfort zone that the illness had created and push myself forward, push my imagination forward, break the barriers that were blocking my creativity and do more than just survive.
“Move out of your comfort zone, you can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new” Brian Tracy
One serendipitous day, three random strangers stopped me and asked me if I had trained as a make up artist. What a puzzling question, I hadn’t but I did love make up. I took the hint that the universe was trying to provide me and that night I enrolled to study make up artistry. I was absolutely out of my comfort zone, I was the oldest in the class, I had to endure going to class without make up, many girls will relate to this pain. I often went for lunch in the city with my class half a face displaying a natural look the other half false eyelashes and a night time party look, I’m sure I looked a sight but I was in the zone where the magic happens and my creativity was back.
Eight years later, outside of my role as advertising strategy & insights manager for INM, I’m a qualified freelance make up artist whose work has been published internationally. I’ve worked on numerous productions from fashion shows, pageants, photo-shoots, album covers and TV. To look at a human canvas and be able to enhance a person’s natural beauty is such a great honour and believe it or not there are some similarities between the world of make up and the world of strategy.
Both worlds operate under extremely tight deadlines especially if it’s a fashion show that you’re working on or a last minute pitch. Every client in both worlds has their own style, their own strategy, their own idea of what they are trying to achieve. Audience is a big deal in both worlds. Who are your audience and how does the product fit to show your client in their best possible light, to be the best that they can be?
Believe it or not there is a correct sequence for applying make up to facilitate minimal mistakes. The same applies when you undertake to find the right product match for a client based on audience segmentation and analysis. Let me leave you with a few beauty tips on make up application and a few key tips on matching audience to the right product and remember in every walk of life step outside your comfort zone, that’s where the magic happens.
Step 1: Base – Preparation is key
In make up application we start with the base (primer) in advertising insights we start with the base (audience)
Step 2: Eyes – The window to the soul – what are we looking for?
In make up, after the preparation of the skin we start on the eyes, this allows us to use deep colours on the lids without having eye shadow fallout stick to your foundation. In advertising insights we deep dive into figures to gain sight of what products match our clients’ audience, we then find a match to what the client is looking for.
Step 3: Concealer / Contouring – Eliminate what’s not relevant
At this point in the make up sequence we eliminate any blemishes and fallout from eye shadow. In advertising insights we eliminate the products we know are not the right fit for the clients’ audience and strategically choose the best matches.
Step 4: Foundation – Colour
In both industries we now start to build the picture, providing the colour to the canvas and the substance to audience/product fit.
Step 5: Powder – Setting
We are now ready to set our work and cement the look or audience match that our preparation and foundation have provided.
Step 6: Blusher – Liven complexion
It’s not enough to do the basics; the basics can be bland and are no different to the person next door or publisher next door in the case of advertising. We need to inject colour, highlight our clients’ best assets and ensure that they shine.
Step 7: Lipstick – For a finished look matched to your tone
We’ve created the look; we’ve created the tone, we’ve matched audience to the right products but in both cases we like to provide a 360 degree approach, ensuring that the client receives everything that they need for a finished look, for success.
Step 8: Brows – Definition
Once we have finished we take a step back and assess our offering to the client, we then allow the product to client match dictate how much final definition is required. We define what makes us different to the competitor and why we are the perfect match for the clients overall look or strategy.
“Fitting in is a short term strategy, standing out pays off in the long run” Seth Godin
Go out there and be amazing