Blanche Macdonald Centre News from Blanche Macdonald Centre MAKEUP GRAD SHAINA AZAD BLENDS ARTISTRY, ENTERTAINMENT AND INNOVATION Top Makeup School Graduate Shaina Azad

Shaina Azad takes the business of Makeup seriously.

That’s how she’s succeeded across multiple disciplines since graduating from Canada’s Top Makeup School. She’s continually busy working with Indian Bridal and Beauty clients. She launched and is selling her own cosmetic line, SUVA Beauty, around the world. She’s working on sets for commercials seen across Canada and beyond. And she’s teaching at Blanche Macdonald. 

On top of all this, Shaina somehow finds the time to run a popular YouTube makeup tutorial channel. Which is where you realize that there’s a huge difference between taking your work seriously and taking yourself seriously. 

“I have no problems making fun of myself,” admits Shaina. “I’m quirky, try to be funny, and speak my mind. I want people to know me as an artist and understand my personality. I specialise in Indian bridal, but I want to show that I can do everything else. I’ve had people stop me and take photos in the street. So bizarre!” 

Great artistry paired with a natural gift for comedy is a potent combination. A YouTube rant about frustrating counter service is what persuaded ABC Producer Glenn Ruppel to contact Shaina for her highest profile appearance so far, inviting her to New York to share some of the less ethical tricks some cosmetics salespeople use as part of a special feature on the channel’s flagship news magazine show, 20/20.

Top Makeup School Graduate Shaina Azad

“When Glenn emailed me out of the blue I thought it was a joke. Why would an ABC producer want to contact me? But it was real. They flew me to New York, put me up in the Empire Hotel and gave me a private driver to show me around.

“We filmed the piece in Staten Island. I had no idea what to expect before the filming began. There were hidden cameras all around. I’d never seen the products before and had to sell it to passers by. I was so nervous. But I got into character and sold it. All my tricks worked. For every 15 people I stopped, 12 handed me money.”

Shaina can be persuasive. She’s been that way since she first discovered the transformative and social power of makeup.

“I always wanted to be an artist. In Fifth Grade I won the Artist of the Year Award with a rendition of a Picasso painting. When I was a junior in high school some of the Grade 12 girls came into the drama room looking for makeup. I announced, ‘I do makeup!’ It could have gone horribly wrong, but it turned out amazing! I thought, ‘This is great!’”

Shaina was studying International Relations and Foreign Policy Making at university when she decided to take the part-time Introduction to Makeup program then offered at Blanche Macdonald. 

“I’d heard about Blanche Macdonald and knew people who had gone there. I had Lesley Opheim as my instructor and it was great. I figured I could work at MAC on the weekends. Which I did, right after I graduated. That was awesome. Leah Elliston was my MAC trainer on my first day. I remember thinking she was absolutely stunning!”

Top Makeup School Graduate Shaina Azad

Like Leah, Shaina eventually joined the faculty at Blanche Macdonald. But not before she’d spent a year in Cairo as a journalist and marketing consultant, refining her artistry at weekends with grateful Egyptian brides. Determined to make makeup her career, Shaina returned to Canada and began hustling her way onto sets for a string of Movies of the Week. 

“Life on set was exciting, new and different. I was so eager to learn and make friends with everyone. I put a lot of work and effort into promoting myself. I would go to events and fashion shows. If I met someone in the film, fashion or beauty industry, I would make sure they knew who I was. I would get their information and follow up with an email. It was a constant hustle. If there was a Makeup Artist I really liked I’d offer to clean their brushes. I bugged Tina Teoli a lot when I was on set with her.”

Shaina was already an in-demand Makeup professional when she returned to Blanche Macdonald to take the full Global Makeup Program. Her aim? Expanding and enhancing her skills even further.

“When it came to TV and Film, prosthetics and airbrushing it was all exciting and new. I learned a lot of new things and connected with so many instructors. Timothy Hung was my fashion instructor and I loved his 20-minute drills. CJ Wills was one of my favourites too. I still call her if I have questions about the industry. She has a wealth of knowledge.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Shaina Azad

Life’s been a whirlwind for Shaina since graduating Blanche Macdonald the second time. The Bridal Makeup specialist became a bride herself. And professionally, she’s never been busier.

“Most weekends I’ll have a bunch of clients for parties or weddings. I’m getting bookings from all over the place. I was flown to Mexico to do the makeup for one wedding. That’s a big Indian wedding trend right now. Another bride is coming from Ontario just to see me. I’ll have a couple of shoots, either commercial or music videos during the week. I worked on a Budweiser commercial with Janice Drew that ran during the Sochi Olympics and was the key artist on another ad for the FIFA Women’s World Cup with the Canadian Women’s Soccer team. I was able to do the makeup and hair for Christine Sinclair. Girls came on set and would literally cry when they saw her. She’s an icon! And a very confident woman.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Shaina Azad

It’s no coincidence that both the World Cup and Budweiser commercials featured a certain new makeup line. Shaina’s as much an entrepreneur as she is an artist. 

“I’ve had SUVA Beauty in my mind for the past two years. I’ve been doing my research, connecting with people, putting together ingredients and testing. After the 20/20 feature it seemed like the right time to put it into action. Now I have a cosmetics line!

“I wanted a high quality, pro-grade brand that everyone could use. I went through plenty of sample batches and had countless sleepless nights. It has a built in primer that actually works! It’s the perfect product. For example, on set you never want your shimmers to mix with your mattes. You don’t want shimmer on camera. Our shimmers will never mix with the mattes because of their formulations and because they’re on two separate pallets. Now we’re selling it online all over the world.”

Innovator and inventor, Shaina has also patented her own brush case.

“One of my biggest frustrations was that my hard-earned dollars I spent on brushes were wasted when the brush hairs were caught in the case. So, I created a really cool and innovative magnetic retractable brush case that looks sleek, is efficient and amazingly functional!”

Top Makeup School Graduate Shaina Azad

Whether she’s beautifying clients, shining on sets or developing products and marketing strategies for SUVA Beauty, none of it would be possible without a can-do attitude. Which is what makes her an ideal candidate to teach the next generation of Makeup Superstars at Blanche Macdonald.

“Yes, there have been emotional goodbyes at the end of classes! I love imparting knowledge. I’ve kept in touch with many of my students and a few have become part of my beauty team. My students know that they can always call or email me if they need advice or a reference. 

“The makeup industry is unpredictable. It’s fun booking amazing gigs, whether it’s Indian weddings or music videos. But it’s a serious business every single day. I tell my students, if you work hard, put in the time and effort, and stay humble, the sky’s the limit.”

Shaina Azad's Top 5 Makeup Must-haves!

Tue, 12 May 2015 00:00:00 PST

For budding hair stylists and entrepreneurs searching for inspiration, look no further than Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair and Makeup graduate Sarah Krook. Her personal and professional journey has taken her across much of Western Canada, eventually landing in Victoria, BC. Which is where, when presented with a chance to open her own salon, she seized the opportunity. Now Sarah heads a team of six stylists at one of Victoria’s greenest and fastest-growing salons: its name, appropriately enough, Inspire Hair Design. 

“Our idea was to have a salon that was as eco-friendly as possible,” enthuses Sarah. “Our whole mentality is beauty with an eco-conscious mind. We just celebrated our two-year anniversary and it’s been amazing! We started with just two stylists and took on more people from there. We put a lot of thought into who we wanted to bring into the team. Every one of our stylists are wonderfully talented and genuine, awesome people. I feel like every hairstyle that walks out the door has my stamp of approval.” 

Top Hair School Graduate Sarah Krook, Inspire Hair Design in Victoria

Managing a thriving business in a big city like Victoria comes naturally to Sarah. Still, she’s not forgotten her small town roots. 

“I grew up on Quadra Island, three hours North of Victoria. I don’t think there was a hair stylist on the Island when I was growing up. At 12 I moved to Port Hardy. I started picking up my first beauty influences from my friends there. I remember inviting a couple of the girls on our volleyball team over and colouring their hair with red box dye in my bathroom. The results were, let’s say, questionable. And my bathroom looked like a murder scene!”

Sarah was living in North Vancouver when her friend Faye Alexander became the first member of her social circle to take the Makeup Program at Blanche Macdonald. Sarah volunteered to be Faye’s model for the Hair Module of the Makeup Program. What she experienced opened her eyes to an entire world of possibilities. 

“I fell in love with it,” explains Sarah. “What Faye could create was crazy. She introduced me to the world of Kevyn Aucoin and his book, Making Faces. I saw what you could do with makeup. It was so fascinating to me.”

Sarah enrolled on the Makeup Program. She loved it, of course, and was pleasantly surprised to discover the instant confidence she felt with a different kind of brush in her hand.

“In the Makeup Program there was a six-week hair course. I just felt like I had a natural ability for it. One of the instructors, Sharlene Gill, came into our classroom and told us that she needed some help with hair for a wedding. My teachers put my name forward. That gave me so much confidence!

“Honey Dawn Faircrest was my one of our instructors. When she was grading our final projects she told me that mine was camera ready. I never forgot that. I put everything I had into the hair of that final so it felt awesome knowing that an industry professional thought that it was that good.”

Top Hair School Graduate Sarah Krook, Inspire Hair Design Victoria

These were the days before Blanche Macdonald had begun its industry-leading Pro Hair Program. Which was fine for Sarah, who was happily starting her beauty industry career as a Makeup Artist.

“I moved to Lloydminster, Alberta following a boy and got a job on the Clinique counter. That’s when I received a letter from Blanche Macdonald saying that they were starting a hair program. I moved straight back to Vancouver to start the program and left the boy in Lloydminster!”

Sarah remains a proud member of Blanche Macdonald’s very first Pro Hair class.

“We couldn’t have been luckier,” she insists. “We got to work so closely with [Program Director] Phil Loiselle. To be able to work with someone who doesn’t just know hair, but the business with it, was amazing. I was always the first person in class and the last person to leave. It was so exciting for me. I was able to be creative. It was great!

Top Hair School Graduate Sarah Krook, Inspire Hair Design Victoria

“One of the biggest things that Phil taught us was that 50% of the job is the technical aspect of hair and the other half, maybe the more important half, is how you connect with people. If clients are comfortable they can tell you what they’d like you to work on, what they’re happy and not happy with. He stressed that from the beginning. People didn’t know Blanche Macdonald had a Hair School back then so we had to learn how to persuade people to come sit in our chairs. This was before the Q&A salon at CurliQue opened. That’s phenomenal! It’s such a beautiful facility. I’m sure they get lots of walk-ins straight from the street.”

Sarah graduated and was instantly on the floor of salons in North Vancouver, then Port Hardy and eventually Calgary, where a volunteer job provided a connection that would change her life.

“I responded to an ad for a volleyball team looking for an assistant coach. Kathryn Genereux was the head coach of the team. We became good friends instantly. She’d had a lot of terrible experiences at salons and felt that she could never connect with her stylists. I started doing her hair and she could see the passion I had for it.

“Soon after that I was visiting my family in Victoria. It was minus 40 in Calgary and warm and sunny in Victoria so I decided to stay!”

Visiting Calgary for the Stampede, Sarah was reconnecting with Kathryn when a friendly brunch morphed into a life-altering business meeting.

“Kathryn announced that she was moving to Victoria, told me that she wanted to invest in a small business and that small business was me! Of course I said yes!”

Top Hair School Graduate Sarah Krook, Inspire Hair Design in Victoria

Two and half years later, the ideas discussed over that brunch have turned into Inspire Hair Design. As the head stylist and one half of the business partnership, every day Sarah is implementing the lessons she learned at Hair School, especially when it comes to recruiting and training her team. 

“Attitude and personality are the most important things. Skill and the drive to do this is a close second. I still talk to Phil and Jeff Ranger every three or four months. When we were starting Inspire I would ask them questions about everything to do with salons, licensing and getting the business running and they’d always get back to me with the right answer. It was Phil who first pointed me towards Davines, which is our primary line. Phil said we would have the best education and support with Jessica Ruth, their amazing representative, in our corner. He was right! She created the Ambassador program, which lets me participate in Davines educator training classes in Vancouver. There I get to work closely with some pretty fantastic Davines Educators like Ana Luisa Valdes. She’s the perfect example of someone who loves what they do. 

“Right now I’m concentrating on the business development side of things – growing our social media, and arranging a spring/summer photo shoot. But I love seeing clients too, knowing the details of their lives and getting their looks perfect. I never want to lose that connection. The creative side is great. A few days ago I turned a rainbow Mohawk into a lavender Mohawk. An all-over colour correction is so fun and exciting!”

Sarah is refining that balance between business and creativity as Inspire Hair Design continues to grow. Part of that task is leading and building the next generation of stylists and entrepreneurs. In her mind, it all begins with education.

“The first thing is go to a good school. Coming from Blanche Macdonald and having dabbled in the fun and creative sides of cutting and colour made such a difference. It helped me build my clientele really quickly. 

“You also need passion. As much as I love the creativity of being a hair stylist, I do this because I get to make people feel good. Then they pass that positive energy onto the next person they meet. When that happens I feel like I’ve done my part!”

Hairstylist Sarah Krook's Top 5 Pro Product Picks 

Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 PST

Creativity. Character. Commitment. 

Rebeccah Delchambre understands what it takes to reach the top of the Film and TV Makeup industry. The Blanche Macdonald graduate has a long list of major movies, TV series, Leo Awards and Emmy Nominations on her résumé and is now in her second year as the Co-chairperson of the Makeup Department of the IATSE Local 891 Union in British Columbia and the Yukon.

As Designer, Head of Department, Key Makeup Artist or part of the team for projects including Elf, The A-Team, Alcatraz, Scary Movie 4, The Chronicles of Narnia, Are We Done Yet, Freddy vs Jason, and dozens more, it’s no surprise that Rebeccah has tales to tell. She’s a natural storyteller.

Her own story began in England with a talented fine artist for a mother and an inspiring drama teacher. At 11 years old Rebeccah and her mother moved to Toronto, launching an incredible behind-the-scenes journey in film and television.

“My Mom, Dinah Delchambre, is one of the best artists I’ve ever met,” promises Rebeccah. “She would go on set and paint portraits that would appear in the movies. That gave me a taste for film. I had opportunities to work behind the camera doing art pieces for the sets and storyboards, then in front of the camera doing background work, which led to an agent, and auditions. I soon realized I loved film with every cell in my body. However, I just found acting wasn’t as fulfilling as some other aspects of theatre and film. I’d done some makeup on myself and other cast members in theatre. I decided that I wanted do more.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Rebeccah Delchambre

Rebeccah had left Toronto and headed west to become part of Vancouver’s booming film and TV industry. With a job at The Body Shop, she was using her self-taught makeup skills every day. Even then, Rebeccah knew she was never going to master her art without learning from the best. The time had come to find an industry-recognized Makeup School.

“I asked around and people I respected had gone to Blanche Macdonald. My experience at Makeup School was great. Jennifer Folk was one of my instructors. I honestly wasn’t thinking about becoming a TV and Film Makeup Artist. I just thought that I should try it out and see if it fit.

“I loved doing a beauty makeup, playing with ideas and the interaction, but my favourite element of the program was character building in the TV and film classes. Creating characters was what inspired me. I still have the binders and all the work I did at Blanche Macdonald!”

Rebeccah immediately took a position working at The Bay for Niko Cosmetics, and was soon headhunted by Dior. As her retail career was blossoming, Rebeccah was learning about the wide variety of products now available to her, trying them out and exploring new creative avenues.

“I would do makeup wherever I could,” she laughs. “The doors started to open. I volunteered at The Carousel and Arts Club Theatre Companies. I would do fashion shows at Holt Renfrew. I wanted to do everything. My attitude was ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ When I wasn’t earning money to pay the bills I would take any opportunity that came up.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Rebeccah Delchambre

Those opportunities included music videos and short movies for the UBC Film Program. As the Head of Department on those shorts, Rebeccah brought her positive attitude to the challenge.

“At The Bay we were taught the phrase, ‘Yes I can.’ I still think like that. Let’s make it happen! In one UBC film the actress had to burn a cigarette out on her hand, which is a big effect fresh out of school considering the safety of the actress. I took a blister plaster and glued tin foil under it, applied it to the palm of her hand, covered it in latex and coloured it. Voila! A safe and dramatic out of kit effect! That’s how my career has been ever since. You give me a problem. I do my best to figure it out. I still love pulling the rabbit out of the hat.” 

It didn’t take long for Rebeccah to become a member of the IATSE Film and TV union. As her role in major shows’ Makeup Departments began to grow, so did her library of great stories.

“I’ve had so many great jobs working as part of a big team of talented people. Freddy vs Jason was a super campy matchup of two iconic characters. It was mayhem. Sometimes we worked so hard I didn’t remember driving home, which from a safety standpoint is not a good thing! Working with Bill Terezakis on his team was amazing. On the second unit we were taking care of Freddy’s stunt double Doug Chapman, Ken Kirzinger, who played Jason, and his stunt double, Glenn Ennis. There were no limits to the blood letting. It was epic!” 

Top Makeup School Graduate Rebeccah Delchambre

“On The Santa Clause 2 I was teamed up with Leanne Podavin to do the Stunt Santa, and stunt Toy Santa. Another memorable moment! It was so great to work with Barry Koper and Charles Porlier who took care of Tim Allen’s transformations.

“Meeting challenges on shows for various Head of Departments has given me a wealth of experience that I treasure and a great resource that I bring to work every day. On the TV movie Murder Unveiled as the Head of Department I coordinated the design of ventilated facial hairpieces for Sikh characters with wig maker Stacey Butterworth. Our big challenge was to conceal the lace from the eyes of the new High Definition cameras. I won a Leo for this job! On Elf I applied elf ears, a gnome makeup and fun aging makeups on little kids’ hands for Victoria Down. On Scary Movie 3 and 4 we did all sorts of fun gags like a scalping and laying in extra chest and armpit hair for Taylor Roberts. 

“On Steven Spielberg’s mini-series Taken I was creating aging makeups over three generations with Charles and Patricia Murray. We received an Emmy nomination for that. And of course, working on Howard Berger’s team in New Zealand for The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe was an out of this world opportunity and such a fantastic project.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Rebeccah Delchambre

Rebeccah is rightfully proud of her incredible work. But even more illuminating than her behind-the-scenes stories are her insights into what makes a successful movie makeup artist.

“We work in such small spaces. We’re next to each other all day long, so we need to be able to work together, be professional and hopefully enjoy each other’s company in support of what we’re trying to do – tell the story. We need to be able to get along as part of a big team. Finding a graceful way to do that with positive energy will take people far. If you’re on set smiling, being attentive, honest and showing that you’re able to do what the Head of Department or First Assistant needs, you’ll get the call next time.  Gossiping or grumbling won’t serve anyone. You can be on set for 18 hours on the side of a mountain in the pouring rain. It’s not glamorous. It takes an inspired and passionate person to be on set.”

Think that Beauty and Film and TV Makeup are two separate disciplines? Rebeccah will convince you otherwise.

“Makeup effects are the same as beauty makeups foundationally,” she insists. “The principles are the same with how you build your structure, the use of highlight and shadow, layering of colours and then finer painterly elements that create a look that’s organically part of the face. You’re telling the story with paint, brushes and sometimes appliances. Beauty and prosthetic makeups complement each other and both have complimented my growth as an artist. A prosthetic, a bald cap, covering a tattoo, beauty, it’s all the same to me. It’s about doing what’s needed.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Rebeccah Delchambre

Rebeccah is now doing what’s needed in the role of IATSE Co-Chairperson for a second year. When she’s reviewing union permittee applications, she’s searching for talented, motivated and creative artists to join the IATSE 891 membership.

“There are ebbs and flows in Vancouver for makeup opportunities, but if you’re a go-getter, organized, professional and have a positive attitude you will go far. To become a permittee grads need experience on set. They need to build their experience and show the ability to work well with different people and in varied work situations. I was insanely enthusiastic and would not be deterred. Whatever I was working on, I would give it my all.” 

One last amazing thing about Rebeccah, alongside her incredible experience and stories, is her generosity when it comes to sharing her knowledge. And although you have to be an IATSE member or permittee to attend one of her master classes, everyone is welcome to her wisdom. You just have to ask. 

Top Makeup School Graduate Rebeccah Delchambre's Top 5 Favourite Products

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Tue, 14 Apr 2015 00:00:00 PST

We are on opposite ends of our daylight. As the sun makes its morning spill into the streets of Vancouver, in Hong Kong it is already past one a.m. the next day. Despite the late hour, the voice coming through the speakers is bright – radiating energy. This doesn’t come as a surprise from Blanche Macdonald Fashion Merchandising graduate Brian Chan – after all, you would probably be chipper too if work meant spending your day in the smooth gloss of mega-luxury shop Louis Vuitton, in Hong Kong’s premiere Times Square shopping district.

“As a Visual-Merchandiser-In-Charge, I conceptualize the store, design the layout and arrange the presentation of the collections. It’s definitely fun but with great power, comes great responsibility,” says Chan, dropping his voice ominously before cracking into a laugh. “I take a big fashion risk every rotation. Sometimes they’re rewarding, and sometimes they’re not right-away, but they always teach me something!

“At Louis Vuitton, we do things a little bit differently; I hold many responsibilities within the store. I look at reports every day from all over Hong Kong and we compare the products or the product lines that are doing well, and those that are doing not-so-well at each location. For Visual Merchandising I lead a team of twelve people to do window and store rotations. We use my insights from the reports to decide on a merchandising plan.”

Top Fashion School Graduate Brian Chan

Such a position requires a deft maneuvering of a wide array of skill sets. The interplay of hands-on creativity and business is one that Brian thrives in as Visual Merchandiser In-Charge, Client Advisor, and In-Store Trainer at Vuitton, but there is a lot of hard work, as well as a diligent awareness to his everyday.

“Perspective varies with different people, and even if there’s a guideline for you to follow it will never work for every single store, in every single moment. You have to truly understand what or who you are dealing with in order to put something together that is an effective business driver. You have to be well-rounded. As a Client Advisor you learn quite a lot about the customers’ buying patterns. It definitely helps with making both business and visual decisions!”

The importance of versatility in the diverse industry-meets-artistry of Fashion was instilled in Brian at Canada’s Top Fashion School. It was a life-changing decision that came about through unusual beginnings.

Top Fashion School Graduate Brian Chan

“I thought that my parents would want me to study a science, so I just went for it. I chose Geology because of two big reasons: one, that it was the most non-scientific science and two, because it was the least math-involved,” laughs Brian.

“I knew that I wouldn’t be able to survive six months in the field when I graduated. Still, I stuck to the program and I finished the degree, but I knew that I needed to pursue something that I really liked afterwards. I watched a lot of Fashion Television growing up; mass media really opened up my eyes to something new that was going on in this world. At the time I had a part time position at a boutique, and one of my coworkers had gone to Blanche Macdonald. I looked into the Fashion Merchandising program and decided that that was what I needed to do.”

It was a big shift that would go on to bring big, thrilling changes for Brian. Seizing at every volunteer opportunity on offer while he was at school (“Working runways and events... there were so many things that I wouldn’t have been able to try had I not gone to Blanche!”) it was one internship in particular, secured through Fashion Career Director Mel Watts, that set the wheels turning on what would become an international luxury career – a coveted slot in the Menswear department of Holt Renfrew with Tom Ford.

Top Fashion School Graduate Brian Chan

Brian’s devotion and passion for the sales floor quickly led him to being hired on as a seasonal employee for Holt Renfrew’s Louis Vuitton nook, scaling the ladder to a full-time position within months. His new high calibre setting meant high calibre run-ins.

“Vancouver is Hollywood North and so we had lots of celebrities that would come in. I’ve helped one very undercover one. You won’t usually be able to tell who they are until they come up to pay – they’re very low key. We do have stories where we have had to shut down the store for them to shop, though. It does happen!”

In addition to providing ample opportunities for celebrity sightings, Vancouver’s luxury retail scene groomed him for the next leap of his career. Brian took initiative and asked for an international transfer; the Louis Vuitton team, recognizing his talents in Visual Merchandising, supported him all the way. Off he soared to China’s buzzing core.  

“You might think otherwise, but there is not a huge difference between Vancouver and Hong Kong in terms of customer. It’s intensified; let’s put it that way. In Hong Kong, like in Vancouver, we need to cater to a high percentage of overseas clientele. It means faster service, and attention to their specific needs. Though, Hong Kong’s out-of-town Chinese clients do prefer more flashy items; they want obvious Louis Vuitton rather than the subtle Vuitton of Vancouver.”

Top Fashion School Graduate Brian Chan

Beyond market profiling, Brian’s not much concerned with comparing the two cities; he is head over heels with where he is at, and infinitely grateful for the beginnings that brought him there.

“I am very blessed to have lots of friends and family around. I grew up in Hong Kong, so working here is like coming home. All the same, I still consider myself a Canadian!

“To this day, my Fashion History classes with Peggy and Donna are very valuable to me, and I really appreciate their teachings! Because of them, I know what La Belle Epoque is, I know what Art Deco is, I know about Art Nouveau. When I was training for the store I was able to use the correct terms, understand the concept, and bring in tear sheets for my team to be inspired by. Fashion is always taking inspiration from the eras before us; and this is especially true for Louis Vuitton.”

For anyone with monograms and dreams of lush window dressings twinkling in their eyes, Brian urges them to go for Fashion gold.

“Don’t be scared. It’s always hard to take that first step, especially when you know that that internship or volunteer opportunity isn’t necessarily going to pay you. However, it’s bringing you a lot of experience, exposure, and expertise. Try it, do it, and it will definitely be rewarding in the future. It really helps to have a good network - build it up with your volunteering, your classmates, your teachers. And don’t be a meanie. Be a good person.

“It takes a lot of work, but if you really love luxury brands and retail, then you can make it happen at Louis Vuitton!”

Top Fashion School Graduate Brian Chan

Top Fashion School Graduate Brian Chan Top 5

Tue, 24 Mar 2015 00:00:00 PST

The phone never stops ringing.

Every five minutes, without fail, Jesse Hamade’s in-store cellphone bleeps into life. That’s entirely normal for one of the three Cosmetics Sales Managers at the Vancouver branch of Holt Renfrew, Canada’s leading luxury department store. She’s in high demand.

The continual stream of questions and requests doesn’t faze Jesse in the slightest. An ability to deal calmly with the issues at hand comes with the territory.

“It’s chaos!” she laughs when we bring up the question of what a typical day at Holt Renfrew looks like. “This store has the highest volume of sales in Canada. We have 80 associates in our department and if I’m the only manager on duty it gets busy. My phone is always on and my team is always calling me for something. I’m dealing with vendors, buyers and our staff on any customer service or development issue. I never know what I’m walking into. It’s crazy but enjoyable. My day is never boring.”

Jesse is Holt Renfrew’s Cosmetics and Skincare department’s swan, gliding serenely on the surface but working hard underneath all the same. And a major part of that work is ensuring that Holt Renfrew’s many associates are as well-prepared and supported as possible. 

“To me luxury means that our associates come first,” she explains. “We don’t throw people on the floor without an extensive training program. We want to do everything we can to help our staff succeed. My door is always open. There’s a lot of mentorship that happens.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Jesse Hamade

Jesse is happy to provide that mentorship, but it all starts with recruiting talented and enthusiastic makeup artists and skincare specialists. Which is why, when Jesse is looking for new recruits, her first port of call is the same Makeup and Esthetics School where her own story began.

“We want commitment, drive and a desire to give great customer service. We want people who’ll go above and beyond and get their clients to keep coming back. Blanche Macdonald gave me a great start to my career and there’s still a connection there. Their grads know how to sell themselves really well. When I call Jen Brown and Heather Sosa in the Blanche Macdonald Career Department I can tell that they care and really want their students to succeed. Not every school is like that.”

Jesse speaks from experience. The programs, instructors and even the location may have changed, but Blanche Macdonald’s educational standards remain as impeccable as they were when she was a student. 

Top Makeup School Graduate Jesse Hamade

“My Mom studied esthetics in Paris for a year. Once she told me about her experiences the bug had been planted. Through my teens I was always doing my friends’ makeup for graduations. I would tell people, ‘That doesn’t look good. You should try this.’

“Blanche Macdonald was known as the best School even back then. I arrived thinking of taking the Makeup program. But when I spoke with Robyne Nessel-Smoot she thought I’d benefit from the Esthetics program. She was right! It ended up being more of a passion for me than makeup. The skincare portion of the program was like the first year of nursing. That was my favourite part of the program. I was learning about all the systems of the body. It was more than learning about just putting on makeup or skincare products. There’s a science behind skincare.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Jesse Hamade

Esthetics School gave Jesse more than an education. It also provided the springboard for her entry into the industry she was passionate about.

“When I was still a student I did a facial on a woman called Peggy Sinclair who had come in on a friends and family day. She said to me, ‘When you graduate call me and I’ll get you a job.’ And she did! My first job was doing facials for her at The Bay Downtown. Strangely enough, now Peggy works here!

“Once I started working I loved the one-on-one intimacy between myself and the client. I realised that I was good at it too. I would get great feedback from clients and could see how happy they were. I would educate myself on the products’ ingredients, what each one could do for my individual clients, and how it would make them feel as they saw their skin improve. Changing the way a woman feels about herself, and knowing that you played a part in that, is huge.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Jesse Hamade

Jesse loved the industry and the industry loved her right back. With her interpersonal and skincare skills paired with a flair for sales and marketing, Jesse was repeatedly recruited to exciting management roles, stopping at Adrien Arpel, Clarins, Elizabeth Arden and Chanel at Eatons where she stayed for five years, eventually rising to the position of Business Development Manager overseeing the entire cosmetics floor. When Eatons closed its doors the industry wasn’t going to let her talents go to waste. Jesse was immediately recruited for the same position at Sears.

“I loved it. I was in my 20s and had 80 associates working for me, many of whom were older than me. I had to prove myself, but I could always generate the dollars. I could always come up with events that would help drive business. I wasn’t sitting in an office then and I’m still not. Even now as a Sales Manager, I don’t have to sell to clients but I always do. That doesn’t change.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Jesse Hamade

Always eager to take on new challenges, Jesse took a lengthy break from the beauty industry to sample working life in another field she’s passionate about – fashion. After many successful years across Eastern Canada with Louis Vuitton, Le Chateau and BCBG, Holt Renfrew in Ottawa came knocking on her door. Now Jesse’s back in Vancouver, bringing her mix of motivation and marketing to one of the city’s most luxurious cosmetics departments.

“I’m still fascinated with coming up with marketing plans and how I can help get the associates to the next level. There’s an art to selling and an art to repeat business. Associates have to understand that this is a business and it’s not just about putting makeup and skincare on people. You need to build a loyal client base. You have to be passionate about what you do.

“This has never been a job for me. It’s a career! There is opportunity to grow. I love showing the team that if they put in the hard work they’ll get the rewards. They understand that I started at the beginning and eventually became a manager. They know they can do the same!”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Jesse Hamade Top 5 Products

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Mon, 16 Mar 2015 00:00:00 PST