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Blanche Macdonald

Grad Success


LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! A BEHIND THE SCENES PEEK INTO LIFE WITH BLANCHE MACDONALD'S BEST & BRIGHTEST FASHION SCHOOL GRADUATES

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Vancouver, A.K.A. Hollywood North, is home to towering mountains, lush rainforests and stunning ocean views. It’s a small slice of filming heaven which has helped make the past year one of the busiest and most exciting in Canada’s Film and TV history. In and around Vancouver you can find alien invasions and fairy tale endings, Super Hero battles and monster truck adventures. It was a blockbuster year that saw studio space become limited due to an ever-expanding line up of productions from X-Files and Prison Break reboots to comic book juggernauts ArrowSupergirl and The Flash fighting crime across the Lower Mainland. In a historic move Hollywood studio giant Skydance opened up one of the world’s longest and tallest stages right here on the West Coast, breathing Altered Carbon to life in Netflix’s biggest creative endeavor yet! With impressive scenery, diverse shooting locales and an incredibly talented pool of TV and film crew, the decision to utilize everything British Columbia has to offer was an easy one.

Vancouver boasts some of the world’s best TV and Film Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists, a previously exclusive club that’s now parting the ropes as high demand for their skills continues to skyrocket. With our city playing host to gruesome hits like SupernaturaliZombie and Deadpool our Blanche Macdonald Hair and Makeup family is beyond busy creating epic looks and winning major awards. In the past year they have been recognized with multiple Emmy, Canadian Screen Awards and Leo Awards for their outstanding work and dedication to their craft. The diversity of the abilities throughout our Fashion scene is becoming more involved and the Film & TV industry is taking note! They are scouting local talent and our contribution is only growing. From Vancouver to Prince George, film productions dotted the landscape in this momentous year and Blanche Macdonald graduates and instructors were lucky enough to take on leading roles.

At the forefront of many of the main costuming jobs that roll through Vancouver is Blanche Macdonald Costuming for TV & Film instructor Derek Baskerville. As an industry veteran with titles like I, RobotUntold Stories of the ER and Wedding Bells behind him, Derek has an innate understanding of all the demands and responsibilities that come with a role in the costume department of any production. He also has an excellent eye for those students of his who possess such gritty sparkle. Students such as Fashion Marketing graduate Madison Douglas, who is excelling as an assistant to Derek on a number of his upcoming projects! Luckily for our Fashion Marketing and Design students, Derek is also an extraordinary mentor and has placed many Blanche Macdonald Fashion students and graduates behind the scenes of multiple productions.

“One of my greatest pleasures when hiring Blanche Macdonald graduates is that within a very short time they make themselves indispensable with their willingness to take it all on, ‘own it’ and have fun at the same time. In the industry we are always looking for people with fresh ideas and ways to make challenges work while working on tight timelines.  We are looking for people who bring enthusiasm, courage and a positive attitude when they join a new costuming team!”


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BLANCHE MACDONALD FREELANCE MAKEUP GRADUATE AJ WOODWORTH BRINGS SOPHISTICATION TO YALETOWN WITH THE GLAMOURY

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Makeup is different for everyone. For some, it’s designated to special occasions; for others, it’s an essential daily routine. For Blanche Macdonald Freelance graduate AJ Woodworth, it’s a sacred ritual, deserving of respect in an appropriate space and environment. Upon graduating from Canada’s #1 Makeup School, that’s exactly what she set out to create. AJ’s dreams of a private and comfortable makeup studio have come to fruition in The Glamoury – Yaletown’s newest luxury styling salon.

“Before I did anything in makeup, I was a musician and there were always TV segments, performances or rehearsals that I had to be done up for, usually super early in the morning. I do not go out without my makeup on so the idea of going out to a store to get my makeup done, if they were even open that early, was horrifying. I always wanted something that was really private and that gave the clients an experience, which didn’t exist. So that’s when this idea started to take hold in me.”

With the idea firmly planted, AJ took the plunge and began searching for the perfect location to create her makeup heaven.

“Yaletown was a natural place to be in my mind. I was putting my business plan together and I contacted a leasing agent. I told him what I wanted and he basically told me it would be impossible! Weirdly enough, he called me a few weeks later and was like ‘I found your space!’”

Armed with a business plan and now a place to set it all up, it was time for AJ to decide exactly what aesthetic and feel she wanted her dream studio to take on.

“I can’t take credit for the beauty in here! The one thing I can take credit for is the fact that I knew I wanted something different, something that would make a statement and feel luxurious when you were in it. I knew I wanted lights around the mirrors, lots of privacy – hence the partitions – and an old Hollywood vibe but without the sparkly chandeliers. So I started working with the team at Ste Marie [design studio] and they presented me with this colour palette of reds, eggplant, brass and wallpaper and I just fell in love. They basically took everything I wanted, combined it all and bumped it up 1 million percent! We also worked with Glasfurd & Walker [branding and identity design studio] who did all of our branding and signage.”


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JEWEL FROM JAPAN - MAYUKO TSUJI SPARKLES IN THE CLASSROOM AND ON THE BIG SCREEN

With thousands of artists soaring into our halls from around the world each year, our classrooms have become dynamic global communities under the unitedly diverse banner of our Blanche World – a United Nations of creativity! In a glorious culture clash, our International students import a vibrant collection of new customs, insights and inspiration that colour our world in exciting new ways. The leap from their home countries to our corner of Canada comes with big change, courage and incredible journeys. Speaking in the international language of passion, we sit down with our global talent to talk the dreams that brought them here, the challenges they overcame, and all about the power of being an artistic representative in a new country. Meet the burgeoning stars that have joined us from around the globe in our UN storytelling!

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Global Makeup Graduate Mayuko Tsuji has quietly captivated her audience since day one at Blanche Macdonald. Her charming demeanour, enthusiasm to challenge herself and commitment to learning have been nothing short of inspiring. Quietly brave and fearlessly bold, it's hard to believe this Osaka-native moved all the way to Vancouver on her own - despite speaking very little English.

Mayuko wasted no time getting comfortable, eagerly immersing herself in a new culture and navigating her way through a foreign city. She then settled into her studies at Canada's Top Makeup School where she continued to demonstrate gratitude and benevolence to anyone that crossed her path. Her soft spoken words are articulated with profound sincerity as she recounts her experiences of coming to Canada.

"I am originally from Osaka, Japan. Japan is an incredible country for so many reasons, however, it is a difficult place for an aspiring Makeup Artist. When I was growing up I was very interested in Makeup and I was always reading fashion magazines and watching video tutorials about makeup. I remember this time a friend asked me to do her Makeup. I was surprisingly pleased with the outcome and it was after that experience that I said to myself, 'This job is amazing. I could make people really happy'."


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SHEAR TALENT: PRO HAIR GRAD JASHPER PARAS GUARDIAN OF LOVE AND BEAUTY AT B-BOMBSHELL SALON

They're the pruners of our strands, the keepers of our secrets and the masterminds behind those picture-perfect balayages. These Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair graduates are just getting their feet wet in the whirlwind world of Hair, but already, they're making waves in their new careers. Spanning the scene from stylists and barbers to Pro-Educators and entrepreneurs, our grads own their very own hair salons, hold the hottest seats in top salons, and work behind the scenes to create stunning editorials. Armed with the knowledge of our internationally recognized training, and a pair or two of super-sharp shears, these remarkable individuals have heard the entrepreneurial call of the Hair world and they have answered back. With Contessa Awards and other prestigious national and international competition wins under their collective belts, our grads are climbing the ranks of local and international scenes one snip at a time. It can be hairy, but they're ready for anything!

Top Hair School Graduate Jashper Paras, Stylist at B-Bombshell Salon

What happens when you mix a spot of South Park, a dash of Pokémon and a heaping tablespoon of competitive cheerleading and shake it up with a little somethin’ extra? You get Blanche Macdonald grad and wearer of infinite hair bows Jashper Paras! With such eclectic interests, it’s no surprise that Jashper has found his home at B-Bombshell Salon “Where Geek is Chic.” Jashper is here, in charge and ready to rock your hair world with a dazzling smile that just happens to bring out the cutest dimples you ever did see - and let’s be real, a dramatic cape flourish upon entrance. With a penchant for everything and anything from easy everyday looks to crazy fashion colours, there’s nothing he can’t do - including a darn good bouncy blowout. Skills? Check. Entertaining? Double Check. Enter your new stylist Sailor Jashper Paras: Agent of love, beauty and killer hair days.


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CZECH MATE - GLOBAL MAKEUP CO-OP GRAD EVA SVOBODOVA PLAYS A WINNING MAKEUP GAME

With thousands of artists soaring into our halls from around the world each year, our classrooms have become dynamic global communities under the unitedly diverse banner of our Blanche World – a United Nations of creativity! In a glorious culture clash, our International students import a vibrant collection of new customs, insights and inspiration that colour our world in exciting new ways. The leap from their home countries to our corner of Canada comes with big change, courage and incredible journeys. Speaking in the international language of passion, we sit down with our global talent to talk the dreams that brought them here, the challenges they overcame, and all about the power of being an artistic representative in a new country. Meet the burgeoning stars that have joined us from around the globe in our UN storytelling!

UN Profile: Meet Eva Svobodova, Blanche Macdonald Global Makeup Co-op graduate from Vojkovice, Czech Republic!

Beauty. For Global Makeup graduate Eva Svobodova, it has been a lifelong fascination.

At University in her home country of the Czech Republic, Eva earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree studying the question “What is Beauty?” analyzing the theories of critics, philosophers and art historians who, like Eva, were searching for the answer.

Now, halfway across the world, Eva explores that very same question as a professional Makeup Artist in Vancouver, Canada. Moving from the theoretical to the practical, and from the pen to the brush, Eva creates beauty through her daring and dazzling artistry. Through her bold, colourful work she challenges us to question, to interact with and marvel at the medium of makeup.

In her short career Eva has graced the podium three times at the IMATS (International Makeup Trade Show) Battle of the Brushes, and she is already working as an in-demand Freelance artist for editorial, fashion shoots and films. With all that Eva has achieved just a month after her graduation, you would think she was born a makeup artist. But before she stumbled upon Blanche Macdonald two years ago, she didn’t even know makeup schools existed.

“I was 27 and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was googling one day and I found Blanche Macdonald by chance. I didn’t know you could actually study Makeup Artistry! So when I found out about the school, I knew I wanted to do it.”

UN Profile: Meet Eva Svobodova, Blanche Macdonald Global Makeup Co-op graduate from Vojkovice, Czech Republic!

Eva had always loved art, but she was left unfulfilled by her academic studies at University. Hoping that things would become clearer with a fresh perspective, Eva decided to travel and improve her English. She obtained a work permit for Canada, and landed on the West Coast ready for an adventure. But after a year in Vancouver, the only thing that was clear was that she wanted to remain in Canada. With work permit options exhausted, she decided to apply for a student visa. But to study what?

“I wanted to do something creative,” she recalls. “That was when I discovered Blanche Macdonald. I came and met with a director, read the reviews and it was all great. Everyone was so excited about this Makeup program. The atmosphere was so professional and everyone was so nice. I was really excited. So I said okay, let’s do it! And I am glad I did it!”


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Pro Hair Grad Sabrina Beltrano Styles with Entrepreneurial Spirit

Top Hair School Graduate Sabrina Beltrano

“I love the flexibility of being my own boss,” insists Sabrina Beltrano, relaxing between clients at her professional home at Workshop, one of Downtown Vancouver’s most beloved and fashion forward salons. “I like that I can create my own hours, charge what I want to charge, and use the colour lines that I love. I never want to stop getting more clients. Getting new people in my chair keeps me motivated.”

Staying motivated is never a challenge for Sabrina. The Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair grad runs her own business as one of the independent hair professionals gathered under a single stylish roof at Workshop. A community of creative and entrepreneurial spirits, it’s the perfect spot for stylists who enjoy working and playing by their own rules.

“I didn’t want to be a regular stylist who’d do cuts and colours and then go home,” continues Sabrina. “Renting a chair means it’s my business and my responsibility. That means you have to make sure you’re keeping up on Instagram, Facebook and Craigslist.”

Was a career in hair Sabrina’s destiny? Growing up in Kamloops, BC with a stylist mother meant it was always a distinct possibility, even when other passions took priority. 

“I’ve had pretty much the same hairstyle since I was five. Long and dark! I knew I wanted to follow in my Mom’s footsteps, but I was also a soccer-playing tomboy. I cared about my hair but I cared even more about sports.” 

It didn’t take long after graduating high school to commit to a career in hair. And once that decision had been made the search for the perfect Hair School was swift and effective.

“I wanted to go to the best of the best. I googled ‘Best Hair School’ and Blanche Macdonald came up! I knew that when I would go for interviews employers would see the Blanche name and know that my training was really good.”


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One to Watch: The Future Beckons for Fashion Design Graduate Kirsten Ley

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Kirsten Ley

Kirsten Ley won more than the Award for Overall Achievement at Neon Dreams, this year’s Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design Graduate Show. She also received one of the all-time great compliments from Executive Program Director Peggy Morrison (not someone known for distributing praise lavishly), who declared Kirsten, “the Student of the Decade.”

Since then Kirsten’s been busy preparing to conquer the world with her eponymous label. And it’ll be little surprise if Kirsten Ley becomes a household name in fashionable homes within the next five years. She’s practically Wonder Woman.

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Kirsten Ley

“I get up at 5am every morning and go to bed around 2am every night,” she explains. “When I was in the Fashion Design program at Blanche Macdonald I also had an internship and was teaching yoga every morning. I'm a night owl and a morning person. I find my relaxation and rest practicing yoga. I get enough rejuvenation from that to compliment my sleeping schedule, or lack of one!”

Channelling her endless energy directly from the universe (rather than the traditional method of sleep we mortals use), Kirsten’s intellectual approach to creativity knows few bounds either. Her brilliant graduate collection juxtaposed concepts by matching the constriction of leather body casts with the free-spirited escapism of billowing silks.

“One of the ideas that sparked this collection was my own personal experience,” continues Kirsten. “I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 13 and was put in a back brace for 22 hours a day. I was an actress, dancer and opera singer and the only time I was out of the brace was when I would dance, sing or perform. The dichotomy of the bound leather garments with the flowing silks is like breaking free of the confines I grew up with, which is one reason why I called my collection ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being.’ That’s one of my favourite novels too. Milan Kundera took Nietzsche’s idea of eternal return, which I think is relevant to the cyclical nature of fashion. 

“I’m also intrigued by the way the Victorians drew their anatomy diagrams. These diagrams were not just medical but extremely artistic and beautiful in a grotesque way. I was drawn to them in my own collection. The predominant colour in my collection is oxblood, and I jokingly refer to my leather bodice as a ‘skin suit’ because it reminds me of these Victorian Illustrations and the peeling back of layers of skin to reveal what lies beneath.”


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SHEAR TALENT: PRO HAIR GRAD STEFANIE MIDDLETON'S COLOURFUL WORLD AT XZISTE STUDIO!

They're the pruners of our strands, the keepers of our secrets and the masterminds behind those picture-perfect balayages. These Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair graduates are just getting their feet wet in the whirlwind world of Hair, but already, they're making waves in their new careers. Spanning the scene from stylists and barbers to Pro-Educators and entrepreneurs, our grads own their very own hair salons, hold the hottest seats in top salons, and work behind the scenes to create stunning editorials. Armed with the knowledge of our internationally recognized training, and a pair or two of super-sharp shears, these remarkable individuals have heard the entrepreneurial call of the Hair world and they have answered back. With Contessa Awards and other prestigious national and international competitions under their collective belts, our grads are climbing the ranks of local and international scenes one snip at a time. It can be hairy, but they're ready for anything!

Top Hair School Graduate Stefanie Middleton

If you can’t tell by her huge, lit up smile, Stefanie Middleton LOVES to do hair. Whether she’s turning those dry strands into a luscious moisturized mane or helping you take your fringe to the next level with a funky chop, she’s your girl. But a fresh look isn’t the only thing that Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair grad Stefanie promises. The self-proclaimed “happy hair stylist” looks to keep your strands looking extra silky, but first and foremost to build each client’s confidence higher with each visit to her welcoming chair. Tell us you don’t want in on that deal! Coupled with her tenacity, Stefanie’s desire to create exactly what her clients imagine has naturally placed her on the floor of Xziste Studio, whose mantra is exactly that – respect the utmost importance of the customer’s needs. Daring enough to rock the latest trends on her own hair, Stefanie is at the ready to get your best hair on – and your best self!

 

Blanche Macdonald: What was your favorite part of our Hair program?

Stefanie Middleton: My favorite part of the program was our photo shoots. They were a lot of fun most of the time, but also extremely challenging. You need to keep your focus (which the instructors always helped us with) and then slowly watch your visions come to life. The toughest challenges are always the most valuable! The whole program taught me a lot about myself, especially how to trust my gut and to work under pressure - which is needed in this industry!

 

BMC: What is your specialty?

SM: COLOUR! Haha, I know I still have many things to learn about it, but color has been the biggest part of hair that my clients and myself love. I especially do well with the more creative punky colors. There's just something about seeing people rocking wild colors in a classy way that I love to create. The best is seeing the happiness from your clients with the work you do. It is literally the most satisfying feeling in the world.


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BLANCHE MACDONALD GRADUATE LINDA TRANG LY GLAMS UP GASTOWN WITH ONYX AESTHETICS STUDIO

Linda Trang Ly, Owner of ONYX Aesthetics Studio in Gastown, Vancouver!

Walking into Onyx Aesthetics Studio is like walking into a world where every day is a good nail day. It’s a place where beauty is continuously unfolding; a place to be primped and pampered in total tranquility. In just two short years Onyx owner and Blanche Macdonald graduate Linda Trang Ly has cultivated the perfect space to showcase her inimitable esthetics skills: an IG-worthy salon with a killer team of estheticians and an impressive roster of clients. 

Although Onyx has already achieved great success in its short life, the studio was a long time in the making. After completing the Nail Parlour program at Canada’s Top Nail School, Linda spent nearly a decade doing nails in Ontario and Connecticut, until Vancouver’s nail scene was finally established enough for Linda to bring her skills back home.

“When I was trying to get into the industry after school, everyone here wanted French manicures on sport length nails. I knew that if I stuck around I would change careers again, so I moved to Toronto. Because of that, I’ve been perfecting my skills and doing crazy long nails with art for the last 10 years! And this was even before all the gel polishes came out. I always knew I would come back home, but I needed it to be the right time for what I wanted to do. Once I saw on Instagram how things were evolving in Vancouver, I knew it was time to come back.”

But having been out of the Vancouver scene for nearly 10 years, Linda had to quickly suss out what the new Vancouver had to offer to find the perfect place for the esthetics paradise she was planning to create. When her initial searches of Kitsilano and Kerrisdale proved unsuccessful, it was in a relatively unexpected neighborhood, on the suggestion of a friend, that Linda happened upon the ideal space for her studio – Gastown.

Linda Trang Ly, Owner of ONYX Aesthetics Studio in Gastown, Vancouver!

“The Gastown I knew was The Old Spaghetti Factory, The Purple Onion and some souvenir shops. But suddenly, Gastown wasn’t just Water St. anymore! I saw this space and the shape of it and I knew that it was exactly what I had been searching for!”


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FASHION FERVOUR: GLOBAL FASHION MARKETING GRADUATE AMANDA WATT TAKES ON THE WORLD OF HIGH FASHION AT HOLT RENFREW VANCOUVER!

With their unique fashion voices, these Blanche Macdonald Global Fashion Marketing graduates are taking the industry by storm. Articulating their story to the world, our grads have navigated their way through fashion's ever-evolving terrain, bridging the gap between knowledge and success: from luxury retail brands and glossy magazine offices, to prestigious PR firms and leading buying agencies. Our grads are 'serging' ahead of the trend, climbing the ranks of local and international scenes, one fashion forward trend at a time. Meet these burgeoning fashion mavens that have become part of this thrilling community in our Fashion Fervour storytelling!

FASHION FERVOUR: GLOBAL FASHION MARKETING GRADUATE AMANDA WATT TAKES ON THE WORLD OF HIGH FASHION AT HOLT RENFREW VANCOUVER!

Set your mind to it and it may happen. Do it with heart and it's guaranteed. Blanche Macdonald Global Fashion Marketing graduate Amanda Watt has approached her burgeoning career with this doctrine, hustling (with heart) on her way to become Marketing Coordinator at Vancouver’s coveted luxury retail department store, Holt Renfrew. From setting up large scale events featuring the most buzz-worthy designers and mega-names in the industry, to coordinating intimate fêtes, prepping hundreds of swag bags and sourcing for what's to come next, she's always on her toes, ready to tackle the next big fashion moment. Meet Amanda Watt, gracious, accomplished and fanatical for Fashion.

Blanche Macdonald: What was your favourite part of our Fashion Marketing program?

Amanda Watt: All of it! It was such a truly amazing experience that I will always treasure. I remember being so inspired by [Blanche Macdonald Fashion Program Director and Instructor] Peggy Morrison’s passion that no matter what she was teaching I loved it; her stories and Show and Tell were something that I would have never imagined I would be fortunate enough to be a part of. I truly believe that I would not be where I am today if it was not for Blanche Macdonald and the opportunities and goals it helped me realize.


BMC: How did the Blanche Macdonald Career Department help you in pursuing these goals?

AW: Honestly, if it wasn’t for the guidance of [Blanche Macdonald Career Director] Mel Watts while I was in school, I would never have had the opportunity to intern with Holt Renfrew, and if it wasn’t for that, who knows where I would be today! I truly believe that my internship was the first and most crucial step in starting my career in fashion. I fortunately still get to see Mel from time to time. I really should stop into the campus more than I do, though!

I have been lucky enough to now be heavily involved with the internship program here at Holts. It is an incredible way to get your foot in the door! The Internship Program is something that I hold very close to my heart and I have had the opportunity to meet some extraordinary Blanche students along the way.


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