Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ll be familiar with the work of Charlotte Tilbury. You’ve seen her handiwork on some of the most famous faces in the world, as Charlotte is the makeup artist Kate Moss, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna and Penelope Cruz all call when they need to look their best. Which, in their lines of work, is a regular requirement. Quite simply, Charlotte Tilbury is makeup royalty.
Wherever Charlotte is working, Blanche Macdonald makeup graduate Kelly Mitchell is close by. Kelly travels the world from her new home in London, England as the National Artistry and Development Manager and a star member of the Global Pro Team for Charlotte Tilbury Makeup.
With two roles at a rapidly expanding company, plus a growing number of private clients, Kelly stays busy. That’s fine with her. She loves every minute.
“Every month I’ll do two or three starter trainings in the UK, Ireland or Amsterdam as the National Artistry and Development Manager,” she explains. “That’s a five-day course when we introduce new starters to our brand, whether they work in head office or for one of our retail accounts. We teach everything from Charlotte’s history to the brand’s philosophy and positioning, to doing practical makeup training. The next week I might be with Charlotte in LA, Chicago, New York or Vancouver to support her at a Global Pro Event. I might fly to Milan Fashion Week and do some shows. I also work once a week in the office creating content, developing and testing products and colours. For me it’s the perfect balance. I love planning and the business side of work, but I would never want to give up the artistic side of makeup. I love the diversity of this job!”
Kelly’s infectious enthusiasm for the makeup line makes her a natural saleswoman. But that positive attitude didn’t just arrive when she got the job. She’s been that way since she started studying at Canada’s top Makeup School.
“I didn’t wear much makeup in high school, but I loved painting and working with people and fashion. I figured I would become a Makeup Artist and have a fun job while I’m young, then I would get a real job a few years later. My opinion about the makeup world changed quickly once I came to Blanche Macdonald. I’d never realized how many incredible opportunities there are in this industry and how I could develop my business skills.
“I was really eager. I was the student that stayed behind helping out and asking questions. I wanted to go for it. I realized I was learning from some of the best artists in the world. I was inspired by their work and what they’d achieved.”
Inspiration takes many forms. For Kelly, a giant leap in her artistry was accompanied by the realization that she could achieve anything she set her mind to, as long as she was willing to put in the work.
“Was I the best Makeup Artist in my class? No! I was good, but probably not the best. But I had a keen business sense and knew how to work with people. That’s perhaps more important than makeup ability. That was the most important thing I learned at Makeup School: the understanding of how art and commerce works. You have to work hard, assist and be willing to clean brushes. You need to make yourself stand out in a competitive field.”
Kelly stood out. In her last week at Makeup School Dior held a casting call for new Makeup Artists. Kelly won the job, rising to the position of Senior National Artist over five happy years with the brand. She moved to London and was working as a Studio Manager and Assistant Head of Education at a makeup school when one of her many contacts led to an opportunity and an interview for a new makeup line.
“I met Charlotte Tilbury when I was helping Emma O’Byrne, who is a celebrity Makeup Artist in London. At the time I went for interview the brand was so young there was only 14 staff. I was actually offered another job with a bigger brand on the same day. That would have been more secure but I could tell I would be part of a growing business with Charlotte. I knew about her from my time at Blanche. She’s one of those iconic artists whose work everyone knows. If you flip through any copy of Vogue you’ll see something that Charlotte has been involved with. I loved her spirit and everything she stands for. I thought, ‘If this incredible Makeup Artist has her own brand, I want to be a part of it.’
“My job combined my two passions – inspiring and developing new Makeup Artists, while still doing fashion shoots and shows and working with celebrities. I knew the brand would be incredible. In the interview the director told me I’d be getting on a rocket ship. It has been! Since then I’ve been lucky enough to work on Stella McCartney and Kate Moss. It’s fabulous to meet these iconic people, but the second you meet them you realize they’re normal girls! One day I can be doing makeup on Joan Smalls, the next I’ll be working in Selfridges London helping a customer look her best, boosting her confidence and helping her achieve her goals.”
One recent and very welcome stop on Kelly’s global travels was the Makeup School where her own adventure began. Speaking to Blanche Macdonald students about Charlotte Tilbury and her own personal journey into the upper echelons of the makeup business, Kelly had some pertinent advice for grads looking to follow in her illustrious footsteps.
“For Charlotte Tilbury artists we need great artistry and professionalism. We can’t have one without the other. If you’re an incredible artist with a bad attitude or you’re late, I’m not going to book you. If you’re a good artist, I can train you to be great. But I can’t train you to smile or have a good attitude. Personality and passion is what I’m looking for.
“We meet a lot of Makeup Artists and it’s the people that offer to help when we’re packing up that we remember. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile. If you’re trying to reach people and they don’t reply to your first email, keep sending them through. Be kind and supportive and you’ll get noticed.”
That’s great professional advice. And if you do find yourself travelling around the world growing a global brand and making celebrity clients beautiful, Kelly has another tip that you won’t find in any makeup book.
“I bring a big pillow with me wherever I go. I look crazy going through the airport but I know I’ll be able to sleep on the plane!”