Jill Bryan wasn’t sure exactly where she wanted to take her career when she graduated from Canada’s #1 Makeup School. After weighing her many options she started working as a Makeup Artist at the Absolute Spa in Downtown Vancouver’s Century Plaza Hotel.
A decade later, Jill has risen to the lofty position of Vice-President for Absolute Spa. Her role has seen her build personal and professional connections with Blanche Macdonald’s incredible Esthetics Department, “Being in the industry this long, I’ve created so many wonderful relationships with fellow team members, guests and suppliers, and they are my ‘why.’
“Seeing our guests so happy after their amazing service with our service providers (many of them Blanche graduates!). Helping our current staff improve their service levels and talents and witnessing them developing their careers and achieving their goals gives me tremendous joy. At the end of the day, I’m a people person and seeing other colleagues grow and achieve goals truly makes me happy.”
I get to meet a lot of celebrities, and often will do some Makeup for VIPs.
Though Jill is Vice-President, she still makes facilitating new talent a top priority—especially when it involves her alma mater.
“We host an open house for Blanche Macdonald Esthetics students about four times a year,” explains Jill. “Simona Gozner will let me know the class size, and I’ll do a presentation about what we have to offer and what’s happening in the industry. Then we’ll do a spa tour and a mini-trade show for Soluzione Spa Products, which is the manufacturing and distribution wing of Absolute Spa’s business.
“I coordinate the spray tan training for the instructors at Blanche Macdonald, too. We have so much respect for Simona and Blanche Macdonald students. We guarantee grads an interview at Absolute. They come out of school ready for the industry with an incredible knowledge of skincare and anatomy. They’re always eager and on board with what we’re trying to do. We’re looking for estheticians that are warm and friendly. Obviously they need skill and passion for the industry, and flexibility with scheduling is a big one too!”
Jill’s connection with Blanche Macdonald goes back to her time as a young makeup fanatic from Delta looking to take her first steps into the beauty industry.
“I’ve been a product junkie my whole life,” she laughs. “I was a dancer and figure skater, and I loved trying on new products. My Mom recommended Blanche Macdonald to me. She knew its reputation as a Vancouver institution. I went in for an interview with Jill Wyness, and she told me about the different avenues I could take.
This industry is very fun, exciting, and rewarding. That being said, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to learn and improve your product knowledge, technical skills, and communication skills.
“Once I started it was fabulous. I loved my teachers and my fellow students. I still have a relationship with some of the Makeup Artists who were in my class and have gone on to be really successful. I’ve worked with Nicole Harvie and she’s also one of our spa guests here. The instructors gave us a good indication of the career options out there. I knew I didn’t want to go into the film route. The early mornings and long days weren’t for me. I felt that a spa would be a good fit.”
Jill faxed her résumé to Absolute Spa after graduation and received confirmation of her interview that same day.
“They were hiring in the run-up to Christmas. I became a full-time Makeup Artist on the floor at the Century Plaza, providing complementary Makeup touch-ups for all our guests and doing a lot of bridal Makeups. I knew what I was doing. My techniques were good. I understood what colours would work with certain people. It was fun to create the art, but I loved the reaction from clients. They’d love the way they looked and feel good about themselves.”
After a few successful months of Makeup Artistry, when the opportunity arose to advance within the company, Jill was happy to take the chance.
“The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver spa was opening up and they wanted a front desk concierge. I did that, along with a bit of Makeup on guests. From there I was promoted to Spa Supervisor at the Century Plaza and my first Spa Manager role was at the Airport. That only lasted about three months, because they missed me Downtown!”
We guarantee (Blanche Macdonald Esthetics program) grads an interview at Absolute.
Soon Jill was back in the heart of Absolute’s Vancouver business, managing at Soluzione. That job ended when Jill was promoted to her current position of Vice-President of Absolute Spas, which came with a bit of a twist, “In 2020, our business was sold by our long time owners. Change is always inevitable but unpredictable, however, our new owners 360 Health & Wellness have brought fresh ideas and processes to our organization and stability in a tough time during COVID.”
Unsurprisingly, Vice-President comes with multiple and highly varied responsibilities.
“Today, I’m overseeing procedures companywide rather than at a specific location or two. I’ve been taking on more tasks with our growing e-commerce business and important social media channels. The biggest difference would be increased responsibility and duties. However, I’m excited to have a stronger impact on the general direction and success of the business.
“Looking ahead to future projects and planning for the future is always important so balancing those tasks with regular staff scheduling, payroll, product orders, guest bookings, e-commerce initiatives, and team meetings, I always seem to have a full day. No two days are the same however and that’s what keeps this role exciting and fresh.”
Over the long term, your body of work speaks for itself and will open future doors on your career journey.
Although professional etiquette means that Jill can’t reveal the details of many of the celebrities who have walked through Absolute Spa’s doors, a wall of star photos, the majority of which are signed with messages of gratitude, tells its own story.
“No, I’m not Beyonce’s personal Makeup Artist when she’s in Vancouver,” laughs Jill. “But I do get to meet a lot of celebrities, and often will do some Makeup for VIPs. I went to West Vancouver to spray tan an A-list actor who was filming a big movie here. We did it as a trial for the movie and he liked it so much I had to go back to give him personal tans several times.”
Even though esthetics has become the focus of Jill’s professional life, that doesn’t mean she’s left Makeup behind.
“I’ve done Makeup for photo shoots with The Province and BC Golf Magazine, and have been to more than a few Black Tie Galas. Outside my work with Absolute Spa, I did more than a dozen weddings this year for family and friends.”
Jill has proved how far a career can grow when an individual is open to opportunities.
I feel a lot of my success has been achieved through my desire to do my strongest work possible in any task I’m given.
“This industry is very fun, exciting, and rewarding. That being said, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to learn and improve your product knowledge, technical skills, and communication skills. Potentially you’re working long hours and weekends. However, the rewards are much greater the more time invested. Medical Esthetics is the way of the future. We’ve seen many technologies come and go over the years, but quick results-based treatments are here to stay. Having education and experience with these technologies will be a huge advantage to you and your future salary.
“I feel a lot of my success has been achieved through my desire to do my strongest work possible in any task I’m given. Any artist wants to display their best work and for me, artistry can mean completing a bride’s wedding makeup or creating an impactful holiday marketing campaign. Every day we can look at our canvass and decide what we want to achieve, and over the long term, your body of work speaks for itself and will open future doors on your career journey.”