London’s Carnaby Street has a well-deserved reputation as being one of the coolest, most cultural, and fashionable spots in all of central London. Sitting alongside this famous street is the first Too Faced Cosmetics store in all of the world. Too Faced Cosmetics has become a beacon for millennial Makeup Artists, with products serious enough to get the job done but cute enough to feature in the perfect Insta-vid. A champion of pink, glamour, and femininity, Too Faced Cosmetics is at the forefront of the beauty industry with its effective and cruelty-free products. It came as no surprise to us that one of the trusted heralds of this store is none other than Blanche Macdonald Makeup graduate Genevieve Liska! Genevieve was kind enough, after a non-stop day satisfying all the Too Faced needs of central London, to talk about her makeup career, the big move to the UK, the London beauty look, and how to land a spot on the team of your dreams.
First off, what made you move all the way to the UK and how do you like it?
I’d always wanted to go to Europe and I wanted to take advantage of my passport – my dad is Austrian. I just thought it would be so cool to go and experience a different place and travel around. But life in London is amazing. I never dreamed I would be working on one of the most iconic streets in the world, in the first Too Faced Cosmetics store in the world! Every day that I go to work, I just can’t believe I’m here. It’s an amazing feeling.
What role are you in at the store? What does your day typically look like?
I’m the Assistant Manager, so that means a lot of different things! I spend a fair amount of time in the office communicating with our head office in California, especially if we have a launch or event coming up. We’re a new store so there’s always things to follow-up on and stay on-top of. The biggest part of my job really is managing people and spending time on the floor with the team making sure that they are set up to sell successfully and that the customers are getting the experience they should. It’s so different from day-today!
That’s a huge job! Tell us about the beginning of your makeup career that prepared you for this role.
My makeup career started after I graduated with the Aveda Institute on Robson Street, where I was able to work up from a sales position to being their Retail Coach where I would train all the salons in the Vancouver area. I helped open the Aveda in Oakridge and was the Assistant Manager there. I was with Aveda for four years. Then I began working with Sears in Brentwood as their Cosmetic Business Development Manager. When I went there, they were at the bottom of the district. Thirteen months later, their store was number three and I was able to grow their gala from 7,000 to 30,000. It was a lot of work but I find that retail success comes down to team training and customer education. When everyone has the information they need given in a usable way, great things happen! After that, I was recruited for Sephora. I went to Pacific Centre and was their Colour Manager which was so much work but so, so fun. Once I got to the UK, I took a job with Cover F/X and travelled the London area training all their teams. After that, I got placed with MAC Cosmetics. Their store in London is quite unique so I was so glad and lucky to be there. After MAC, I wanted to work for a brand that was really progressive and that’s when I found the opening with Too Faced!
Wow – that’s quite the career! Was makeup always something you were into?
Yes, I’ve always loved makeup. I actually wanted to go into the film industry and so when I was finishing Blanche Macdonald, I worked on the Andromeda set to get a feel for set life and it was such long days! I realized that I couldn’t do that for very long and knew I had to figure out something else. I found out that I really enjoyed the counters I’d worked at and the retail side of makeup.
How was your time in our Makeup program?
Oh I had the best time! I just loved it at Blanche Macdonald. I was super excited to learn and go to school everyday. I’m a big advocate of the school here, I just think the program is so great. When I took it, it was really the only school to go to. Others existed, of course, but they just weren’t on top of their game. That’s probably true even now! I had family friends who took programs there and loved it too. Once I applied and started contacting them, the process was so effortless and seamless – it was just enjoyable all around! Everyday was so inspiring.
What do you love about cosmetic retail?
For me, it’s consistently challenging but you also get to see such rewards and see people develop and grow into other positions. Fostering a family environment at work has always been important to me in every position I’ve had. I love retail because it’s always changing so it keeps you on your toes and I find that being able to adapt to fast changes gives you a stronger character and makes you a better candidate for future roles. On top of that, the makeup industry has changed so much and keeps changing! It’s always exciting.
What was the application process like for Too Faced? Is it quite competitive in London?
It was intense! I didn’t have a connection to Too Faced, I just applied. I’d worked with the brand in Sephora and I always thought it was such a cool brand. Their products were so cute and the whole brand told a really cohesive story. Plus their products were amazing! There were nine interviews – including one by the CEO! The UK is very competitive so you really just have to let your skills and confidence speak for themselves.
Are there major differences in beauty standards in London from Canada?
Oh yes. I actually had to modify my own makeup style to the ‘London look.’ Here it’s a very sculpted look. Lots of ‘insta brows’, contour, with lips as big as you can go!
You’ve already accomplished so much but what are some professional goals you still have?
I love where I am but in the next couple years, I want to go more into a training or education position within cosmetics. I really love that aspect of the job plus, I’m not getting any younger!
Genevieve’s Top 5 Tips on How to Land on a Team with your Dream Brand
- Research the brand and speak to someone in a similar role if you can. Make sure you’re aware of what that role asks of their team members.
- Determine your goals. Do a SWOT analysis if you can and identify the direction the brand seems to be going.
- Be OK to start at a counter and work up.
- Get the necessary experience. Whether in Canada or the UK, it’s very competitive.
- Try to stay one step ahead of what you’re going to be asked to do during a day’s work