For someone that explains her style as “always fun and colourful” Tatiana Tavares is one of the nicest people—possibly ever—with a heart that’s made for human connections. Whether that’s with one of her many clients, “we really get into some shit,” or out in the world, people seem to be drawn to her “I can sit on a park bench, or go into a bathroom, and I’m having a conversation with someone. It just always happens to me!” Brimming with beauty knowledge—she is a double Blanche Macdonald graduate, after all—she’s recently started working from her private beauty studio in Gastown, Tats Haus, where she provides her Makeup, Nail, and Lash services. Even in the wake of a global pandemic, Tatiana has managed to retain her clients, gain new ones, and even expand her business offerings!
So you’re a double Blanche graduate, and you do Makeup, Nails, and Lash Extensions! What came first, and what led you to Makeup and Nails?
I took Global Makeup in 2009, and then I took the Nail program in 2013. I always liked Makeup, so that’s where I started, but I also realized that I didn’t want to do TV & Film or weddings forever, and I wanted to offer more services. I pictured myself becoming a beauty ‘jack-of-all-trades.’ Nail art was a lot of tiny things and details, which I felt like I could do well and always admired that skillset. I had a book when I was little that showed how to paint little ladybugs and bunnies with toothpicks on your nails, and I was obsessed with doing them perfectly. I’d actually gotten a job at a beauty studio learning lash extensions that started pretty much the same time I enrolled in the Nail Studio program! I wanted to do all the beauty things, all the time.
You clearly enjoyed your time at Blanche Macdonald to do two programs with us! What brought you to Blanche Macdonald in the first place?
I felt like I’d searched my whole life for an idea of what I wanted to do. I always knew I wanted to do something creative, something fashion-related probably. I knew I didn’t want to go into debt going to university for something I found boring. I wanted independence, travel, and a life of variety! I just wanted something…different. So I started researching to see where I could begin to build that from and found Blanche Macdonald. I went in for my interview, and everyone was so friendly, and I felt like they understood me. I was so inspired by the tour I enrolled that day in the Makeup program. Even now, I feel so supported by the ladies in the Career Department. I see Makeup Career Director Heather [Sosa] every year at IMATS, and we always catch up. Best of all, it did give me the independence I wanted because as soon as I graduated, I moved to England on a whim and ended up getting makeup work there!
OMG! Tell us everything about living abroad! What kind of makeup jobs did you get there?
It was so amazing. Had my visa not expired, I would’ve happily stayed there and lived out my life. My sister came with me to England, and we just started meeting people and connecting with other creatives, and I would do makeup for photoshoots and music videos. We grew up watching music videos, and so we actually started to put together concepts for videos, and I would do the makeup, and my sister would pull the other things together. It was such a fun time.
And now you have your own beauty studio in Gastown? How long have you been there?
Yes! It’s in this old heritage building right on the edge of Gastown. I always remember loving the building as a kid. It’s just super cool and old; it was built in 1912. I abruptly decided to work only for myself last year and moved a few times to find the best space for my services. I settled into this space in March 2020, and I love it! I like making big decisions with no lead time or warning! I wanted the space to feel super clean, but I also love colour, so there’s lots of crystals and colourful art that my friends or I have made.
I noticed on your website that you’re booking Nails and Lashes at your beauty studio, but not Makeup at the moment. Is that due to COVID or something else?
A bit of both. I spent a lot of last year focusing on my nail kit and lash skills, and so by extension, my makeup kit dwindled a little. My goal was going to be to replenish it over this summer and get it back up to snuff, but then COVID hit!
How has COVID affected you?
It definitely made things shift. Some people had appointments at my beauty studio who were like ‘I don’t feel comfortable coming in yet,’ and now that people aren’t going on trips, they don’t necessarily need lashes, no weddings, no groups for photoshoots, and all that. But I’ve actually gotten a lot of new clients because of it! Now that things are opening up, people are looking for more independent places for their beauty services rather than salon settings.
You also sell your own custom press-on nail sets! What made you decide to do that?
I’ve always wanted to make my own nail sets. I looked into it a few times, but I always quit because I’d get overwhelmed with the information and the steps to get them made. Luckily, lockdown gave me nothing but time to sort it all out. I still want to take it a step further where the sets are pre-made, like fitted, designed, and everything. Right now, you order a kit or measure your own nails, but it’s a big step for me! I just thought it was a thing I could contribute to the industry for fashion shows, shoots, or music videos. It’s just so much more efficient than doing nails in those environments and allows you to make some really fast changes. Mine are made of a gel resin, so they’re much softer and flexible than the creepy, straight-up plastic tips you get at the store. They also give me time to create something super elaborate on my schedule without someone sitting with me.
What would you say are your top 3 most used products in a day?
Right now, alcohol, sanitation stuff, and cleaning supplies! But for nails, I use Akzentz base gel, Ugly Duckling acrylic, and Sugarlash PRO lash adhesive.
If you could do anyone’s makeup/nails/lashes, it would be:
Rihanna. I would want to do their nails and makeup for sure. For lashes, probably someone like Bjork. I could do a really strange set of lashes in different colours and textures.
What advice would you give to people looking to be an independent beauty provider like yourself?
It’s not easy, nor a straightforward path, and you often wear 10 different hats in a day. One of the hardest parts for me was learning how to have confidence in myself. But it’s so important because no one else is going to do that for you. You need to market yourself and develop your style, your brand, and everything about your services. It took me a good while, and I still don’t feel ‘done’ with that part of it. I used to be so upset about my path and my timings in life. I was never where everyone else seemed to be. My childhood and life have been difficult so I always felt so far behind everyone else. But I’m learning to be ok with that too because I am where I need to be now and the person I need to be at this moment. Really, the most important thing is just to trust the build on anything you do. It may be slow, but it’ll be worth it.
The beauty industry can be tough to get into and retain clients, but you seem to have that pretty under control at your beauty studio! What’s your secret?
I feel like people come to my beauty studio because they like what I do, and I always try my hardest and work well. But sometimes they come to hang out as well. I’m always down to talk about whatever they want to, and my space is private so my clients feel comfortable talking about things they maybe wouldn’t elsewhere. I really get into shit with people. My service is so much more personal than just ‘in-and-out.’ I would always get into trouble at other jobs I’ve had for talking too long and hanging out with my clients during their services, so it’s nice now that I can give people the attention they need and deserve! That’s the best part of my job for me, too. Well, that and doing their service as perfect as I possibly can while we get into shit!