Kim Soane holds down one of the most coveted makeup artistry jobs in the world. She’s Executive Director of Artistry, North America for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. “Bobbi used to call me her right hand, but I used to laugh and say that I was more like her left hand.” She worked alongside Bobbi in New York for seven years working on the makeup collections, backstage during Fashion Week and making up VIP clients. “I helped Bobbi at Lauren Bush and David Lauren’s wedding. That was incredible. Lauren was the kindest person. And the estate was beyond beautiful,” says Soane. It’s a job that has taken Kim around the world and kept her at the leading edge of makeup artistry and technology.
So, with such a talent and career, did she know in high school that she wanted to be a makeup artist? “God, no!” she laughs. “I had no idea that this type of career even existed. I grew up in a conservative family and there were three career options: lawyer, lawyer and lawyer.” It was attending a makeup presentation at a local hospital when the lightbulb went off. “I was amazed to watch this woman explain how makeup could make you feel more confident and positive. I knew I wanted to help people and this was the perfect way for me.” She started out doing friends makeup for their weddings and slowly grew her own makeup business.
So what is the best avenue for entering this industry? Makeup school or beauty counter? “Oh, definitely makeup counter. I recommend anyone who wants to be a makeup artist to get a part-time job at a beauty counter. First of all, you’ll get quality training from the brand. Then, you’ll learn how to work with such a wide variety of clients of all skin tones and backgrounds. That is invaluable experience. And you’ll also learn the business of beauty. If I had to start out again, that is what I would do.” She says having a presence on social media is a big asset as well. It’s a great resource when you decide to launch your own makeup artistry business.
She says Bobbi always led by example. She was hard-working, had high expectations and was honest. “She would step back, look and always ask if it could be better.” When Bobbi decided to become a freelance makeup artist over 25 years ago, she had no contacts or experience. She picked up a phone book and started calling businesses in the Yellow Pages asking if they needed a makeup artist. “I didn’t know anyone in the industry,” laughs Bobbi. “I called so many people that eventually someone said yes. I just learned as I went along.”
When it comes to a career as a makeup artist, there are three different avenues you can pursue. You can focus on artistry and creativity. “If you love creating avant-garde looks for magazines or ad campaigns, then focus on building a freelance business with fashion and beauty photographers. Research and find out which photographers are shooting these type of campaigns. Learn who the up-and-coming photographers are. And then offer to help them with any projects,” says Kim. Bobbi used to volunteer with photographers when she began her career.
“If you love to make people happy, then I recommend a career at a beauty counter.” She says a career working with clients in a retail store can be very rewarding. “You build relationships with clients that turn into friendships. And you help them feel better about themselves. That is very special.” This type of career forces you to work with all different skin tones and backgrounds.
The third option is to specialize in beauty training. All beauty brands have training departments that work with retail staff and beauty experts. They take the season’s new collections and teach staff how to use them. This career often requires travel and good presentation skills.
So, is Kim happy that she pursued a career in makeup? “Yes! I’m so happy I followed my passion. There are so many career options for people who love beauty and makeup.”
You can follow Kim’s fascinating career on Instagram @beautybysoane.
Bobbi Brown Cosmetics is available in Canada at select Hudson’s Bay stores and thebay.com