You know when you meet someone and they tap into your creative mind and inspire you in your own goals and dreams? That is how I felt interviewing the incredible Emily Oliver. This entrepreneurial make up artist has created her own professional business from the ground up and is building her own creative empire day by day. I say empire because I know without a doubt that this woman is going to continue to grow and motivate others in the years to come. Prepare to be inspired and energized by the amazing Emily Oliver.
How do you define success?
At first success for me was walking into a room without an introduction. Now I feel the success is being totally happy with whatever state you’re in. I think that has been a big shift for me. You go from wanting to become a name to wanting a feeling of contentment. So success for me, is feeling content with people around you that love you and give you total positivity.
How did you get into makeup artistry?
I actually got into this doing theater. I have an acting background and I would always end up doing my own makeup and everybody asked if I can do makeup for them. I was in Seattle Washington and the opera found out about me and asked if I wanted to help out their makeup department. Nordstrom found out about me through a referral and I started doing make up for them and then Armani beauty asked if I would move to California and do more red carpet, celebrity, high-end stuff for them and I made the move! From there I jumped into fashion weeks in Milan, New York, and Paris, and although some make up artists are sponsored by specific companies, I am an independent contractor, so I send myself as Emily Oliver Beauty.
That is incredible I want to pause on that for a moment. I wrote an article in the past about the importance of calculated financial risks in business. Do you see these financial risks of sending yourself to fashion weeks as a part of your success? Do they scare you at all?
For me I just know it’s going to work out. The first time I went to New York Fashion week I went without any jobs and ended up booking four runway shows and a photo shoot because of my relationships. When I went to Milan I had two shows booked, both of which fell through but because of that I booked an international campaign with Phillip Plein. When I went to Paris I also relied on faith and I never recoup the financial cost from these trips but the notoriety and relationships that I make are invaluable. For example, after Paris I was invited to be a guest contributor at makeup.com which leads to more photographers wanting to work with you, and more momentum for my career.
One of the best opportunities I got was through L’Oreal. The contracted me to work with Fiona Gubelmann, who at the time was on Wilfred with Elijah Wood and we totally hit it off. She started to use me for a lot of her press events which is how I started becoming a celebrity makeup artist.
This has just been an amazing year. I met Cara Santana through a friend and she has connected me with some really high profile clients which has really expanded my client pool. As you know, as an artist you always want to be creating, putting things out there, and keep making others feel special and like they are part of something bigger. I feel like I do that through my makeup and while I know I am in a fantastic place, I know that I want to keep growing and getting better.
So what are your goals?
I want to create an art installation, and it’s going to be about face positive movement. I will be working on this project throughout the next year. I think that through cosmetics you have the power to transform but also to empower. I am not saying that everyone needs makeup, because I feel beautiful without it, but I also feel beautiful with it. I think it’s so interesting how someone can feel so empowered with a red lipstick or mascara. So for me, this is all about embracing that power. Through this project, I want to explore how do why people feel different with specific looks.
You have such positivity and maturity around your goals and outlook with your career. Where does that come from?
I just always knew that I had to succeed. I was lucky enough to have my parents pay for my college, which I know is more than a lot of people get, but I have no family in make up or the arts. For me it was all about knowing that I just had to make this work. I started from scratch, and figured out life as I went. I also have a very fluttery personality and I feel the need to be good at everything and not be mediocre in whatever I decide to tackle. I want a full enriched life.
What do your parents do? Did they influence you at all?
My parents are now retired. My mom raised us and helped with my dad’s business. My dad was a dentist and being a business owner we had to make a lot of sacrifices when I was younger in order to support this business. This definitely influenced me 100% because I learned how much work you need to put into a business and how things don’t always go according to plan. My parents really taught me how important interpersonal relationships are. My dad could tell you anything about any of his patients. He could tell you what’s their job was, how many kids they had, basically their life story, and that has been invaluable in my business.
Another part of my philosophy is based on the idea that they taught me that with hard work and perseverance anything is possible. This relates to my personal favorite quote by Anais Nin which says,” I must be a mermaid because I have no fear of depth and a great fear of shallow living.” I am so afraid of having a boring or stagnant life which is why the mermaid quote is so perfect for me because it goes to the root of my life philosophy: I am not afraid of living; I am afraid of not living.