In this blog, we have something special for you. Or, actually, a special someone! She’s a Melbourne makeup legend, salon owner and the artist behind some the most beautiful painted faces in Australia and beyond. Miss Universe, Melbourne Spring Races, and New York Fashion Week are only a few of her many achievements. And now she has teamed up with Stylemee to become a Stylemee Ambassador. We’re talking, of course, about Alarna Bell! She just got back from New York and freed up some time to have a chat with us about what it’s like to start and grow a business in the beauty industry.
Where did your passion for makeup come from and what made you decide to turn it into a career?
“I’m actually a beauty therapist and I just love making people beautiful. That’s entirely what drives me to do what I do. Just seeing someone feeling confident about something small that I did, like doing their makeup. Honestly, in this industry, you can never start off with it being about the money. It really has to be something else that drives you to do it. Even if I would have millions and millions of dollars, I would still happily do this for free, because I love it so much! I’m really one of those lucky people who’ve found their hobby, or something they enjoy doing, and turned it into my career. I literally do wake up and get excited to go to work every single day. It’s a dream, even though I didn’t think about it like that in those early days, but it’s something that has organically happened.”
You are a bit of a legend in the Australian makeup scene, what did you have to do to get where you are today?
Alarna laughs shyly: “I wouldn’t really say that. But certainly, in the last few years, it definitely expanded how far I’m working and I’m probably doing things a bit more high profile as well. I started working in a salon when I was 15 years old, which is super young of course! I also started studying beauty therapy at that age.
Looking back now at what sort of student I was, I was one who took criticism really well. My first boss was amazing, ahead of her time. She was quite hard on me and gave me a lot of feedback. And I took it! I took it well, and that really helped me. I even remember her calling me on a day off, saying “Alarna, what you’ve done isn’t good enough. You need to come down here and fix this”. Which is what I did. I’d put my shoes on and walked down to that salon. I was just that sort of kid who thought “She’s right! She knows what’s best because she’s been doing this longer than me. I need to learn from that.”
So the key is listening to and accepting feedback, even if it stings a little bit. Rather than having a bad attitude about it, like giving up and doing something else, just take it on board and get better because of it.
Another thing that really helped me grow was just saying “yes” to everything. I was loving what I was doing, so if something would come up, I’d just say “yes, yes, yes”, and then worry about how to do it later. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s makeup, right? Not brain surgery. So even if was going to make a mistake, it was going to be okay.
Then there’s skill, of course. I didn’t start out that great, and skill-wise, I definitely had to work really hard to get where I am today. But as I got better, people slowly starting to ask me.
And then the Internet happened! All of a sudden not only my friends were able to see my work, but everyone could see my work. That’s how I started to get picked up in different places and to work on different things. I was asked to work on the Miss Universe team, and through a series of events, I was given the role as director of Makeup for Miss Universe. That definitely gave me a higher profile in the makeup scene and from there it sort of skyrocketed.
I worked hard, was very lucky to do something I love doing, and I’ve got a great family that’s really supportive as well.”
When you are being asked to work with a client or for an event, how do you decide if it’s a good fit?
“If I’m available, I’ll paint a face! I just love doing makeup, so I don’t mind who it is. I don’t pick and choose. For me, it really doesn’t matter if I’m doing makeup for someone who’s going to their 18th birthday party, or if I’m doing a celebrity’s makeup. I do a lot of weddings, both locally, around the country and internationally. That’s my core clientele. However, every day I could be doing something different. For instance, next week, a pro wrestler that’s flying over from America called me up to do her makeup. And next, I’ll be doing photo shoots. Then I’m going to Sydney to teach Miss Universe Australia some lessons before she competes in the international finals.”
To be continued…
Stylemee can’t thank Alarna enough for taking time out of her busy schedule to take part in this interview. We are very excited AND honoured to have her on board as our Stylemee Ambassador.
Want to book a makeup appointment with Alarna? Check out her profile and book now!