I first met Alanna a few years ago when I participated in a styling makeover which was a collaboration between my hairdresser, a stylist, a photographer and a make-up artist (Alanna).
Alanna was just embarking on her journey as a Make-Up Artist (just over 3 years ago) having left behind the security of a full time job.
I remember really enjoying hearing about all her plans for work and the various training she had done and would continue to do. I also remember that one of the big challenges she also faced was to learn to drive.
That was 3 years ago now and through Social Media, her website and sheer hard graft, I have seen Alanna turn her business into a roaring success. She has worked in magazine and television and has the most amazing portfolio. She is also travelling all around the country in her own wheels!
Of course, this success doesn’t come handed on a plate and Alanna has been tireless in her efforts to build a reputation in the industry and this is one of the things I have admired most about her.
Photograph : David Bradford
Alanna, you chose a path into an extremely competitive industry, tell us about how you managed to get a breakthrough?
A lot of hard work. When I first started I knew no one in the industry at all. I had to start from scratch. I began by building my portfolio which involves meeting up with a new photographer, model and stylist to get pictures. You are all working together to create some nice images for your portfolio. You have to do this quite a few times to start with to build up enough sets to make a nice portfolio website for yourself. Whist doing this you need to get yourself out there by assisting other established make-up artists to learn how to work in different environments. All these things help you build your profile. It takes time but soon all these people you meet will start offering or putting you forward for jobs. As you can imagine it does take a long time and lot of people aren’t able to make it work. I’ve been very fortune to make it pay off a lot quicker than some, I guess I just really wanted it and knew I could do it.
I often see you make references to Make-Up Artist’s being expected to work for nothing in exchange for the prestige of working for a ‘brand’. This is of course a common problem for small businesses. How did you deal with that when you were starting out?
I simply said no! The unfortunate thing about these make-up schools is that they aren’t teaching the students the rights and wrongs of this job. So when you leave it’s pretty much up to you. A collaboration is the only thing you should do unpaid, everyone is doing it for pictures and no one is making money from you all working together. When a brand approaches you this is a different story. No matter how new you are you do deserve to be paid. The promises of exposure simply aren’t true. Be true to the industry as accepting these kind of jobs doesn’t help us to move forward. You are worth it.
What advice would you give to other small business owners starting out alone?
Never give up. Nothing happens over night. It really does take a lot of hard work. You will have knock backs and in the beginning you might feel like you have made the wrong choice but keep going. If you love and enjoy what you are doing, the money will follow. Fortune favours the brave.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Oh gosh their have been so many I just enjoy getting up everyday and doing what I love. I’m very lucky. I’ve worked with some celebrities, commercials and at The BAFTAs. It has all been amazing.
Who/What keeps you accountable and motivated?
I have to get the work myself. No one is going to do that for me. Even when I’m not out on set I am still working from home promoting myself and doing admin. I will still get up and get dressed for work every day.
What stopped you from giving up?
I just knew I could do it. Everything I’ve done in life I have done to the best of my ability. No matter how hard it was in the beginning I knew I could make it work. Going back to my 9-5 desk job just wasn’t an option for me. I was enjoying what I was doing and I wasn’t prepared to give it up. I’m very stubborn and headstrong!
You will have seen my recent post about Cheerleaders. Were you lucky enough to have the support of others?
If I’m honest, I was surprised about the support I’ve received from some people but this has only made me even more determined to keep going. I think things like this do show you who matters. I am so grateful to those who have shown me support, ‘ve received some lovely messages and compliments from those least expected. My fiancé, mum and dad always tell me how proud of me they are and are amazed of how far I’ve come in this time.
Any further goals you want to share?
I’ve got a very long list of goals for this year. It’s the first year I’ve actually written them down. They are on my fridge and I look at them everyday. They are really ambitious so I’m hoping I will have a few ticked off soon. As for what they are well I would like to keep that to myself for now!
Photograph : David Bradford
Alanna, thank you so much for taking part this series. It sounds as though you have some exciting plans on your list of goals.
It must be a wonderful feeling to be able to look back and reflect on how much you have achieved.
I have to say, I’d book you out every day to do my make-up if I could!
You can find out more about Alanna’s work on her website.
Alanna is the last of my three lovely local ladies who have participated in this series. You can read more about the others here :
Thank you so much for reading. All comments are welcomed and will be responded to.