How and why I went from wedding dresses to permanent makeup
Today I’m going to talk about the transition from wedding dresses to permanent makeup. In part one I spoke a little bit about Mum’s dream. Mum’s dream to make wedding dresses and how I set her up not realising what I was getting myself into. I was at University at the time and I was studying art, I resented the wedding dress business at that point because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was at St. Martin’s and I was doing my fashion design degree, my teacher hated me and I hated her for the whole first three years. That’s because she judged me. From her point of view, because I didn’t really hang around with my class. I turned up and I was there when I needed to be but sometimes I’d miss the odd class because I didn’t get the message because I didn’t really speak a lot with my classmates… Well she judged me on that and assumed that I didn’t really care and I was a little bit of a rebel. Therefore because she judged me I didn’t feel that I could speak to her, I was quiet and she didn’t know anything about me and my responsibilities. So in the final year of Uni we had to go on this trip. Final year was 2004 and my Dad was ill with cancer too. So there’s a lot going on. My teacher hates me. I’m running this business. I’ve got a little boy. I’m a young single mum going through a divorce, got odd jobs to support the wedding dress business… My teacher knows nothing about all of this and I’m nearly at the end of my degree.
My teacher doesn’t know I have a business and a child
So we go on this trip to Florence and we’re supposed to go to an exhibition in the morning but everyone went out drinking the night before and no one got up in the morning, my whole class, no one! So it ended up being me and my teacher all alone and no one turned up. So, yes, a little bit awkward. We were waiting in the hotel cafe and she was like “right, let’s go”. So we spent the whole day together. By the end of the day I had told her everything and it turns out that we had a lot in common and I reminded her of herself. She was also at St. Martin’s when she was younger and she was a single mum and she could not believe that I didn’t tell her that I had a kid and a business. From that point on she respected me.
I thought that perhaps telling her she would think that I couldn’t manage and I was afraid and having her not like me it was easier to just get on with it. So after I did, things turned around, she liked me and went a little bit easier on me and it helped. So, then I did my work experience at Alexander McQueen. I realised fashion is NOT for me… And then for my final collection I knitted a range of all white dresses. I didn’t realise it at the time but I guess, maybe I didn’t want to admit it, but ‘Nicolerenee,’ the wedding dress business, it did grow on me and I did become very passionate about it and it was my whole life by then. It was everything to me. I did everything to keep it alive and I put myself fully into it after I graduated.
I did grow to love the wedding dresses
So, I touched on it a little bit in part 1, in my final year we lost my dad and he wasn’t around to see me graduate. How did this affect our business? Basically my mum, when you’re dealing with wedding dresses you take orders six to eight months in advance, so my mum couldn’t just stop. My dad died in April and we had weddings up until October, November. So my mum had to finish those orders. They were people’s wedding dresses. And she did. So we didn’t take any new orders so that she could grieve. Stop and you know … but then when she did stop she never really came back. She was unable to … she felt guilty because she wanted to be at my dad’s side more while he was ill. He would say it her “It’s ok dear, go..” So she really struggled … it wasn’t the same.
So now I’m trying to manage the business by myself and also sew. Learn to sew. You would think that if you graduated from Saint Martins School of Art and Design that you would have adequate sewing skills. But no you only come out with basic skills. My mum had 50+ years of experience. You cant just become that good with training. A skill has to be mastered with time and experience. My mum was a traditional dressmaker with unmatchable skill. We tried to train people up to help us but it was difficult for this reason. We made a great team because my mum did all the sewing and I did everything else but now I’m trying to do all of it and I’m struggling. I’m also working part time doing all these other jobs trying to support it and myself and my then five years old boy.
My eyeliner BEST money ever spent and introduction to permanent makeup
Around 2006 I met Andrew Stassi. He did my eyeliner and it was a life saver. It was the best thing I did for myself. Best money I ever spent on myself, and still is. Love it. Being busy, needing to look okay to meet clients, running a business, no time for myself. Eyeliner, wearing eyeliner, having my eyeliner was absolutely brilliant. I loved it and I became a fan immediately.
Just going back to my teacher at Uni not liking me because I didn’t hang out with my class. ..I just want to paint the picture for you. I wasn’t really hanging out with my class because in between lessons, I’d be on my scooter, back to Spitalfields to meet clients for fittings or on the phone somewhere dealing with business. That’s why I resented the business a little bit at the beginning, because I had to be really involved. I was really busy I couldn’t be a normal student and I couldn’t hang out with my class like everyone else during breaks. I wasn’t able to have that student life like everybody else.
So going back to … I had my eyeliner done. It was brilliant but I think Andrew didn’t look forward to my visits because being someone who’s all about detail and perfection, that’s what wedding dresses is all about, I was a little bit of a nightmare. I went back a couple of years later and I did my eyeliner again and that’s when he said to me “You’d be good at this” and that was it. He planted the seed. So I basically was always looking for something else to do so that I could support the wedding dresses. I was running around being a TV extra and all these other things that I was doing and I thought wouldn’t this be fantastic, to offer it to my brides to be. For their honeymoon, waterproof make-up. So I basically took a risk, jumped right in with my eyes closed. And I say that because I really didn’t think about it at all. Even the day before training I tried to cancel because I realised we’d be using a needle and I thought I’d be squeamish. So, jumped right in. Trained and in three months, started working straight away.
Our last dress project
I thought it would be a good idea also because it’ll stop me running around. I can have more time to be in the business. So in 2008, around the same time that I started doing the permanent make-up, I met a lady called … I can’t give you her real name so I’m going to call her Florine. Florine was our ideal client. We made six dresses for her in the space of about three months that Summer. Including a dress that she wore at Elton John’s charity ball on the red carpet. She even received compliments from Liz Hurley which I was really excited about because she was my muse.
So my mum got really involved again because it was exciting and we absolutely loved that project. We closed the doors to anyone else and we just looked after this one lady. It was a really fun time. So after that we didn’t really want to go back to what we did before. We didn’t want to go back to doing wedding dresses and I realised I didn’t want to do any of it without my mum. What I was doing had taken off anyway, the permanent make-up and we decided that we would make this our last project as Nicolerenee together. We decided to quit on a happy ending with Florine.
My story does continue but I’m going to leave it there for today with the ending of ‘Nicolerenee couture’ and the beginning of ‘Frame Your Eyes – Permanent Natural Makeup.’
In Part 3 I’m going to talk to you about Frame Your Eyes Permanent Natural Makeup which is the name that I gave the business when I started doing cosmetic tattooing, back then known as semi-permanent make-up. I’m going to tell you how it became The Dermatography Clinic. I hope you enjoyed my story Part 2! Thank you for sharing it with me. Talk Soon!