Pamela Moss is an established makeup artist and mum of 20 month-old Savanna. Over the past 10 years she’s worked for some of the biggest names in fashion and TV, including Yves Saint Laurent, DV8 Magazine, Toni & Guy and Come Dine with Me. She tells us why she’s now passionate about helping other mums train to break into the industry.
How did you start your career as a makeup artist?
When I first left school I worked in HR. I started out doing admin and quickly progressed, getting my Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualifications. Eventually I was working for Hampshire Constabulary, but I hated being employed and always wanted to work for myself. So I decided to do an evening course in something I loved, just to make the weeks easier. I chose to train as a beauty therapist and makeup artist and just loved it – so much in fact that I decided to quit my career and completely change.
Did you plan your career move carefully?
No, it was an overnight thing. Looking back it wasn’t the greatest plan as I had a mortgage to pay, but that pressure also meant there was no option of failing – I just had to make it work. I also think it’s sometimes easier to make a second career work. Coming into something when you’re a bit older means you bring lots of skills from your old career.
How did you get your break as a makeup artist?
When I first left my job I opened a beauty salon to pay the bills while I built up my makeup work. I got jobs by networking online, and did loads of work for free, including test shoots for photographers to build up my portfolio. Even now I still do test shoots sometimes to keep my portfolio up to date.
Why did you decide to start the Mode Academy of Makeup?
Mode is a small training academy based in rural Hampshire. We run affordable courses and master classes in makeup and beauty that are perfect for women looking to retrain for a new career.
The catalyst for running my own courses was a couple of refresher courses I did in London. They were at really reputable schools and were very expensive, but the teaching and support was appalling – the tutors even made some of the girls cry! I realised that I could do so much better.
So I came home and decided to do it myself. I did my teaching qualification and started doing some part time teaching in local colleges and evening courses. But while I found that I really loved teaching, I didn’t really like the college environment. I did lots of researching and started the academy alongside my freelance work.
On my courses I really want to take the fear factor away from making the leap and working for yourself. So many people stay in jobs because they’re too scared to make the move. But often their fears are not really valid barriers. You can do anything if you put your mind to it and work hard!
Can anyone become a freelance makeup artist?
I think that to be self-employed or a businesswoman takes a certain type of person. You do need to have to be comfortable with an element of risk. But lots of women I’ve met, especially since I’ve had my daughter, say they’d love to do it. It really is a great job when you’ve got young kids – it’s flexible (most bridal work is at weekends), you can train in the evenings, and it’s a fantastic creative outlet.
Why are you so passionate about helping other mums?
Because I know what it’s like. So many women don’t want to go back to full time work after having a baby, but need to do something. I’ve met lots of ambitious mums who think that the only options left to them are Avon or party planning. I want to show them that you don’t have to settle for something you’re not passionate about.
There are an awful lot of things you can do flexibly – you don’t have to lose your identity when you become a mum. All the skills and management experience you’ve acquired over the years of your career can still be put to use in a different way.
I think that becoming a makeup artist or beauty therapist is a great career change option for ambitious mums. Personally I love being a makeup artist. It’s so creative, sociable, glamorous and lucrative – even on a bridal level. For mums going into the industry, bridal makeup is a much easier choice. Fashion is harder – especially when you have children – as it involves lots of early mornings, late nights and being away from home.
And beauty can be a really lucrative business too. When I first started my beauty salon, people thought it was a joke. But by the time I sold the business I owned a large salon, employed seven staff and had been shortlisted for a number of national awards. I want to make people understand that being a beautician doesn’t mean you are limited to working from a room in your house.
What courses do you offer?
We run makeup and beauty courses from beginner to advanced. But unlike other courses, we don’t just teach you basics and leave it there. We incorporate networking, interview, CV, website, social media and other business skills and courses to help you make the transition from the course to earning money. You can also come back for additional, two hour bite-size workshops if you feel like you need help in one particular area.
We understand that there’s a massive gap between leaving and getting work – because we’ve done it. Everyone working at the Academy has retrained, even the photographer that does our portfolio shoots. We’ve all been there and got skills to pass on to help make your transition easier. We also appreciate that teaching is, in itself, a skill, and we’re all qualified teachers.
We really try and give as much information and help as we can on the course, and offer good value for money. Some courses in London cost more than £10,000. Just think how much work you’ll need to do to make that a good investment!
We’re not training you just to learn a new hobby – my focus is on retraining and helping women to make makeup and beauty a valid career. Our aim is to produce industry-ready professionals. We’ve even ensured that our courses are accredited by the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC), so you can get insurance straight away when you start working.
How do you make your business work with being a mum?
My daughter, Savanna, is 20 months old now and I have an amazing mum who looks after her when I’m at work. My partner is self-employed so he’s flexible, too. I also work around her sleep times – I put her down for a morning nap and get straight onto the computer to cram as much in until she wakes.
It would be so hard without the support of my mum and partner, but not impossible. And I know it will all get a lot easier when Savanna starts nursery.
I am really passionate about the business but conscious about it taking over. Sometimes it can be hard trying to give your best to everything.
What’s your vision for the future?
I want to really grow the academy, especially the retraining part of it. I’ve got a beauty teacher on board to run beauty courses, and got some plans for hair courses too. I’d love to go national and get academies open in other parts of the UK.
You can find out more about The Mode Academy of makeup on their website.