Interview with Jacqui McElroy, founder of TMS (The Makeup School)

Read how, frustrated by the lack of basic skills of graduates, freelance makeup artist Jacqui McElroy, decided to launch TMS (The Makeup School).

What’s your career background?

I’m a freelance makeup artist, mainly working for the music and fashion world, and director of TMS (The Makeup School) which I founded five years ago.

How did your career change after having children?

It didn’t change too much, but was just slightly harder to juggle jobs with looking after a baby. Last minute jobs weren’t so easy to accept!

Where did the idea for TMS come from?

It came from working with graduates who even after having spent a year at college still didn’t know how to carry out the most basic makeup techniques like how to apply a tight eyeliner or do a beautiful foundation!

This made be realise there was a real need for a specialist makeup school that could offer proper training.

How did you move from idea to actual business?

Very slowly! I started off teaching in my home. I had a room that I set up as a makeup studio, then when that became my baby’s room I had to move it out to another location which gave me the shove I needed!

What’s your USP?

I would say that the fact I keep classes small – 8-10 students max – and that each student gets one-to-one attention which doesn’t happen in the bigger schools. Students really get a very personal touch at TMS.

Who’s your target audience?

Anyone between the age of 18 and 45 – boys and girls. Generally they are either looking to start a new career or wanting to improve their skills.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Social media, Sarah my amazing PR guru and Google mainly. I’m not amazing at social media though, and am not as disciplined as I should be about it!

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Google and Google ads. They run a monopoly and make it very hard for small businesses to thrive. Also, I am very slow at working out how to update and amend my website – I’m a complete luddite when it comes to anything to do with technology!

And your proudest moment so far?

It has to be the last batch of students that leave the school. They’re always really happy that they made it through the week with positive outcomes and confident in their ability to do makeup to a professional standard which never fails to give me a real buzz.

Why is work so important to you?

I love my job and find it really rewarding. TMS is my baby and it is really important to me that everyone who walks through my door gets the attention they deserve and leaves having achieved all that they hoped they would and more.

Who inspires you?

Self-made people like Gordon Ramsay who has a similar background to myself, Lord Sugar, JK Rowling. I’m trying my hardest to get to where they are now!

How do you balance your business with your family?

To be honest it is a bit of a juggling act. When my daughter is not at school I’m with her 24:7 and am constantly told off for being on the computer or phone! Also, I have to go away quite a lot on assignments which can be quite tough.

That said, I think on the whole I have got my work/life balance sorted although I do sometimes find I have to catch up with work late at night after my daughter has gone to bed!

What are your three top pieces of advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

  • Just go for it! I tend to procrastinate a LOT but then I’ll go for it and wonder why it took me so long.
  • Don’t be scared to ask for help.
  • Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Making mistakes is how you learn what works and what doesn’t.

You can find out more about TMS on their website.