Women On Top
#SoYouWantMyJob: Namrata Soni — Celebrity Makeup Artist & Hair Stylist
Many professions look fun, glamorous, and almost easy from the outside, mostly because we have NO idea about what goes on behind the scenes. A universal truth is that to be successful in any job, in any field, takes a ton of hard work that a lot of people don’t see.
To bust some myths, we introduce our new series So You Want My Job? — where we get young, successful, influential women to tell us what it actually takes to do what they do. I think we all stand a chance to learn a thing or two from them!
Makeup artistry and hairstyling is a profession that can probably be deemed as one of the most sought-after, especially amongst millenials nowadays. From movies to magazines, from photoshoots to bridal appearances, the desire to enter this industry is growing and how!
Within this thriving industry stand the artistic hands behind the various flawless faces you come across. And one of the most prominent names is celebrity makeup artist and hairstylist, Namrata Soni.
Namrata doesn’t need an introduction, because we’re pretty sure you’ve heard her name AND have seen her work. Her artistic flare has been spotted on celebrities such as Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone — yeah, Namrata Soni is a name synonymous with makeup and hair.
Taking us beyond the facade of glamour that the industry resonates, her 16-year experience tells us of the sacrifices, hard-work and, of course, the rewards of being a MUA and hairstylist.
Looking to step into the behind-the-scenes of this glam world? Get your pens out and take notes, ’cause this veteran’s advice leaves no stone un-turned, and no makeup un-blended!
Tell us about yourself and what you do.
I am a makeup artist and hairstylist, and have been working in this industry for the last 16 years. AND I love my job!
What does a typical day in your life look like?
A typical day in my life is waking up in the morning at around 7 am — especially when I am shooting, which is around 5-6 days a week.
I take approximately an hour to get ready, have some breakfast, and then leave for work. Typically, my day lasts anywhere between 12 to 15 hours, of which I’m on my feet for most of it. And then I head home and it’s back to the grind the very next day!
What did you do to become a makeup artist and hairstylist?
It all actually happened by chance, nothing was planned. I was in boarding school for around 6 years and while I was there, we weren’t allowed to go out to cut our hair. So I landed up cutting a lot of my friend’s hair for fun, and I realised I really enjoyed it a lot.
I then went to Jai Hind College in Mumbai, and during my summer vacation, I decided to do an internship under Colleen Khan – honestly, it was just for fun! I knew it was something I wanted to do, but I wasn’t too sure about it.
I applied to some international colleges for courses in economics and commerce, and even though I did get into some of them, I was confused.
Back then, around 16 years ago, there weren’t too many courses in India. Because of Colleen Khan, I did a course in makeup, which basically drove me to want to study it more – it was a basic course, but it helped me understand what I wanted to do with my life.
I knew I wanted to do something different in this industry and create my own niche – so I decided to go and study at The Delmark Academy Of Makeup in London, which is the best in the world.
It was hard work all the way, but it helped me learn everything I know today. I have been privileged enough to keep going back and studying more with them.
All of it happened by chance and fell into my lap – it wasn’t something I planned. At the end of the day, it was my way of keeping busy during the summer holidays. A fun thing that became my career!
What’s the most fun part of what you do?
I get to work on different faces every day and create magic! It’s like having a blank canvas where you get to create something magical on that person, and make them feel special and beautiful about themselves!
Everybody is beautiful and has those 1-2 beautiful elements about themselves, and my job is to just make that aspect of them shine.
Who can ask for a better job than that, right?
And the hardest?
The waiting around during shoots and the long hours are probably the hardest part of the job, especially if you’re working on a movie.
You’re working around 14-17 hours a day, and the waiting around can get really lengthy and boring – but when you’re doing the work, it’s fast paced and great. Once you get to see your work on a big screen, it’s really exciting!
There’s no doubt that it is a tough job — it keeps you away from your family for many days and there are times when you will have to make a choice — family first or work.
For me, over the years, it’s always been a given that I love my job, and honestly, I don’t do it as a JOB. I am lucky enough to do something that I love and get paid well for it.
Of course, there are shoots and days that are hard and challenging, but that’s just part of anything in anybody’s life.
What is the job market like for your profession & what does it take?
The job market is amazing right now! I mean, there is enough work for everybody. We have the highest population in the world, and that means millions of brides in our country, and across the world, there are so many newcomers becoming actors and stars, and just as many people who are stepping into the world of fashion. So there is enough work for everybody.
But I think what is happening is that people need to understand that they really need to train – there is so much of competition today, so they need to know what they’re up against.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
I’ve seen that there are thousands of people who want to become makeup artists, hairstylists, designers and stylists and they think that job is very rote and obviously quite glamorous.
They don’t understand that behind all that glamour, there is a lot that goes into this job. You have to make a ton of sacrifices and put in many hours of your life. People are so enamoured by the glamour that they forget all of this!
The biggest misconception is that the industry is glamorous, you get to travel around the world, and enjoy everything. It isn’t as glamorous as it sounds or looks.
Literally every time I tell someone I am makeup artist, they’re reaction is “how lovely, sounds so glam, I really would love to be one too” and I am like “great, take my job”. They don’t see the sacrifices I have made to reach where I have.
I have made difficult choices – some right, some wrong…I wish I could turn back the clock, but I can’t and I love where I am, and I love my job.
What would one need to do to get a job like yours?
Besides skill, I feel hard work plays an important role in what goes into being a MUA. Give it your all, give it your best, and always be honest, on time, don’t sit and gossip – that is something I always tell everybody, because this industry is small and you can always find out things!
What’s the single-most important quality you need to possess to do your job?
I think you need to have a natural instinct for this job. If you are someone who doesn’t even know how to hold a brush properly, even after studying makeup, then this job isn’t really for you.
Career advice to a confused 20-something on how to choose a job/profession that’s right for them?
Firstly, be sure of what you want to do in your life. I see a lot of people flushing in and out of jobs in a matter of just year – first year, they’re a makeup artist, second year, they’re a hairstylist, third, a fashion stylist, and fourth, I find out they’re a doctor!
You need to know what you want to do and give it your all — it is absolutely essential. It is also important to assist someone, and when you are assisting that person, DO NOT feel privileged.
I feel that over the last 6 years, much of this younger generation seems to be very entitled. Many times I hear them say, “why should I do this if I am not being paid well.” Let me tell you something, if you want to get paid you have to earn it.
I never got paid when I assisted, I never got paid for the first 3 years of my career and I did pretty much everything for free, mainly because I was so passionate and compassionate about paving a career for myself and my work. It didn’t even matter!
The first question I get asked nowadays is, what’s the salary — I understand that you want to earn some money, but that shouldn’t be the only reason you want to do this!