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Brushing up on beauty

D’borah Blenman (left) points out something to her student, Tonya Emtage (centre).

by Shamkoe Pilé

As a woman whose life revolves around beauty, it is surprising that while growing up, D’borah Blenman never aspired to becoming a make-up artist, nor did she ever envision that one day she would own a beauty salon, be a brand representative for an international line, or teach make-up artistry.

In fact, as a young girl at the Ellerslie Secondary School, the Barbados Vocational Training Board tutor wanted to be a lawyer. But, when her father sent her to work in her cousin’s salon at the age of 17, she discovered she had a knack for hairstyling, and from there, her love for the field grew and she pursued cosmetology studies in Barbados and attended courses overseas.

She further developed her skills in specialised areas, such as make-up for film through on-the-job training.

“I worked with Film Barbados, a company that facilitated American, Canadian and European organisations to shoot movies and commercials here. I started out as a make-up assistant on set and trained on the job.

“When management realised my talents, they stopped bringing in make-up artists from overseas and asked me to head that department,” she recalled, adding that she also trained in San Francisco with Krolyan, a German make-up brand.

Equipped with skills in hairstyling, make-up application and numerous other beauty techniques, her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in, and at 20 years old, she opened her own salon.

“When I started, I rented a station from a salon and eventually I was able to own a place,” the 36-year old reminisced.

Today, the business is now 16 years old.

Being a representative of an international make-up brand has also kept this entrepreneur busy. To date, she has conducted workshops here as well as in Dominica, St. Lucia, Antigua, Jamaica, Grenada and St. Vincent.

The BVTB tutor enjoys teaching and sharing secrets of the trade. During class, she often utilises real life scenarios and models to give her students experience. The make-up soir?e is one such tool by which she accomplishes this and it has become a hallmark in the make-up artistry programme.

In this exercise, students are exposed to applying make-up on a production line, a technique used for pageants, shows, films or when make-up is required for several persons at the same time.

“What happens is that one station does cleansing, another does foundation and another works on the eyes and so on. The students were taught to do individual make-up from start to finish, but now, the focus on the production line is to help them work as a team, [to] pick up from where the other person left off and then have a flawless finished look at the end as if one person did it,” she outlined.

Blenman encouraged persons to sign up for the beginners and advanced make-up artistry courses: “Invest in yourself and learn a skill, you could discover hidden talents, acquire new skills and generate income from what you learn.”

Students have indicated their satisfaction with the cosmetology programme, noting that the combination of hands-on and theoretical assignments allowed for on-the-spot feedback and assessment.

The classes are geared at women from 18 to over 40 years old. The students emphasised that they learnt not only the techniques of make-up application, but emphasis was also placed on personal creativity, hygiene, attention to detail and the business of make-up artistry.

The Make-up Artistry evening programme is offered three times a year by the BVTB, with the next cohort scheduled to commence in January 2013. Classes are held for two hours once a week, and run for a period of 12 weeks.

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