“I Would Sit for Hours Practicing Different Makeup Looks, like a Form of Meditation” A Conversation with MUA Athena Efstathiou

“I Would Sit for Hours Practicing Different Makeup Looks, like a Form of Meditation” A Conversation with MUA Athena Efstathiou

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Athena Efstathiou aka @goddessbeautymakeup was determined to prove she could build a career as a make-up artist. Now, with celebrity clients and buzz building around her name, she shares how she’s worked to build her skills and platform, and what her self-talk is saying.
Athena Goddess Beauty Makeup

Athena I want to just start by asking what drew you to makeup artistry in the first place?

I really loved makeup from when I was a child. I used to steal my mum’s makeup, and now she steals mine, so how the roles have reversed! Being a makeup artist in a Greek family when I was growing up wasn’t seen as a job. You were told to be a solicitor or an accountant. So when I said: “I’m going to be a makeup artist” my family were like, “no you’re not, that’s not a job”.

I found makeup because I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. My family wanted me to go to Uni and study there. I was depressed, I didn’t know what I was doing, I kept getting fired from jobs and makeup was the only thing that made me happy. I would actually lock myself in my room and sit for hours practicing different makeup looks, like a form of meditation.

Then in turn people would say, ‘Oh, I, like the way you do your face, can you do mine’ and I loved it! I loved the way that I could help women feel more confident, it was a little buzz. The woman that sat in my chair at the beginning was not the same woman that left in my chair because it’s more than just applying the makeup – her body language changes. That was the beginning of my journey.

 

And did you then go on to have professional training or did you coach yourself?

I did. I went and got professionally trained, and then I worked on counters for many years, and then I went freelance a few years ago. I always say to new makeup artists, you should work on a counter because that’s where you actually start the real learning. That’s where you figure out everyone’s skin type, everyone’s unique skin tone. It’s the real nitty gritty.

“I always say to new makeup artists, you should work on a counter because that’s where you actually start the real learning. That’s where you figure out everyone’s skin type, everyone’s unique skin tone. It’s the real nitty gritty.”

 

Yeah I can imagine! Was it a big decision to go freelance? Was there a trigger moment or was it just a personal decision over a period of time?

Well, I was working on MAC at the time, and they were really pushing me on sales and I knew I just wasn’t a saleswoman. I’m an artist I don’t like selling, and it got to a point where I was losing out on other jobs, because of the working hours so I had to take the plunge. I had complete anxiety and a mini mental breakdown but was like, “I can do this”, and I did it.

 

It’s scary stepping away from that stability but ultimately you can set yourself up for success because you’re taking ownership.

Exactly and it takes a while, especially in my industry, to get yourself known so you have to really push yourself. It’s all about pushing yourself, doing things, persisting and just getting the job done!

 “It’s all about pushing yourself, doing things, persisting and just getting the job done!”

 

This is exactly what I wanted to come onto. You’ve worked with many celebrity clients. How did you build those relationships, because I imagine that’s quite a competitive space but really valuable in elevating your profile as an artist!

Wow. How did I?! I just think with experience, being proactive with networking and also having a good portfolio. And then also having the drive – it’s a mix of those things altogether. Obviously, when you approach someone’s manager, or when someone says your name you have to know people in order for them to refer you, or you have to have a good portfolio for a manager to even look twice at you, so I would say all of the above. (And a bit of luck!)

 

A little bit of luck, but then luck comes to those who are ready for it.

Yeah definitely.

 

And what do you think are some of the main challenges to having success as a makeup artist?

I think it’s the drive to keep going when nothing’s happening and I feel that’s why so many of us hit a depression, through corona because nothing was happening. We’re so used to being so busy, you have to have that drive to think okay so we’re on a lockdown, what can I do to help pivot, keep creative, and try and make some money. Definitely in the quiet times, keeping yourself moving is the hardest part.

 

I’m sure you get recommendation questions all the time so I’ll keep it specific. What is your go-to moisturiser or base?

So I’ve got two. One of them is Azuaya which was actually formulated by two founders who went to the Amazon rainforest, sourced all of the natural ingredients and formulated from there. I really love that product and can vouch for it. I’m also loving the Egyptian Magic Cream and again that’s made with very few ingredients. It’s all natural and good for you. You can use it all over your body and it is great for all skin types. It’s a bit of magic it is.

 

And then what about lip products – are you a gloss girl, a cream girl like what’s your go to?

Since masks, it’s become a little bit hard to be a gloss girl, but I am one at heart for sure. But no, with the mask I’ve just been using Lip Liners. I’ll use a dark one on the outside and then a lighter one on the inside, because it tends to stay more in place. Little hack for you.

 

Love it – thank you. Okay, who are some entrepreneurs and perhaps people in your industry who inspire you?

Oh, so many. There are so many that I look up to. Number one being @makeupbymario. I’m obsessed with him and his journey. He started from nothing, just working at Sephora on and on counters like me and went on to be doing bloody Kim Kardashian. And I love that because it shows that could be me, that could be you, that really could be anyone that actually wants it and works hard. We can achieve anything and I love stories like that.

And then I would also say, Hrush because similarly, she came from a family that had nothing and now she’s doing makeup for so many top celebrities.

“that could be me, that could be you, that really could be anyone that actually wants it and works hard”

 

You know I feel when I was younger, I was told that having connections and networks was everything and then as I’ve grown up there were all these stories of people who had literally no connections. I feel like we’re living in this time where that really doesn’t matter anymore – exactly as you say, if you’re driven enough, you really can do anything.

Final question for you – are there any quotes or mantras that inspire you or that you really like?

I would say, you can do anything you put your mind to, and I know it’s so cringey and so cliche but 16 year old me would have cried at what I’ve done today. You actually can achieve anything you want, and I really want women, and men, to realise that you are worthy and you can do it as long as you want to.

To keep up to date with Athena, her top tips, make-up videos and recommendations, you can follow her on Instagram @goddessbeautymakeup

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