Jade Kisnorbo shares what it takes to become one of Australia’s leading Celebrity Makeup Artists while juggling life as a working mother. We were proud to work with Jade on our latest photoshoot for the launch of our new Mascara Collection.
How did you get your first start in makeup?
I definitely didn’t go straight into makeup, I was actually studying health sciences and then I graduated and my husband was waiting over in London, so I went over and I started a role in sales (as you do out of uni) and at the same time I got into post-grad physio.
So, I got into all of this and then I finally made the choice that I was going to do something that I really loved, because Patrick’s job kept moving and I needed flexibility.
I had always had a flare in beauty so I went with it. I studied in SOHO London, doing both hair and makeup and I remember at the very end of the course – the instructors said ‘take a look around, because only 5% of you are going to have a long-lasting career in this’. I was floored, I’d just spent $20,000 on this course and I remember thinking to myself, ‘oh my goodness – how many people actually work full time in this industry?’. The reality is, not many!
Who are some of your favourite clients to work with?
I’m so lucky with the calibre of strong women I get to work with, Rachael Finch is always going to be a favourite as she was one of first new clients I got when we relocated, as well as Nadia Bartel and Rebecca Judd. I love Bec’s approach, she just gets in and gets it done, she has the kids to manage – I can relate to that.
What has been a key challenge you’ve come up against?
After hustling to get as many opportunities as I could to work in London, I finally worked my way up to paying jobs at Fashion Week in the UK and then Paris. From there, I made my way into doing makeup for music videos, BBC TV and the Next Top Model series. I cannot emphasise enough how hard you had to hustle, day and night, to make it to the top of the recommendation lists for work – there’s a lot of competition out there.
The real part of the challenge came when, after 5 years, I started to get paid jobs and then we decided it was time to move back to Australia – it was like starting again from scratch, except now I had a 6 week old baby, Milana, who is now in her first year of primary school. I got off the plane in Melbourne and did not know anyone and I just started again. Hustle.
Soon after, I got a call from IMG to work with Rachael Finch and as we were fresh back home, I had to have my sister confirm to me how huge of an opportunity it was. After that, I worked with so many amazing celebs visiting Australia; from Sophia Ritchie to Charlie Sheen and it just started to snowball again.
This last year has been a big one as well, because MYER called and all that Fashion Week experience from overseas, they wanted me to direct things all across Australia. I had to pinch myself a little bit, but they were so keen after hearing about everything I had done in London and Paris.
What’s your next challenge looking like?
2017 was the last year I had both of the kids in kinder, Valentina is still there but Milana starts school this year, so that’s exciting, but I’m already stocking up on waterproof mascara for first drop-off and pick-up. I’m pretty emotional already and when you see them in their uniform and it’s just a little too big…and they’ve spent five hours picking out a lunch box….it’s too cute! Their little personalities have really come out. I will probably cry.
What was it like studying and working in Europe?
While I was studying, my course makeup teacher was working for Vogue, that’s one of the benefits of learning over in Europe – everyone at the top is very well connected. At the end of my course, they asked around saying ‘What do you want to do?’. So many people were saying ‘Bridal, I only want to do bridal’ or ‘Runway, only editorial makeup’. I thought to myself, I am going to do everything. Anything and everything I can get involved with, no restrictions. I think that headspace is what lead to so many opportunities opening up for me. I didn’t pigeon-hole myself.
What are your top tips for people looking to break into a creative industry?
Surround yourself with mentors and don’t forget to hustle. That same makeup teacher in London spoke to me at the end of the course – she held my hand and to this day I will never forget this, she looked at me and she said, ‘Trust me you will not struggle’ I said fearfully, ‘How do you know though?’ and she said ‘You can do this, just keep working hard’ – so in the early days, every time I would get low I would think of that - for two years, I basically worked for free. With travel it was actually costing me to work, but in those first few years, I just hustled. I took all the constructive criticism (and some of the non-constructive) and made it work for me.
I think for working women, particularly creatives, it’s not all a fairy tale - it doesn’t just lay itself out for you. Learn to hustle. It’s also about your eye, for makeup artists, photographers, directors – it’s your eye and style that get you there and the reality is that your eye and your skill level take time to meet. That’s why so many people give up initially, I honestly think it takes and 3-5 years for your hand to match your eye. I remember in the early days thinking, ‘Why can’t I get things to look as they do in my head?’ it’s all a learning curve and it takes perseverance to get there.
Who inspires you?
She’s actually a makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge, she’s the reason why I started. She really smart and well researched, which you don’t always associate with makeup artistry.
What is one thing you would like people to know about makeup artistry, that they might not know already?
There’s so much now that people are doing with skincare and lots of people are messing with their skin using low-quality products. Keeping it non-harmful and natural has its benefits – trust me, I see it up close, every day.
What is your favourite look to create at the moment?
The look we created using the Bold Lash Vegan Mascara, this is kind of my signature thing, a beautiful and warm, rusty brown for a soft brown eye. It’s really wearable for day or night and you can intensify or strip it back based on that. Oh and beautiful skin, it’s all about natural looking and glowing skin.
What is your favourite INIKA Organic product?
I’ve fallen in love with the Certified Organic Cream Illuminsor, I use it all over the face to give clients that natural looking glow – cheeks, lips, nose, forehead, the lot. I also find myself reaching for the Baked Mineral Bronzer, it allows me to add dimension to a model’s face, without it looking flat and muddy, in person and on camera, that’s so important in a bronzer.
What makes natural/cruelty-free products so important?
So many brands test on animals, so the fact that brands like INIKA Organic will never and have never tested on animals and also are encouraging people to steer away from that - is a big thing for me.
You can find Jade's beautiful work on Instagram at @jade__kmakeup.
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