Tuesday, February 23, 2016

YCFY #1: Emilie Bruun Talks BSD & Makeup Industry Advice

Introducing a new project on Electric Edge: Youth Chat For Youth!

Particularly in the past couple of years as I have tried to grow, explore my interests and figure out who I am/what I want to pursue, I've begun to attribute a lot of value to dreams. Dreams as in aspirations, not the dreams you have while you're asleep- although they may sometimes be synonymous. This is because when I sometimes find that the life I'm living day after day is invaluable, I turn towards what I plan to do in the future and how I can make my life colorful then, doing something that invigorates me. And most of the time, based on the activities and concepts that I seem to love, things I hope to do in the future seem impossible or unrealistic; fueling the ongoing debate in my head of "Do what you love vs. do something that allows you to support yourself." I acknowledge that this debate isn't always black and white- there are gray areas, or points of crossover: the hope of most people is to find a way to substantially support yourself while doing what you love. But is this possible in all cases? And if it is possible...does it involve compromising what we love a little bit to fit in the money-making part? Is it worth it to do so? Is there any way to avoid this compromise? I'm willing to compromise on many matters, but when it is my happiness and sense of purpose in question, I don't think I'm willing to settle. How could someone be? And then you're back to square one of the debate. There seems to be no clear answer, in my mind.

As someone who is interested in writing and the fashion industry, this debate leaves me confused and a bit hopeless. Being at the stage of my life where I'm admittedly a bit naive and hope anything is possible leaves me vulnerable to the negative effects of what is imposed on me as "reality": apparently, shooting for a career in fashion/creative writing is highly risky, and not just risky, but probably a waste of time. But if we're going to get super philosophical (I'm sure you're groaning at how pretentious I seem), is reality actually reality? It might be the fact that I'm naive and don't have much life experience with hard-hitting truths, but I kinda believe that the "truth" is only true sometimes. Even if there's proof that what you dream of doing is likely to bring you more disappointment than happiness, there's always the possibility of beating the odds. While undoubtedly a lot easier said than done, it doesn't happen if you don't start, if you don't do.

This is precisely what so many youth interested in the fashion/beauty industry are doing: starting and doing, with whatever they can: Instagram, blogs, etc. But all through this process, there's still the underlying fear of a dream forever remaining just a dream. But dreams, from my experience, are an enormous source of hope and wonder, vital to my daily happiness and growth. So, as someone who has experienced this and still is experiencing this, I wanted to start a sort of "protection program" for youth trying to pursue their dreams in general, but specifically the fashion/beauty industry. While I'm focusing on the fashion/beauty industry because it relates most to my blog, my hope is that the information and advice Youth Chat For Youth (YCFY) will provide will be applicable to any sort of goal you have as a young person, or at least give you some insight on what other people in this same boat are doing about it.

I haven't done too much in-depth planning for YCFY, but I'm hoping to chat with youth in this industry all about their endeavors and get their opinions on this whole "dream" stuff. I hope you'll learn a lot, and I hope I'll learn a lot as well!!
I recently spoke to Emilie Bruun, a self-taught aspiring makeup artist/beauty vlogger. In addition to this, she is also a 19 year-old Danish human with a dream, who is doing in order to pursue it. After displaying her beauty looks on Instagram, Emilie eventually was selected by Lou Teasdale (hair stylist, makeup artist, and author of The Craft, as I've raved about multiple times) to participate in a 6 day program called Beauty School Dropout, run by Lou herself as well as Nicola Schuller. With a six hour time difference, Emilie and I talked over Skype about her personal endeavors in the industry, everything BSD (Beauty School Dropout) and the obstacles facing youth trying to break into the industry today.  

Here's what she had to say!

Caroline: To start with general questions- How did you get into makeup? How long have you been doing this?

Em: That's so hard because I actually used to absolutely hate makeup, it was the worst thing I ever knew about. I used to be the biggest tomboy ever- I was the total opposite of makeup. And I never really had females in my life that wore makeup, so I didn't really have anyone to teach me... I think maybe it was Lou who kind of, like, introduced me. But it was only last year when I was like, "I'm going to kick ass with makeup." But it's only been about since August or so that I've been thinking about actually doing it as a career.

Caroline: What was that like? How did you go from just doing something for fun to [the mentality of] "I actually want to pursue this as something serious, and a career"?

Em: If I want something, I'm going to do it. Like, I don't mess around. So one day, I literally just sat down, watched YouTube all day on how make yourself as a branding.... people giving tips on how to make it more professional, and I used people like Lou as inspiration for doing more. I sat down, took  a notebook, wrote everything down and just started the day after and was like "Today is the day I'm gonna start this."

Caroline: Well it's working really well! There are tons of people that love your makeup looks on Instagram...I think it's because lots of people love Lou's whole aesthetic and what she puts on her instagram, and it's cool to see people recreating those type of looks.

Em: Yeah, she has one style that she keeps... and it's a style that doesn't go out of style. Like, she has been very grunge for years. Like, in her early 20's she became very grunge because she was in the '90s...

Caroline: And then she just stayed like that.

Em: Yeah, she just stayed... and of course you can wear grunge makeup, that's nothing new, but she made it work as a grown up, as a mom. So she's kind of made 'really grunge' into an everyday, wearable grunge makeup if that makes sense.

Caroline: I really like how Lou is promoting that as something that's not crazy... I feel like a lot of people used to think that unnatural colored hair and makeup was just crazy and Halloween type of stuff. And I feel like now it's an actual fashion statement and it's really cool.

Em: Yeah, I feel like everyone is trying to "teach" people that.... I feel like dyed hair and really out there makeup is mostly known as "punk", so I feel like people are showing people that just because you have crazy colored hair doesn't mean that you're punk. We try to make it into something good.

Caroline: Okay, so in my post about Lou a while ago, I tried to describe her aesthetic in one sentence. How would you describe your aesthetic in a sentence, if you had to?

Em: My aesthetic.... I really love out-there makeup but I want it to be really wearable, so I want something editorial but I want it to be wearable.

Caroline: Her daughter is going to grow up to be the coolest person.

Em: She is the coolest person ever and she's the sweetest person ever! She gave me a strawberry. She came around [to BSD] I think it was Wednesday, and her and Tom had just gone to a market... and Lou was like "Maybe ask the girls if they want a strawberry."

Caroline: She's so adorable and Lou dresses her so well! Before we talk more about BSD, I wanted to ask you about something I keep seeing on Twitter. A lot of people, particularly males, are taking to social media to express how girls always wear too much makeup, coining the phrases "This is false advertisement" and "Take her swimming on the first date."As a girl who is pursuing makeup as a professional career, what do you think about that? Is there something you wish they would realize that they seem to be missing?

Em: They're idiots. Of course, I can see what they mean because I do wear a lot of makeup personally, but I think it's because in the early 2000's when you wore a lot of makeup that meant you had cake face and you could actually see everything. But now I feel like everyone's become really good at blending... I'm wearing shitloads of makeup right now, but if you get close up to my face, it just looks like my natural skin but a lot better.

Caroline: Also I feel like boys (or anyone who will say that type of stuff) think that the only reason that people wear makeup is to cover their insecurities, which really is just not true at all.

Em: I think it's because they don't do it themselves, so they don't know the thought behind the makeup. They don't go through it every day, so maybe it's because they don't see what you see as a makeup person. For them it's kinda just like a lot of shit on your face, but for you it's like art.

Caroline: Ok, so can we talk about BSD now? First do you want to talk a bit about pre-BSD, like the application process and the interview you did with Lou and the final image you had to do?

Em: First off I didn't even want to apply because I didn't know where I would be at this time last year. But I signed up, and then it was just a waiting game. Then when they [Lou and Nicola] told us that they were announcing the top 30, I was not expecting anything at all. [When that day came] I was refreshing and nothing happened for, like, 30 minutes, and then my parents called me down for dinner. And then when I came back, I didn't understand anything because my phone blew up. I went on my phone and [after seeing that I made the top 30] said "That's me, and that's a really bad picture." And then I literally just burst into tears... then we got the email saying "You have an assignment!"

Caroline: Yeah, I remember seeing on Instagram when Lou and Nicola were announcing the top 30 and they said something about you guys having homework.

Em: We had to make a makeup look for a magazine, so we should create something that could actually be on a cover... some people had a week to do it, and others had two weeks and one day. It was actually really stressful- you had to have a location, model, idea, you had to make mood boards for pretty much everything because you had to show it to Lou and Nicola.

Emilie's final image:

Caroline: Were you nervous for that interview? [applicants selected for the top 30 were interviewed in person or over Skype by Lou and Nicola] What type of things did they ask you?

Em: I was actually really, really nervous. I have been in contact with Lou for two or three years- as awkward as it is, I ran a Teasdale fan tumblr- so she knows who I am and all that, and if her expectations of me were not what she was seeing, I was scared that I would disappoint her. She had been very supportive of me, so I was like "If you're expectations of me are dropping now, I'm sorry!" After the interview though, I was like, "Why on Earth was I even nervous?" It felt like it was just some old friends I was talking to- it was more of a conversation than an interview.

Caroline: So what did you guys talk about?

Em: We just talked about the assignment of course and then we started talking about Instagram and YouTube because there was an awkward silence and then Lou was like, "We're massive fans of you, we love you so much!" I was like, "Are you sure you're saying this to the right person?" It was very down to earth, just everyday conversation.

Em's Skype interview with Lou and Nicola (@emilie_bruun on Instagram)

Caroline: Also I think it's so interesting how a lot of the process of announcing the top 30 and top 10 was all done through Instagram. A lot of people who applied for BSD, their main thing was their Instagram and their pictures of their work.

Em: I think it's because Instagram has become this massive thing. We were talking about this at the course actually, Instagram is now your portfolio, in a way.

Caroline: And then you made the top 10, and you were going to go to London [for the course]! What did that mean for you for your professional life and personal life?

Em: I really, really love London- London is probably one of my favorite places. Also, Amy [also made the top 10] and I have been friends for a year and two months nearly, and we had talked all about going to London and meeting up before all of this. And then it just struck us that we were going to meet and live together. We had skyped and facetimed, but had never met.

Amy and Emilie in London for BSD

Caroline: And it's the perfect situation! You're not just going to meet each other, you're going to meet up and live together for a week!

Em: Especially because we both love London a lot and we had already talked about living together since December. We weren't sure when they were going to announce top 10, so just to make sure we had someone for support, we said we were going to live together and start looking just to be sure.

Caroline: So did you guys all live together for that week? Where did you stay?

Em: We lived near the Bleach London salon in Dalston.

Caroline: So you did the actual course in one of the salons?

Em: We did it in the salon in Soho. 

Caroline: What did you do during the days? What were the things that you guys learned, what type of stuff did they show you?

Em: Monday was very casual, we just talked and went through the kit they gave us. We just had a chill day. The second day we learned about airbrush and the basics of how to do it, and then we did braiding. Then some people did vlogging, where others did more hair.

BSD top 10 with their kits (@bsd_academy on Instagram)

Caroline: So they were teaching you guys how to vlog too?

Em: The assistant of Crystal taught people how to do it with the help of Lottie. So people went to the back room of the salon and filmed small tutorials and things like that.

Caroline: Were a lot of the demos by Lou or a ton of different teachers?

Em: We had Lucy [Lucy Bridge, make-up artist] who came in and did glitter on Tuesday, we had Bea Sweet [makeup artist] who came in on Wednesday to teach us about neon, and we had someone come in to do hair on Thursday. So we had three guest teachers, but the rest of it was just between Lou and Nicola. Lou specializes in more grooming, so of course One Direction, so Lou did braiding, male grooming... I think Nicola taught more than Lou because Nicola is more on the makeup side of the industry where Lou is more on the hair side.

Glitter faces, day 2 of BSD (@bsd_academy on Instagram)

Neon demo on Lottie Tomlinson (@bsd_academy on Instagram)

Caroline: And Lottie is an assistant, right?

Em: She was just an assistant so she did things Lou and Nicola told her to do and she was also a model for the demos. She just walked around talking to people.

Caroline: Was it fun to get to know her, too?

Em: Yeah, especially because I know quite a few people who have met her and said she's really shy. And she is very shy when she doesn't know you. So, on the first day she was very quiet. But then the next day she was very open to everyone, we talked like we had known each other for a long time and it was very casual. She opened up to us a lot more and became a lot more easy to talk to.

Caroline: The whole reason I found out about Lou was through One Direction- and then I realized all the other things she does in the industry which is pretty separate from One Direction. I feel like even if you aren't a fan of One Direction, it would be cool to be around Lou and Lottie who are with them a lot and work with people of that status.

Em: Yeah, I wouldn't say she's different but you can definitely tell she's her own person and not just One Direction's hair stylist. She gets a lot of shit about their hair and all that, we talked about it all. She was like, "Actually, a lot of the times, for example Harry's hair, that's his own decision." And management sometimes gets so angry at it, and will ask Lou why she let that happen, and she's like "That's cool!" She gets shit for what the boys actually want. She has to do her job, which is just listening to what they want. But the cool thing is, it seems like [the hate she gets about the boys' hair] doesn't bother her at all.

Caroline: Also, Lottie being Louis Tomlinson's sister, I feel like now that she is getting into makeup and hair and things like that, I like how a lot of people are seeing her as more than just Louis Tomlinson's sister. It makes me mad that people would put her in a box like that.

Em: You could tell that Lottie is still in the phase where she's not used to the fame. So she's very like, "Yeah, sure" if you ask for a picture. You could definitely tell that it was more normal by the end if you just took a picture with each other, though.

Emilie and BSD students with Lou, Nicola, and Lottie on BSD graduation day (@emilie_bruun)

Caroline: All the looks you guys did seemed really fun and helpful! What was the most exciting thing you did, or what was really really fun for you?

Em: Personally I'd say it was the glitter, because I'm a massive fan of Lucy. I don't think Lou knew that, but I was the first person Lou introduced to her and mentally I was just like, "I love you."

Caroline: So are you able to go home from this course and do all these looks on other people now?

Em: For sure. I personally thought I learned more about hair during this course because I'm not really into hair styling, I'm more into hair dying. But we learned all about hair styling and all that so I think I learned more about that. It was very helpful. We learned how to do waves in different methods, because nowadays if you can do a styling in a cool way, everyone is sold on you. So we learned how to do waves in another way than the typical "S" shape, and then for braiding it was dino braids, which Lou is known for. I would say the course was more about small, really important things than big, not so important facts.

Caroline: What do you think was the most valuable part of going to BSD for you? Professionally or personally.

Em: Personally, I think it was getting to know your Internet friends- people I had known for a long time but had never met. Like Lou- getting to actually speak to Lou. In a professional way, it was probably the fifth day, the photo shooting day, because we got actual models in and an actual photographer. It was in a massive studio where Vogue had taken pictures, One Direction, some of the most famous pictures had been taken. So it was like, the connection kind of thing. We also had a panel with Crystal who works for the agency and we were just talking about the industry and professional things, like Instagram- maybe you should have a personal one and a professional one, and all that. We learned a lot about the industry and how maybe we should see things from other perspectives, too: so maybe it could be an idea for us to get work experience in an agency, even though we don't want to be in an agency, just to get to know what people could do for you if you ever became an artist with an agency.
Looks from the final BSD photo shoot (@bsd_academy)

Caroline: I feel like for me, if I were to ever do something like that where I was chosen because of my ability, it would be a really good source of validation for something you love doing. Especially because a lot of people, especially grown-ups, will say that this type of thing isn't something that can be taken seriously.

Em: Yeah, afterwards, my dad became more aware that it's actually a massive thing.

Caroline: Just as a final thing: I want to talk to a lot of people like you who are young and trying to get into this type of industry. And especially I think that a lot of people that are trying to do this are self-taught, and I feel like people, especially young girls who have a dream to pursue this and have a lot of people saying that it's not a serious thing, need advice from people that are doing it and getting validation for it, to say how people can pursue this and how you can realize that this is a dream that you can actually follow. What would you say to people who are in this same boat?

Em: Yeah, I think that's what I missed. I had nobody who taught me anything or gave me any advice, so I had to do everything myself. So I would definitely say practice daily, no matter what. Get to know the basics, like how to combine colors and just basic things you don't really think about. Find someone who inspires you. Don't compete with them, because you're not competing with someone who's actually a pro- you're supposed to compete with yourself and get better than what you were yesterday. Try something new, so every day just change something about your makeup look. I wear totally different makeup every day. If you can, either go to makeup school or find courses around you that can provide you with knowledge about it and just teach you about the actual working part of it all, like how to act towards a client. Be proud of what you do, even though you may look back at it and say "That was not a good look." Don't compare yourself to others because you won't get very far. What I have learned about Instagram is to post at least once per day, and be consistent with what you post. If a person goes on your Instagram, they should be able to tell right away what your Instagram is about. Also, reply to your followers!! You don't need fancy lights or cameras or expensive makeup- I would actually say that before BSD, 90% of my entire makeup was drugstore. Companies like L'Oreal and Mac are run by the same company, and the main difference is just the name, packaging and price. And if you need to wake up ten minutes earlier to get a good photo of your makeup, do that. If you really want this you need to use as much of your time as you can on it, it needs to be a constant thing.

Find Emilie:

Instagram: @emilie_bruun
Email: bruunemilie@gmail.com 
Website: www.emiliebruun.dk
Youtube: www.youtube.com/emiliebruun 

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