I had lived in the UK for 16 years before me and my soon-to-be family decided to pick up and leave for the sunny life in LA. When we got pregnant we knew something had to give. As a freelance makeup artist in London for the past 10 years, I had increasingly itchy feet and a craving for vitamin D. Oh, and I also decided that it was the right time to launch my own brand of all-purpose beauty ointment too. You know those nights when you go to bed and wonder, “what the hell am I doing?!” I’ve been wondering that for a while!
It’s amazing what pregnancy hormones can do to a woman’s brain. I think the thought of a little life becoming dependent on me was the exact push I needed to start working on the ointment, and I knew that with all my beauty industry contacts in the UK, I needed to launch my product there before the move. Luckily, I had very talented friends around me who helped me to create a great product and everything that goes along with that, and already knowing the industry definitely helped a lot.
My husband soon got a job offer, so with a 3-month-old to look after and a brand new product launching, we packed and shipped our stuff to America while waiting for my husband’s visa. 6 months later and we too were on our way!
You know those nights when you go to bed and wonder, “what the hell am I doing?!” I’ve been wondering that for a while!
Moving to LA has been a lot of hard work. Not only setting up a new life in a very new country (I am American by passport but have lived in Europe and England for the majority of my life) but also learning about our little man’s developmental phases, finding like-minded mama’s and building a new network of makeup clients from scratch is beyond a full-time, non-stop job! It’s definitely shown me what humans can be capable of with a strong support network.
We’ve now been in Los Angeles for the past 7 months and are ticking things off the list — making friends, getting settled… but it’s not been easy, there have been some real challenges.
With an 8-hour time difference between the US and the UK I only have a small window to reply to emails and deal with issues from our amazing company who fulfil all of our UK and European orders, from manufacturers, from banks… Breakfast is no longer the most delicious, relaxing meal of the day. It’s generally spent eating cold eggs, stood up, while wiping some food or another off my son’s clothes and getting ready to change a dirty diaper alongside reading emails. One hot mess! This is when mother’s guilt kicks in and I feel like I could be more present, especially when the phone is glued to my hand.
I spent 10 years working in the beauty and fashion industries in London but LA is a very commercial city and for this reason a very different beast. Thanks to a great London portfolio (if I do say so myself!) I’ve had some meetings with fantastic agencies out here but no LA photographers which is a bit scary! Through my meetings with agents, I am starting to tame it and thankfully, a lot of people from London and NY shoot over here, which is how I’m getting most of my clients. But it’s a hard slog and taking a lot of perseverance to start over and build everything from the ground up.
It’s a hard slog and taking a lot of perseverance to start over and build everything from the ground up.
Since becoming a mum I’ve gone non-toxic with my whole makeup kit. It’s something that became really important to me when I was pregnant when I realised that what I put on my hand was going into my blood stream and, in essence, into my baby. So, to help me build the right contacts in the LA market as well as expand my green, non-toxic beauty knowledge — and get me out of the house! — I’ve taken a part-time job and the experience I’m gaining from that is incredible but the setup’s not ideal. Although it’s not a normal retail job (it’s way more fun), I’ve gone from shooting for magazines such as Vogue, Interview, Marie Claire to working at a store. Essentially going from being my own boss to having a boss. I’m getting through this by concentrating on my own goals and on how much I’m learning and how crucial that knowledge will be to my job as a makeup artist, product owner and as a mother. Makeup, beauty, fashion are ever changing industries and I’ve found a fun way to learn and expand my knowledge of something that is good for my wellbeing and for my clients at the same time.
The move has been really challenging and sometimes it’s hard not to cry and say “I give up!” but I just have to remember that life is a rollercoaster and if we made it through the last year then we can make it through another. Our 16-month old son is growing up in the sunshine, playing in the pool and all that just makes it worth all the hard work. I continue, day by day, to go into the challenge head first and remember to laugh with my husband and son along the way.
Photograph by Stephanie Gannon-Malcolm.