Susan Kirsch: Makeup artist

I have two businesses: an online cosmetic.

I have two businesses: an online cosmetic brand, Pandora’s Makeup Box, that manufactures and distributes cosmetics, and I operate Kirsch Cosmetics Studio. I give makeup lessons and do applications for special occasions including weddings. I have a staff of five people, and the Studio is my testing ground for the cosmetic brand.

I’m 55 now. I graduated from Ryerson’s business school and then worked in retail management, but I always came back to makeup artistry as my hobby, and eventually that became my business. I was good at business but had a creative side that hadn’t been developed yet. My mother was a painter, and my father is in business. When I went to school, I did what I thought best suited my skill set.

When I was recently at the PĂ©rez Art Museum in Miami, I saw an exhibit laid out on the floor, a colour wheel made of dyed fabrics. Each piece was a different colour, and it just spoke to me. I decided I had to do something in fabric dying and colour outside my field. When I came back, the only course I could find was OCAD’s on fibre arts with natural dyes, and it fit my schedule. It was the most interesting and creative experience. The colour palette in natural fibre dying is very harmonious and beautiful. I’m now creating nail polishes based on some of the colours I created in that class.

Also, my brand is environmentally friendly, packaged in recyclable paper with soy ink, so I was interested in working with dyes that are safer for the environment. It wasn’t just about colour, but also the materials we were using.

Colour is very personal. A course like that speaks differently to each person who takes it. I have a background working with colour in a different medium, and every minute I was there I felt like I was learning something. By the end I wished the course had a part two.

The student mix was really interesting. You end up networking with people who are outside your natural circle, and you get stimulated working together.

A good makeup artist needs to be able to see the finished product, what a person will look like with their makeup done. It’s the same thing with dyes. You may not be able to imagine what it will look like, but once you see the finished product you have ideas about what you want to do with it.

It’s also nice at this stage to be able to do something with my hands that stands by itself. Makeup washes off. I don’t have a finished product to look at forever except in a picture. It took me a long time to realize that I see things dimensionally. I couldn’t draw flat I still can’t draw flat. I didn’t know what artistic abilities I had until much later in life.

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