As the phrase goes, “it’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together.”
Caroline Monge is a Cosmetology graduate from Aveda Institute South Florida and is now pursuing her passion in the beauty industry as a full-time freelance hair and makeup artist. She has had the opportunity to work on major television networks with celebrities including Martin Short, Bernie Sanders, and some of the cast from Orange is the New Black.
Her passion and dedication for beauty is a clear driver for her current success. Read about her experiences below and learn about how she has paved the way to a career doing what she loves.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the beauty industry?
“I have always been fascinated with art and beauty and was drawn to hair and makeup at a very early age. I would draw faces on paper and color them in with my mother’s makeup. Also, I found myself exploring difficult and cool styles in middle school and constantly taking risks in this aspect. Naturally, as I got into high school, I became a performer in my high school color guard (a sport of the arts, not ROTC) and was deeply immersed in that world. I would always do the hair and makeup for the girls on my team and to this day, I still design the elaborate makeup and hair designs for several teams throughout the US.
I’ve always been very curious as to how a certain look was created. I became completely immersed in hair and makeup when I went through my pinup phase in college. That was when I took the leap and began pursuing makeup and hair as a possible career that I wanted to explore. After a few years of working at the makeup counter, and graduating college, I met my mentor at my first ever photoshoot in late 2012. Shortly before this shoot, I was laid off my advertising job. This photoshoot would go to prove how much love I had for the art of makeup and hair. My mentor, June Ellis, completely opened my eyes to this new career and its possibilities.”
Why did you choose an Aveda education?
“Quite honestly, I had always wanted to go to a makeup specific school as I was completely self-taught in hair and makeup prior to attending Aveda. I use to research online, and buy and rent books to look up the history of hair and makeup and new techniques. This was well before the craziness of youtube tutorials. There were some videos online, but not as much as there are now.
Once I knew this was what I wanted to do as a career, I made the leap and took advice from my mentor to go out and get my Cosmetology license so that I was reputable in all aspects. Prior to this, my only experience was working at a makeup counter and assisting artists at several shoots, and working throughout South Florida on several friends for their special occasions. When it came time to choose a school, I knew that I would not be getting much financial help from the government since I used it all on my college education. This is why I was very diligent in choosing the best possible school for my money. Aveda is well above and beyond the caliber of any other school I researched in Florida. The professionalism and curriculum stood out for me above everything else. I went into this school knowing that I wanted to do the best possible work and make the most of it. Although I knew I did not want to work behind the chair at a salon, I knew the knowledge and expertise at this school would prove to be beneficial to me in pursuing my career options that did not involve salon work.”
What was your favorite experience at Aveda Institute South Florida?
“My favorite experience had to have been the Aveda fashion shows. The fact that the students are allowed a creative platform without boundaries, helped get the creative juices flowing and created an environment where everyone was willing to work together. Also, I met some great people in my class, whom I am still friends with today and have had the privilege of working alongside them.”
Tell us about what you currently do
“Currently, I am a full-time freelance hair and makeup artist. I’ve worked on a varied amount of things, and most recently became a part of the Local 798 Makeup artist union that is involved in film, tv, and stage. My primary love is production work, but I also work for private clients on their special days. Also, celebrities, commercials, tv shows, and films.”
Tell us about your journey after graduation – how did you get to the point you’re at now?
“Shortly after graduation, I began working full-time at a Television station that was partnered with Univision. Here, I grew and learned so much. I was able to get into this job because a close high school friend of mine recommended me, and I auditioned with a few other artists. Luckily, one of their primary talents loved my work, and shortly became part of the hair and makeup team and the Fusion Network. It was a wild ride, but I learned so much and was able to put what I had learned in school and life into improving my hair and makeup work. I also met some amazing people whom I am still working with today.
What do you love most about being a licensed Cosmetologist?
“I love that I am reputable and hold that expertise. In my professional life, I think having a license helps in your confidence level as an artist, knowing that you know the right methods to avoid a possible disaster. Also, taking the knowledge you have of hair to break the rules and do so safely.”
What’s been the most memorable experience in your career?
“I have a few of those, which I am so grateful to have. Aveda has a great relationship with the Miami Dolphin cheerleaders and last year I had the pleasure of being the other half of the makeup team for the Calendar shoot. I was able to work with such a great team that flew us out to Barbados to shoot the 2017 Miami Dolphins Cheerleader calendar. It was such a great experience and I met so many wonderful people. Another huge experience I had was being flown out to Iowa for a Democratic forum and being able to brush Bernie Sander’s hair and meet Hillary Clinton backstage. Just a total pinch me moment! I’ve had a handful of other great moments that still shock me and leave me wanting to pinch myself. Getting into the Local 798 union was a big one as well, as it led me to work on some amazing productions for HBO and ABC. I’m just very very grateful.”
Who are some of the celebrities you’ve worked with?
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Martin short, Miami Dolphin cheerleaders, Bernie Sanders, a few stars of “Orange in the New Black”, and the sweet Ariana Huffington, just to name a few. Although I didn’t directly work with him, I was able to be a part of Dwayne Johnson’s HBO show “Ballers” which was my first job once I got into the makeup union. He is definitely as nice as you think he is!
How do you define success?
“Success is being able to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone. I am still striving to be the best I can be, but I also feel it helps to give back to your colleagues and know that your work should be full of integrity. If you fail, it just means the next job/moment will be that much better because of what you learned. On the outside, it may seem that I am “successful” but on the inside it is a constant battle of self-doubt and discouragement. I am learning to balance this mindset to something positive. I have learned that you cannot succumb to the negative thoughts and have it drive you down. The days you feel like giving up, are the days you need to get up and do something to revitalize what it is that got you to love what you do. It’s a rollercoaster ride that is necessary to appreciate all the good.”
What are your long term goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
“My long term goals are to keep riding this ride of freelance life. I would love to one day be the head of the makeup department for a big budget film. Particularly, a Quentin Tarantino film. I plan to achieve this by continuing to work alongside great artists and listening closely to those I respect in the business. Also, staying aware of growing trends and attend classes and workshops for makeup and hair. I still stay up late researching products and techniques to improve my work. It’s a bit obsessive at times. I just really love it!”
Advice for current students and/or anyone considering a career in the beauty industry?
“I would say to keep your mind open and don’t make excuses. Know that there is no real handbook on how to begin a career in beauty since it is very broad and can take you so many places. Keep your mind open, because it can open doors to things you didn’t think were possible, and step out of your comfort zone. You must do all the heavy lifting and leg work. Also, keep your attitude in check. You never know who is listening and watching. Say yes to anything you can when you are first starting out, and reaching out to peers for advice. If you never ask, the answer will always be NO! Be bold! Keeping a strong circle of friends and colleagues is beneficial to networking and improving your skills. Stay humble and stay weird! Don’t spend too much time comparing yourself to other people. This final piece of advice I have heard from my bosses on several films and photoshoots; don’t be a difficult person, and do your job. Most of the time it’s your personality more than your skill that will get you that next job and keep it!”
You can view Caroline’s portfolio, experience, and resume by visiting Caroline Monge Artistry.
Do you have a passion for beauty?
Caroline graduated from Aveda Institute South Florida located in Davie, close to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, Florida. We have 20 locations throughout the Southern Region of the United States.
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