We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Sweet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney, what do you attribute your success to?
I think the fact that I put the art, the end product of the makeup, and ultimately the client’s happiness first is what keeps people coming back as well as growing my business by word of mouth. I once had a photoshoot where the model and the stylist dropped out the day of, and the photographer was at a complete loss. So I volunteered to model (for the first time in my life, which was very much out of my comfort zone; there’s a reason I like to be behind the scenes) as well as style the shoot with my own clothing. And in the end, I had a blast. If you are truly dedicated to this work, you’re willing to do what it takes to make things happen, even if you have to bend the rules sometimes. For example, there are certain brides that simply don’t have a budget for bridal makeup and don’t have the technical skillset to do it themselves. Needless to say, I’ve taken on a few of these cases, I consider it my version of pro bono work. And seeing a bride feel the most beautiful she’s ever felt on that day is priceless, regardless of the circumstance.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Nothing in life that’s worth working for is typically easy. But, that’s what makes it worth it. In my experience, when it comes to difficult situations, it’s important to be gentle on yourself and to keep moving forward. As long as I can say that I’ve done something that can make myself proud that day and that I’ve contributed to my future success in some way, large or small, I feel good. Jim Carrey said something very profound at a commencement speech that rings particularly true to me regarding progress and success. He said “Our eyes are not only viewers but also projectors that are running a second story over the picture we see in front of us all the time. Fear is writing that script, and the working title is, ‘I’ll never be enough.’ This is the voice of your ego. If you listen to it, there will always be someone who seems to be doing better than you. No matter what you gain, the ego will not let you rest. It will tell you that you cannot stop until you’ve left an indelible mark on the earth until you’ve achieved immortality. How tricky is the ego that it would tempt us with the promise of something we already possess?” I think my alignment with this methodology has everything to do with how I practice makeup; that we already possess an immense amount of inner beauty. And it would be a shame to try to cover it up in a way that makes someone look like anyone but themselves. I always aim to emphasize the features that people love most about themselves, while also maintaining their natural beauty. I always want to empower people to let their light shine through.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love to show people Abbot Kinney and walk the Venice canals and make our way to the beach, weather permitting. If they like to workout I love to either show them a new workout (BoxUnion is so fun and such a good workout, and most other places don’t have one) or take them to a SoulCycle or Barry’s Bootcamp that has a great location (WeHo, Venice, Santa Monica, etc.), anywhere where we can use their amazing shower facilities (and shower products that are truly top-notch) and easily walk straight to a fab brunch spot right after. Strictly talking about food and drinks, my personal favorite crowd-pleasers include the Courtyard Kitchen (Santa Monica…also BYOB!), Herringbone (Santa Monica), Zinqué (Venice), Cafe Gratitude or Bardonna (Larchmont locations), Upstairs at Ace Hotel (Downtown), E.P. & L.P (WeHo), Cecconi’s (WeHo). And of course, all of the Vanderpump restaurants…friends visiting always want to go to at least one! So, hopefully, we’ll squeeze in a workout, a brunch, one night out, one day of walking and sightseeing/museum exploring, and one last late-night dinner before their flight the following morning.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I couldn’t possibly have got to where I am today without the wonderful mentors that have guided me along the way. Chris Scott was the first person to train me in the skills of professional makeup artistry, differentiating my technique from doing a friend’s makeup and preparing me to apply makeup in a professional setting. Thereafter, and ever since, I have had two very important makeup mentors that helped develop my skills and give me amazing opportunities, each in their own unique ways of course. I first met Nikol Elaine in a quaint coffee shop off of Fillmore Street in San Francisco. Like most of us makeup artists, she didn’t strike me as some glamazon, but a sweet, kind, and incredibly funny human who was ready to teach me a lot about the world of makeup. Every question I had she had the perfect answer to. She went on to have me take over one of her freelance gigs within Neiman Marcus for a brand that she sought out because they’re vegan and amazing, and I ended up being their head makeup artist and traveling for them to train and hire others across the country. My second mentor is miss Julie Dy. She oozes style, going shopping together was mostly an exercise in note-taking. She always has amazing advice and also loves to continually push herself in her career, all the way to the edgy makeup edge. She also generously made a connection for me so that I was able to freelance for Dior, which was educational and unforgettable. When I think of my makeup, I think of these three people, who have left an indelible mark on my development, my career, and my spirit. And I’ll make sure to pay it forward.