We had the good fortune of connecting with Cathi Singh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cathi, what is the most important factor behind your success?
When I look back on the 13 years I have experienced in this industry, every time I veered off my goal path, or didn’t feel like I was moving forward, it was because I was trying to be something else- someone else. When I really settled in to who I am, embraced my uniqueness, and realized what spark I bring to the table, I discovered joy and creativity just pouring out of me.
Each job is basically a creative explosion – a gathering of inspired artists who get to combine efforts, find strengths in others, and offer our best talents to create something unique each and every time. You cant be open to such an experience if you aren’t being true to who you really are.
I love to serve people- it brings me so much joy to see someone’s beauty not only enhanced through makeup, but to see them stand a little taller, smile brighter, and feel secure that not only do they look good, but they feel amazing as well.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve always loved bright colors and working with my hands. From painting, ceramics, wardrobe styling and even the science fair as a kid, I just love seeing something get built and come together right before my eyes.
I became a competitive synchronized swimmer at the age of 11. This introduced me to waterproof makeup (hello Maybelline Great Lash) as well as elements of theater makeup. Later on, I performed for movies, music videos and live shows. Looking back, it gave me an important glimpse into the life of a performer and what they really need before they go out on stage. To be in that mindset has helped me prepare and anticipate the needs of my clients at their live events.
Synchro also gave me a very strong work ethic as we practiced up to 40 hours a week. It also showed me how strong a team can be when everyone is working together seamlessly. This is why I thrive in a production environment. From lighting to the PA, every single person has a special role that is crucial to get the job done.
I worked a 9 to 5 when I was in makeup school. As a way to get in front of as many faces as I could, and to build my first makeup kit, I worked as a freelancer for Smashbox Cosmetics on the weekends- making it a 7 day work week. I would also use all of my vacation days if I got a production job assisting one of my mentors during the week. I was burning the candle at both ends, and in the middle!
While I still work a pretty crazy schedule, the one constant is that hard work pays off.
Anticipating is always better than reacting.
For me, when negotiating, honey is always better than vinegar.
The more you give, the more you get.
Always be nice to the Production Assistants.
I want to bring joy to every project I am a part of, and collaborate, not compete.
When I realized that one of my greatest attributes is that I love to serve people, I fell right into my wheelhouse of work and fell in love with my job even more. I saw a change in my artistry as well, and honed in on my personal aesthetic with new confidence.
This is a physically taxing career- we carry our entire office to work every single day! And then come home and clean it all!
Imagine everything on your desk, inside your drawers, your computer, printer, and files- and packing it all up every time you left.
Finding creative, reusable and outside of the box ideas to keep my kit organized and condensed led me to sharing #cathihacks.
My first idea was a simple travel toothbrush to keep lip brushes sealed and away from our other tools when doing touch ups. And it costs about a buck. They are free shares, free hacks, and a love letter to my community of artists. If I have something that makes me more efficient, another artist might find it useful too. I aim to source reusable, washable items to prevent waste and love the rule of 3: every item purchased must have 3 uses in your kit before you buy!
When face shields became a necessity to continue working, I needed a safe and reusable way to carry them to and from work without getting scratched. I created a soft cotton drawstring bag and hand dyed them and gave a handful away as gifts. Soon after, interest built, and I had the opportunity to sell them and create more colors. It brings a huge smile to my face when I see another artist using a #cathihacks bag on their set! I have ideas for creating tools in the future, and hope to pursue those soon. Having this small business experience during the pandemic taught me so much about retail and I’m excited for the next step!
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?
Well this is little tricky- as I work mainly in LA, I also have clients in Palm Springs and San Diego.
So here’s a little taste of all my favorites:
Going to see a live show with my husband at The Baked Potato.
To know me is to know coffee, so basically any great spot along the route to work. Alfred Coffee is always on my list!
A dear friend took me to Rossoblu and forever spoiled me. Everything on the menu is incredible, and the service and ambiance is wonderful.
Drinks around the pool at the Avalon (fun fact- this was the location of my very first job ever- as a wardrobe assistant. And I’ve had a special attachment to that place ever since).
A little vintage shopping never hurt anyone….
A Stroll through Little Italy and major color inspiration from brunch spot Morning Glory.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m not self-made, I’m just self-motivated! Having a strong family unit is extremely important to me, and I knew that this career would put a strain on “normal hours.” The support I get from my incredible husband and 7 year old son is a huge part of my motivation. It is because of them that I am able to be in the desert on a music video for 18 hours, then a film set for 5 days- and somehow our world keeps going. That doesn’t mean its easy in the slightest, but with a partner who understands this circus, it’s achievable.
To have a tribe of mentors and fellow artists who not only inspire me, but also keep things really honest, is also crucial for my growth. The pandemic opened up the makeup community and it blossomed into this awesome sharing, inviting, non competitive setting where I have met so many artists and feel so lucky to be a part of this artistic community.
Other: I share makeup kit hacks with my makeup community and repurpose unique items to save space and be more productive on set. #cathihacks
Frank & Eileen, photo by Sophie Kuller Women Tennis Association (WTA) , photo by Adam Pretty Grayson, photo by Jenavive Belair Photo of two models- Sophie Kuller