We had the good fortune of connecting with Celena Rubin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Celena, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk has taken a big role in my life and career. I grew up in a very free thinking, creative and entrepreneurial family. Both of my parents were professional photographers, and my dad was also a professional drummer. I never witnessed anyone in my family working for someone else or having a “normal job”. Instability and risk was part of life, but so was controlling our own destiny and pursuing the creative things in life that made us happy. The things my parents did for work were also the things they were passionate about and loved doing. I grew up thinking that I could be successful at a creative career. Success didn’t mean being rich, because we were far from that. It meant having a life pursuing our dreams, and knowing we could get by on very little income if we needed to have that lifestyle. I started out pursuing acting, then playing in a band, and then being a full time professional makeup artist. None of these careers are practical, but that wasn’t what I was looking for. I have always dove right into my pursuits without a doubt that I couldn’t obtain them.
My biggest risk was moving to Oregon to open my makeup school. I had lived in and around Los Angeles my whole life and that was where my family lived. The housing market crash hit us hard. My husband got laid off from his job and our house was $200,000 underwater. I lost half my makeup jobs due to production cuts and we had a 5 year old daughter about to enter the Los Angeles public school system, which was looking rather grim. I had been eyeing Portland for the last 4 years as a refuge, and it was looking very good. With no jobs in Portland and without knowing a soul, I convinced my husband to pack our bags and move with a plan that had been brewing in my head to open a makeup school when we got here. We arrived in Portland with a small savings and some unemployment checks to begin our new life.
In 6 months I started teaching makeup classes in our basement and somehow found students from our simple website. We were off to a good start, but it didn’t last. There was a major wrench in our path. We discovered it was illegal to do makeup in Oregon without an esthetician license, and I could not have a school in Oregon. Being so close to the border of Washington, we quickly picked up our makeup tables and rented a studio in WA where makeup isn’t regulated and became a state licensed career school. In the meantime, I pursued changing legislation in Oregon. One year after we moved to Oregon I passed a bill to create an exemption to this rule, now allowing makeup artists to work on productions and photo shoots without an esthetician license. Two years after that I passed another bill allowing the same exemption for hairstyling. This opened the door to bring my school back to Oregon. This July will be 10 years living in Oregon. We have had our school open for 9, but officially licensed in Oregon for 4 years.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I discovered I was good at teaching, because I love to inspire others. I know that anyone can achieve and deserves to achieve the life they want if they make the effort to have it.
I think what sets me apart is that I am very proactive in my approach to pursuing my career. If there’s an obstacle I don’t let it get in the way. I find a work around, which is what I did when I passed both bills in Oregon in 2013 (Senate Bill 836) and 2015 (Senate Bill 699). That experience was very stressful, but I was determined to carve out a path that would create opportunity for me and others who lived in Oregon and I did.
One of the greatest things I have learned was that sometimes I need to slow down and spend more time researching, learning, and preparing before I dive into something. Being prepared is so important. Some of the mistakes I have made starting my business and being a business owner could have been avoided if I had learned more before I began, instead of just trying to figure it out along the way.
There is still always a lot to learn. One of the struggles I’m dealing with right now is learning how to take more duties off my shoulders and hire help. Trusting others to do as good of a job or better than you can do is also important. Finding balance and not getting overwhelmed by work is so important.
I want people to know that we care a lot about the students who attend our school. We work very hard to make sure everyone is happy and their expectations are met. Portland is a beautiful and special place and so is our school. It is a truly creative and calm environment for students to feel safe, learn, make friends, and become the person they dream of.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The most beautiful place to see is the Columbia Gorge. It is magnificent! The scenic drive passes by endless hiking trails and waterfalls, and is next to the Columbia River. Right next to the Gorge is McMenamin’s Edgefield in Troutdale, OR. It is a hotel on large grounds with several gardens, restaurants, and bars, and hosts its own brewery and winery.
Tourists must also visit Voodoo Donuts, The Pearl for shopping and dining, as well as NW 23rd for the same. Portland is a food lover’s city, so anywhere you go will probably be great! Even the food trucks are amazing.
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?
The first person that immediately jumps to mind is my husband, John Nutcher. It was my idea to move to Portland. As much as he thought it was crazy, he followed. With no education in business or marketing I had decided to open a career school. I hadn’t even graduated from college. It was another crazy idea, but my husband supported me again. He called his father to fly out from CT to help build makeup tables from scratch. He built me a website. When he saw I needed help with running this new business he abandoned his other pursuits and jumped in full time. He is now the co-owner of The Art of Makeup and handles finances, website updates, student manuals, supply inventory, marketing and so many other business related things that keep the school running that is beyond my scope of knowledge. I stick to more of the creative part of the business which doesn’t suit him either. I stick to updating the syllabus, teaching, photography & editing photos, hiring instructors, creating special workshops, prospective student communication and tours, and social media. When I feel burnt out or discouraged, John picks me back up and provides the encouragement I need to keep going.
- Photographer: Kate Woodman, MUAH: Candace Armagost, Model: Brianna LeBlanc
- MUA: Cene Acosta, Model: Greyson Murray
- MUA: Anita Richardson, Model: Brittany Hudson
- (No credit needed)
- Photographer: Derrik Ollar, MUA: Rachael Wagner, Model: Taylor Ross
- Photographer: Kendra Barber MUAS: Marianna Kushner, Emily Felice Models: Karsen Daly, Dessiree Guy