We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Mazzeo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, what do you attribute your success to?
I believe my success, and that of my brand, is a direct result of risk-taking. You can’t get what you don’t ask for. I was fortunate to have started my career path long before the internet and social media became mainstream for networking sources. Over the years, I learned through trial and error. All of my training and experience was hands-on. Looking back, I realize this has given me an advantage in the field. I am not afraid to try something new and different. We learn from our mistakes and I’ve made plenty. I’ve always been one to say yes and figure out how to accomplish what needs to be done. Prior to the internet becoming commonplace, the only option for finding work or showing my skills, was to actually get out and meet industry people face-to-face. I had a huge print portfolio of work which I carried with me everywhere. I designed creative business cards, postcards and marketing material to promote my skills; handing them out to every one I met, leaving my card with a tip after dining out and posting flyers on public bulletin boards throughout the city. After every completed job, I would mail out a personal note and small token gift as a thank you. I realize there is a need to continually evolve with today’s society and ever-changing technology. Moving from tangible showcasing to a digital format has really opened the playing field. In a world full of artists, I need to stand out and constantly create and maintain a recognizable brand. Promoting and marketing my work is definitely an essential commitment in order to support my career. In the entertainment production industry, one needs to be quick to respond. Having an email template and resume ready to go at any given moment provides the opportunity to be one of the first to answer a request. My makeup kit is always cleaned and packed and my passport up-to-date so I can take off on short notice if the opportunity arises. I live by the mantra “Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready”; coined by Author, Speaker, Business Coach: Crystal Wright of Crystal Wright Live By continuing to focus on my talent as a brand, I have been able to create a visual correlation between myself and my work. Self-promotion, marketing and constantly adapting is one part of the ongoing success, but keeping in touch with past clients, conducting in-person meetings and attending networking opportunities provides the personable engagement necessary to identify my brand with my name and maintaining the continued success of my brand.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I never set out to be a makeup artist. It has definitely been a long and bumpy road to success and I’m still remain on this roller coaster ride continuing to advance and progress my career. When asked what made me choose to be a makeup artist, I say “it started with a little KISS”. Somewhere near Philadelphia, PA, in the year 1992, I was asked by a KISS tribute band to assist the musicians with their stage makeup. I had so much fun doing their makeup, I decided to make a career out of it. Living in Allentown, PA, there wasn’t much work for a makeup artist in the 1990’s. There were no makeup schools in the area and I wasn’t even sure where to look for makeup jobs. I knew I needed experience. Hello Mary Kay cosmetics. After being a makeup representative for awhile, I soon realized selling was not what I wanted to do with my life. The experience, however, provided me with knowledge about skin care and makeup application, and for this I am thankful. Fast forward six years, I decided to leave the snow and cold of Pennsylvania and head down to Sunny Florida. I was still bound and determined to get my makeup career in full swing. I began looking up photographers in the yellow pages and connecting with them in online chat rooms. The internet was still new and there was no such thing as social media. After contacting a few photographers and models, I was able to get some to agree to let me provide makeup on their photoshoots in exchange for the images. I began building up my portfolio of print work and my artistry skills began to improve. When I first started in this industry, digital photos were not yet prominent. There was no way to tell how useable a shot was until after the film was developed. This is where I learned the most about makeup application as to what worked and didn’t work. There were many failed attempts. Over the years, I volunteered for just about any project I could find. Eventually, I landed on the crew for a music video providing makeup for the musical artist. I suddenly realized this is what I was searching for. An unpaid job, but it provided me with my very first reel. My resume was starting to take shape. I remained working in Florida, mostly on print and magazine jobs and then on weddings as it started to become a trend to hire a makeup artist for the “big day”. I began getting calls to cover tattoos for brides and bridesmaids. After several practice attempts, I became well advanced in the process and continue to be requested for this type of makeup service. I had finally built up my portfolio and website with some amazing images, leading me to be contacted by Universal Studios – Orlando to provide Special Effects Makeup for their yearly Halloween event. Working at Universal has been an amazing opportunity and I continue to work the Halloween event each year. The makeup experience I’ve learned there has proved to be beneficial in advancing my career as a SFX (special effects) artist. Motion pictures are still what drives me. There is an unexplainable feeling I get from being on a film set. The energy and vibe are unlike anything else I ever experienced. I knew I needed more motion picture and video production work. I realized if I wanted to advance my career, I needed to focus 100% on what I wanted. Having a day job would never allow me the opportunity. It would always be something to fall back on and never allow me to advance. So, I decided to make the sacrifice required to succeed. I made the bold choice to move to Los Angeles, CA. Immediately, I jumped into marketing my artistry skills and was able to land high profile production jobs. I attended industry meetings, networking meet-ups, workshops and any other social event that I could find, making connections with both professionals and amateurs in the film and entertainment fields. I now have an extensive resume filled with production work on movies, TV, commercials and music videos. Being able to travel easily between California and Florida, has allowed me the luxury of obtaining work in both states. I travel all over the US for work and manage to attend networking events and remain visible in industry meetings. I don’t believe there is a wrong way or a right way to follow your path, but I do feel with the introduction of social media, the personal connection has become lost. Managing a career in an industry inundated with so many other professionals coupled with the advancement in digital technology along with a loss of production work, has become an increasing challenge and I find myself needing to constantly adapt and adjust my strategies to remain in the game. Being a professional makeup artist is not for the faint of heart. You must be willing to sacrifice in order to succeed. For those who are ready to take the leap, my best advice is to go for it. Get rid of the safety net and jump in with both feet. It’s time to swim or sink.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First time Los Angeles visitors are always fun to show around. Dinner at Granada Restaurant in Burbank, CA is an amazing option for Mexican food and of course we must stop at the World Famous Bob’s Big Boy for lunch one day. A cruise down Pacific Coast Highway and perhaps a walk out on the Santa Monica Pier and drinks at Gladstone’s in Pacific Palisades. Take a ride on Mulholland Drive and if we’re feeling adventurous, maybe check out the Sunset Strip. Grab some drinks at the Rainbow Bar & Grill and listen to live music at the Whisky a Go Go. Shopping in downtown Burbank and with brunch at Porto’s Bakery & Cafe then over to Hugo’s in Studio City for a late lunch. Maybe even catch a movie at ArcLight Cinemas.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to credit Crystal Wright. She gets people UNSTUCK! Formally an industry talent agent, she is now an author, mentor and coach to makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion stylists, manicurists and photographers. I have followed her advice and guidance for over twenty ( 20) years. Crystal offers online workshops, courses and books with insider knowledge and industry tips needed to achieve your goals. She continues to enrich, nurture and assist artists in their career growth long after completing her workshops. Crystal is always available to answer questions and provide motivation and direction to those who feel stuck. Her encouragement, inspiration and direct perspective have benefited my career in so many ways. I credit Crystal for her support and dedication to providing honest, knowledgeable information and suggestions. I will forever be grateful for her friendship and the experience she shares.
Other: Blog: www.stephaniemazzeo.blogspot.com