Fast Facts on Eva the CEO Extraordinaire: raised in Denver, Colorado, Bronco fan, attended the University of Bridgeport, lived in New York City, was a punk rocker, loves astronomy, owns and operates 5 different companies, has groovy taste for way cool things, and is about to take over the world of makeup, so watch out! Read about our exciting founder and CEO of the very sassy site Make Up Mania.
Tell me how you became a makeup artist?
The story starts when I was 5 years old and rubbed cold cream on the bathroom walls. I got stuck in there because my hands were so greasy. I couldn’t get out and my Mom had to call a neighbor over to take off the bathroom door so I could get out. I was in a lot of trouble. I vividly remember that I was doing a facial! I think it was born in me. I’m kind of funny like that. My sister and mom had makeup and I was banned from it. I loved to play with makeup put it all over the walls and closet doors. Naturally, for awhile, I was not allowed to play or use makeup in the house. When I was 14 years old, I started going down to the big department stores and buying makeup. The saleswomen would ignore me because I was a little girl, but I would actually buy stuff. I was intrigued with makeup. I read Vogue magazine since I was 14 years old and looked at all the pictures. I was a full-fledged makeup junkie by age 16. I did all my friends makeup in high school. I have had my hands in makeup literally since age 5.
What did you do after high school?
I went in a couple different directions. I stayed in fashion, art and design. I booked bands, sold real estate, and designed jewelry. My training in college was in retail and fashion merchandising. At one point in my real estate life, I decided to go back into the retail store market. I got a job with the May Company in downtown Denver. I was hired as the counter manager for Ultima II Cosmetics. I started selling makeup, and doing makeovers. That eventually led me to become the top counter manager for Ultima II. I stayed with the department store for two years and then got bored with it. I moved outside the retail store and became an outside sales consultant for Aveda. I sold mainly in the salon market. I had a subconscious revelation after working for Aveda that I would try to be my own boss. Someone asked me along the way if you are doing exactly what you want to be doing in 5 years, what would you be doing? I said, “I’m doing film makeup around the world.”
How did you begin to pursue that dream?
I went around to beauty schools in Denver because I had decided to get my Aestheticians license. I met a woman at one particular school who asked me what I wanted to do. I told her my goal was to go to Hollywood and become a makeup artist. She brought out a brochure for the Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts. I looked at it and decided right then I would go to Hollywood and become a makeup artist. I also found out that Marvin Westmore, makeup artist, and director of Westmore Academy, did the makeup on “Blade Runner”. Blade Runner was my favorite movie so naturally I was sold on attending his school. I went on to receive my Aestheticians license, and enrolled at Westmore Academy.
What did you do after graduating from Westmore Academy?
After I graduated from Westmore I got on a big commercial for Nike. There, I met Rick Geyer who is the wigmaster at the LA Opera. I began working for the opera; I worked at a local Hollywood beauty supply, and also began teaching for Westmore Academy. All these jobs allowed me to come and go in case a long-term film job came along. That was great for me because I was a budding makeup artist and I was able to make income without committing to a full-time job. About a year after graduating from Westmore, I began working full-time in the film industry.
How did you acquire the teaching position at the University of Southern California?
I was teaching at Westmore and a call came into Marvin from USC. William Tuttle, a famous makeup artist, who taught the CNTV Makeup for Motion Picture class at USC, had retired. It was the end of the summer and they had not found a replacement instructor. I don’t think Marvin was interested in the position so they started asking teachers around the school. No one else seemed to be interested, I’m not sure why because it has been a wonderful job. I called and sent my resume and I got an interview. It was the perfect timing. I had just returned from working on a tour with Cloris Leachman, “Grandma Moses”. USC was looking for someone who had worked with celebrities. Cloris Leachman fit the bill, and I got the job.
You are a Union Member in IATSE Local 706, Make Up Artists & Hair Stylists. How did you become a member?
You either have to be on a union film for a certain amount of days to qualify to get in the union. You can’t be on a union film unless you are in the union so there is always this catch 22 for a non-union makeup artist. The other way to get into the Local 706 is by tracking your non-union days worked. I was kind of in that realm. I knew if I got on the right film I could probably go union. A film came up that went union, called “Boogie Nights”. This job was a lot of extra work. I came in whenever we had big calls. Boogie Nights had so many club and big party scenes. I actually finished my 29th day and was waiting to get a call for my 30th day. I got my 30th day and was able to join Local 706. Boogie Nights was a wonderful film to be apart of with a great group of artists and production team. I went down and signed up after the film, that was 3 years ago on September 27, 1996.
Tell us about the test for your Journeyman classification for Local 706.
I took my union exam a year to the date I joined in 1996. Taking the test was one of the most exciting days of my life (other than when Make Up Mania launched). Your peers are there judging you on a test of your profession. It is the ultimate testing situation for your craft. You have to go in with enthusiasm and excitement!
How did you get the idea to start Make Up Mania?
I actually got the idea while working on Boogie Nights. I started talking about it with someone I was working with; about retailing on the Internet, that was in 1996. I am not sure that Make Up Mania would have worked in 96 but that’s when the idea got started. I decided to create the first professional on-line retail site. My idea was fully developed by a PR firm in Denver and launched on June 14, 1998. I knew I wanted the site to have a fun atmosphere. I wanted to have a store with elevators, and floors of merchandise in a virtual store. I wanted caricature based characters that served as personal shoppers, based on people I knew in my own life. Mainly, I wanted a friendly, fun shopping environment.
How has Make Up Mania changed since the launch date of June 14, 1998?
It has been the wildest roller coaster ride! When we launched it was like puppies being born! It was so exciting; we actually saw the first loading of Make Up Mania on the Internet. I will never forget that day. With anything that has creativity, ownership, and money at stake there is always a lot of roller coaster rides. People have decided to leave the company, people have come and gone, some have wanted to compete with Makeup Mania, and most are intrigued with what we are trying to do. We have gained a foothold in the community of makeup artistry, e-commerce, Internet creativity, and have acquired a talented crew of employees. Most importantly, we have come into our own.
How do you decide what products to put on the page?
First and foremost we want professionalism on the page. In Hollywood, makeup artists are spoiled with huge amounts of supplies and unique professional products. I wanted to get those same products out to the rest of the world. If I was a makeup artist in another city, state or country I would want access to these products. We have brought in standard, basic professional products. I also want to provide a fun shopping experience and have a niche in other realms. I built the gift floor for things like incense. Is the product unique, will it sell and is it practical, are the determining factors in what I choose to sell on the site. We try to keep ahead of trends and the emails help us with that process. One thing I wanted to offer our customers was the idea that not everything that’s good is expensive. I also believe there are some expensive things out there that are really good. I wanted to mix both of those ideas together.
What is your biggest selling product?
La Femme is one of our biggest sellers, also Professional Artists’ Brushes, and girLActik (anything glitter).
What are your favorite products?
I always like the new products. One line that I think is really cool is the Solar F/X. No one can resist the color-changing nail polishes. And I recently fell in love with their “Overexposed” lipstick – it goes on so smoothly & it’s a fabulous color!
What’s a day in the life of Eva the CEO of Make Up Mania like?
I’m a CEO because I started the company and because I’m an entrepreneur. I have always had that entrepreneurial spirit in me. But being an entrepreneur doesn’t prepare you for management, personnel, art dept., etc. A lot of my job is filling in the niches of what doesn’t get done. In the morning, I come in and check to see where our orders are and make sure the bills get paid. There is a little bit of time each day when I get to supervise where Make Up Mania is going.
Give us your secret to becoming an entrepreneur.
Whatever we do in life teaches us to do something. My life is a culmination of all the things I used to do: booking punk rock bands, designing jewelry, selling real estate. All these things helped me to create and develop Make Up Mania. Everything in life is a training experience. Take all your life experiences and put it together with what you truly love. The hardest thing is to trust yourself to go out and do it. Have the courage to make that step and say, “I can do it”. It takes a huge amount of ego to go and do it and a lot humbleness to not step on valuable support around you. Balancing the creative chaos and the straight objectivity is an art – the true entrepreneurial spirit! And always get good people around you. I love the crew here, I am so lucky!
What are your personal career goals as CEO for the millennium?
My goals are:
- Retain the creativity with my staff. Let everyone here grow and obtain their goals so they can become what they want within the millennium.
- My technology goal is understand where we are going as a company moving into better systems, accessing 4th generation websites and understanding how much is out there and use it to our benefit.
- A personal goal is to have my own office. And spend more time creatively managing Make Up Mania vs. the day-to-day busy work.