Fashion is so many things to so many people. There are the obvious items, such as clothing, shoes, accessories and hair, but it can extend to distinct styles and designs of homewares, music or film. I think we’ll agree that the links between makeup and the world of fashion are as apparent as eyes with a bold, charcoal mascara!
Makeup is applied by people in a dazzling array of ways and places—from everyday wear on our faces to costume makeup to ceremonial decoration and body adornment. For proud Gippslandian Alarna Bell, makeup has been the gateway to a rewarding, lifelong adventure.
I was lucky enough to share a coffee and some tales with elite makeup artist Alarna in one of her brief moments sitting still. Born, raised and now settled in Newborough, Alarna began her career as a 15-year-old beauty therapist. She completed a Diploma of Beauty Therapy, then went on to purchase her business Kolorz & Klawz in Moe at the tender age of 22, before becoming a mum of two daughters.
I enjoyed hearing the ups and downs of her career, how she’s managed to juggle business ownership, motherhood and remained focused on her goals and dreams.
Alarna is the epitome of hard work and determination and is truly an inspiration—nothing is impossible. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and is using her skills to educate others. Alarna believes that through passing on what she’s learnt, she can help provide opportunities for other local artists to fulfil their dreams as well.
Alarna is a sought-after makeup artist and is living her lifelong dream of travelling the globe painting faces. She has created a market where she and her team specialise in weddings and events, both locally and on location. Alarna teaches certificates in makeup and beauty at Federation Training, Gippsland. She also provides individual or group training sessions, where she assists everyday people on how to apply their own makeup looks, with the goal of everyone having fun with makeup and feeling beautiful.
Becoming the Director of Makeup for Miss Universe Australia, as well as a National Judge for the competition, has been a career highlight for Alarna. Not only does she coordinate the makeup teams for the entire Miss Universe gala, but she also plays a role in organising their events and attending an annual retreat with the 30 national finalists.
This year’s Miss Universe Australia retreat was held in Bali, and Alarna took care of all makeup duties for the photoshoots and TV interviews, ran workshops, was a mentor, support person, and proclaimed ‘Mum’ to the finalists over the eight-day retreat. The entire event was filmed and will be soon aired on television in the documentary called The Road To Miss Universe.
I asked Alarna a few questions to gain an insight into her career journey, where she is today and how she manages it all.
Being born and raised in Gippsland and building your business here before the days of social media, did you find many challenges to growing your work outside our region?
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing. It has come with many, many early mornings, late nights and lots of hours spent in the car. You have to be prepared to put in the time, hard work and to create opportunities for yourself to grow. Then you must jump on those opportunities when they arrive.
You’re a full-time working mum of two daughters. Would you say that juggling between it all has been real?
(Laughs) The juggle has definitely been real! Especially in the early days. I was only a year into business life when I had my first daughter, so trying to manage the business, clients, staff and my brand new baby was definitely a challenge. But you keep going and make it all work the best that you can. It definitely became easier as the girls got older. I am proud of the fact that even though I do all of this work and travel I am still able to pick my kids up from school each day and be home, cooking dinner, most nights.
You recently closed the shopfront part of your business, was this difficult for you to do?
It was hard, but it made sense. Ninety-five percent of our work is outside the salon and on location. In today’s market, everything is online and most people require services at their specified location; we had to recognise that. Although after 18 years in business, it could be sad for locals to drive past and see that we are closed, we still offer our services and it actually gives us the opportunity to be able to do more than if we still had the shop.
Tell us about Miss Universe Australia, what do you love about the work you do there?
I love how real all of the women are. There used to be a stigma attached to Miss Universe that you just had to be ‘pretty’, and it is so different from that! The women are all highly educated business professionals and specialists. You find doctors, surgeons and even pilots among them. Most of them have never done any modelling and it is just so nice to be around a group of such incredible, humble humans. Everyone asks me about all of the ‘stories’ that I must have, but I’d actually have to make something up!
You’re about to head off to New York Fashion Week for the first time. Is this something you’ve always imagined for your career?
I still can’t believe it! Doing makeup at the New York Fashion Week has been my ultimate career goal. I am so excited. Being able to work with fashion designers, other makeup artists and see the new trends firsthand allows me to bring that knowledge back to my team and my students. I can’t wait to share the experience.
Being the one that so many people go to for makeup advice and inspiration, what do you do to ensure your ideas are fresh and current?
You have to stay educated and keep ahead of the game. I believe that you never stop learning. I attend all of the industry expos and education seminars to stay up to date. I get ideas and inspiration when I’m working on events.
The best way to learn is by being a part of the industry and getting your hands dirty. There is nothing that can be taught in the classroom that can compare to what you learn when you’re thrown in the deep end. You learn by watching and doing, which is why I love to bring others along to assist where I can, so that more artists can benefit.