Having lost their jobs in this pandemic, these makeup artists are finding ways to fend for themselves

From left: Asha Sevi Ganeshwaran, Grace Wang Su Tin and Mimie Aziz are all fulltime freelance makeup artists who experienced a loss of income during this pandemic with the postponement of weddings and photoshoots. They share their inspiring journey in getting through this pandemic. -- Photos: Asha Sevi Ganeshwaran, Grace Wang Su Tin and Mimie Aziz

When special events like weddings and photoshoots were put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a domino effect on all parties involved.

It wasn't only the bridal couples and event organisers that were affected. Many providers of related services such as makeup artists took an especially hard hit as their income was reliant on such functions.

Freelance makeup artists, whose calendar was usually booked up to a year in advance, found all their jobs cancelled.

While makeup artists employed by a brand or company had an organisation to back them up, freelance makeup artists had to fend for themselves.

"This pandemic has been tough on everyone and it has affected us all indifferent ways, but it has also taught us to step out of our comfort zone and pushed us towards making other plans to earn a living," says Johor-based freelance makeup artist Usha Sevi Ganeshwaran.

She has to quickly think of different ways of earning income, and is currently busy organising Zoom makeup tutorial classes.

This situation has also forced her to slow down and make up for lost time. When she had her babies earlier, she wasn’t able to take a longer postpartum leave due to her then hectic work schedule.

“When the conditional MCO was announced in May in Johor, I was already expecting it and this affected my business due to travelling restrictions, ” says Usha, in her 30s, who has a two-year-old son and 16-month-old daughter.

While Usha has the support of her husband who works as a doctor, they are also dipping into their savings.

So, she is grateful to the government for the six-month moratorium on loan repayments.

To get through this challenging time, Usha spent time practising applying makeup on herself as it’s a form of therapy.

“Beauty and makeup is part of self-care. I’m not saying that everyone needs makeup but something so simple can uplift your mood and I think everyone deserves some pampering to feel better!”

Kuala Lumpur-based freelance makeup artist Grace Wang Su Tin, 39, says, she had to accept the fact that the wedding makeup business won’t see much improvement until the Covid-19 pandemic is brought under control.

“We can’t do much since the nature of our job is face to face interaction and basically impossible to practise social distancing. As long as there is no vaccine for Covid-19, we won’t be able to go back to live life like before the pandemic.

"Instead of doing nothing, I am looking at other sources of income to support my living expenses, ” says Wang, a mother to a five-month-old girl.

While Wang is enjoying the downtime with her newborn baby girl, she is also learning new hairstyling skills online. — Patrick PhuangWhile Wang is enjoying the downtime with her newborn baby girl, she is also learning new hairstyling skills online. — Patrick Phuang

Believing in being positive she says, “Now I have more time to spend with my newborn baby. I have been learning new hairstyling skills online. I’m also thinking of venturing into an online hair accessories business and have reached out to a hair accessories supplier in Taiwan to see how we can work together”.

Wang is not stopping there though, she is also looking at utilising her knowledge in programming to develop websites to earn some money.

For Wang, most of her clients are based abroad and they had planned to return to Malaysia for their wedding and she says, “Ninety percent of my clients postponed their wedding to next year but some don’t have a new date yet. I am concerned that my clients would postpone their wedding to similar dates then I won’t be able to do the makeup for some of them when dates clash".

“This pandemic has definitely impacted me financially and it’s a big loss of income. Fortunately, I am still receiving some deposits from new clients who booked my services for their wedding next year".

“Some beauty brands have reached out to me to try their products and post my comments on my social media for a small fee. However, this isn’t enough to cover my monthly expenses and I have been relying on my savings," Wang says.

Twenty-six-year-old freelance makeup artist based in Penang and a mother to an eight-month-old boy, Syifaa Syamimie Binti Aziz, who is better known as Mimie, was distressed to hear of the latest conditional MCO and she says,"For everyone’s safety, we should all support the government’s initiatives to curb the number of Covid cases. I was in shock because I was planning to resume my freelance makeup job after I have completed my postpartum process”.

She says this pandemic has definitely affected her as her main source of income comes from her makeup services. However, Mimie says, “But I am thankful my husband owns a business and we have some savings to rely on”.

While this pandemic has affected her income, Mimie is grateful that this downtime allows her to spend more time with her newborn son.

“After taking a long break I will resume offering makeup services but of course, by following the SOPS and limiting the number of my clients, unlike before, ” Mimie says.

With a postponement of weddings, Wang and Usha are both grateful that none of their clients asked for a return of their deposits and all agreed to the postponements. As for Mimie, she was pregnant earlier so she didn’t have freelance jobs lined up for the early part of this year.

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