ONCE a ‘playground’ for him to spend his days, amidst bridal gowns and make-up, Kenny Yeo grew up to become fond of the fashion and bridal industry during his childhood.
Before he held his first makeup brush at 14, Yeo recalled playing around in his aunt’s bridal shop.
“I would play with the hats and help my aunt make up her clients.”
Through the exposure gained during his time in the bridal shop, the 32-year-old said he had come a long way in the cosmetic industry.
What attracted him to become a professional makeup artist was the essence of it.
“Makeup helps bring out the personality of the individual I am working on. For me, everyone can be beautiful with proper grooming and makeup.”
Asked what his parents thought of his decision to pursue a career as a makeup artist, Yeo said they were supportive.
“Even during the initial stages, they supported me to pursue my interest as long as I could earn an income from it.”
Once he completed his Form 6, Yeo went to Singapore to pursue a short course in makeup and went on to a degree in cosmetics in Taiwan.
There, he learned beyond his skills as a bridal makeup artist.
“Though I had wanted to pursue bridal makeup, during my time overseas I changed my mind and saw that fashion makeup was what I wanted to do instead.”
It was a difficult task compared to the usual bridal makeup.
Nonetheless, with hard work and perseverance, he managed though. Having had years of experience in an
academy in Penang and a studio in Kuala Lumpur, Yeo became a professional makeup artist for various fashion shows and magazine shoots.
During his stints in Malaya, he regularly returned home to Kuching to take care of his clients’ needs.
“I would always arrange my work schedule to fit my clients’ time. They supported me from zero to what I am today, so I could not ignore them. The money I earned then was spent mostly on flight fares.”
Days of hard work
His career success was sheer hard work and determination.
“My journey from Day 1 until today is a long journey,” he said.
Albeit his vast experience in the field, it was practice, practice and more practice that improved his skills.
“Practising is the most important thing when it comes to anything. That’s because, with practice, you can do much more.”
Regardless of how good one is, Yeo said without honing one’s skills, “one will not have a stable foundation when it comes to picking up on the latest trends.
But if one practises regularly, then one can achieve anything easily.”
According to him, if he is not working for a show or wedding, he would look for models to improve his makeup skills. “I practise all the time and I would create new techniques.”
Yeo said many assumed that learning under his tutelage would guarantee their success.
“However, that is not true. I have been in this industry since 14 years old. I have gone through a lot to be where I am today.
Despite learning under a great sifu, without practice, all that you have learned would just become mere theories,” he said.
Though working in Malaya was a golden opportunity to advance his career, he, however, chose to return home in 2019.
“If you asked me about the challenges that I faced in Sarawak as a make-up artist, I would tell you that pricing is the hardest thing to overcome here.”
Working in Kuala Lumpur, amidst the glitz and glamour, Yeo disclosed that initially, it was exciting to work with well-known brands.
“I was even doing big fashion shows, photoshoots and magazine shoots. After a few years, I lost the thrill.”
The opportunity to work in Kuala Lumpur was better than Sarawak, but he conceded there was no room to improve his skills.
“Every makeup I did was according to a reference given by the stylist.
I felt like even though I did not improve myself, it wouldn’t matter since I was just referring to a template given to me.”
Once he returned to Kuching, pricing became a challenge for Yeo instead.
“Here, I need to make up three persons to make the same amount of money that I would earn from making up just one in Kuala Lumpur.”
Nevertheless, Yeo chose to return home as he felt that jobs in Kuching had the ‘personal touch’ as he could personally discuss with his clients their preferences.
Different prices for different service
So, what’s the fees like in the makeup industry?
Yeo revealed that each service was priced differently.
“The basic dinner makeup, the registration of marriage (ROM) makeup and wedding makeup are all different.
The cost depends on the details of each event.
“When my client receives my price list, the prices listed are according to the service offered.
I will make sure the service is worth the money.”
Yeo said a dinner makeup, being the most basic one, would ensure his client looked good and nice for the night.
“It is a simple makeup and is usually done within an hour, including the hairdo.”
On the other hand, the ROM makeup service can take up to two hours.
“The difference is that I would try to match what they are wearing on the day.
Since ROM is usually held in the morning, I would usually try to match their skin tone.”
Meanwhile, a wedding makeup can usually take up to three hours, including hairstyling.
“I would usually ask the brides the type of makeup they want? Korean or western style?
Then I will plan accordingly and match their makeup with the wedding theme.”
Nevertheless, despite his efforts there were instances when his clients were not appreciative of his service and efforts, like one case of a disappointed bride.
“I felt looked down upon. She opted for a dinner makeup for her wedding day.
What she paid was what she got. So she got a simple, basic makeup for her big day.
To me, every makeup has its theme and reason.”
Makeup is for everyone
What’s his view about society’s perception that makeups are only for females?
“A makeup is for everyone to look nice. Many will scorn at males applying makeup, but to me, as long as you’re human, you deserve to look good with it.”
And what about himself?
Would he apply a makeup on himself? Yeo said he would “feel uncomfortable” with a makeup on his face.
“But if I have a big event, and I need to go on stage, I would put on some makeup like eyebrows, and foundation to make myself look good.
I want to appear more presentable.
“Furthermore, with advanced technology, cameras these days have made our flaws more obvious.
A slight zoom in and you could see pores on your face,” he said.
“Anyway, a makeup makes one look nicer. It boosts a person’s confidence level.
It makes one feel happier, and people looking at us would feel more comfortable.
Makeup makes people’s life more colourful,” he added.