For those of you who are not based in Australasia – let me take this (awesome) moment to introduce you to New Zealand’s own makeup darling – Phoenix Renata.
Phoenix kindly agreed to an interview with me and her responses are so thoughtful. You will get some real insight into who she is as an individual and her passion for the cosmetics industry as well as her brand!
We all know a lot about your cosmetics line and professional progression and life, but what really drives you? Where does your passion for cosmetics and makeup come from? Was this always something you have envisioned? I know you have previously said in interviews that this was something you had dreamed about as a child. At what point when you were younger did you realise that this was your path and this was what you wanted to do with your life?
My love of art and colour and makeup comes from a background and up bringing that was incredibly colourful and different. I consider myself first and foremost a creative. Creative’s understand what that means… it’s a lifestyle, a mantra and just a general way of living. My father is a well known musician so my childhood was filled with music, the stage, cameras & lights and backstage madness. My mother is a tarot card reader and astrologer who also worked on in admin on big films when I was a child, so that exposed me to a different and eccentric outlook on life. My brother is an artist and a lot of my family are self employed and work in creative industries. This had a big effect on my path and I believe my passion for cosmetics springs from a love of the creative worlds. Makeup and cosmetics give me an outlet to express myself artistically; it allows me to be in the world of music, art and dance, whilst also being able to let me live out my entrepreneurship traits.
Do you enjoy being known as the “Brow Queen” and what is your usual reaction when you see someone with unruly brows?
Absolutely. I’m more known as the Brow Nazi… I can be a hard critic. But I believe it’s for a good cause. My goal is to rid the world of bad eyebrows. If someone sat in my chair with unruly brows, then I would absolutely have an opinion but just generally I don’t look at woman’s eyebrows specifically unless I’m working. I have nothing against a thicker brow however even Brooke Shields had her large brows shaped – there is a big difference between unruly and thick! It’s being groomed and professionally shaped, that’s what is important, more so than size.
How long has it been since you opened your flagship store in Australia, how did you feel and what are your next steps from here?
I’ve been open in Australia for two years now… It was definitely a big step, scary and it has been a big learning curve. Australian women shop so differently to kiwis, so I have had to learn and adjust to that market. Melbourne will be our next store in Aus.
Who are your past/present celebrity icons that have had a large influence on your style?
My biggest influence is the first ever It Girl, Clara Bow. I have always loved her films, loved her face and fashion sense. After I read her biography, I fell in love with her even more. I love her talent, beauty and most of all her strength. She inspires me every time I pick up a makeup brush. I even named my daughter Clara, after Clara Bows famous ‘Bow’ lips.
I have always been influenced and greatly inspired by the 1930s… people often get confused with Phoenix Cosmetics inspirations, thinking that our stores are 1950s inspired… absolutely untrue – I owe all of our décor inspiration to the 1930s. I love this era… I love antique shopping to hunt for furniture and knick knacks from this time. So of course, I am in love with the films and sirens of that era… I love Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Jean Harlow, Mae West and Rita Hayworth most of all.
Lastly, Marilyn Monroe… You could call me a collector – my home and office is filled with all things Marilyn. I have a book shelf of books and magazines on Marilyn, endless items – and I surround myself with imagery of her – simply because she is beautiful & I love beauty!!
Is there a Mr Phoenix?
His name is Chevron. He is also a makeup artist, but of the SPFX kind! We met in make school – and have been happily together for 13 years. He is my biggest supporter, and I his… he inspires me daily. His talent is beyond extraordinary, and because we are both creative’s and work in the same industry…. It’s definitely a pairing meant to be!
What are some of your good habits?
I am a hard worker and am ambitious.. I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I’m done.
I am super organised at work, and love a tidy and clean work space.
What are some of your bad habits?
I don’t stop to eat during the day. I know its healthy to have small snacks and meals during the day – but I just work and work and get so busy that I forget to eat.
What advice do you have for our readers, and especially young women to be successful and to go for their dreams?
Work hard – success is not luck, it requires dedication and persistence.
You make mistakes, that’s how you learn.
Never give up – keep going, keep growing.
Above all – anything worth attaining requires EFFORT. I cannot stress that word enough. Effort is what will define you and set you apart from everyone else.
What’s it like working with Annah Stretton?
Fantastic. I love Annah… she is my mentor and supporter. I cherish every phone call or meeting with her. I learn so much from her on a daily basis. I feel incredibly lucky to know her and have her in my life.
Why specifically “Pink” as your colour theme?
Phoenix Cosmetics is who I am. Everything about Phoenix Cosmetics is me, Phoenix Renata. I love pink.. there is no reason or rhyme to it – I just love it. I love specific types of pinks – and that’s where I think some people go wrong… it’s about choosing the perfect, non offensive, beautiful soft pink colour palette. I also strongly believe that pink lets women feel girly, ultra feminine and comfortable.
If you were stuck on an island and had a choice of one make up item only – what would it be and why?
My tweezers…. I couldn’t live with myself if I had bad brows!
Other than that I LOVE my Custom Blend Foundation, it’s a makeup must have!
You are essentially living the kiwi makeup artists dream – what advice do you have to budding makeup artists who want to start their own ventures and follow in your footsteps?
Be good at what you do. It really disheartens me when makeup artists don’t work at their craft. No one can know it all. Simply doing a makeup course does not mean you are a makeup artist. You need experience, knowledge and a love for what you do. Anyone great at any craft studies and betters themselves constantly. Be inspired and work hard. Don’t take offence to criticism of your work – LEARN from it, grow and move on. Take every opportunity that comes your way – paid or unpaid. If you really want it.. you will go everywhere you need to go to get work and experience.
Never ever have a sense of entitlement, you need to earn respect, work and great jobs and prove yourself first.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of your company and makeup?
I am an antique collector… I love the Victorian era, the 1920s up to the 1950s… I collect things like 1920s phones, furniture, clocks and gramophones.
I love music, and spend a lot of time listening to great artists and being inspired.
Favourite Movie right now?
The great Gatsby – I waited for almost 2 years for the film to be released… and it absolutely lived up to my expectations! Lurhman is one of my favourite directors and I was thrilled to find out he was directing the latest Gatsby version. I also am in love with Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky …. It is instense and passionate and beautiful. They re create Cocos house from the 1920s… to die for!!!
Favourite movie ever?
I was just thinking about this the other day.. And its way to hard to choose – these are my top 5!!
Romen & Juliet – Baz Lurhmans version.
The Great Gatsby
Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers in Top hat.
Are you listening to any new music or do you have a favourite artist or type of music at the moment?
A bit random, and people are often surprised.. but I am a rap fan. I say rap because I love rappers, not so much current modern hip hop. I’m a fan of all the greats, Tupac, T.I, Wu-Tang, Naughty by nature…. Absolutely love it. I’m really loving Iggy Azalea at the moment.
Currently I am in love with the great Gatsby soundtrack…. Every track is brilliant.
In store we only listen to the old greats – anything between 1920s up to the 1950s… Billie Holiday, rock n roll, louis armstrong, the Andrew sisters… I love old school!
What fashion trends are you loving right now? Why?
I stick to my own style personally – but on others I love Tiffany blue at the moment… the colour is everything. I also got on board with the whole skull influence – it bugs me a little though when great designers like McQueen introduce us to a trend say 6 years ago, and NZ gets it this many years later…. But.. it’s here to stay for now, so embrace it.
What is your favourite makeup trend of the season and why?
I don’t ever follow makeup trends – I like to create them. I like to think with my makeup shows at fashion week – we are on trend, and once I’ve shown them.. I’m kind’ve over it – and am happy just to see others enjoying it. Whenever I do any type of shoot or look, once its printed – I am ready to move on… create and then move onto the next thing.
What’s your daily makeup routine and can’t live without product and why?
Its pretty simple I think, but effective – ultimately I am not greatly inspired by my own face.. and therefore I prefer to make over others or create beauty rather than doing my own face. My own makeup is not that important to me… unless I have an event or am going out. I always do a light foundation, and I use concealer to prime. I always colour my brows, add mascara and blush – and a light lip.
What is in your makeup bag right now?
All of the above!
Brushes – always need these…Foundation, concealer, brow shadow, blush, mascara and a lipstick… all PHOENIX naturally!
You can check out the gorgeous range of makeup at Phoenix Cosmetics online store. I’ve included social media links for you to take a look at below as well.
This was a very enlightening interview from someone with so much experience in the industry. There are some key points that I have personally taken away from this, specifically the part about putting in the effort and hard work and constantly working at your craft to better yourself and be the best that you can be.
Here are some more images from Phoenix for you to check out:
I hope you guys enjoyed this interview! First ever interview on CMWB – very exciting! Remember to subscribe and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below 🙂