Name: Stephanie Anna Daga
Job Title & Company: Founder and Owner of BlushPretty : Makeup+Hair Artistry, Founder of fresh.beautiful: the skin studio
Share a bit about yourself and what you do: What do I do? Well, I love to do makeup and hair; and I’m obsessed with skincare and one’s natural beauty. I’m very invested in making my client feel their best whether then want lots of makeup, or just a bit. I am equally invested in my team. I’m a firm believer that women should be able to manage their own schedules, so I work hard to bring opportunities to my artistry team to develop and build their respective freelance careers.
Did you always see yourself working in your field? I’ve followed beauty and fashion since the age of 11. My parents could easily bribe me to join them for errands by promising me a YM, Seventeen, or Sassy Magazine when I was young. That said, my culture doesn’t think of makeup+hair as a proper career, so while I dabbled in beauty on the side of a regular corporate job, I never would have thought I’d be running a successful company and team as I am now. But now that I am here, I don’t see myself ever going back to a 9 to 5.
How did you end up in your current position? Okay, take a seat, because I love telling this story. As mentioned, I worked in the corporate environment for over 10 years before taking the BlushPretty brand full time. I was married in 2002, had my son Brayden in 2003. After my maternity leave, I went back to corporate Toronto, and spent the next 4.5 years tolling away and doing makeup and hair on the weekends. Once day, in late 2007, I turned to my husband and said, “We haven’t had a second child yet, and I think it’s my [corporate] job keeping me from doing so. I think I should quit.” He said “do it!” so I gave three months notice to my boss and team, and in January 2008, I left. By February 2008 I conceived my second son, Callum and spent the year taking on beauty clients, educating myself on starting a business, and learning about social media and marketing. By 2009, BlushPretty had a full season of weddings and it just grew from there! Now, I manage a team of 15+ artists, and we have a studio space. I can spend most of my time working from home and being around for my children, while spending the latter half of the week with clients.
What’s been the biggest highlight of your career to date? The biggest highlight of my career is my team. I would like to think they like working for me. That they know I support them in their careers and experiences. I *think* that is one of the reasons that they like to work with the other artists, myself, and for the BlushPretty name in general, because I’m supportive, encouraging and easy to work with. I know my personality is one of being a “cheerleader” (seriously – I WAS a cheerleader in high school…you can’t shake pep!) and it’s rewarding to be able to cheer people on everyday.
If I have to give a more “self-reflection/selfish” type of reply…I would say the highlight at this point is that media outlets from Elle Magazine to BlogTO taking note of the brand, asking me to provide expert advice and information, and just knowing the name in general. It’s pretty cool.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? That’s a great question, because one of the reasons I started the BlushPretty team is because of the fact that when I started out over ten years ago, I had no one to mentor me (stuff like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook weren’t popular yet so it was hard to connect with others in the industry) and I was somewhat lost, so no one ever really gave me advice (that said, I managed to learn about entrepreneurship from industry greats like Cynthia Martyn – a wedding planner in the city who used to head the Ladies Who Launch sessions in Toronto). But the advice I used to give myself (my little philosophy) has always been “to dream big of my business as if I have nothing to lose, but run it in the most ethical, truthful and best way like I had everything to lose.” Which to me meant, I can take all the risks and opportunities as I see fit; to not be scared of my ideas and ventures and do what it takes without looking back. But, once I had my ideas in place and put them into action, I had to be sure that everything, from artist and client relations and everything in between should be treated with respect and care and that I need to pay attention to all the details without missing a beat. It’s a tough balance. Ha!
Why do you enjoy what you do? I enjoy what I do, because I have been blessed with the choice to do what I do, when I want to do it.