23-year-old Pooja Magar never thought she would become a makeup artist. And such a fantastic one at that. Her life was pretty much set when she started working as a radiographer at Siddhi Polyclinic in Dillibazar, Kathmandu. Makeup had always been a hobby for her. She used to put soft layers of powder and eyeshadows on kids around her house and post them on Instagram. That was it.
It was when one of the employees saw those posts and called Magar to do her bridal makeup that things took a different turn. Following the wedding, girls at the clinic started coming up to her and asking her to do their makeup, to teach them how to use the brushes and apply makeup in perfect layers. This started happening on such a regular basis that Magar eventually had a group of students comprising of her colleagues.
At an empty lab in the building she would teach them how to use various products and do their makeup. It was during this time that the young woman realized just how much she actually enjoyed teaching. “I had always been interested in sketching. But I never thought this artistic side would be something I could make a career in,” says Magar.
Today, her Instagram page (makeupwithpooh) has more than 18,000 followers. Her studio, Makeup with Pooh, has been running for two years now and has over a thousand alumni. Among her students, many have already opened their own businesses, many have traveled to foreign lands with a useful skill at hand, and Magar couldn’t be any prouder.
Here she talks to The Week’s Kumudini Pant about her journey so far.
How did you start the studio?
When my students started growing and I could no longer continue at the space I had, I knew I had to venture into something new. One of my friends had an empty office space in Minbhawan, and I opened a studio there. When I had saved enough money from my previous job and the studio, I moved to my new studio in Shantinagar which is where I’m located now. I invested on furniture, makeup accessories and products myself. I even picked the wallpaper for the space. The studio is the result of my hard work.
How many shifts do you teach?
Makeup with Pooh runs five days a week. I take Saturdays and Sundays for myself. Each day, I have four shifts, with different groups of students. The shifts are from 7:30 to 9:30 in the morning, then 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm and the last one is from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the evening. It’s really hectic. Sometimes, I don’t even have time to have a proper lunch. But it’s all worth it.
What is your favorite step while doing your own makeup?
Definitely the eyebrows. It completely transforms your face when you play with it.
What would you advise someone who has just started experimenting with makeup?
Passion also needs practice. Every artist was once a beginner. You’re going to make mistakes. Things aren’t going to look right the first few times. You aren’t going to create a perfect look from the get go. So, try. And keep trying. Keep going. Don’t stop because it isn’t perfect.
What do you think about using affordable makeup products found in the market?
These brand-less, cheap products are the reasons why makeup is said to be bad for the skin. They leave behind a lot of skin issues, some of them permanent. If you want affordable makeup products, go for drugstore brands. These are safe and of good quality and won’t burn a hole in your pocket either.
Speaking of brands, which are your favorites?
I don’t really have a specific go-to brand. For brows, I used Anastasia. For eyeshadows and brushes, I usually lean towards Morphe. I’m not very picky about brands. I find that all the good brands have something interesting to offer.
What’s the favorite look you’ve done so far?
It would have to be the Teej look. I got a really good response for it. Everyone—my students, friends and followers—praised it a lot. A lot of brides who come in for their big day bring a picture of that look and say they want something like that.
What has been one of the most interesting experiences with makeup?
When I was working as a radiographer, I used to experiment with looks in one of the rooms. The receptionist would warn me when a patient arrived and I would get ready to do my job. But this one time, I was doing a Halloween look when someone came in. The receptionist had forgotten to inform me. So, I had to wear a mask and goggles while conducting the tests so that I wouldn’t scare the patient.
You transitioned from a medical background to the makeup industry. Have you ever regretted it? Have there been any backlashes from family or relatives?
Many of my relatives don’t really understand why I would quit the medical field and pick makeup for my career but I personally have no regrets. My parents fully support me. This was the best choice I made. It’s the best career for me and I’m proud of it. There’s still a lot of sigma around chasing art as a passion and we need to change that mindset.