I entered the beauty profession by accident. I was scouted in college, said screw it, and detoured in my senior year. A few days later, I was living in Germany, modeling beautiful clothes, yes the pay was awful, but the rush of the runway was powerful. I loved every single moment.
While touring Europe, I was caught in a torrential downpour, and ducked backstage into an elite modeling event in Hamburg. I wanted to see what the big leagues were like. Wandering the aisles, like Alice in Wonderland, I watched the artists at work transform the plainest women into goddesses. They were all wonderful, but one was phenomenal. I took the artists name "Hans" and his coffee order (Kaffee Schwarz), and twenty minutes later traded black coffee for wisdom. After the show ended, I returned home, scribbled down everything I could remember, and hardly slept at all. The next day I returned to sit at my new teacher's feet, and learn.
So, if you've ever seen those ceiling high portraits in museums or stately homes of old dead white people, Hans probably did it. But as the market for really big paintings wasn't all that big, Hans switched careers and went into makeup. You see the secret to Han's breathtaking style was that he was using painting techniques, taught by schools long since expired. Hans was seventy, I was in my early twenties, and I was his third student (I promised I'd never share the other names - but you can probably figure them out). Hans taught me everything he knew, and before long I had a part time job painting models faces for the show. Hans was like a father to me. I was heartbroken when the tour left for the next city, and my modeling contract took me elsewhere. I'll still remember Hans' parting words to me "Hei-Hei (his nickname for me from the German eigenwillig (headstrong) - you can now paint faces, now you must learn to paint hair."
Using my broken German, and willing smile, I'd approach girls with the most beautiful hair, and ask them who their stylist was. I'd formed a little Spreadsheet, find the best artist, and then offer their salon a trade - my makeup skills (and a place to sleep), in exchange for learning hair skills. Initially it was all laughs and 'Nein danke - we're full' until one salon said 'Ya' and took me under their wing. After a few months, I left for the next, and with a solid letter of recommendation in tow, other salons across Europe opened their doors to me. Everywhere I went, I became known as "The Painter," and I made many salon owners very happy. After a few years, but with the passage of times seemed like days, my education was complete and I returned home to the United States.
After many years abroad, I flew back to see my mother in time for Christmas. After a wonderful welcome back home, we sat by the fire one night, and decided instead to give her a makeover. I still remember the sounds like it was yesterday - the crackle of the fireplace, the sound of the paintbrush brushing against her crows feet. And when I was finished - her reaction was astonishing. Seeing my mother now twenty years younger brought her to tears. And at that moment I knew I found my true calling - to make everyday women like my mother look like their best possible self.
At commencements I often like to tell the graduates "I didn't choose this business, but this business chose me." Indeed my mother's new glow had become a walking advertisement, and word-of-mouth had created the first 'LauraDuPriest Day Spa'. Now a businesswoman, here I was sitting in my new office and selecting products to bulk purchase. After a couple of minutes, I realized we had a huge problem. Everything on offer to buy was complete crap. Water, glycerin, soy, petrolatum - it was all 'snake oil', laced with massive amounts of unpronounceable chemicals and wrapped in 'fancy' white packaging that somehow justified the outrageous cost. I couldn't put my name to these products, and certainly not to my customers. So I made my own, using only the purest ingredients, from recipes my European mentors taught me. We put in everything that worked, took out all the garbage, and we had something that worked better than anything else.
Goodness, I loved those early days. Before long the Day Spa had became very large, and I became the teacher, not the artist, as my staff cut the hair, and applied the makeup. The results were always great, but after many years I realized I missed the quiet intimacy of a life-changing experience - I missed the energy of transformation.
So when my accountant gave me the nod, and my children had gone to college, I went into early retirement, and moved from one massive studio to open small single studios in my all my favorite places. Today, I travel the world and transform everyday women into the goddesses they are. And I'd love, love, love to do the same for you.