At its essence, vujà dé simply means looking at old problems with a different or renewed perspective. I use this approach across my varied disciplines to provide my clients with sustainable solutions.
My mission is to make an impact on the lives of others by inspiring them to think, feel and see through a different lense, while upholding the principles of ethics and ecology.
I aim to forge long-term relationships, built on trust and mutual respect – prioritising quality over quantity.
I am a firm believer that it is the sum of our experiences that shape and mould us into the unique people we become.
Here is a brief story of the journey that has shaped me, my work and my practices. It’s the sum of these experiences that allow me to see the world a little differently and approach old problems with renewed thinking and sustainable solutions.
I was born in early March on Saturday morning in Cape Town, South Africa to two astonishing, but vastly different parents. My mother is a rebel that can make just about anything with almost nothing and has an unparalleled attention to detail, and my father – a recluse that can imagine undiscovered universes and explain them to you like a poet.
I was an only child, raised by a single mother, although my father was omnipresent throughout my childhood. My upbringing has made me comfortable with solitude and has taught me how to be independent and self-reliant.
When I was young, I wanted to be a human-rights marine biologist – embodying the multi-hyphenate mentality from an early age.
We moved around a lot during my childhood, and I have been to more schools than most (8, by the time I was 16, to be precise). I was always the “new girl”, the outsider – but never for long. I was accustomed to finding my way… and forging my tribe. I still call many of those children my friends, and we are still showing up for each other’s lives.
I loved high school – until I didn’t. So I left to study art. I loved studying art…until I realised I had no idea how I could make a living from it, so I got a job working in a stationery store.
Having grown up visiting my mother on film sets (she worked in the art department), I quickly saw that the hair and makeup artist got to sit down a lot more than anyone else – and there was even an opportunity to be quite creative at times. That suited me perfectly.
I vividly remember the “meeting” between my parents and me about leaving art school and going to study makeup and hair. My mother said, “if you do this, you have to finish it!” My father said, “You do whatever makes you happy.” That meeting was a very defining moment. I did both.
I didn’t become a makeup artist because I loved makeup. It just happened to be the medium I figured out that I could make a living from. My career as a makeup artist, however, has afforded me many incredible experiences, life-changing encounters and personal growth. But like my childhood, it was impermanent and transient—short stays, beautiful memories and then on to the next thing.
The Cape Town film “season” was mostly a summer affair, so every winter I had to find temporary work with built-in flexibility for when the sporadic shoot came around. I worked for my aunt’s corporate fundraising business for many years. I started out licking and stamping envelopes and eventually co-authored (my aunt did all the writing, I just did a lot of the research and illustrated the book cover) an e-book with her on how to fundraise on the internet. At Papillon Press and Consultancy, I learnt how to research and how to develop working systems within an organisation.
Another year, I followed in my father’s footsteps and qualified as an estate agent. We specialised in selling vacant land to people who dreamed of building their own homes rather than making someone else’s space their own. Here, I learnt office management and how to read and write contracts. While this brief foray in sales was a profitable one and afforded me European travels – it didn’t resonate enough for me to give up being creative for a living.
In early 2006, after an incredible few months of travelling, I felt that it was time to stay still and put my career first. I planned to stay in Cape Town for an entire year and rebuild my career (if you’re not around, people stop calling). Three days later, I got a call to be the 1st assistant to the crowd HOD for a film called Blood Diamond. It meant leaving Cape Town for a few months. I jumped at the opportunity. I had never worked on such a significant production from start to finish. This film changed the course of my life. It taught me about humanity and humility.
After several months in a film bubble, I set off on a road trip across America with the most unlikely, and ultimately incompatible travel companion. But it was in America that I first discovered mineral makeup. The concept was new and exciting, and like nothing I had ever seen before in make. The philosophy of natural products also aligned with my own.
After seven years of assisting, I decided it was time to spread my wings and made the conscious decision to decline assisting work and also shift my attention to working on stills and advertising instead of films. At the time, you were either a film makeup artist or a stills makeup artist. That just didn’t make sense to me. The skills were transferable, surely?
It’s extraordinary how quickly things happen when you take risks and learn to say no to things that no longer serve you. I was very blessed, and remain incredibly grateful to my teachers for the lessons they taught me over those years. Not only how to be a professional hair and makeup artist, but how to be a compassionate human being. Working on films taught me how to work quickly, efficiently, inventively and with a team. Stills taught me how to hone my craft.
In 2009, I started my first business: Mukup Creatives. The first agency for assistant makeup artists or those looking for more flexibility in their representation. It wasn’t planned, I just got sick of having to find assistants and then explain to them how to write and submit an invoice afterwards. I juggled the agency remotely and it ran concurrently with my onset work. I learnt very quickly that you don’t need to be sitting behind a desk to run a business.
While my career took off in the direction I had dreamed it would, winter had come around again and “season” was slowing to a trot. In mid-2010, I had unintentionally embedded myself into a new tech startup. 36Boutiques was South Africa’s first premium, online fashion retailer. I forged a role for myself as art director and shoot producer (I also did the hair, makeup and styling in the early days too).
It was my first time working in a truly corporate environment and I thrived. It was exciting and innovative and I was able to balance my career with my job. It was the first time in my life that I had a salary, some disposable income and regular working hours, and I loved it…until I didn’t. After six months of working permalance, I reluctantly accepted a full-time position with the company – but quickly learnt that the trouble with big corporate companies (who own the agile and creative startups) is that they are rigid and inflexible and they expect you to be creative but remove the tools you need with bureaucratic red tape.
Here, I learnt about duality and how to transfer skills across industries and sectors.
2011 was a hugely pivotal year of personal growth for me. I met friends that changed my life and let me see the world in a new way. They taught me to see myself in a new way. It was a year of impulse and letting go. I even found myself living on an island in Thailand after going there to fulfil a life-long dream of learning dive – but instead found a flying trapeze and realised my true calling was, in fact, learning to fly (but that’s another story for another time). Ultimately, despite the idyllic life of the tropics, I had never felt so uninspired. So I went home, and I got back to what made me truly happy…being creative.
In 2012, I came back to London for what was meant to be yet another ‘winter visit’. I was sleeping on a friends couch (one of those I spoke of earlier – we became friends on our first day of Kindergarten) and I got to thinking about the last time my career went the way I wanted it to go – when I made a conscious decision to be present. So there and then I decided that I was going to give London one year. I was going to give it 110% of myself. If I didn’t make it, I would still have a life and clients back home.
I’m still here. Cape Town is where I grew up, London is where I found myself, found my voice and learnt to use it.
I had just moved into my third apartment in less than a year. It was a bright, happy place in one of my favourite parts of London.
I had what some might call a “lightbulb moment”. That moment when you realise that your world’s don’t align; the way I lived my life and the things I firmly believed in (caring for people and the Planet) was not reflected in my work.
I immediately set out to do something about it and disappeared down a rabbit hole of environmentally friendly beauty products and practices. I actively finished what I had in my kit and replaced them with better. As my kit became leaner and the availability of brands became fewer, my signature style and voice grew louder.
In no uncertain terms, I became a better makeup artist when I had less to play with because I had to think differently.
In 2014, I met [sustainable] stylist Alice Wilby on a shoot. After having discovered our shared passion for environmental and social ethics, as well as the difficulty that posed in finding an agency to represent us, we decided to start our own. We called it Novel Beings: Conscious Creatives.
It was the first agency to exclusively represent stylists, hair and makeup artists, prop and food stylists who worked with a sustainable practice to the film, fashion and advertising industries. After four years as an artist agency, Novel Beings transformed into something else that it had organically become. We turned our approach into our strategy.
I run Vujà Dé Creative Solutions from my home in north-west London. I continue to marry my passions and curiosities across all my varied disciplines. The solutions I offer include a variety of creative services, from fine art to sustainability consulting. The collection of my unique skills and expertise are housed here, on this website, providing you with the complete works of what I do and what I can offer you.
I am a founding member of the Conscious Beauty Union – a unifying organisation that supports beauty professionals to develop a robust and long-term sustainable practice.
I am continually expanding my knowledge and skill sets. I am currently studying for a diploma in Sustainability Business Management, which I hope to have completed by the end of 2020. I already hold a certificate in Sustainability Business Leadership from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and am a Mastered alumni.
I am excited for the future.
Career highlights and corporate affiliations
I look forward to working with you and adding our shared experiences and learning to my story, as I hope I add to yours.