Why Ciara is still made up about her career

Ciara Daly
Ciara Daly

She is one of the Province’s most successful make-up artists, having ran her own academy in Belfast for five years, but by her own admission there is much more to it than being able to nail the perfect kohled eye.

“You have to be determined, you have to be switched on, you have to be hard working, you have to have good communications skills, you have to be a good sales person and marketing person - all these different things,” says 35-year-old Ciara Daly, raising her voice ever so slightly to be heard above the hubbub of a photo shoot going on at her Lisburn Road based training facilities, where she has been responsible for nurturing some of Ireland’s freshest creative talent in the make-up world.

The mum-of-two has an easy manner and her voice is injected with fun as well as enthusiasm and passion for what she does, but Ms Daly is something of a tough cookie as well.

Mum to seven-year-old Jay and five-year-old Darcy, she lost her own beloved mother in 2006, something which she says came as a “tragic shock”. Her mother Sharon - or Shaz as she was known to her friends - was just 48 when she passed away after suffering an aneurism. Ciara was devastated, but says it triggered something inside her - recognition that the sales job she was in wasn’t what she was truly passionate about, and she needed to take the step and follow her heart.

“You get into the way of doing a career because it’s a steady pay check and you think that’s just the way it goes,” she says.

“But when my mum died that was when I realised life is too short, and I needed to pursue my dreams.”

And the world of make-up was one which had always enthralled Ciara. She elaborates: “First and foremost, make-up makes people feel good, so it’s about how it makes someone feel, not necessarily look, that I get a buzz from. Any woman I know who wears make up will tell you the exact same thing - when they get their make-up on they feel better about themselves. My passion for make-up allowed my creative side to flourish, and it was something which had been suppressed. I was always into make-up products, I would have done my friends’ make-up, and was into art when I was at school. It was just a little creative outlet for me.”

Ciara says that when she made the decision to start her own academy, where she would deliver make-up courses to people who wanted to hone their own skills in it, she initially faced all the usual obstacles.

“I was a single parent with two very small babies, so it felt like everything was against me and the recession was at its height. But I kept a bit of belief in myself and determination, and took the advice of my sister, which was that no one else was going to do it for me and if I wanted to do this and pursue this, then it was up to me.

“So as soon as the kids went to bed, I would be sitting at the computer, seeing what I could do then, and putting them in the car, driving to appointments, bringing them with me. I knew that the buck stopped with me. I’m not one for excuses, if you want to do something, you get up and do it, because no one else will do it for you.”

Ciara also knew there was a gap in the market for the kind of make-up academy she wanted to create; at that time, she felt, there was a need for the whole cosmetic industry in terms of training to be brought “bang right up to date”.

Because she feels that the standard of what women expect today in terms of their look has skyrocketed thanks to the constant bombarding of imagery via social media and the world of celebrity, with its ‘access all areas’ nature.

And so at Ciara’s Make Up Academy, she empowers women of all ages and occupations and enables them to get what they need from her courses (visit www.ciaradalymakeup.com for details of these).

“So many people come through my doors because they’ve been through hard times in life and they want a new beginning or opportunity,” she reveals.

“They tell me they’ve been in the same job for 15 years, but have always loved make-up. Come the end of the year they’re thanking me and telling me this has changed their life, and that they’re excited for the future.

“I have had girls the same as me, who have lost their mums, girls who have had miscarriages, whose marriages have broken up or whatever, and coming in here just seems to be a great escape for them. I’ve had barristers, solicitors, doctors, nurses - any career and we have had them. What I find is a lot of the women with the more high pressured jobs want something an escapism for themselves, something a bit more light hearted and creative.” Ciara says that essentially, no matter what profession a woman is involved in, if she loves make-up, “it doesn’t matter if you’re a chip shop worker or a barrister, we have this common ground. It’s just all about the girls coming in here, loving every minute, getting time to themselves, doing something they love, and me giving them the opportunity to go out and earn a couple of pound.”

In 2009 Ciara decided to do something to officially recognise the hard work of her students and founded the Shaz Awards - named after her late mum. Now in its fifth year - the most recent event was held at the end of last month in AM:PM’s Cabaret Supper Club - it has gone from strength to strength.

And as for Ciara, what with her business a superb success, and her own range of make-up brushes and products flying off shelves, it would appear that all her hard work is paying off.