Born in Surrey, England, Olivia Davis’s love for make-up and art was present for as long as she can remember. Fast-forward to her senior year of high school, and Olivia found herself at a crossroads. Torn between pursuing her childhood dreams of becoming a make-up artist and attending the university of her dreams to explore her other passion of Psychology, Olivia kept her options open by enrolling at UCLA, bringing her to the Los Angeles – the perfect setting for a budding make-up enthusiast. Graduating with a B.A. in Psychology in 2016, it became more apparent than ever that this passion for make-up would only grow stronger until she embraced it head-on. Olivia enrolled at the Make-Up Designory in Burbank, graduating in March 2017 and eager to dive into the industry.
Olivia is currently a Make-Up Artist in Southern California. Through her time in school, first job opportunities, and years making up the faces of friends and family, Olivia discovered that her two passions of Make-Up and Psychology weren’t as opposing as she had once thought. Hearing stories, exchanging advice, and both laughing and crying with anyone sitting in her chair, it became evident that make-up provided its own form of therapy for Olivia and her clients alike.
How did you get to where you are today?
For literally as long as I can remember, I've had an interest in hair and makeup. I got one of those creepy looking doll heads for a birthday present one year, and used to cover her face in copious amounts of makeup and repeatedly wash and style her hair until it looked like straw. I loved getting those magazines where you got a free piece of makeup along with it, and that combined with my Barbie makeup comprised my makeup kit at the ripe age of 7. As I got older, I became more and more interested in makeup, wanting to know more about the techniques and products that were out there. My mom was never very beauty savvy, so I turned to blogs and YouTube as a young teen - I would literally stay up until sunrise during the weekends and summers just watching these videos of people doing their hair and makeup and reviewing products - which was at the very beginning of the YouTube boom and not nearly as well known as it is today!
I always kept hair and makeup as a side hobby during high school. I also got into photography as I've always been pretty art inclined, and would make extra money on the side taking people's senior portraits and doing makeup and hair during Prom season, all the while keeping my school work and the road to college as my main priority. My parents have always been pretty academically inclined (though incredibly supportive of my artistic endeavors) so it had always seemed inevitable to me that I would attend a 4 year college and get my Bachelor's degree. My mom even jokes today that I could've saved her a whole lot of money if I'd just gone straight to makeup school and skipped the whole college part! I enrolled at UCLA in the Fall of 2012, going in as an undecided Social Sciences major, and eventually settling on Psychology as my major and Anthropology as my minor after much consideration, as I've always been fascinated by people, culture, and thought. The move to Los Angeles was strategic too - I knew that if I could get some roots in the entertainment capital, it would make my life a whole lot easier when I eventually decide to pursue makeup (and I was pretty right about that!). My senior year, I took an internship as a Marketing Intern at a Beauty Technology Startup in Santa Monica. While I learned some valuable things during my time there, I couldn't shake the fact that I was longing to be the Makeup Artist's we hired for various shoots, rather than being the one booking them. I was denying myself my dream because a more "corporate" role seemed like the safe way to go.
After much thought, in October 2016, I quit my job and enrolled at the Make-Up Designory in Burbank, completing a 3 month course in Fashion and Beauty Make-Up and Hairstyling, and haven't looked back since. Every time I get to play with products, make someone feel beautiful, or create art, I feel this electricity running through me that tells me what I've known all along - that this is where I was supposed to be. I've always been terrified by the idea of complaining on Sunday evening about not wanting to go to work Monday morning, and in this profession, I don't think there will be a day that I wake up feeling that way.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
My toughest obstacle has 100% always been myself. I've struggled with pretty severe anxiety ands depression from a pretty young age, and am also my own worst critic. It's a daily struggle to remind myself to be kind to myself, and I'm not sure if I will ever truly "overcome" this obstacle, but it has managed to get me to this point in my life somehow, so it's not all bad. I just have to make sure to keep myself in check, and not get too wrapped up in my head and thoughts, and instead listen to my heart and my passions, and accept the love and support from all the amazing people that I have in my life.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
I am the last person that should be giving advice on this (laughs)! The way I've done it since high school, and I'm being dead honest here, is leaving everything till the last minute. I know that sounds crazy but it's what works for me. I've always joked that a time crunch is my adderall, but it couldn't be more true - I get the most things done when I'm under pressure and have one too many tasks to accomplish. I'm constantly planning in my head, so I think that helps too, because half the work is getting done there. But focus and motivation are definitely two things I struggle with!
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best piece of advice I have ever received was from my Mummy (did I mention I was a born in England and lived there till I was 11?). She's always said "feel the fear and do it anyway," which for someone with extreme anxiety can be helpful (but also useless at times). I've essentially boiled it down to the more anxious or nervous a positive activity makes me, the more obvious it is that I should absolutely do it and pursue it.
How do we get more women leaders?
I think we get more women leaders obviously first by giving women examples of great leaders - a total catch 22. I think the most important thing is letting women and young girls know that it's ok to not be perfect, and stop creating this facade that to be a female leader you have to be permanently poised and have your shit together. I think it's more empowering to see real women succeed who have struggled, who aren't perfect, and don't always get everything right. It's the truth after all.