Even if you’ve never heard her name, chances are you’ve seen Monica Gingold’s work.
The Melbourne-based make-up artist and hair stylist has created looks for Australian celebrities like Sophie Monk, Samantha Jade and Nicole Trunfio, and has worked with leading brands such as The Australian Ballet, Maybelline and Nike.
The 31-year-old first became interested in make-up when she was a teenager and after she finished school, she completed a diploma in make-up and a Certificate III in hairdressing.
“I knew I didn’t want to work in or own a salon, but I liked the idea of doing something more creative and being part of a team, like being part of a film crew or a photo shoot,” she said.
“Once I started working in the field more, it was rewarding being able to make someone look and feel good about themselves. It can play a special role in someone’s life.”
An evolving career
With more than a decade’s experience in the hair and make-up industry, Gingold is now well-established and has a strong client base.
But it didn’t start that way.
“I finished at make-up school and was ready to work, but I didn’t have any clients. It took a long time to build my client base,” she said.
Gingold said in the early days of her career, she put her hand up for “anything and everything” and took jobs even if they didn’t pay.
“Every experience led to everything else. The beginning of my career was very much about building something up for myself,” she said.
One of those experiences was an opportunity to work at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) in Sydney with Make-up Director for Maybelline New York Australia, Nigel Stanislaus.
Due to budget constraints, Gingold wasn’t paid for all the shows she worked at MBFWA.
“I had to fly myself up to Sydney and put myself up for the week. I lost money for the first year working but I just knew I had to take the opportunity,” she said.
“I learnt so much… That experience makes you a stronger and more dynamic artist – I really valued having that experience,” she said.
While Gingold wanted to freelance straight after gaining her qualifications, she needed to acquire some experience first.
One of her first jobs involved working at a portrait studio where she did people’s hair and make-up before their photoshoot.
Gingold said it was a challenging role, as she had to do hair and make-up within an hour, but admits that the experience pushed her to become a more efficient worker.
“Working under that time pressure ended up becoming an asset,” she said.
Gingold has also been mentored by world-renowned make-up artist Rae Morris, the longest serving Make-up Director for L’Oreal Paris (2003-2013) who has also been named Australian Makeup Artist of the Year four times.
“I met Rae at one of her seminars and was a student in her class. She recognised my work and wanted to pursue a relationship with me. We kept in touch and I’ve worked on her teams at fashion week since then. I’ve learned so much from her,” Gingold said.
Building a business
As she accumulated experience, Gingold started to receive more work, eventually becoming one of Melbourne’s most in-demand make-up artists.
She has put a lot of effort into building a name for herself in the industry, including having a strong online presence.
She said Instagram, in particular, has been crucial to her success in recent years. The social media platform is the place where her work gets recognised and where she receives enquiries that often lead to bookings.
“Instagram is where people become familiar with your name and see your work. It gives them an insight into what you can do, the kind of people you’re working with and the community you’re connected to,” Gingold said.
“I booked a big job recently – they emailed out of the blue, so I asked how they found out about me. They said my name kept popping up on Instagram.”
Demand for Gingold has become so high that she is now turning down work because she simply can’t fit it all in.
This prompted her to start Tonic Agency, which specialises in event and bridal hair and make-up services, allowing her to fulfil the bookings she would normally turn down.
Gingold joined forces with business partner Tahli Engel to start the agency, and bookings are assigned to their team of make-up artists and hair stylists.
Over the years, Gingold has learned a thing or two about success. One thing she has realised is that talent alone will only take you so far.
“I think doing a good job is really important but being a person that is easy to work with is so valuable. Being reliable, being fun on set, or being quiet and knowing your place, as well as doing really good make-up, is so important,” she said.
Another lesson she has learned is to listen to what her clients want and deliver the result they seek.
“It’s not about the artist’s ego, it’s about having the client walk away feeling really happy with what you’ve done. If you’re giving people a lovely experience, they’re so much more likely to request your services again and recommend you,” she said.
Ultimately, Gingold has sustained a successful career as a make-up artist and hair stylist because she truly enjoys her work.
Her career path has given her creative freedom, allowed her to choose the direction of her work and opened doors to work with people and brands most could only dream about.
“It’s something different every day. You’re working with different people, in different places. One day might be a high fashion photo shoot and the next you might be doing make-up for a documentary,” she said.
“I like riding the wave, it keeps life interesting”.