Today we’d like to introduce you to Chelsea Sule.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ve been in the beauty industry my whole life. I was basically raised in this world as my mom was a salon owner and beauty educator in my hometown, Green Bay, WI. I fell in love with makeup at an early age and worked for her from 14-19 as a receptionist and assistant.
When I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina for college, I worked at a Clinique counter on the weekends. After I graduated, I continued working as a freelance makeup artist for Smashbox Cosmetics and taking on weddings and small gigs on the side. Things began to grow as a NC modeling and artist agency took notice of my work, and before I knew it, I was traveling all over the east coast as an artist. In 2016 I moved to Miami to pursue my first “season” as an agency represented artist and ended up staying for almost a year. Here’s where things took an unusual turn for me. I had a great relationship with my agent, who knew I had a business background as well. When he was promoted and moved to New York, he called me one day out of the blue and offered me a job as an artist agent out in Los Angeles, where I would be representing other hair/makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, and photographers. I was completely shocked but open to the new side of the business, so without hesitation, I moved here to work for Wilhelmina.
After three years with Wilhelmina, I was offered a position with Celestine Agency, an artist-only boutique agency with a wonderful reputation, and I made the switch. Things were going really well until Covid-19 hit, and our hours were reduced and we had to work from home due to restrictions. Although this was definitely a huge bummer to me at the time, it opened up my schedule and allowed me to reintroduce myself in the LA market as a makeup and hair artist again, which, as I see now, is my first and greatest passion. I am now balancing both worlds, as an artist and an agent, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I truly love being an artist, as well as helping other artists succeed in finding their passion and achieving their goals.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Oh, absolutely not. As any freelancer will tell you, it’s NOT easy at first. It takes a long time to build momentum, and every new city I lived in required me to start from the bottom and work my way up. I worked as a bartender for the longest time to supplement my income. I took jobs that in hindsight, were really just learning experiences, as they were just not the right fit for me. I had to do a lot of ‘testing’ which… can be looked at as unpaid work, but I consider to be an investment in your portfolio. Covid has been particularly hard as well because I thought my new position as an agent was so secure. I never saw this coming, the entire entertainment world slowing to a halt. It’s still so humbling and mind-blowing to me.
However, I’m a firm believer that if you are truly meant to do something in life, nothing will deter you from making it happen, and things will always fall into place. That’s ultimately what has kept me in the game for so long when I could have gone a million different directions. I have a natural born ability to do the art that I do, and I genuinely love it. It’s so cliché, but all of the ups and downs, struggles and starting over have only made me stronger. I look back at my struggles in the past and think, “Yep, needed that.” I know I’ll look back at this year and think the same as well.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m a makeup and hair artist working for fashion, editorial, red carpet and commercial entertainment. I’m often hired for my natural aesthetic and my ability to enhance features without overdoing anything. I am also a painter (just as a hobby, but I’ve had plenty of training), so I understand color theory and love to play with shades and tones to highlight a model’s features. I pay close attention to detail and work quickly and precisely to achieve the exact look that a client asks for. As an agent, I consider my artist background to be a huge strength that sets me apart from other artist agents. I understand what an artist needs and wants, and I have knowledge of being on set, so I know what a client looks for as well.
It’s given me such an honest and authentic approach to the business side of this world, and I find such joy in picking teams and introducing artists and clients to create lasting business relationships and friendships. Through my experiences on both sides of this world, I’ve discovered that fashion can be a bit of a beast, and there are many brands that … without saying the wrong thing … don’t treat their models, artists, or factory workers the way they should. However, there is also a major bright side to the industry, and it can be such a confidence building, empowering and wonderful form of creative expression as well. Through this, I’ve become more selective over time on who I work with, and I am a huge advocate for small, sustainable, ethical brands, as well as giving back through education, mentorship, and nonprofit work. In 2021 I am especially focusing on working with and supporting only those brands and designers, as well as educating others on the topic.
Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
The list is so long. I have one standout mentor from Charleston, SC, Ashley Brooke Perryman. She was the first person to really believe in me as a makeup artist. I auditioned for her team for Charleston Fashion Week in 2012, and I was in such a low place in my life. Going through a horrible breakup (literally on the day of the audition), I almost bailed. My good friend forced me to do it anyway, and I walked into the interview room holding back tears. Immediately, Ashley changed my entire day. She was so bright and bubbly and excited to have me there as if I was something special. She really saw something in me based on the work I had sent her. My whole day turned around instantly, and when I auditioned, I completely nailed it. I remember standing back and looking at my model and thinking, “Oh my god, this is perfect. How did I do that?!” I made the team, and the rest is history. Ashley hosted the best workshops I’ve ever taken on technique, freelancing, runway makeup, and overall business practices. She is so talented, and so respected, and never shows even a hint of an ego. She continues to be an inspiration to me to this day as a powerhouse artist and overall wonderful human, and I’ll never forget the way she made me feel that day.
Another standout artist that inspires and supports me always is my friend and fellow artist Erica Adams. She works in TV and Film in LA and has always been so welcoming, open, honest, and inspiring. She is insanely talented and without ego as well, and she is always ‘paying it forward’ to everyone she can possibly support. She even insisted that I live at her apartment the first month I was in LA and refused to let me pay rent. It takes a special person to support another artist like that. I am continually inspired by the artists I represent and work with, as well as my close friends. They constantly build me up and show up for me, and I wish I could name them all. I think the common denominator in all of the artists I am most inspired by is that they’re all talented and without ego. They want others to succeed with them. They never hesitate to support one another. They never get ‘too big’ for the people in their life, no matter how successful they become. This is something I will always notice and aspire toward myself because they truly are the best kinds of humans out there.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.chelseasulemua.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chelseasulemua/