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Meet Trailblazer Julie Hirji

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Hirji.

Julie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Born and raised in the heart of LA, it was always my dream as a kid to become a makeup artist. At 5 years old, I would sit my mom and grandmother in my living room and force them to let me do their makeup. Growing up, I always told myself that I would become a makeup artist. How I was going to get there – I had no idea! After high school, I struck a deal with my dad; if I took a few business courses at a community college then he would help me pay for half of makeup school. Well, a few business courses turned into a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management at Mount St. Mary’s University and immediately after that, I enrolled in an Esthetics program to get my CA state license as an Esthetician. After passing the state exam, I decided to work at Sephora for a while. I helped open a new store location and then, I decided to start my own empire. Since 2013, I’ve gained experience in so many different fields of makeup; for example, fashion photography makeup, headshot makeup, red carpet makeup, the list goes on. But my true love when it comes to this art is bridal. Something about working with my brides just puts me in a happy place and I enjoy it so much. It makes long days of work fly by. I can truly say that my work is my hobby and for that I’m grateful!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. The easy route for me would have been to stay at a place like Sephora and work my way up that totem pole. But I decided to do things on my own. I had to start at the bottom and build a clientele, a team and a business from scratch. There were days of pure frustration and others of pure joy. It was a roller coaster trying to figure out how to start my own business (thanks dad for planting the business school seed in my head, it helped). If I had one thing to say about my journey, it would be that it has not been an easy road, but rewarding – most definitely! To this day, there are still struggles at times but because of persistence and experience, I now know how to navigate through the struggles. My advice to young women who are just starting their journey is if you really want this – you can do it! Be persistent, no matter what anyone tells you. If you have the ambition and this is your passion, you’ll be successful! People will say no. There will be times where you fail at certain tasks, but keep pushing and I promise you’ll get there. And it’ll be that much more worth it.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Makeup by Julie Hirji – what should we know?
I specialize in bridal makeup. That’s the majority of my clientele, although I never refuse other types of work. If I have the availability, I’m taking on the job even if I feel it’ll be a challenge. But bridal is what I’m known for. It’s what the majority of my work displays. And my team – I can’t forget my team! Over the last five years, I’ve selectively built a team of a few makeup artists and hairstylists that I can call on to help me with larger bridal parties. I’m proud of the point I have come to today in this business. I think what sets me apart from other makeup artists is my professionalism and the extra little treats that I throw in for my brides. When it comes to booking a wedding, I’m very professional about it, paperwork and all! I believe in contracts and sticking to them, but I also believe in being personable. Make friends with your brides – build a relationship with them. The more comfortable they are with you, the better chance you have of having a happy client at the end of the day and getting recommendations/referrals thereafter. And for my brides – I pamper them! It’s their big day. Give them special treatment and they’ll be that much more appreciative of your efforts.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
Definitely! Growing up, my dad was an auto mechanic and owned his own business. My mom worked with him on the office side. My whole life my sister and I grew up in that environment. It was instilled in us for so long, so from a young age, I always knew I’d follow in those footsteps of owning my own business one day. As I grew older, I also found it apparent that I wasn’t meant to work for someone. Working for myself is where I excelled best, so that’s what I did. So far so good!

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Image Credit:
Anya Kernes, Yolanda Villagran, Tara Deaton, Julie Hirji

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