Hey everyone! This is Natalie Setareh, your makeup artist and beauty coach here with another episode with the lovely and delightful Cathi Singh.
In today’s episode, we are going to dig deeper into Cathi’s journey into the field of makeup artistry, the ins and outs of assisting, how to create your own way, how to manage parenting with production, and last but not least how to approach makeup and kit organization with some #CathiHacks.
Whether you are an aspiring makeup artist, a pro, or a makeup enthusiast, I know you will feel inspired and joyful after this interview, because that’s what happens anytime people spend time with Cathi.
So sit back, relax, and listen to the episode here or wherever you tune into podcasts. As a content creator, let me tell you that nothing makes my day more than when you tell your friends about the show! Also, I love when you tag me in screenshots on Instagram (@nataliesetareh) or see your positive reviews on iTunes. Thank you so much for the support!
Let me share a little bit about this amazing woman! Cathi has been a freelance makeup artist for 12 years, working in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and San Diego, California. She specializes in television, print, and commercial media, as well as live events. She has won 4 National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy awards with the Epic Makeup team!
Before she was a makeup artist, Cathi was an accomplished, competitive synchronized swimmer who performed in films and music videos such as Jackass 3, Young the Giant Cough Syrup and some of Rod Stewart’s live music videos! She learned waterproof and theater makeup early on and this knowledge, plus her experiences performing on film, prepared her to understand the performer and their mindset so she could help them backstage.
Cathi thrives in a team element, which has led to her working in many forms of media; from live TV at Comic Con with Alan Tudyk and Jeffrey Wright, to speaking engagements with Geena Davis and female Astronaut Sunita Williams, to print work with Angels Baseball Star Mike Trout, the band Phantogram and Tennis Pro Roger Federer. She also works with brands such as Nike, T-Mobile, Beats By Dre, Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), BodyArmor, HGTV and Frank & Eileen.
I love her because she enthusiastically brings her own unique brushstroke to the makeup industry, as well as her contagious positive outlook. You can check out her makeup kit and organizing ideas by following her cult famous instagram hashtag, #CathiHacks.
Before we dive into all things makeup and kit hacks, I’m sure everyone is just as intrigued as I am to peek into the life of a competitive synchronized swimmer!
Can you tell us a fun story about your time as a synchronized swimmer?
I was performing live in Vegas for a show, and people were kicking beach balls around, and one beamed me right in the face! But, you have to keep your smile going. I’ve lost my nose clip multiple times in performances, and you just have to grin and bear it.
We did a music video one time, and they put these BEAUTIFUL lashes on us and I remember we told them that the minute we go upside down, these things are not going to stay on. They said, “Let’s just try it!” So we all did a figure (upside down) and came up at the same time and we ALL had two spiders on our cheeks. There’s no lashes in synchro!
But all in all, I think my time doing synchronized swimming really made me who I am, especially when it comes to work ethic.
I see and appreciate how in your bio, you leverage and weave your then experience as a performance athlete into giving you valuable skill sets into your current career as a makeup artist.
My regular listeners may know a little bit about you from my Melissa Street episode (you can find that here) but for those who are just now learning your name, can you talk about your personal journey into the world of makeup artistry?
So, I didn’t actually know that this was a career. I always wanted to be a shoe designer in college, and then I veered into journalism (I have a journalism degree). But when I graduated college, I realized that I needed more creativity.
A friend of mine offered me a gig styling people for music videos. I had no idea what I was doing. I was on a set one day that I had NO business being on with Fiona Stiles (if you don’t know her, please look her up). She was working with Elizabeth Banks and I remember just staring at the makeup thinking, “That’s where I need to be!”
I went home to my husband and told him, ok, I am in the right area but the wrong department. I didn’t want to go back to school, so I googled makeup artists and emailed them out of the blue and just asked questions. Melissa Street was one of the few who responded and we had so much in common.
I talked to her for HOURS one day, and I asked her every question I could think of about becoming a makeup artist and working as a makeup artist. She had all the answers for me, and her heart was so giving.
In the beginning, I didn’t know anything. Melissa and my teacher, Trisha, prepared me a little bit, but they also threw me into the world of makeup and that’s a great way to learn.
Can you talk about being an assistant and share some of the most valuable lessons you learned?
It’s a very humbling experience, but I think it’s something that everyone should seek out if they can. It’s not about you; you’re an extension of the person you’re assisting.
I want the person I’m assisting to shine, to look amazing. I just want to be a third arm. As an assistant, you get to be a fly on the wall and just observe and learn.
Think about what you want to do. I did bridal at first, but I learned it isn’t for me. I do like doing film and commercial work. So, find someone who is doing something you want to try and send a professional email (don’t just DM them on Instagram). Send them your info, let them know you’re interested in assisting them, and see what happens!
I personally loved reading (and also feeling validated by) what you’ve been sharing about being a parent during this pandemic while working in this industry.
Because of my children, there are so many jobs I simply cannot take because there isn’t childcare… and because of my children, I have to be extra cautious about the jobs I take because I don’t want to bring germs into my household.
To any artists listening, or just parents who can relate to these struggles, can you share any advice for trying to navigate the balance between safety and career?
It’s really hard. I mean, I’m in my husband’s office because my kids are in my husband’s office doing live school… it’s hard! You need a support system, but you also need to slow down.
I have a problem with just being and just sitting, but this forced me to just have to be in the moment; I can multitask on set, so now I’m applying them at home.
Of course, I am loving the opportunity to watch my kid at school and learn with him. Prioritizing, too! I give myself less of a “to do” list than I normally would. There’s moments when you just have to switch things around. No one has a normal schedule right now, so we just have to do a little less.
I absolutely LOVE following the hashtag #CathiHacks online because every single thing you share is so insanely valuable! So tell me, how did this get started? How has it grown?
Again, it goes back to your mentors. Trisha, Christine, and Melissa are so incredibly organized. I took pictures of her kit on my first day, and it ingrained in me these healthy and clean habits.
I’ve always been one to use unconventional methods to solve things. Things expire and we have to throw things away, so finding ways to reuse objects we already have is key; like a toothbrush holder for lipsticks and lip brushes (so they don’t touch the other brushes in my bag).
I have a “Rule of Threes” which is basically that you have to think of three different ways to use something before you can purchase it. That applies to clothes, home furnishings, anything. The same thing should apply to our makeup and our tools. They should be multi-use.
People started asking questions, and I knew I had more ideas to share, so Melissa and I were talking about the name and came up with Cathi Hacks. I threw the hashtag out there and it just kind of stuck!
I have met so many more artists through a #CathiHack than I would have just posting my work. They spark conversations, and that’s really cool.
These are hand-dyed drawstring bags. They’re really durably sewn. They will fit an assembled shield or a disassembled shield. The ZShield is the kind I prefer, and it fits perfectly.
It’s great for storing your shield as you eat lunch, or if you’re outside so it doesn’t get dirty. You can differentiate your shield from other people’s because the bags are all different colors!
Ok, bonus question time. What is your favorite makeup set bag hack? For those of you who don’t know what a set bag is, it’s the bag that makeup artists wear on their bodies during events where touch ups are needed.
Yes! It’s like a diaper bag for makeup artists! I go through a lot of set bags. I carry a little pouch by a company called Ruff Enough (it’s on Amazon) and I keep my paw palette, my paw palette ring, and my ghosting sheets in there. Ghosting sheets are used to apply products to faces (like a tissue) because we can’t touch faces right now.
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There are so many coaches out there, but not many who are specifically for MUAs. I developed a la carte coaching specifically for freelance makeup artists who don’t have a ridiculous marketing budget to blow.
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