Asma T. is an entrepreneur and the main force behind her eponymous salon, Asma T- Shadman Depilex. A seasoned professional makeup artist, Asma launched her salon as a franchise of the Depilex Beauty Clinic in September 2008. Internationally trained as a beauty stylist, Asma T has received State Certification from the prestigious Makeup First School in Chicago, USA. In addition to extensive exposure to makeup techniques used across salons in America and Europe, Asma T has also had experience working with a diversity of high-end beauty brands such as Dermalogica, L’Oreal Professionel, and OPI Gel and Acrylic nail care services.
As a beauty and makeup specialist, Asma T is well versed in make-up artistry across five key areas: Fashion makeup, for shoots and the ramp; Bridal make up; Party make up; Makeup for Theatrical productions and performances; and Media makeup for Television Dramas and films.
Asma T’s philosophy of makeup is to create looks that are immaculate yet delicate, following the ethos of beauty that is natural.
1- How long has Asma T been working as a stylist/beautician? What were you doing before getting into the beauty business?
I have always been interested in colors and drawing and painting. In another life I might have been a painter. Because of this inclination, I also developed an interest in make up at a young age and often did make up for other friends and family before I got married. I continued to style close friends and family members after I got married.
When I returned to Pakistan a few years ago after living many years abroad, I felt that most salons here left a lot to be desired. Many of them are small, unclean dingy places. I thought that a salon which was spacious and clean and whose staff conducted themselves professionally would be a great success. This gradually led me to the idea of opening a salon of my own which I did about 5 years ago as the Shadman branch of Depilex.
2- Have you done had any professional training?
Yes, I have been formally trained in Chicago in United States and am a State Certified Make Up artist. I have received training not just in the normal bridal and party make up areas but also in media and theatrical make up including Special Effects make up. I have also attended international workshops and been exposed to salons all across the world. There is no substitute for learning something in a proper formal manner nor there an alternative to actually experiencing something by being there. I have also learned a lot about running a salon from Musarrat Misbah who is a pioneer in this field and has shown the way to many other women like myself to get into this business.
Despite having a fair bit of experience doing make up, when I started thinking about opening a salon in Lahore I did not have any idea about all the complexities that running a business in Pakistan involves. I have learned many things the hard way but I feel stronger than ever after 5 years in the business.
3- Asma T has worked with all the top celebs of Pakistan. Describe the process of working with celebs to create their amazing looks. How do you handle the top models?
Make up and styling, for everyone but especially in the case of a celebrity, is a unique combination of the “intensely personal” and the “out-rightly public”. Every celebrity wants to stand out but without going so far out that their look becomes a topic of discussions for all the wrong reasons. The most important thing in working with celebrities is to develop a sense of trust by genuinely understanding what they want and then honestly sharing what is going to work in that situation.
Often these beauties have brains to match and so when I explain to them why a look which they may have had in mind may not work in the given circumstances, most of them come to trust my judgment. The more you work with a certain person, the more you understand what they want; the higher the level of mutual trust and greater the confidence they have in your judgment and ability.
4- What products do you like to use on your star clients?
For me every client who walks in is a celebrity because she has chosen me to make her look her best – what could be more important for a woman than that? We try to provide the best products for every client. We work with L’Oreal, Dermalogica, MAC, Makeup Forever, Elizabeth Lancray etc. When the situation requires we use special products often not available in Pakistan. For example, for a recent event, I used very unique and expensive eyelashes which I had brought from the United States on each of the models and the red carpet host.
5- What is your favorite celebrity look and who did you create it for?
Well one look does not fit all. When it comes to celebrities, standing out is high on the list of requirements so I try to create a different look each time depending on the occasion. One interesting look I recently created was for fashion diva Amna Kardar for the Verve Halloween party. I was really happy to have greater creative freedom in this case than is ordinarily possible at the usual fashion events. In the end, everyone loved Amna’s Gothic look and she was the center of attraction at a very glamorous event.
6- What is the most important aspect of your job?
Listening to people! In this business, one gradually falls into the trap of thinking that one knows what is best for the whole world. But as I said above, beauty and fashion is both “intensely personal” and yet “out-rightly public”. Unless I understand what women want and create a look that they are happy with inside, they will never have the confidence to carry themselves the way they need to in order to look their best. I am always aware that every bride who comes to me is giving me the responsibility to make her look her best on the most important day of her life. That is not a small thing and therefore I take my job very seriously.
7- What are the most common makeup mistakes that you women making in Pakistan?
Too many of us put on too much foundation. Women see this as a short-term means of acquiring a fairer complexion. I believe the foundation should match the skin complexion and in any case the face should not end up looking of a complexion different from nearby skin, for example around the neck. Similarly women often fail to apply eye liners properly and the liner on one eye does not match the liner on the other eye.
8- What do you recommend foundation every day or when needed and as little as possible?
That depends. If you have good skin then as little as possible. If you have to go out in public every day and your skin is not in the best shape, then use foundation in combination with a good moisturizer. Generally speaking, less is more, as long as it is enough for the job.
9- What are the basic make up tools every girl should have in her bag?
Two to three good make up brushes, lip gloss or a lip balm, mascara, compact powder and blush.
10- What is your personal must-have list…
A host of makeup brushes, good blush, eye shadow, gloss, lipsticks, black eye pencil, mascara and so much more
11- Which beauty products do you have in your bag for your use at the moment?
Lip gloss and sun screen.
12- What are your future plans for your salon and even otherwise?
Although I feel I have come a long way in the last few years, there is so much to learn and do that I feel I can go on improving every day for the rest of my life. For the last few years, I was concentrating on the business side of things. Now I am looking forward to being able to devote more time to beauty and fashion industry. I have done a lot of fashion and model shoots but I want to raise the bar and consistently work at the highest tier in the industry.
I am also keen to open a school of makeup artistry because I feel that most of the girls who are joining the salon industry have no clue about the basics of the profession. I also want to pass on what I have learned in America and Europe to students here so that we can expand and raise the quality of our industry. I have chosen to invest heavily in my salon in order to make sure that I have the best facilities and equipment for my clients.
I do not think that you can produce brilliant work in a dark and filthy place. That is why I have put a lot of emphasis on creating a very comforting environment. All those who come to the salon end up admiring the ambience of the place. I hope to build on that further in the years to come.
The famous entrepreneur of Shadman Depilex, Asma T talks about her passion of makeup art in an exclusive interview with Fashion Central.