Interviews

Five Minutes With: AYU Makeup co-founder Suzanne O’Neill

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Top female entrepreneur Suzanne O’Neill has brushed aside the competition with her range of professional make-up tools. Here the make-up artist tells The Beauty Inbox the story behind the company she founded with her sister Laura, AYU Makeup.

On her earliest beauty memory
My earliest beauty memory is of my mum’s vanity table. She always had and still does have so many products to choose from. I used to love sitting there playing with all of her stuff. I’m sure she didn’t love it so much though!

On becoming a make-up artist
I have always loved make-up. After school I studied beauty therapy but it was the make-up that really interested me so I guess it was a natural progression. People told me I was good at it too so that helped with my confidence to go for it.

I did my beauty training in a college called Fernanda Scapaticci’s in Dundalk. Following that I attended lots of short make-up courses and still do now when I can. I worked freelance as I had my own beauty salon until I started teaching.

On developing her own brushes
While teaching, I always felt for the students as colleges were on tight budgets and the brush sets supplied were not always very good. I wanted them to have access to really good quality tools that were affordable as I feel your tools are as important as the make-up that you are using.

I did a lot of research. I tried brushes from all over but in the end I had a vision of exactly what I wanted and felt people needed so I decided to design my own brushes. It was a very long process but I am really proud of what we have now. It was all worth it.

On a typical day
It is different every day. The morning begins with getting through orders, answering emails and checking our social media. From there I could be looking at new products, dealing with clients and colleges we work with, going to meetings or attending classes we supply kits to.

On her style icons
I love Olivia Palermo. I think she is so effortless and absolutely gorgeous!

On her favourite make-up look
I am a less-is-more kind of girl. I love fresh skin, a defined brow and bright eyes. For this I use a highlighting cream under my make-up. I like light, dewy foundations and always apply these with one of our duo fibre brushes as they give the most beautiful airbrush finish and you feel like you are wearing nothing.

To define my brows I use our angle liner brush which I spent months getting just right. It is super sharp so gives a really defined finish yet very natural - it’s really easy to create little hair strokes.  The brush is great for anyone who is new to gel eyeliners too.

On my eyes, I roughly apply a kohl pencil on my top lid and smudge it out with our crease brush so it gives definition but isn’t too obvious. To finish, mascara is a must and a bit of vaseline on the lips.

On her favourite places to shop
I love Dublin. There is something really nice about pottering around Grafton Street on a sunny day. I am a Zara addict. I love how their clothes look designer but are so affordable. I do like to treat myself in Brown Thomas now and again too if I think I deserve it!

On her worst beauty faux pas
White eyeshadow all over my lid. There are photos on the wall in my grandmother’s house and I cringe every time I see them. I think I was trying to be creative but it was just awful looking.

On her proudest achievement
In business, AYU itself is my proudest achievement. It is such a great feeling seeing something I am so passionate about grow and be appreciated by the public. Seeing our brushes for sale in pharmacies is surreal.

On forthcoming AYU projects
We have just finished a new travel brush set which will launch in October. I absolutely love it – it’s really classy and perfect for your handbag when you need to touch up on the go. We also have an exciting project starting in the New Year but I can’t say much about that now!

On advice to up-and-coming business entrepreneurs
I would say just go for it! I would tell them that some days are hard but if you love what you are doing and believe in your product, then you can only succeed. Also not to take rejection personally – it can be tough when it’s your own brand but you learn and grow from it.

- as told to TBI

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