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MikaylaEllen O’Dowd graduated from Complections in 2008 after completing her six-month program in fashion, theatre, film and prosthetics, and has found success in the freelance world through client-based beauty and commercial work. In this interview, Ellen dishes about the school, its programs and life after graduation!

Why did you enroll in The Comprehensive Make-up Artist program?

Because I wasn’t exactly sure what I would be more interested in, and I kind of just wanted to learn it all, except Creature Design – I knew that didn’t really interest me!

How did you hear about Complections?

I was searching online and found a few stand outs across Canada, and it was down to a school in Vancouver or Complections in Toronto…I chose this one because I liked the variety of courses offered better, and the reviews from graduates and media were pretty amazing. I chose correctly, I think!

Did you have any previous make-up experience before coming the school?

Not professionally, but I’ve always been obsessed with make-up. I used to be a professional dancer, so I was familiar with doing stage make-up, but I was always the one to do everyone’s make up for a night out. I was pictured doing a girl’s make-up in the “Make A Wish” Magazine while I was working for Royal Caribbean as a dancer. Her wish was to perform onboard with the cast, so we taught her a part of the show and I did her make-up!

What was your experience at the school like?

It was great. I looked forward to going to school everyday. I was a little scared when I first started – I hadn’t been back in a school environment in a long time. It was a little intimidating at first, but then you get into the swing of things.

What was your favourite class?

I would have to say Theatre, although it’s not what I am doing now. I really enjoyed learning something completely different from what I was used to doing as a performer. Distortion was probably my favourite technique. I found it quite amusing, yet challenging at the same time. I love everything to do with theatre, and the fact that we learned so many different types of theatre make-ups like Chinese Opera, 18th Century and Geisha…it was so interesting!

What advice would you give to current students and grads?

To current students: Practice any chance you get and try to work as soon as you can. Challenge yourself, find out what is out there, and if you have questions, you can come back to school and ask them!

What’s the story behind Exception Elle Beauty?

Hahaha…I took the advice of one of my teachers and created a business name right away for tax purposes! The name…well, my nickname is Elle, so I wanted to incorporate that.

What has been your favourite job since graduating?

Hmmmm…I did a photo workshop called “Big Lights Far Away” with a fellow grad. We shot some Olympic hopefuls, and the first day we had to use glycerin and water to give them a “sweaty” look, and the next day we did more of a fashion-themed shoot…but the location was the best – Markham Airport! It was a little cold out, but to see the shots that they were getting was so rewarding! It was great to meet all these new photographers too! Always a good thing!

What are your future career goals?

I want to own my own Beauty Bar, which will be geared more towards the pre- Party/Stagette/Wedding. I would provide catering, liquor licensing, a dj if requested, limo service and perhaps a few other things! I want it to be a trendy, modern place where women can pamper themselves and have fun while getting ready for their big night or big day, like a one-stop bridal shop! Until then, I will continue to freelance!