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  • Writer's pictureCelena Rubin

It’s Our 10 Year Anniversary!

Eleven years ago we jam packed my Honda CR-V with as much as we could fit, including our 5-year-old daughter, and left Los Angeles, my birthplace and home. With my husband John tagging along in his own Honda, we headed for Portland. It was July 2011, and I had a plan. I was going to open a makeup school in Portland.

2011 Leaving LA

I had heard about the bustling, booming film production happening in Portland, yet I had discovered there were no schools to train makeup artists to work in the industry. I had been training to be a makeup artist since I was 16 years old and had been working as a free-lance makeup artist in one form or another for almost 20 years. I knew a lot, and I was planning to share it all. There were also a lot of things that I didn’t know, and I was planning to reach into the Portland community and create a team of artists who would also want to share, inspire, and create more local resources for local and visiting production companies. That was the plan.

Our 1st class in 2012, Portland, OR!

I had never owned a business before, but I was determined to figure it out. I had been creating my curriculum long before we moved, so I thought I was ready. We found a house to rent, I started networking, and immediately started getting free-lance work while implementing my plan. John was working for a t-shirt company out of Los Angeles which included a lot of travel and not a lot of income. We needed to make money fast if we were going to survive in Portland. We didn’t have the means to rent a location and weren’t eligible to receive a loan at the time, so I set up the school in a hurry…in our basement. John’s father flew out from CT, and the two of them and our next door neighbor built 3 makeup tables out of recycled materials. The school was made.

1st graduation 2012!

A simple website got us students fast. I hired 2 other makeup artists to teach a couple of classes that I wasn’t confident in and away we went. It was June 2012. We quickly realized I needed help, so John quit the t-shirt job and jumped in to handle the administrative side of the business where I was struggling. It was clearly too much work for one person to run a school and teach most of the classes. Things seemed to be going well for a few months until we found out that in Oregon makeup artists weren’t allowed to work without an esthetic license on anything. That threw a wrench in everything. We closed the school, moved it to WA in 2013 where makeup artists are allowed to work without an esthetic license, and set out to change the law.

1st Bill passed 2013

Governor Kitzhaber signing our bill in 2013, Senate Bill 836

We met with our Senator and three months later we passed our 1st bill (Senate Bill 836). Two years later we passed our 2nd bill (Senate Bill 699). If you would like to read the story about how we changed the law, you can read it here. There is a 2nd blog about how we updated the law to add hair styling.

Second location in the historic Academy building, Vancouver, WA in 2013

Vancouver classroom

Vancouver classroom First FX program

After 4 ½ years of commuting to Vancouver, WA and after passing 2 bills, we were ready to move our school back to Portland. We went through the painstakingly long process of getting licensed in Oregon, found a cozy studio across from PCC Sylvania Campus about 5 minutes from home, and re-opened in Lake Oswego. We have been open in our current location for almost 4 years. It wasn’t without hiccups, but with persistence, determination, focus, and the support of our amazing instructors and community, we have been open for 10 years! Happy Anniversary to us!


If you want to know even more about us, our school story, and our journey leaving Los Angeles and moving to Portland, here’s a very good interview from Shout Out LA Magazine.


The Art of Makeup School Press
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