The beautiful Dutchie Jolanda Smulders graduated from “Le Comte & Weilers”, makeup school in Amsterdam, The Netherlands 25+ years ago. She then moved to Curacao, Dutch Caribbean in 1990 and never left. Since then, her artistry has led her to work with numerous recording artists, celebrities and locals spanning Film and tv productions, editorials and ad campaigns. Jolanda has collaborated with brand legends including Daily Fresku, Talkies, Tula, Jandino Asporaat and Huff Magazine. Jolanda is known for her amazing smile but far most the understanding of beauty and trends. Read all about how this lady created her empire called “House of Smulders”.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?
My current business is called HOUSE of SMULDERS and I am a makeup artist.
Makeup is my favourite thing, but I also do hair and styling. I work mainly in fashion and commercial photo shoots, tv, movies, commercials, weddings and workshops. I have local clients but I also work with a lot of international clients, who find me through my website or heard about me via other international clients. It’s very diverse.
SO MOVIES TOO! THAT’S INTERESTING. Yes, movies too. Amongst others, I worked on “Tula: The Revolt” and “Bon Bini” and tv programme “The Bachelor”. Whenever they are shooting a movie, commercial or tv programme on Curacao, I get the opportunity to contribute, which is hard work and long hours, but exciting and always fun to do! And I meet fun people like Gerard Joling, Churendy Martina, Jandino Asporaat, Danny Glover etc. And I get to meet so many new people on all the crews I work with!
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET THINGS GOING IN THE BEGINNING?
When I was in high school I wanted to be an industrial designer, that was the plan.
But I was totally demotivated after talking with someone studying at the Kunstakademie. He kept saying things like: “It’s really hard, and the school is very critical. Be prepared for constant critiques of your work. I constantly feel unappreciated” I began to rethink things, I mean I was 16, I didn’t have a clue at the time…And so I ended up in a completely different direction. I used to pass a makeup school on my bike every day. One day, I decided to go for it. This was in 1988 in Amsterdam, after eight months I was finished and shortly thereafter, (in 1990), I moved to Curaçao. At the time there wasn’t a big market for makeup artists. I worked as a secretary and PA, had a baby and used my time to make contacts in the scene, contacts like creative directors, photographers and other production companies. Even though I built a solid network I was still very anxious to start something on my own at the time. I felt ‘safe’ where I was and was able to combine the two completely different jobs, which at that time was a perfect balance for me. Then the push I needed came 4 years ago. The company went through several changes, I felt unhappy and unsatisfied and I thought “It’s now or never.” So at the age of 47, I started HOUSE of SMULDERS, and it took off from there.
WHAT MOTIVATED & INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
I always had the ambition to build my own company, but fear kept creeping in.
I was constantly questioning myself: Will I make enough out of it? What if the market here is too small? But I had lost inspiration where I was, that was the push I needed to start something on my own.
ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMEN BUSINESS OWNER?
I don’t really see any disadvantages or advantages that you have as a female business owner. The advantage you have as an entrepreneur is that you have more freedom. Because it’s your passion, you’re living and breathing it every day. The disadvantage for me is that I am on my own. That means I have to do it all by myself and that can be scary. You really need to put yourself out there and sell yourself, otherwise, you won’t get any clients or you won’t be able to build up your network which is crucial in this business.
“The process of creating something amazing with a team, being passionate about it and doing what I love, makes me the happiest person on earth”
– Jolanda Smulders
HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU FACED?
My passion! That’s what keeps me motivated. It’s different every day and it is hard work! But staying focused on the bigger picture excites me and inspires me. It’s nice to make people (even more) beautiful than they already are. I love the interaction with people and helping them feel good in their own skin. I don’t only do makeup for models but also for women who, for example, need a new start after a divorce. By applying a little bit of makeup-nothing too glamorous, but enough to see her bloom, smile and feel confident is rewarding for me. My goal is to make people feel special, no matter what they look like. If a little bit of makeup can help you get out of there or brighten your day then I am all for that.
MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:
Ohh that’s hard to say. I am proud of all the things I have done so far.
But most of the time my proudest moment is watching someone walking out of the door totally happy. And I always get excited when I see my work in a magazine, on a billboard or on tv etc. The feeling is a bit like butterflies in your stomach when you are in love…It gives you wings!
HOW I BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE I WANT:
Work is my life and I am always working. I never get tired of it. It energizes me and I really love what I do. I could be playing dominoes with friends and still be looking at their makeup or the way they applied it. When I go to the movies or watch music videos I will be looking at how the makeup is applied. So it’s constantly on my mind.
I AM INSPIRED BY:
LIFE! People in general, happy people. The sunset, the sky… it’s just stunning
Going to the movies, music, fashion, reading magazines and watching YouTube (I love advising people on the best channels to watch)
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEBODY ELSE WHO WANTED TO START A SIMILAR BUSINESS?
Don’t be afraid just do it. Give it a try and find out your own style and stay true to it. Be careful with people who want to take advantage of you. Don’t be intimidated by other makeup artists, try to see it as getting inspiration instead of seeing it as a threat. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and be a mentor to those who want to be a makeup artist also. Be on time and make sure your brushes are clean, always! Stay professional and make sure to look professional. Last but certainly not least stay discreet in your business. Many people will pour their heart and soul out to you and only you.
DID YOU CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN FOR YOURSELF WHEN YOU STARTED?
The creation of my business plan for HOUSE of SMULDERS happened along the way. When I started I did set up a strategic plan on how to do outreach towards clients, my house style, my logo, costs and the services. I also had a portfolio and website of my work. I started with basic services, but as things took off, I found out, that I could do production, create my own shoots and manage locations. But those were all things that happened along the way.
THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS OR FAVORITE QUOTE IS…
Just go out on your own. Don’t be afraid and don’t wait too long. Because if this is your passion then everything will fall in the right place. And if it doesn’t work out you can always go into another direction professionally. But I strongly believe that if you follow your passion and have a positive attitude all will be fine.
MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW I DEALT WITH IT:
– Fear – the wrong mindset. There are no guarantees in life. So just do it anyway!