Terri, founder of MissTez is someone we’ve had our eye on for a while! We’ve always been interested in her work, but it wasn’t until we had the chance to interview her, did we realise just how amazing she really is. We love her work, her open minded attitude, willingness to learn and especially the time and energy she invests in young Pacific people. We learnt a lot through the time we’ve had to hear her story, and we hope you do too.
Tell us a bit about yourself, the work that you do, and how you came to follow that career path?
I’m Terri Smith, 32, and originate from a small town in Northland New Zealand, Te Kopuru. My family and I migrated to Australia when I was 8 years old. Growing up in Sydney, I’ve been fortunate to create a little family of my own. I’m a proud mother of two, and my fiancé is of Fijian descent from the village of Marou, Naviti in the Yasawa Group.
As the Creative Director and Owner of MissTez, I’ve established it as a Makeup and Media Business based in Sydney, which is recognised on an international scale.
I’d like to take you on a little trip down memory lane, way back to when I first started out.
Since my teen years, I always had an interest for the entertainment and music scene and when I left school, I did a bit of commercial and promotional modelling along with some extra’s work for local Australian TV shows and TVC’s. I was also a vocalist in a small RnB/Rap group made up of a few talented artists I went to school with. That’s when my passion for fashion kicked in!
After having my first child Jonasa (now age 8), I decided to leave my full time job with Qantas to be a stay at home mama to raise my son. A year later I fell pregnant with my daughter Ayshia (now age 6) and it was after her birth I decided to pursue a career in something more flexible, to suit my changing lifestyle, and in something I had a passion for.
I started out doing a few short courses in Business Management and Events, and at that stage I was still unsure of what I really wanted to do. From there I then attended a makeup trade show in Sydney with a friend who was also a makeup artist, and developed an instant love for it! After seeing what potential the career path held and the creativity that it came with, I quickly flew into a makeup artistry course.
Studying nights at the Napoleon Perdis Academy in Paddington opened a door of opportunity for me – I was eventually handpicked to work alongside the Napoleon Perdis Creative Team on my first ‘real’ fashion show.
This show featured the likes of Ruby Rose, Alex Perry and Wayne Cooper. The experience was unreal and I networked like a maniac to try and gain as many industry contacts as possible, having just completed my course.
From there, I landed a spot in a photographic studio in Surry Hills doing regular makeup and hair. I hustled hard, scooping up as much work as I possibly could, weather it were paid or TFP (Time for Print) projects. Each face was an experience for me, because not only was I building my repertoire and contact list, it also helped me grow so much as an independent artist.
My mind began to open up to explore creativity, and I started sourcing projects of my own. I started teaching myself from YouTube to learn how to do hair styling as I simply didn’t have enough funds to enrol into another course to learn privately, and plus everyone knows Makeup and Hair go hand in hand. I learnt so much from YouTube and to this day I use it as my number one learning tool.
Eventually I started to branch out and specialise in weddings and special occasion Makeup and Hair, and once I built up a strong portfolio, and enough credibility – the enquiries for my work started flooding in and the ball really started to move from then onwards.
One connection lead to another, and now, I’ve directed the Hair and Makeup creativity for international shows such as The World Supermodel Pageant, Fiji Fashion Week and The Annual Chinese New Year broadcast in China.
After seeing how everything in the industry pieced together, I began to develop a new passion for photography, video and presenting. It was from that point onwards I knew I wasn’t just destined for one trade. My next goal was to learn the ropes of photography and videography from other photographers and industry professionals, which I did very quickly.
After completing my first media call with international reggae artist J-Boog for the Afriqan Times Magazine, I realised I enjoyed it so much, and because of its success I immediately took out a personal loan to invest in my own Media Kit – I needed to take it to the next level!
My portfolio now covers over 25 New Zealand and Pacific artists, including FIJI and Spawnbreezie, among many other artists and groups worldwide. MissTez has also been the main media sponsor for the Australian Fijian Rugby League for the past two years, participating and creating exciting projects – one of the highlights being the ‘Boys To Bati‘ calendar in 2014.
As of today, I have small creative teams in both Sydney and Fiji who I pull together for larger events, to work under the MissTez umbrella. Wether it be Makeup, Hair or Media I have all platforms covered for the events I secure.
While conducting my projects overseas, I also provide opportunities for local artists to come, learn, and get involved in whatever I’m doing. From time to time I’ll voluntarily host small workshops for our new up-and-coming artists in Fiji, working closely with students studying at FNU (Fiji National University).
I’ve met so many talented young individuals through doing so and to this day, I mentor and follow the progression of most of my students via email and Facebook. It’s the best feeling in the world knowing you have helped contribute to their future.
What have been the biggest challenges in your line of work?
Competition. In Makeup and Media there’s so much competition out there. For smaller independent artists like myself it’s hard to land the big “corporate” jobs without having to face the big agencies. So unless you know people in the industry or agencies, it can be very challenging to land the big jobs, which can be very frustrating when you are first starting out. The hardest thing would have to be trying to network and showcase your work up against the represented artists in the industry.
People not willing to pay. I’d have to say throughout my career, I’ve seen so many artists taken for granted, including myself at one stage. There are so many people out there who expect our service and time for free. In the beginning of my career I did a lot of TFP work to build up my portfolio but you must learn to say no after a few freebies, otherwise it will be expected of you all the time.
Travel. I’ve come across many challenges throughout my career but one that really affects me is the travel, and being away from my little family for long periods of time. As I mentioned my children are very young and they depend on mummy quite a bit. It’s hard for them to understand that my services are required in other countries sometimes and wonder why they can’t come. I miss them so much when I’m away from them. Thank god for FaceTime and Skype!
What motivates you to push forward with all that you do?
Everyday my children are my motivation and inspiration. Everything I do depends on their bright little future. If I can build my little empire now, hopefully they can take over in years to come.
Teaching others also motivates me – to be able to gift knowledge to our younger generation inspires me to keep doing what I do. There is nothing more satisfying then seeing them do well, from something you’ve passed on to them.
What advice do you have for young Pacific people who might be thinking of doing the same thing?
Get in and give things a go! Surround yourself with positive people and share your dream with others – you never know who they might be, or who they might know!
Remember, industry people move in certain circles and travel certain roads; it’s your job to seek them out, and get in front of them, to promote your talent.
Get to know your strengths (everybody has them) and excel in what your heart desires. Discover your qualities and put them to good use while recognising your flaws, and working on them to improve yourself.
Remember, “Every long journey begins with a single step.” This is a quote I live by and have tattooed on me as a reminder.
Don’t ever stop believing in yourself and stay true to yourself.