“There will be tough and challenging stages in your lifetime, but you have to keep yourself motivated and choose to surround yourself with people that bring the best out of you.”
~ Hilde Marie Johansen
Name: Hilde Marie Johansen
Professional Title: Professional Makeup artist;Costume Designer; Co-founder of SMA International Makeup Academy
Notable Achievements/Passions:“Traveling, painting, drawing, being with friends and family.”
Education:College and Art Complexion (Norway)
Marital/Relationship Status: Married
What I wanted to be as a child: “ A hairdresser.”
My Definition of Success is: “When you have that inner peace, stability and satisfaction in yourself with no worries what’s so ever, whether it’s regarding your personal finances, romantic relationship or family life.”
“Life can be such a mystery. It is full of surprises and coincidences that we cannot control sometimes, which can either be good or bad – that’s the nature of things.
I came to Thailand in 2004 and I was so excited to start my new chapter and career in Asia. A few months after my move, my family came to visit me.
We went for our Christmas holiday together to the beautiful island, Phuket in the southern part of the country. We were prepared to have the most amazing holiday together, when it suddenly turned into a living nightmare. On 26th of December,the Tsunami hit the coast of Phuket, and my family and I happened to beat the wrong place, at the wrong time. My dad, who I cherished dearly and who was against me moving to Thailand in the first place,tragically lost his life that day. The rest of my family and I miraculously survived.
I hit rock-bottom and moved back to my hometown in Norway. I stayed in my room and felt like everything in my life was going backwards. I felt like a huge failure and a disappointment to my family. It took everything I had to get myself out of this state and find the strength to fight off this feeling. The answer was then to start off “fresh” at a professional Makeup Academy in Oslo.
Yes, life is an enigma that can be full of disappointment, sadness, loneliness, happiness, love and failures. After this experience, I try to remind myself often that I did not die that day on that beach. There will be tough and challenging stages in your lifetime, but you have to keep yourself motivated and choose to surround yourself with people that bring the best out of you.”
After finishing her studies in Oslo, Hilde decided to come back to Thailand, despite the trauma she experienced there. “My connection to Thailand became so much bigger than I knew it could be – it was where my father passed away, after all. After being at home to take care of my mom following the tragedy, my goal and “drive” was to return and continue where I had stopped, never giving up on my dream. And my Dad became my reason, my ‘WHY’, that pushed me forward – I was doing it in his honor.”
Why Hilde is a winner:
The courage Hilde demonstrated was exceptional! As she boarded the plane back to Bangkok, her mind was full of excuses about why she shouldn’t dare to return to the place that was filled with the pain of remembering the loss of her father. Despite her fear and doubts, she wanted to pursue her dream as a professional costume designer. She enrolled in an International Fashion school where she studied for 3 years. She started building a portfolio and was approached by photographers who wanted to rent her creations for photo shoots. One day, after a job cancellation due to the fact that there was no makeup artist available, Hilde decided that she had what it takes to do makeup and hair styling as well as costume design. It was a turning point in her career, when she took the plunge and did her first job doing the “full look” on the model. It suddenly became clear to her – this is what she really wanted to do and what filled her heart with passion. After working on many different sets for a few years, many times for no pay, she had built up her own signature look, which was very bold, artistic, and “extreme”. She became known as the girl who did the “full concept design” – the trifecta of fashion/beauty art world – hair, makeup and styling! Word quickly spread, and she became a sought-after stylist with a busy schedule. Even though she was in high demand, her financial situation was weighing heavily down on her. Hilde had no choice but to return back to Norway periodically, for a few months at a time, to work double (and sometimes triple) shifts in a nursing home for the elderly. She needed to pay her bills and cover her way back to Bangkok to continue her studies and follow her passion for design and makeup. Many people back home had doubts about her choice of career and questioned her ability to keep it up. Most people didn’t believe in her, except her mother, who supported her all the way while she built her massive portfolio, which she was extremely proud of! After a while, Hilde found love in Bangkok, a man from Ghana, Africa, and married him. They were still struggling financially, and just before making a decision to return to Europe and look for jobs there, something incredible happened. She met a girl, who ended up being her business partner – Eva, a fellow Norwegian of Russian descent. Eva had been following Hilde’s work online and being a makeup artist herself, was intrigued by her style and creativity. They met up and talked about their common passion for makeup and what ideas they had envisioned for their own businesses. It seemed they were on the same page and stage of their lives. And with that, the move to Europe had been canceled and the SMA International Makeup Academy was born. For the last 5 years, Hilde and Eva had been tirelessly working with many sleepless nights, traveling and dedicating all their time to make it the top makeup academy in South-East Asia, with 2 more branches in Myanmar and India and another one on the way! They are also releasing their own makeup product line – SMA Professional cosmetics this year.
When I asked Hilde whether she faced challenges starting her career in a new country and how she managed to overcome them, she answered:
“Yes absolutely! When I moved over to Bangkok to study fashion I had no friends and I felt so alone. I had always been very quiet and shy of others and this became such a challenge for me to break through. I was in a school with people from all over the world. I had to teach myself to speak up when something was not OK and also to make friends. I trained myself to be more open and accepting of all cultures and nationalities. I learned so much from that time in my life.
But also, I had to have courage to do things on my own in a country that was very different and new for me. It was a country I felt such a strong connection to as my dad passed away here. It gave me so much courage to express myself artistically through design and makeup.”
It takes a lot of audacity and resolve to follow your passion despite fear and tragedy, to a place that is completely different from everything you feel is familiar, in order to advance your life in the direction you want it to go. This is what Hilde did, because she knew that her talent and artistry would be much better developed and appreciated in Asia.