When Birute Thomas made the decision to move to England and study at university, she did so hoping to go into finance, build up a steady career and one day start a family.
Little did Birute – who grew up under Soviet rule in Lithuania – know she would become an award-winning make-up artist transforming nervous brides into beauties on the biggest day of their lives.
She says: ‘The moment I look forward to the most is the father of the bride coming in and seeing their daughters. It makes me so proud.’
Birute, now 38, and living in Drayton with husband Mark and two children, says her early childhood under communism was far from bleak and she has many happy memories.
‘I come from a loving family. We had a very good life,’ she says.
‘There was a bit more freedom back then – we would go into the river and climb the trees.
‘I was from quite a small village which was between two cities and we would go to the cities a lot.
‘My mum was a businesswoman. She had all these corner shops. When we were in the Soviet Union she used to travel all over. She used to make clothes and sell them. My dad was a gas man.’
It was her close family and their strong work ethic that made Birute determined to succeed in life.
Aged 24 she began studying accountancy and finance at the University of Portsmouth.
Her plan was to return to her home country after graduation but she met and fell in love with husband Mark – and Portsmouth – and could not bring herself to leave. Archie, now six, and Jack,now three, followed.
Birute did get that steady job in finance she’d hoped for, at an insurance company.
But after the birth of her first son she began to rethink her career choice and about the work-life balance that she craved.
‘I did enjoy my job at the beginning,’ she says.
‘But my situation changed when I had Archie.
‘Motherhood changed me a little bit. I thought I could leave Archie at nursery full-time. But I felt bad because I didn’t see him.
‘I’ve always been into make-up and skin care but I never thought about it as a career (before).’
So Birute took a short course in beauty which gave her the opportunity to build up her skills and to really begin her career as a make-up artist.
‘It took lots of practice trying to perfect my skills,’ she says.
‘I was working full-time in finance and trying to make it work. When I qualified I still wasn’t confident.
‘I was just practicing all the time.’
Eventually, Birute started to do make-up for weddings.
In her first year, she had four bookings. But the next year that increased to 20 – and that’s when things really began to change.
‘That’s when I decided that I could do it and I would make it work,’ she says.
‘Last year I had 35 bookings. In the summer I only had one weekend off.’
Birute now works around the country and in April she will be taking her first trip abroad for work, travelling to Italy.
But what is it that she loves so much about her new career?
‘I do all sorts of make-up but I really enjoy bridal and going to the wedding and seeing these magnificent venues and meeting the brides.
‘I really enjoy the transformation.’
And the career change fits in with family life as it means she doesn’t miss out and still gets to spend time with her children.
‘Now, it’s perfect. I can drop Archie off at school and I can pick him up. It’s rare that I need to ask for help.’
Birute is not afraid of hard work and says 90 per cent of what she does is administration and keeping on top of social media – a vital marketing tool.
‘It’s amazing to be a part of one of the biggest days of their lives.
‘I get to see behind the scenes and it’s so rewarding.
‘When we do the trials the brides wear casual clothes so I love seeing them on the big day with their hair, make-up and dress on.’
Birute has taken on three members of staff to cope with demand and is hoping for 40 weddings this year.
So, as she continues to grow and build her business, what does the future hold for Birute?
‘My plan is to get into teaching as much as I can’ she says.
‘I want to get into teaching and do more of that. I love sharing. I do one-to-one make-up lessons.
‘I am so happy to be able to share my knowledge.’
Award-winning bridal make-up artist
Birute Thomas has secured the ultimate accolade – winning Make-Up Artist of the Year at The 2019 Wedding Industry Awards.
The awards are voted for by clients so Birute owes her success to all the brides she has worked with in her career.
They were so impressed they put her forward.
‘They are the biggest awards in the industry,’ says Birute.
‘I just couldn’t believe it. I was just so happy.
‘I needed that proud moment, I have only been doing it for three years. It’s amazing and so rewarding.
‘I can see a big difference in how much visibility and enquiries that I get now. I started building up my team because I get so many enquiries now.
‘My family are really proud. They know how hard I work. It’s so lovely to see that my hard work has been rewarded.
‘It’s very easy just to put make-up on but I know the creative part of it. I enhance natural features rather than make (brides) into something different.
‘For me I need to work harder than other people. I need to put a lot of hard work into it. I want to become the best.’
Go to birutethomasmua.co.uk