Sunita Sumaru has been a freelance makeup artist in Edmonton, for the past 18 years, and has channeled her professional success into helping women of all ages unlock their potential through self-confidence. Sunita co-founded SEN Studios with her two sisters, and together they have grown their business from makeup artistry into an educational outlet that seeks to help aspiring makeup artists, and everyone in our community, tap into their expressive beauty. With a cup of coffee on her side, and her beauty arsenal in hand, Sunita is an empowering force that combines beauty, brains and a hustle-hard attitude. Thank you, Sunita, for taking the time to chat with us!
Could you take a moment to tell us about yourself?
Hi! My name is Sunita Sumaru, and I have been a freelance makeup artist in YEG for the past 18 years. I love makeup and, more than just makeup, I love making women feel gorgeous. I am the owner of SEN studios which is a business I share with my sisters. The 3 of us are makeup artists who are passionate about making women feel amazing. With SEN I wanted to start a new dream. I wanted to go from being the artist to also sharing the art. SEN is a place where you will find artists doing our daily hustle (painting faces) but it is also a place to educate. I wanted to teach all that I have gathered in my 18 years of experience to aspiring artists. I also wanted to teach everyday women the simplicity of creating beautiful looks for their everyday wear.
What direction does one take to become a certified makeup artist in this city?
Certification in freelance makeup artistry isn’t government regulated; and often a certified course is handled through an outside organization. For instance, Eveline Charles is certified using ITEC (International Therapy Examination Council). If you are not looking to do a full, extensive course on special effects and film I would suggest our local schools Eveline Charles, Marvel College, or even SEN.
I love makeup and, more than just makeup, I love making women feel gorgeous.
Where did you learn the trade? Do you have any recommendations for our readers who are interested in becoming makeup artists?
I didn’t go to school — I worked with MAC, where I learned artistry and customer service. I would suggest all aspiring artists get the foundation they need… but ultimately it is mileage that leads to confidence.
What goals did you set to cultivate your love of makeup into a full time career?
I learned a few things about dreams and goals this past year. The first thing was the power of just saying things out loud and owning it. I was raised to stay humble and modest, so saying my goals out loud seemed a little “who do you think you are?! “. It’s funny the power of hearing your own words spoken out loud — that commitment to yourself to make your own dreams a reality.
My first goal was to acknowledge what I wanted. My second goal was to remove the things that took up my time — those were the things that kept me from making time for what I wanted — and it was that easy.
They say don’t mix family with business, how do three sisters make it work?
When Anita, Susan and I realized that many people thought we were all the same person — even if they knew we were three different, highly interchangeable people — we decided to find one place for all of us that made sense. To keep things from ever getting complicated, we all manage our own clientele and do our own books. So, we are under the same umbrella but manage as separate artists.
It’s funny the power of hearing your own words spoken out loud — that commitment to yourself to make your own dreams a reality.
What is the one mistake you encountered when starting a family business that you would warn others in the same situation of?
I don’t think we would look back at anything with regret or call anything a “mistake”. I think that growing pains were all stepping-stones. What I did learn is to start all things with defined boundaries so that everyone’s expectations are met.
Can you tell us a bit about SEN Studios’ community involvement?
We love the idea of SEN Studios going to schools to empower young women by teaching tips and tricks on how to maintain their appearances. The opportunity to go to Junior High and High Schools this past year was so incredible —the personal image and hair design program at FR Haythorne Junior High School was just one of those opportunities that fell into our laps. Edmonton is a city full of these types of door-opening opportunities.
I had met the teacher many years ago, and she reached out to see if I could help with the makeup and hair portion of the school’s curriculum. Young women and image must strike a chord deep inside for me because I was so excited to participate in the class (and I’m actually an anxious public speaker). I like to make women feel amazing. I like to help their ‘outsides’ express a little of whom they are on the inside — it’s like wearing your mood. Saying a little before you’ve even spoken. I love giving women the power of knowing how to do this for themselves.
SEN studios will always be a place for women of all ages and styles. SEN Juniors is a seminar I host for 11 to 13 year olds, that is intended to provide an introduction to makeup that will give young women a kick start and a healthy attitude about makeup. I won’t tell your daughters “don’t wear makeup, you don’t need it” but I do keep things age appropriate, on trend, hygienic, and pretty. Just enough so you can own your look.
We are in the business to build the people both inside and outside our team.
Where do you hope to see SEN Studios’ empowerment program in 5 years?
This year is our year to reach out to our community. We spent last year in development-mode and this year I wanted to really focus on Culture and Community —I feel most successful when I know I’m part of the change. It took me a while to really know where I wanted to be in the community.
In October SEN kickstarted our hot lunches at Delton Elementary school. Delton is an inner-city school where, once a month, we serve hot lunch to 25 students. We aim to make food that is warm and culturally diverse that offers them a broad experience which many of them are not familiar with. We want to sit and eat with them, share stories, and to share a little about one another. It is in an effort to be involved in our community and to be part of a story for these young kids. We want to build relationships and be a constant reminder to these kids that we are here and we will be back to enjoy our food and conversation with them. I am a firm believer that people will always remember how you make them feel. I mark SEN’s success not by my financial books —our success is purely marked by who we touch, how we change our community, and what the spirit of our company does for our community. We are in the business to build the people both inside and outside our team.
Can you tell us about the concept behind ‘Super Women YEG’? How did you become involved with it?
Super Women YEG was a super special event that was organized by a group of women from diverse communities. It aimed to connect, inspire and celebrate the professional achievements of women from ethnically diverse backgrounds; specifically, to share stories of women entrepreneurs, business professionals and innovators that have found success in their own way. In many spheres of life, women of colour are often portrayed in a narrow, one-dimensional way. The goal of the organizers was to give a voice to, and shed some light on, women from diverse communities who are making strides in business.
The organizers felt strongly about the impact that mentorship has had in their own lives and believe that having a mentor is vital to a young girl’s perception of self and the limits that she places on herself later in life. It was truly a blessing to be selected as one of the speakers, along with two others, to create a dialogue that encouraged a group of young women to follow their dreams and aim high in their own lives. “We can’t be what we can’t see” was essentially the message the speakers were brought in to share with the group and it was such an honour to be part of something that personally struck chords with me.
People will always remember how you make them feel.
What do the first 60 minutes of your day look like?
The first 60 minutes of my day start with a pot of coffee! That morning cup of coffee starts everything for me.I do the daily grind of getting my 10 year-old and 7 year-old off to school, and then I head to the gym!
If you were cast away to a deserted island and could only take 3 makeup essentials with you, what would you take?
If I was cast away I would need my Anastasia brow dip, my smoulder eyeliner by MAC, and Lash Blast mascara by Cover Girl.
What is your favourite coffee shop / restaurant in the city?
I love New York Bagel Cafe in the summers, its an amazing hidden gem just off of Whyte.
Where do you like to relax or let off steam in the city?
Waking up early and hitting the YEGcycle 6am classes with Farha and taking the family to Vertically Inclined helps me find balance in my day to day life and keeps me moving.