This week we’re chatting with That Mama Venetia Stravens – a mama to two (3-year-old Maija and 6-year-old Kian), award winning make-up artist and popular beauty blogger. We talk to Venetia about continuing a career after babies, the top 3 beauty essentials every mama should have stashed in her bag, and why a holiday without kids is good for the soul!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
I’m a Eurasian Singaporean married to a Swede! I adore nature and dream of one day living away from all the hustle and bustle in some remote forest (not jungle!). I also have 20 years experience working in fashion, TV, and print advertising as a make-up artist. I’ve worked with brands like Dior, Anna Sui, Helena Rubinsten, Lancome, and Chanel, have created spreads for major women’s magazines, and led make-up teams for Mercedes-Benz Singapore Fashion Week and other fashion shows for top international brands.
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
Life before kids was one big party — there were always events to attend. It was the typical 20-something year old lifestyle. I worked and played hard. My career was the priority then and there were some really great opportunities out there. Singapore was booming at the time and European models started flocking over for work when word got out that we created fantastic fashion spreads. Some lucky ones would go back to Europe with their tear sheets and score big campaigns, and some walked the runway to stardom. At the time there was commercial and advertising work around every corner, and with only a handful of us around the pickings were fantastic.
Things started to change when I came back to work after having my first child. All of a sudden there were too many new artists in the market and because of that, photographers, make-up artists, hair and fashion stylists had to slash their rates. The market became too saturated. Photographers went digital and there were all sorts of people claiming they were photographers (with the help of Photoshop of course!).
Work started to differ for me from there and I gravitated more towards beauty make-up. It was then that ELLE Singapore awarded me a ‘Make-Up Artist of the Year’ award and I started to do more training work for beauty companies. I really enjoyed it. It felt like I was ‘growing up’ with my job. There has definitely been a shift in my career. I used to work 20-hour days before babies but being a mum now, I have to prioritise.
After my first child was born, it wasn’t too difficult to get back into the swing of things — and work got pretty busy pretty fast. I only took jobs that wouldn’t take up more than a whole day and tried to work 4 days a week. After my second child was born everything had to change. I had to sacrifice work a lot and soon started to lose contacts in my industry. People I worked with either left or found other people to work with.
Now that my second born is 3 years old, I’m slowly picking up the pieces from where I left off. While work is quiet for me at the moment, I am blogging a bit more and taking up art lessons and pilates.
What inspired you to start a beauty blog?
I was home a lot with my first-born. I desperately needed to reconnect with the outside world in a quiet way and not lose touch with the beauty industry. Hence my blog, Powderfuu Stories was born.
What are three items that every mama should have in her make up bag?
1. Benefit’s Benetint is fabulous. It’s a cheek and lip stain that all mamas should have – it’s also blotch proof and sweat proof! Adding a bit of colour takes the drag out of mama-dom!
2. Laneige BB Cushion is another must have. It’s got SPF and leaves skin dewy and glowing. A bit of loose powder on the top does the (stay put) trick.
3. Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear does a good blotter and is perfect for getting rid of shiny skin.
Please tell us, what’s the best way to hide those dark undereye circles that so many sleep deprived mamas have?
Eye bags are a sign that your body is not circulating properly. Drinking warm fluids actually help mamas with bags. Caffeine free teas, lemon with water, and anything without sugar are great. Drinking a nice hot cup of tea before bedtime improves the body’s circulation while you sleep, which can also help with bags. Concealers only do a small part. Too much of it will make the eye area look grey and even more obvious as the day unfolds. Some blush on the apples of your cheeks can camouflage the tiredness. Go for pinks and peaches.
Which of the latest beauty trends should we be trying this summer?
A nice, bright lipstick on a bare face — well as bare as you can go face.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
I prioritise kids. But I am lucky to have my mum help when work calls. It’s healthy to get away from the children you created once in a while!
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
I call it “The art of multi-tasking” — a timetable helps too. I get “Mummy-brain” syndrome – a lot.
Favourite activity with your kids in Singapore?
We enjoy taking the dog to Tanjong Beach on Sentosa for a swim on Sundays.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Singapore?
1. Marché at Orchard – the children’s playground lets us eat in peace!
2. Food for Thought at Singapore Botanic Gardens (you must try the Sugee cake!)
3. Din Tai Fung – the Xiao Long Bao is always a hit.
4. 4Fingers – for soy marinated chicken wings and fries.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
We recently went to Lombok and stayed at the Novotel. It was a great place for a family, with en-suite rooms, delicious Indonesian cuisine and it was affordably priced too. Our other favourite is The Surin, Phuket (formerly the Chedi).
Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my kids love it…
Swimming. I hate chlorine!
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Take a vacation without the kids once in a while – it really helps!
Favourite date-night restaurants?
I love Morton’s — the ambience, awesome dirty martinis, oysters and blue cheese iceberg lettuce salad are so mmmmm. I also love &SONS at China Square – the service and quality of food are fantastic (and they don’t rip you off!).
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
We’re living in a first-world country, so your kids won’t starve. If they don’t want to eat that’s ok. They’ll eat when they’re hungry…. so I always have food around, just in case.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
Don’t buy too much stuff. They outgrow it so fast! Craigslist is a good place to hunt for second hand stuff and to sell your stuff too.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Craft. Some mamas are so good at entertaining their children with craftwork, like building cardboard houses, doing origami, or baking. Actually there’s a lot of patience involved too… so… perhaps more patience?
My most humbling mama moment was…
Oh my… there are so many. Too many to share! Next.
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
Vanity. Inside and out. I don’t want to be a frumpy mum.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
How it’s still dark outside, which means I can sleep some more – yippee!
Even when my child has a family of his/her own, I’ll still…
Look at them and wonder how they grew so fast.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Between 1 and 3pm. Those precious 2 hours where I can reply to emails, text messages, phone calls, and anything else that I can do in peace.
I always feel saner after…
Putting the kids to sleep!
I wish I had more time for…
Reading and painting.
Bedtime is always smoother when…
You suffer a full-blown day with the kids screaming, running around, fighting, and playing (with no nap time!) so when they hit the pillow, it’s instant.
Thanks Venetia! And a huge thank you also goes to the wonderful Carolyn from Melia Photography for taking these amazing photos of Venetia and her children!