Bowen: I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Light Chan, a self-employed and freelance make-up artist at Jennifer Light Beauty & Design. We sat down for an interview where Jennifer shared her courageous journey in persevering and rising from the challenges she faced to obtain true happiness. Here is her story.
Bowen: Share with us how your journey began in pursuing this field.
Jennifer: I had a very strong artistic influence in my family where my parents continuously enrolled me in extracurricular activities related to arts. I started exploring drawing and painting at the age of 4 as well as ballet which I did for a few years, but found it difficult to follow the music. My mom and aunt were quite fashionable, so that led me to think of becoming a fashion designer when I was in 6th grade. My dad is a computer scientist so he introduced me to the technical world. Thus combining the two different fields, I became intrigued in graphic design. However, I eventually ended up being drawn to the world of fashion.
Bowen: What were some of your experiences in fashion?
Jennifer: After finishing fashion school, I moved to Hong Kong for a year where I did an internship at Redress in marketing. I also worked with a local designer to do trend forecasting and visual merchandising. There was also a time when I worked at job where I got exposure to interior and light designs. Coming back to Vancouver, I had the opportunity to work at two bridal shops and fashion showroom.
Bowen: How did you come to the decision in becoming a make-up artist?
Jennifer: From both school and work experience, I found that working in fashion is generally a lonely life… It was overwhelming in terms of the amount of knowledge I needed to have, from concept design to sewing dresses. It took a toll on my mental well-being, being constantly anxious and stressed, it’s an add on. There was also a lack of community support. Overall I was not happy. I thought it was time for a change. Initially I had planned to further study graphic design, but my dad suggested that I should consider make-up as I was skilled in 2D art and pattern making. That feeling was affirmed when I enjoyed doing face-painting at a children’s events. The experience helped me to relax.
Bowen: How are you feeling about that decision so far?
Jennifer: I am feeling fantastic about the decision as I didn’t have to give up completely on my love in fashion, since make-up is an essential part of it. I merely found a specialization which allows me to create another form of beauty on my own accord. I also did not want to waste any more time after having went through years of schooling. Moreover, I found myself being more open and able to express my thoughts much better.
Bowen: Were there any people whom inspired you on this journey?
Jennifer: Definitely, I would be crazy if I did not get inspired! When I was in high school there was an older friend whom shared common interest in fashion. She gave me encouragement while I was in fashion school. At make-up school I was lucky enough to meet mentors who saw my potential and inspired me to overcome my insecurity, forget about negativity and build confidence. One of the mentors, Oz Zandiyeh, a professional fashion and bridal makeup artist, also has a hearing loss! She is a living example of what I can accomplish.
Bowen: Why did you choose to start up a business?
Jennifer: I decided to follow this path as many people gave me advice that I should be an entrepreneur. I was also tired from working jobs and wanted the flexibility. Someone once told me that we should create our own opportunities. I am hoping to sign agent in the future as well.
Bowen: Tell us about Jennifer Light Beauty and Design.
Jennifer: We do face painting at community, makeup work in bridal, fashion, and personal events. Right now I am working with a partner who is a dressmaker. We specialize in providing custom wedding dress designs and designer style which is in the process. We will also be adding nail artistry to our profile later this year. Right now we are located in Metro Vancouver.
You can visit us on our website: www.jenniferlightbeautydesigns.com and follow us on Instagram: @jenniferlight
Bowen: As a hard of hearing person were there any challenges that you faced?
Jennifer: Hearing loss is one of the disability that prevented me from understanding what was going on around me growing up, which made it difficult for me to interact with people. I didn’t have friends for most of my schooling and I was also a victim of bullying which affected me for many years. My family and I also were not aware of the resources available at the time where I could have found support from fellow hard of hearing peers.
Bowen: What about now?
Jennifer: Thanks to the people I had encountered over the years, I am not as shy to talk about my hearing loss and I realised this would not be an issue as long as we establish a way to communicate clearly, which is what I do in my work now. I made sure I understood what my client needs beforehand via, email or text, then during the make-up, I simply get to work!
UPDATE in 2021: Jennifer is currently fundraising to finance her trip to New York Fashion Week, a significant milestone for her career. Click here to show your support! Thank you.
Reflection from Bowen
After the interview, I found myself humbled by Jennifer’s experience, one that is so vastly different from mine. I was fortunate to have a strong support network growing up that I did take it for granted in a way, not realising that there are others like Jennifer who have not had that opportunity. I knew right away what I wanted to do for a career and it was almost a straight path for me. Jennifer, on the other hand, took a much more convoluted route to get to her destination. Her character of strength serves as a reminder to myself and all of us that we are not defined by what we lack, that we should seize opportunities presented to us even when we are not sure where it will take us, to carry ourselves through stormy seas to get to safe shores. Along this trek there will be guides to show us the way just as Jennifer had. This highlights the importance to make connections wherever we can, whether it is through the Peer Support Program or our community. What matters most is that we make the effort to reach out, which I hope that you will do so after reading this story.