STOJ BULIC is a badass. Not content with what she was doing in her career, in her 30's she decided to pack it up in Australia, buy a one way ticket stateside, and hasn't looked back since. I often ask Stoj 'What would you have done if it didn't work out', and she simply replies 'It had too. I had to make it work out. I didn't allow myself any other option.' And so, she now calls NYC home, jetting all over the globe, making-up some of the most famous faces on the planet (Chrissy Teigan, Naomi Campbell... you know. THOSE faces). I especially love Stoj's story, firstly for the sheer amount of balls it took to just pack up her life & risk EVERYTHING on her dream, and secondly, to do it in her 30's, when most people consider that if they haven't fulfilled their dreams yet, that they have missed the boat. Here is her story....
NAME: Stoj Bulic
COMPANY: Stoj B
TITLE(S): International Makeup Artist
AGE: 38 going on 28... Hahaha
How would you describe yourself in 5 words? Honest(probably too honest), happy, silly, intuitive, dedicated. I'll add a sixth.... Impatient. LOL!
What is the long version of how you got to where you are today? I was obsessed with the 90's supermodels, from a young age. I started to recreate the Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer Revlon looks on myself. Lol.... I decided to do a makeup course as fun in my early 20's. I loved it and had so much fun with it. And I was pretty good at it too. Always helps!! I started doing shoots for a hairdressing salon in Brisbane. Then George Antoni (photographer)and I started doing test shoots for the Brisbane model agents on the Gold coast. We would start shooting every morning at 5am to get our portfolios ready. I then moved to Sydney, with no job. Got a casual job at MAC Cosmetics. Then did every assisting job and shoot I could do, until I got my first agent six months later. Worked in Sydney for about six years on all the magazine, celebrity, and advertising. Then moved to New York!
What is your elevator pitch on what you do? I am a professional makeup artist from Australia. In my 30's starting chasing my dream to live and work in New York City.
I specialize in transforming people into looking the best they can, with miminal photo editing. Everyday I get to take on a new, exciting, interesting job and get to push and challenge myself. No two days are the same. I could be beautifying top models for a runway shows one day, then flying overseas working on advertising campaigns and magazine editorials. Each job is an opportunity for me to work on my craft and push myself and feed my creative side.
My job is not just about a paycheck or a credit. It's about ensuring I'm personally happy with every piece of work I take on. I bring my A Game for my clients and ensure I'm always learning from my peers, photographers, stylists and pushing the envelope.
Are you doing what you thought you would be doing 10 years ago? (If not, what did you think you would be doing?) I am actually doing way beyond what I ever dreamt of. I honestly believe it's from hard work, NOT listening to people that told me "you can't, you'll never get that". Doing my mood board. After "the Secret" came out years ago. I started my own mood board, at the time I though they were ridiculous dreams. My dream mood board had Italian Vogue, living in my own NY apartment in Soho, having a NY agent, having a visa to work in the U.S., working with the legendary Pat McGrath, working on fashion week in NY, Milan and Paris. Working on Lanvin, Galliano, Prada etc. Working on major campaigns. Having my work in Times Square. Working with supermodels. I did most of this within the first 6 to 12 months of moving to New York. I also didn't have a Plan B. It wasn't a option for me. Even though it was extremely scary to leave a successful career in Sydney and a beautiful lifestyle. I didn't want to regret anything in my life. After my first trip to New York, I feel in love with the city. So, I contacted a U.S. lawyer and got things started. I actually didn't even tell anyone. Because I wasn't even sure if it was possible. I dreamt big, and now here I am in my soho apartment, loving life and working with regular clients that include Naomi Campbell!
What does ‘success’ mean to you, and do you consider yourself ‘successful’? Success to me, is when you are HAPPY. When you wake up in the morning and you love to get up and go to work. If it's work, home or relationships. If you are happy in them, I believe that is success.
What do you still want to achieve (personally & / or professionally) Well, after doing this interview, I've actually realized I NEED to do another Mood board! Lol I would love to have a international cosmetic contract. Have my own cosmetic brand. I still have a lot I want to achieve before doing the cosmetic line. Also, I want to Travel and see more of the world.
Did you study anything specific for the career you are in? I did finish a 8 week basic makeup course. I honestly think you should always keep studying what you are doing. Even if you are at the top of your industry. You can never have enough knowledge. That's why I still work with Pat McGrath at Fashion week. Especially in my industry where fashion and makeup trends are always changing. I like to keep up with the latest techniques, products, trends so I can create the best possible image for all of my clients. I get inspired after doing the shows.
What have been the most rewarding things in your career to date? Creating looks for Numero and Vogue covers. Working with Pat and being on her core team for 6 years now. Meeting some of my closest, creative, beautiful friends from this experience. The most rewarding is working with my creative clients that also love what they do. Making women feel beautiful and confident.
Tell us about your workspace (Office / café / couch / aesthetic) what inspires you about your workspace? Everyday is a different workspace. Usually, I'm working in a photography studio or backstage on a runway show. The energy inspires me. I love working with the other makeup artists on our team. Everyone loves what they do. Seeing what my colleagues are creating and using. Seeing the clothes, the colors, texture etc. The energy backstage can be intense. I love this energy! Seeing my makeup come down the runway is pretty damn rewarding.
What are some frustrations you have experiences on your career journey? As exciting at it is, it can be frustrating when I have two amazing jobs on at the same time and can only work on one.
When was the last time you where overwhelmed & cried from something provoked by work / work load? If something or someone has bothered me. It lights a fire in me. Then I'll work ten times harder. Just to prove I can do it. I am also aware that sometimes people can say things they don't mean. Especially when they are in a high stress environment. I normally let those things go. I also have the most amazing female friends in the industry that I can always call to talk about any situation. It's very important to have a network of friends to support each other.
Would you say you put pressure on yourself? Has this gotten more or less as you progress in your career? I put way too much pressure on myself. So much so, that my friends always say I am hard on myself. I work in New York City. It's a tough city. The best in the fashion industry come to work here. You have to be hard working, talented and committed here. I am learning to have a balanced life. But, I love what I do. So, it does seem like I am always working! So, yes, I have put a lot more pressure on myself!
If you are a business owner – and you often can’t just check out / have a week off when you are dealing with personal things – how do you keep on keeping on with your business when things get tough? I'm a freelancer, so technically I can take time off work whenever I choose. Since I am a freelancer, that also means I don't get the benefits of "holiday/sick leave pay" etc. so, it is very difficult at those times. If I don't work, I don't get paid. When personal issues do come up. I have that added stress. Personally, I tend to throw myself into work, when I am going through a personal issue.
Has your career affected your personal life / relationships? If so how? If anything, I have meet and made the most incredible friendships from meeting people at work. I am very lucky that when I do get booked on jobs. A lot of the time my friends are booked on the same job. We have a lot of fun on set. Relationship wise, It is very hard to find someone.
Has your journey at times felt lonely? How? It was a little lonely when I moved to NY. Looking back, I just had to be strong and I knew deep down that all these amazing things were about to happen. That kept me going. Thank god we have skype and FaceTime now. My friends and family are always there for me. It's just a quick dial and we are there to encourage each other and have a laugh at the same time!
What causes you anxiety / sleepless nights? Freelancers always have anxiety about when the next check will be. Even though I work so much. That is always in the back of my mind. I wish I didn't stress about that, but I do.
If you had your time over again, from when you started your career to right now, would you do anything differently? I wish I had started my career earlier.
What advice would you give your 21 year old self? Trust your intuition.
Who are some women in business you admire & why? Oprah. She has such a good intuition and follows it. To see where she has come from. To where she is now. It's so empowering. Oprah is all about helping people. It's never negative. Oprah is all about empowering people to be the best they can be, and they can have whatever they desire.
What traits do you admire in people you surround yourself with? Most of the women I surround myself with are very creative, free spirited, follow their dreams, love what they do, and are so much fun to hang with. I love to have a good laugh!
Work life balance... Does it exist (I don’t think it does!) and how to maintain it, or a sense of it? I'm trying to have a balanced life. I'm still trying to figure that one out! It's harder when you travel for work.
Have you ever thought about giving up / quitting? If so, does that feeling hit from the same triggers? Why haven’t you quit? I love what I do so much. I can't think of anything else I would want to do. In the being, people told me to quit. Because they though I couldn't make it a full time career. I worked a second job and did every test shoot on my days off to build my portfolio. Now I barely have a day off.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do? That I'm just making women look "pretty". It's about bring out a women's confidence as well. I love seeing a celebrity feel amazing and confident after I've done her makeup.
What advice would you give someone who is starting out in your industry? Do your research on all the best makeup artist world wide. Check out the best makeup/creative agency's worldwide. Go and assist a top makeup artist. You will learn more from them, then anyone. Being on set you will learn the ropes of the business.
If you knew what you know now, about how much work was involved to get you to where you are now, would you do it again or do something different, if so, what? I would of moved overseas and assisted a major makeup artist earlier. It's priceless what you can learn from other working artists.
I like the quote ‘Don’t just have a job, have a purpose’ - What do you want your legacy to be? I like that. I might just use that one ; )
The SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION is about bringing women in business together – why do you think this is important / (why did you want to be involved in this interview)? It's so important for women to support each other. I am so lucky that I have a great group of women around me, that are supportive and encourage me. I want all women to have this kind of support system. This forum will be so helpful to all the women. It's important to empower each other. My friends and I like to use the word #FEMPIRE ! Lol
What are some of your favorite quotes?
My mother would always tell me this one when I was going through a rough time. "After the rain, comes the sunshine". And yes, she was always right!!! "Trust your intuition, it never lies" "Imagination is Everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions"