“The mind is the greatest thing. It invokes emotions, the senses, and most everything that makes us human.”
Name: Sara Muhammad
Place of birth: London, England
Do: Makeup Artist. Founder of SMACK Ibiza
How would you work in a World with no mirrors?
I’d find something else reflective—perhaps a window—or I’d use my best judgement. When I give a mirror to some clients, they want to look at every step of the makeup process and micromanage what’s happening. I have to assure them that a quick look in the mirror is all they need to feel confident I’m on the right track. After that, it’s no more mirrors until it’s time to check the end result. You can’t judge a painting with just one spot on it; I help my clients to relax without a mirror so they can let me create.
What’s your definition of Beauty?
The textbook definition of beauty is symmetry. It’s cliché to say beauty comes from within; that it’s not physical but internal. For me I think it’s a little bit of both. A person has to have some level of aesthetic attraction as well as internal magnetism—a certain attitude—to really define the word beauty for me.
What is the skill MUA’s possess which most people don’t realise?
Most people don’t know how much we work with the human psyche. When a client sits in the chair, a MUA has to work with lots of different variables: personality; emotions; mood; self-image. Good MUA’s know how to deal with this by reading body-language, eye-contact—even the tone of a conversation—and connect with a client on their level. At SMACK we say: “We’re going to make you feel like a better, more polished version of yourself.” That means putting our client at ease and understanding them so we can create our best work. It’s not quite as simple as just putting makeup on a person’s face.
How did you get your start as a MUA and how did it lead you to creating SMACK Ibiza?
I went to stage school to study makeup and music. I also worked part-time in retail for several London department stores before landing a job at MAC in the Kings Road. MAC gave me a great foundation for understanding various products and how to work with them on real faces, not just models. I met [my now business partner] Corina in 2004 and she recommended me for my first freelance job, a music video. After that my freelance career took off. Corina and I passed each other a lot of work and we became good friends. We went travelling together in 2006 and after bugging me for a couple of years she finally introduced me to Ibiza in 2008. I loved the energy of the island; I partied every night on that first trip. When we got home we met up one evening on Brick Lane and amidst the buzz of our Ibiza stories, Corina had the seed of the idea for what would become SMACK Ibiza.
Tell us about the relationship you have with your business partner Corina. How do you make friendship and business work?
I love Corina like a sister; our relationship is like family. Over the years we’ve found our secret to working together has been to split our responsibilities and play to our strengths. We realised a dream together and took a big risk leaving our freelance careers behind in London to create SMACK Ibiza. We each have strong ideas and opinions but over time we’ve helped one another sacrifice our egos to compromise and agree on how to move the business forward. During the busy season it’s hard not to let our friendship take a backseat and it seems like every conversation is about business, but we try to nurture our sisterhood because we know how important it is to both of us. We had a fun evening out at DC10 this past season and took our minds off work for a while.
Who’s the expressive young man in these Polaroids?
That’s my lovely little son, Kaden.
How do you balance the demands of a hectic working summer with being a single-mum to a 2-year old?
Synchronicity. I’m fortunate to have a great support network of people who I met through Kaden’s dad. They are part of a Brazilian church community based on Ibiza and collectively they look after Kaden whenever I have work. They have good hearts and over time they’ve become family to us. It’s challenging to run a business as a single parent but I feel fortunate to know such wonderful people and to have a boy with an adaptable personality who thrives in different, challenging environments. It’s a difficult balance but I have complete trust in the universe that everything works out as it should.
You have an incredible outward sense of calm and relaxation. Where does this come from?
I think it’s easier for people to see this outwardly from me since I’ve become a Mum. My son puts everything into perspective. In the five years before I had Kaden, I noticed an impulsiveness and sometimes anger in myself during certain situations. I started practicing meditation and yoga as a way to see more clearly. Now, during the season when it’s hot and there are constant time pressures, my calmness can still waver, but meditation, breathing and communication help bring the Yin into the Yang. It’s nice to know that what’s now inside can be seen on the outside.
Would you say Ibiza has opened you up to a new way of thinking and living?
I grew up in London, which is a perfect example of consumer society, constantly fed by advertising, billboards and 24/7 culture. Living in Ibiza, there are limitations on the island in terms of convenience; fewer shops and restaurants, less choice. We don’t have everything at our disposal as in London, which is drowning in choice. What we are enriched by in Ibiza is an unlimited source of nature and stillness. The lack of distraction can help us focus on what’s important. I frequently see new people to the island frustrated by the siesta; they haven’t yet realised how liberating this way of life is in Spain. Everything closes for a few hours in the afternoon so people can have a bit time for themselves or connect with family and friends. That is surely invaluable to our mental and emotional health. In modern city life, having access to everything all the time makes us more impatient; it’s never enough. Why don’t we just sit down, enjoy time and not let it run away from us? This is what Ibiza has given me for the last 10 years – an allowance to let myself be still and enjoy this short life.
If you had a choice, would you rather age from the neck up or the neck down?
The neck down, because I don’t like the thought of ageing mentally. My grandmother lost her mobility as she got older, but she kept all her faculties. My grandfather however, could still walk, but he had dementia, which caused him a great deal of anxiety, confusion and eventually it stopped him from leaving the house. This was a man who had a strong sense of mind when he was younger. Seeing him lose that was heartbreaking. For me, the mind is the greatest thing. It invokes emotions, the senses and most everything that makes us human.
Who’s got the ultimate face?
The ultimate face is one that has grown old gracefully, with lines, character and wisdom. Dame Judi Dench and Helen Mirren are my candidates.
Bananas or chocolate – choose!
We eat a lot of bananas in our household, but it’s definitely chocolate all the way.