Not many people change career paths from running a million-dollar company to a life as an artist, and turn out as successful as Wendy Buiter. After 10 years at the head of her own company, Beautypartner, she chooses to rediscover her passion and became a full-time painter. And with success! Because with 75,000 followers on Instagram and a clientele that extends all over the world, this female warrior has once again proven that life has no limits. In this exclusive interview, Wendy talks about the inspiration behind her artworks, the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, and how to find balance between work and leisure as a single mother.
“You have to understand, that when you have worked on something for ten years, it really feels as if you leave your identity behind.”
You have had quite an impressive career path. After starting your journey as a makeup artist, you founded your own company and collaborated with major fashion and beauty brands such as L’Oréal, CHANEL, LVMH, Yves Saint Laurent, MAC. Was this secretly a dream come true?
Actually, I used to dream of becoming a stewardess when I was a little girl. It wasn’t until later on that I got interested in beauty and started working as a makeup artist. To be honest, I do believe beauty is an industry that most young women would like to work in. I was lucky enough to turn my passion for beauty into a business.
After being at the head of your own business for 10 years, you made the choice to become a full-time artist. Have you ever regretted that choice?
Beautypartner was born out of a love for beauty. I wanted to share my knowledge with others, which is why I choose to combine the recruitment agency with an academy where we could educate and train young talent. With my background in the industry, I knew exactly what skills they needed to get a head start in their field of expertise. But, as the company grew, instead of doing what I love and being creative, I suddenly had to start thinking about money and managing a team. I found that very stressful and it was no longer satisfying my needs as a creative.
Of course it was difficult for me to make the decision to sell the company. You have to understand, that when you have worked on something for ten years, it really feels as if you leave your identity behind. Once I had stepped down from my position, I had to start all over again from scratch. Sure, there were doubts in the beginning, but now, I am convinced that it was the best choice I have ever made.
Quite an intense decision to start all over again and probably not always easy. What were your struggles along the way?
The most stressful part for me, was having to think about: What’s next? It was mainly the search to find something else that I had a genuine passion for, that I could make a career out of. As it turned out, painting was the way to go.
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How did your love for art come about?
I already had a love for drawing as a child. An elementary school teacher once said: “Wendy will probably become a fashion designer!”, because I was always drawing fashion illustrations when I was in school.
Painting was something I already loved doing in my spare time, but it never crossed my mind to do this professionally. Then came that moment where I convinced myself I had to find a way to make a career out of it.
Fashion and beauty are very sensitive to trends. Do you keep trends in mind when you start a new work of art, or are you more intuitive?
You can clearly see my work is inspired by fashion and beauty: A fashion illustration that has been developed into a portrait. It’s a combination of a drawing and a painting and consists of different layers.
Early on, I was inspired by the pieces I saw on the runway. I especially found the designs of Dolce&Gabanna and Chanel very intriguing; very exuberant, with bold shapes and large accessories. I would never completely copy a look, but it certainly does inspire me and my work. Later on in my career, I wanted to focus more on further developing my own style. I wanted to give it my own twist and create art that did not yet exist.
“Through social media I have the chance to engage with people who are curious about my work.”
You have an educative background, was that always something that has stimulated you?
I always enjoyed sharing my knowledge, however, at the moment I prefer to focus on further developing my personal style as an artist. That is my main focus. Through social media I have the chance to engage with people who are curious about my work and answer as many questions as I can. In addition, I am currently in the process of writing a book in which I share my journey towards becoming a successful artist.
Both fashion and art are ways to express personal taste and identity. In your work, I noticed a form of surrealism. What is the idea behind this?
This is where my background as a makeup artist comes into play. In my artwork, I am aiming for a certain idealism of the female form. Just like you do with makeup, I create shadows by combining different shapes and colors. I always want to preserve small imperfections within a portrait. No face is in symmetrical. That’s what makes everyone unique. It’s about finding the perfect balance. Every painting is done by hand. Therefore, all pieces are one of a kind.
You have an admirable following on social media. How does it make you feel to get so much recognition for your work?
I started with Instagram purely to see how people would respond to my work. Nowadays, it’s a channel where I can showcase my pieces and also, make myself heard. It is confirmatory if people respond positively. For example, some people order a painting online, without having seen it in real life. Nothing is more satisfying than receiving a message from a customer, saying that they find it even better in real life than they had expected. It’s very flattering.
Do you ever get negative feedback?
I do receive criticism every once in a while through social media. Sometimes I get degrading comments from men on pictures where I pose next to my artwork. Stuff like: “Don’t sell yourself, sell your art.” It can be very hurtful, especially because these people don’t even know me. Usually, I just respond with a sad emoji and I leave it at that.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
I love to be able to organize my own time, but I also get a lot of energy from building my company. That’s the beauty of it; the more I put in, the more I get out. Being successful in your own business gives a tremendously satisfying feeling. It’s what makes my work so dynamic.
“My daughter always tells everyone that her mommy is famous.”
As a woman you often get the stereotype question: How can you combine family life with full-time entrepreneurship. How do you divide your time between work and private life?
I have two children, one of whom is severely disabled. A child who needs extra care takes a lot of time. For example, there are times when he needs to be at the hospital for a full month. My children are now 8 and 9 years old. They know that their mom is a painter and they love that. My son unfortunately is unable to talk, but when I take him out to the city in his wheelchair, and he sees one of my works in a window, he immediately starts laughing and pointing. The fact that he recognizes my work is truly heart-warming. My daughter is also very proud and always tells everyone that her mommy is famous. That is, of course, great fun to hear. After I put my children to bed at night, I often continue to paint. I love how it’s nice and quiet then. It allows me to completely focus on my work.
What are your plans for the future?
In addition to the book that will be released next year, I want to focus primarily on my artwork. I am still at the beginning of my career as an artist, so my main goal is to make even better work and increase my target group. In addition, I would love to have the opportunity to display my pieces in large galleries and art fairs. I am sure that with patience, dedication and hard work, I will eventually get where I want to be.
Credits: Photography by Paul Bakker exclusively for AV-mag