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Philip's wig making career path

A very unexpected career change from Publican to wig, hair and make up artist

Towards the end of my school years in the 1980s, I had that one trip to the Careers Advisor which was supposed to put you on your career trajectory and sort out your future. A happy life ahead was promised and all within 10 minutes.

My personality was assessed. Advice given.  A few simple questions were asked from the advisor (who so obviously did not want to be there).  

‘You are confident and like working with people’

she declared

‘A career in catering is for you’.

So after that brief encounter, I left school and off I went to catering college where I gained a degree in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management.

All good so far. SO FAR!

I then got a job as a Chef. HATED IT! 


I thought a job as a trainee Hotel Manager might work. HATED THAT!


I tried working as a silver service Waiter. You guessed it. HATED IT!

Silver Service

In the end, I settled on a career of pub management and spent the next few years feeling lost and disillusioned. It was a job and it paid the bills but that was about the extent of it.

Don’t be feeling sorry for me! Don’t get depressed!

At age 32 my life finally began, really began. On a whim and just for something to do, I took a short course in character makeup. It was a once a week course over 6 weeks. I stumbled across it really and boy am I glad I did. LOVED IT!

Back to College

West Thames College had just started a 2-year full-time media makeup course and apparently, I had the right attitude for the course. Cue another 10 minutes and another meeting but this time my trajectory was finally set. I was offered palace on the course, accepted, quit my job and have never looked back since.

Now don’t get me wrong. Aged 32 and going back to college was terrifying. I was worried about money, I was worried in general and I remember looking around at my fellow students on the first day and was worried I was too old. But I worked really hard at full-time study, taking any paid work I could to pay the bills and also slotted in some work experience where I collaborated with other students and small production companies so I could build a semi-decent CV. My life was put on hold for all things hair, wigs and makeup but I enjoyed every single minute of it. I was born for this, I deserved this and I was going to be damn good at it. Failure was not an option.

A new life

I have now been working in Wigs, Hair and Makeup for over a decade (and add some more too) and every day I wake up happy and I actually look forward to going to work. I am not trying to be all sickly sweet and uber positive I am just stating a fact. I was stuck in a career that was thrust upon me and I finally had the nerve to get out and just look what happened. AWESOME is what.

So here is some simple wisdom. If you are unhappy with your career, then do something about it. We spend so much time at work it really should be somewhere we like going. Whats the worst that could happen? You can always go back to your old career. But I promise if you are passionate enough you will excel.

I did the drastic thing (I have never been accused of doing things by halves) but there are options out there. Retrain at your own pace. Do a short course or two, or jump in with both feet and take the total immersion route. I teach at a small studio offering short courses or there are the full-time colleges out there like West Thames college

If you are driven, passion and failure is not an option a new career could be the start of something purposeful.

Philip Carson-Sheard

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