From education to employment

Mum of two styled for success after returning to college after 20 years

A mother of two who decided to return to college for a complete career change twenty years after first leaving school, is celebrating starting her own business and kickstarting her dream job following a challenging year.

Over the last two years, Simone Bevan, 38, from Llanelli, has travelled over 100 miles a day to attend a hair, makeup and special effects course at Coleg y Cymoedd in Nantgarw, juggling her studies with being a single mother, all while facing a number of challenges with her family and personal life including a relationship breakdown and coming out as gay.

Determined to follow her career dreams and wanting to give herself the best chance at success, the inspiring mum took a chance and chose to sign up to the course at Cymoedd, despite it being so far away from home, due to its reputation in the industry with it being led by former TV professionals.

Now, it looks like that decision has paid off as, despite a difficult few years, including studying for a new career during a pandemic, Simone has kickstarted her own makeup business while at college and is on track for a place at university and a successful career working as a makeup technician for theatre productions after receiving her diploma.

Having originally left school at 16 to work full time in various roles, from McDonalds to party planning, Simone decided to make a career switch aged 30 after developing perinatal depression while pregnant with her second child – a condition which affected her so badly that she could not leave the house – and wanting something to focus her attention on.

Taking up a job with an online business where she worked from home to sell beauty products and post tutorials via social media, Simone quickly discovered a new passion – a love for makeup – despite having never really been very ‘into’ it before then. Regularly experimenting with makeup looks, she found herself thriving in the role and soon became a top performer in the company.

After four years, Simone decided that she wanted to take her makeup skills and career to the next level, with dreams of working in TV’s special effects, prompting her to quit her job and sign up to study a Level 3 extended diploma in hair, make up and special effects at Cymoedd. The two-year course aims to develop a broad range of skills and techniques to either progress into higher education or start a successful career within the media industry.

Simone said: “While I loved doing makeup in my job, I wanted to level up my skills. I was really interested in the idea of special effects but as I didn’t have any professional training behind me and lacked knowledge, I wanted to do a credited course. The trouble was, there wasn’t one in my local area, but I was determined to make my ambitions a reality.

“I had never really been that academically driven before until I discovered makeup was a passion of mine. I chose to go to Coleg y Cymoedd as the course has a good reputation in the industry and is led by professionals who have worked within it.

“It had been two decades since I’d been in school, so I was really nervous about starting college. I was worried I wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as others on the course as kids these days start using make up at a young age and I had only started when I was 30, but I ended up doing really well!”

Studying for the qualification developed Simone’s skills and grew her confidence, inspiring her to take the plunge and start her own business offering a range of makeup services including bridal, glam and carnival looks. While the business is doing well, she still wants to use her skills to create more dramatic makeup looks, with a dream of working within the makeup and styling teams for theatre productions.

She added: “When I first joined college, I thought I’d like to work in special effects for film and TV but I quickly realised that I’m actually more interested in theatre. As well as makeup, I really enjoyed styling hair and creating elaborate wigs during my course and working in stage performances would enable me to combine these interests. It would also be more suitable for me as a working mum.

“I’m so excited to see where my career will take me now. Going back to education as a mature learner was the best thing I did. It’s given me the confidence, tools and qualifications to step straight into a role within the industry. While it can be nerve-racking to start over from scratch, I’d urge anyone to do it.

“Long term, I love the idea of going into teaching and offering a similar qualification in the Carmarthenshire region, seeing as there wasn’t one for me and I know there are lot of creative learners in the area.”

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