FEATURED ALUMNI: Rudy Miles, 2013 Esthiology Graduate

MEET RUDY MILES
I am Rudy Miles also know as beautybyrudy. I am an editorial makeup artist, makeup educator and inventor. I added licensed esthetician to my resume in 2013 when I completed the Esthiology program at the Aveda Institute New York.

What led you to pursuing a career in the beauty & wellness industry?
I initially started my career in fashion and beauty as a model in Chicago, my hometown. I loved the industry from the beginning. When I moved to New York in 1995, I helped open and begin working at Aveda Flatiron store. It is here that I fell in love with the industry even more and begin the connection of beauty and wellness. So much of my current career is built on my 15 year career at Aveda where I grew from retail specialist, to educator to Director of Makeup ultimately.

What did you choose an Aveda Institute for your education?
I chose an Aveda Institute for my education because I knew the product, culture and company so well already. This helped me so much in the esthiology program as it allowed me to focus intensely on the class content and facial protocols because my product knowledge was already instilled in me. Needless to say, the makeup section for me was like breathing; effortless.

Upon graduating, how did you decide what to do and what were your early experiences in the workforce like? Any challenges? Any amazing opportunities?
When I finished school, I immediately knew I had to get some real time spa experience under my belt. Again, because of my strong Aveda background, customer service was second nature to me. Working in the spa gave me a chance to really experience different skin conditions and build my confidence in providing facial services. The only challenge I had was as an employee, I had one vision of how I wanted my guests to experience service at the spa, however the spa I worked at seemed to not want that same level of service; so we parted ways.

Leaving the spa was a great move for me because it opened the door to be able to work with many skin care companies and learn even more about that side of the industry. I also have to admit that being licensed was a game changer for my makeup career and business. Now I could LEGALLY and PROFESSIONALLY talk about skin on a level different than the myriad of makeup artists in our industry who aren’t licensed. It’s something as small as shaping brows for my private clients or on set for models; many makeup artists do it but technically only licensed professionals should be performing this service.

Being licensed also allowed me to conduct workshops for the Look Good Feel Better Program which helps cancer patients cope with the visual side effects of cancer treatment. Yes, as a non-licensed volunteer I could have still been a part of the program but unable to actually demonstrate skin care and makeup techniques on the patients. I love this program and since 2015 have been the Area Trainer for the New York City region.

What is the most valuable thing you learned while in school?
The most valuable thing I learned in school is you’re never too old to learn. I was definitely the “oldest” student in my class (I think I was the oldest student in the entire school). It was amazing and humbling to basically start over and be a student again. The entire experience of the classroom kept me focused on how am I going to use this information in my work? So for me, I went back to school with a clear vision of how is this going to elevate my craft, career and brand?

As your career grows, is there anything you’re now glad you learned as an Aveda student?
Honestly, I think I was an Aveda student even before I attended the Institute. The late Aveda founder and amazing mentor Horst Rechelbacher taught me so much during my years at Aveda. He owned the company when I started and it was not uncommon for him to stop by the Flatiron Store and literally hold a spontaneous lifestyle workshop in the store for customers. It was so organic and real. Every chance I got to hear him speak, I went. He had so much knowledge and wisdom; all of which remains a part of me. I am beyond thankful that I started my career at Aveda in those early years and was able to really earn my way through the company.

Even the greats have bad days! What has been your most embarrassing/terrifying experience in your career?
I am laughing as I think about this because at the time I was horrified. You know as a student of life, you learn as you go along. I compare it to a baby learning how to walk, eventually. I was doing a makeup event in an Aveda store. I pumped Hydrating Lotion into my hands to hydrate the customer’s skin. The lotion decided to spat out of my hands and onto the customer’s very expensive light colored leather jacket. There are no words to the horror. It was stained and ruined for sure. My memory tells me the store agreed to try to get it cleaned and I found out later that it was cleaned successfully.

So for me the lesson was; you are going to make mistakes so get over it. But it also taught me for the rest of my career to always open and dispense products away from my client even if they’re wearing a cape!

Do you have any advice for current Aveda Institute students?
Have a flexible plan of action. Flexible. When I look back at my career, I think of all the places and times I could have been closed minded and resistant to opportunities because they didn’t fit into my plan. I moved to NY to purse my modeling career but fell in love with Aveda and dumped modeling for working in the store. In the store, I was horrible at doing makeup and would run from the makeup display whenever a customer went to it. Dana Walker was the NY makeup educator at that time and she said to me, “Let me train you.” Again, not in my plan but I was open to her advice and attended classes as she suggested. Somehow I eventually fell in love with makeup and it is now my career. I was flexible and allowed my plan to evolve as opportunities opened up to me.

Build your brand. This seems like such a foreign, pie in the sky concept for some but it basically means define your point of difference in the industry and show up that way every time! It is a highly competitive space we creatives share. However, only you can do what you do the way you do it and that fact will be what makes you stand out from other options for clients, jobs, brands or whatever you’re going after. Your success in this industry will be directly measured by how you show up when it matters most and it always matters.

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