Just 18 months after a major health scare, Chelsea Ruby’s life has completely changed.
The Hemel Hempstead make-up artist, 27, was working in London and studying forensic autopsy before becoming seriously ill with meningitis.
Her plans for her life had to completely change after as the lasting impact of the disease left her unable to do anything but become self-employed.
But, despite starting from scratch, within months she was working at London Fashion Week and she’s now hoping that her experience can show others that, even during lockdown, people can still find success.
Chelsea said: “I started off working in a law firm, and that was going to be my career. I was a legal assistant to quite a big lawyer in London, and then I started studying forensic autopsy, so I was going to go down that route.
“Then I got meningitis in the August, which I nearly died from.
“I’ve gained epilepsy, and they told me that working 40 hours a week on my feet or on a screen, I just couldn’t do that anymore, that I needed to get a job where I could be self employed, so I could work around it and if I felt tired or exhausted, I would be able to rest.
“Obviously there aren’t many jobs where you’re in control of your day, so I sat down with my partner and I said ‘what am I going to do? This is my career. I’m earning good money and I was studying on the side’, I just didn’t know what to do.”
Her partner had suggested trying to become a make-up artist after already doing the make-up for her friends and family, and despite concerns about whether it was feasible, she “had no other option” but to retrain.
Three months after completing a course in Stevenage, she was working with Love Island stars Megan Barton Hanson and Chloe Crowhurst.
That led to her own followings growing, showing just how quickly success can come for those who are dedicated to their work.
Chelsea said: “There were a lot of people that were like, ‘there’s no way, you’ve only been doing it a few months, you won’t last’ – and it just goes to show if you’re hard working, and you put your mind to it.
“Literally all day, every day for the first four months, I didn’t stop researching and watching YouTube videos, speaking to other artists, networking, and it paid off because I’m doing stuff that people that have been in the industry five years aren’t doing.
“I purely do believe it’s down to my determination and hard work and practice.”
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Chelsea, who runs the Creative HQ salon in Hemel Hempstead, had first run a salon in Essex which was alongside a bar.
When Covid hit it meant she faced another hurdle with the forced closure meaning the business wasn’t sustainable and had to close.
However, in her slightly smaller new salon she has been able to also pursue a photography and PR side to the business that has saved her during lockdown.
The timing of becoming self-employed has meant she hasn’t been eligible for government grants, but she has managed to continue finding success.
She purchased a friend’s old camera equipment and started taking her own pictures of models, and sending them to some of Britain’s biggest brands out of the blue to see if she could connect with any.
To her surprise, she was given the opportunity to shoot with I Saw It First in a Manchester mansion as well as working with ASOS.
She urged other small business owners to avoid feeling down during lockdown and to make something happen for themselves.
She said that from April 12 it will be a “fight for survival” but the demand will be so high for the first time many businesses will be on a level playing field and wants people to take the opportunity.
Chelsea said: “Social media is a huge, huge platform that needs to be used right. Right now, more than ever, people are on their phones, so it’s a case of get yourself out there because once the world does go back to normal, people will be busy.
“You’ve just got to believe in yourself. And saying, ‘if they don’t reply, they’ve not even read it’, because if they did, they probably would take you up on it – you’ve got to believe your work is good enough.
“You’re not losing anything, but you could gain so much.
“That’s what people don’t realize, people sit on their butt and expect it to come to them. Unfortunately, we do not live in a society or an industry where that happens now.”
Chelsea has been nominated as Make Up Artist of the Year at this year’s Hair and Beauty Awards, while the salon has been nominated as Best New Salon.
She believes it’s a testament to her hard work, and is proud that she’s managed to build the business without relying on handouts or connections.
Chelsea said: “I’m very firm believer that you’re in control of how you feel, and if you want to feel good and you want to feel motivated, you’re gonna have to get up off your butt and do it – people can’t do it for you.”
More information about The Creative HQ can be found on Instagram.