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… to open a new business location at Hadfield Street
By Lisa Hamilton
Professional beauty specialist Janica Sandy, the owner of Ultimate Image Inc., is preparing to launch her new location on Hadfield Street, Georgetown and took time out to reflect on her growth from a young inquisitive girl in Berbice to a well-respected beauty specialist who has made her name locally and abroad.
The 34-year-old grew up in New Amsterdam, Berbice. At the age of nine, she began experimenting with makeup quickly realising that the brushes had different purposes and the choice and blend of colours could make a huge difference.
Even so, while in high school, she knew that she wanted to become a business owner but hadn’t the beauty industry in mind. After graduating from the Canje Secondary School and the Guyana Business School where she wrote the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Sandy headed into pageantry. Over and over she caught the favour of the crowd and the judges as she was the First Runner Up in the Miss Region Six Pageant and the Miss Berbice Mash Queen.
“Being in pageantry, I applied my own makeup and persons recognized that I actually had a talent back then and would recommend their friends for weddings and other events for me to go and apply products on them,” Sandy said.
A friend who owned a salon in Berbice, encouraged the young woman to pursue a cosmetology course. Though cosmetology in its collective sense was not her interest, Sandy decided to take the course but zero in on the part that dealt with makeup.
As such, she completed a Diploma in Cosmetology at Kevin’s Reflections and began offering her freelance beauty services to the public. “I ended up having a salon in New Amsterdam and from then I had a dream to become a movie makeup artist. I wanted to work in the film industry. After researching I realised that you cannot just work in film if you’re not qualified, regardless of how talented you are.”
Sandy researched the options available to further her studies in North America but was stumped to realize how costly they were. A year passed and she moved to Georgetown and began promoting her services there. She would travel across Guyana offering small crash courses in makeup to those now entering the field. The feedback she received was tremendous.
Still, the desire to further her studies lingered at the back of her mind. She travelled to Trinidad and Tobago to participate in a workshop with a well-recognized artist from the country. When Sandy returned home with additional knowledge, she was urged by other persons to continue following her dreams to become a makeup artist in the film industry.
This would cause her to take the big step of pooling her resources to further her studies at the John Casa Blanca’s Institute in Vancouver, Canada. It was difficult for her to leave what she started in Guyana. It was also difficult for her to adapt to the difference in culture, environment, cost of living and more.
As a foreign student, the Government there only allowed her to work for 20 hours a week. Sandy also had to deal with the fact that she was the oldest person in her classes and the younger persons there would often clique together or occasionally try to outdo her by any means.
“Everything was a challenge but I held on because I knew I went there with one motive and that is to succeed… I said to myself, it’s going to make me more marketable when I’m actually qualified to the highest, not just Guyana or the Caribbean, but internationally,” Sandy said.
While studying, she competed in the International Make-Up Artist Trade Show (IMATS) Battle of the Brushes Makeup Competition 2018. The show was held in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States.
Sandy competed in Canada and rose to Third Place in the Beauty Fantasy category, making an even bigger name for herself. She was also able to work along with celebrity photographers in professional shoots with clients, and the completed work was featured in the Envy Me magazine.
In the end, Sandy completed her Makeup Artistry Diploma course after one year and graduated with distinction.
She said: “My experience in the beauty industry has been challenging but I kept pushing forward because this is my passion, this something that I want to keep growing in and I returned to Guyana to share my knowledge and expand my business based on my experience.”
In May 2019, she returned and began re-advertising her services but the COVID-19 pandemic hit and paused her efforts. Sandy, like millions of others, had to spend more time than ever at home.
Soon she began experiencing breakouts and this influenced her to put together a number of ingredients that could clear her skin which worked. She shared the progress on social media and garnered much support which led to the creation of her natural line with 25 different skincare products made from ingredients right in Guyana. They include soaps, lip balms, oils, body butter, body scrubs and more. The products come as part of and are accessible at ‘ The Beauty Boutique’.
Creating her own natural skincare line was actually a long-term goal of Sandy’s that was bumped up as a result of the pandemic. About a month and a half ago, she took another big step by moving to Y, Hadfield Street, Georgetown where she is preparing to open her own store on July 3, 2021.
With her experience in working at an aromatherapy store in Canada, Sandy also branched out into including a spa at the location and offering manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, eyelash and brow services, body waxes and more. These services fall under the ‘Ultimate Renew’ aspect of the business.
Through her business, she also offers training to up-and-coming makeup artists or those simply seeking to improve their knowledge in etiquette, interior decorating and more. She also continues to offer makeup services and products. Persons can access these services through the ‘Ultimate Image Academy’.
Sandy relies on a team of on-staff and outsourced individuals to pull it all off. Her advice to Guyanese, based on the core message she learned in life, is to take constructive criticism for improvement; do what they love rather than what’s trending and set long-term and short-term goals for achievement