As a child it was apparent that Melissa was destined for a career that involved nurturing others as she spent her days “pampering my mum and my sister in the lounge room”. Though, she jokes, now the mother of three sons aged 7 to 15, that pampering sure isn’t getting repaid!
“I was raised by a solo mum in Otara,” says Melissa. “We didn’t even have a car. I think that shaped me into being an entrepreneur. I had to figure out from an early age how to get things done and create. I learnt that if you want something then you have to figure out how to make it happen.”
Such is Melissa’s “strong mindset” that she reveals that there’s nothing she now wishes she knew when she first started out in the beauty industry. “I’m actually quite happy with the way I’ve done things,” says the businesswoman. “I set out with certain goals and slowly but surely I’ve achieved them all. Perhaps there were times I could have believed in myself more, but I’m methodical, and always researched fully before I’ve undertaken anything.”
Research, she believes is the ultimate key to success, and is the first piece of advice that she gives to anyone starting out in business. “In today’s world, everyone wants a quick fix,” laments Melissa. “But it just doesn’t work like that. It takes practice, training and passion. You must have integrity, too.”
And the best advice you were given?
“The best advice given to me was, ‘Instead worrying about what could go wrong, imagine it could all go right.’ I love this. It puts things into perspective for me. Worrying about the worst case scenario will only ever hold you back. Dreaming my dream outcome has worked perfectly. It certainly hasn’t come without the hard yards, but it’s been advice I live by.”
Melissa has been in the beauty industry for 24 years, but six years ago made the move to cosmetic tattooing. “It’s so very rewarding, I love doing the medical work,” beams Melissa, whose days involves not just inking eyebrows, eyeliner and lips, but medical tattooing that simulates areola after women have had breast reconstruction following breast cancer. “I also do scalp micropigmentation which is for hair loss — both male and female.”
Melissa adds that while many associate brow work with vanity, her clients often require it due to alopecia, cancer treatment or thyroid issues. I ask what inspired her to make the move from beauty therapy to cosmetic tattooing.
“I just wanted to be able to offer more than I could as a beauty therapist,” she says. “The brows are the pillars of the face, they frame the face. While a bad brow can age someone, beautiful brows that suit the shape of a face will soften it and take years off.”
Melissa tells me that clients will often cry, both tears of joy and relief: “What I do changes people’s lives in such a positive way. People can feel an immediate change when they finally have the eyebrows, breastwork or scalp that they want. It makes them feel so much better, and I feel lucky doing what I do, having that effect on people’s lives.”
Throughout her career, Melissa admits that the biggest challenge has been balancing her work and family life. “As a mum, I want to be the best mum I can to our kids — and a great wife too,” she says. “But I also have an incredible drive as a business person, that can’t be denied.” Melissa says that while there is no “exact method” to achieving that balance, key is letting go of “unnecessary perfectionism and believing in myself”: “There needs to be a good mix, whether it be a stay at home mum, or dad, or both parents working, children will learn valuable lessons and ethics. There is no ‘right or wrong’.”
Do you believe women bring something different to business?
“I think a lot of it comes down to personality types. I’m very organised, but I certainly wouldn’t say that about my husband! But women are also natural givers and networkers. We seek to give to others as wells as our communities which builds strong lasting relationships. We bring qualities like empathy, intuition and optimism, all of these qualities are necessary to create harmony and trust. We thrive at creating, sustaining and growing. Women are excellent at seeing the whole picture, planning it and seeing things through to completion. We’re master facilitators.”
‘I am the creator of my own destiny’ is the philosophy that Melissa lives by, and it’s certainly stood her in good stead. “It makes me fully responsible for myself and I like that,” she continues. “It gives me the power I need to achieve in life. Life’s not just going to jump out at me and be excellent just because I wish it to be. I have to make it excellent.”
Words: Jamie Christian Desplaces
09 420 9775 / 81 Commercial Rd, Helensville