It truly is amazing what make-up can do to ones face, irrespective of the way we look naturally. Speaking of make-up, the beauty industry in Sri Lanka is no doubt thriving and has been so for many years. Whether it be in Colombo or Polonnaruwa, you are guaranteed to find a salon pretty much every ten yards or so in Sri Lanka.
However, it is only a handful of these places that actually offer world-class service and that too, intermingled with current fashion and beauty trends that evolve almost every day, globally. Elegant Magazine has been working with one of Ramani Fernando’s best assets and that is the very young and multi-talented Make-up Artist Chalana Munasinghe. We decided to sit down with him for a chat and get to know the persona behind this young man.
I made an appointment to meet him right after seeing to his last client and I visited him at the Ramani Fernando Salon down Elibank Road. This was the first salon that Ramani had launched, and as we usually say, the rest was history.
Chalana, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you choose this industry?
I have been in the make-up and hairstyling field for over 10 years now. My hometown is Colombo 10 and I am a past pupil of Ashoka College. Initially, I had never even given a second thought to the salon industry. After I finished my high school education, I was actually quite lost in terms of what career area I wanted to pursue. So, at around the age of 18, one of my very close friends, Anjalika, who was working at a salon at the time convinced me to join the salon she was working in to gain some knowledge in the process. This way, I first began as a trainee with Shiromi Priyadarshani, who owned a salon at the time.
So, after being there for three and a half years, my best friend Samitha Dias was working at Ramani Fernando’s at the time and I too wanted to join the company. So, along with a certification I had gained from the Dreamron Beauty College and my traineeship, he helped me secure an appointment to be interviewed by Ramani. It was a casual and laidback interview and she soon took a liking to me and found me to be an ideal candidate. I was young and equally nervous and excited but I was immediately asked to join the salon. So, following a one month notice to my previous workplace, I joined Ramani Fernando Salons and was being mentored by Ramani herself. I have been here since.
How do you get inspired when it comes to working with cosmetics and what do you think makes your techniques so unique?
One thing I would like to mention is my love of sketching and drawing, which I’ve been very good at from a very young age. So, I guess my ability to sort of get creative with the many faces that come to us, comes naturally to me and blending in colours and determining the right shade that goes with your complexion comes easy to me. This artistic ability runs in my family, as growing up I have been influenced greatly by my grandfather, from my mother’s side, who was very creative and I grew up watching his work. As with aspects such as saree draping, growing up I used to watch my grandmother drape her saree whenever she would get ready to go out and out of curiosity I’d drape the saree on myself and find different ways of draping and adorning a saree to suit the type of body or trend.
So, this type of exposure from my younger days has no doubt helped me in my adult life. Apart from that I also stay up-to-date with current affairs in the fashion and beauty world and try and work on new entities and evolve myself in terms of my profession in the process. The make-up concept that I go by is heavily bent towards a more natural or nude look and I work to ensure that the client’s natural look is maintained without simply donning too much make-up just for the sake of it. So, many of my clients appreciate the fact that the finished look is simply beautiful through the use of minimal application techniques at the same time. Currently, I am also the Make-Up Artist for Ramani Fernando herself.
What is it about Ramani Fernando Salons that sets it apart from the competition?
I believe it is the service and the discipline that goes into ensuring that our client’s needs are met. Here, staff members ensure a level of discipline is maintained and we cooperate with each other when it comes to managing our work surroundings and maintaining customer satisfaction. Also, our salons embody a sense of workmanship, etiquette and professionalism that has no doubt been sustained since the company’s inception.
So, having disciplined staff means that they learn about their role and regard their work surroundings as it is their own place and take it with them wherever they go. So, this is a place where you can hone your skills and get to engage in your passion with great love and care and that too reflects on to the end result of a client’s needs being met. Today, there are many senior staff members who have been with the salon since inception and many of them such as Dilhara, Michelle Doll, Karen and Samitha who is also my close friend and Azar who are no doubt amazing at their job.
What was your family’s approach at the time on your choice of career?
My mother was alright but my father had a hard time accepting my choice of work, but in time, he grew to accept it. I also have a very limited circle of friends who have been very supportive and encouraging throughout my career. A few of my friends have been with me since my childhood; Pramoda and Samitha that I mentioned earlier. My father at the time, didn’t really support me in terms of pursuing the needed knowledge to get into this field, so I worked hard and funded my own studies in order to be in the place where I currently am. I don’t really like to be out much in the open and enjoy being discreet about my work and social life. And I am glad I have been able to achieve all this in my own way. My father eventually realized that I was good at what I do and he has accepted it.
Apart from working at the salon, what other ventures are you engaged with?
Currently, I also lecture at the Ramani Fernando Training Academy as a permanent lecturer for hair and make-up. I am also a fashion designer and have created a number of casual pieces such as gents’ high-waist trousers and jumpsuits and wrap-a-round ladies skirts. I enjoy sketching and designing when I get the time and many of my friends and well-wishers have asked me to launch my own label. However, time is the barrier at the moment but you’ll never know. You might see some more creations in the near future!
So, before we wrap up, could you maybe give us an inkling about the latest Colombo trends when it comes to hair and make-up?
If you’re looking for some hair inspiration, then the whole beach wavy hair look is very in. Also, one length hair cuts too are gaining popularity. When it comes to make-up, shades and hues such as nude, peachy or bronzy and brown would no doubt work out well. Oh, and thick eyebrows! Go for it.
Text by Sara Pathirana
Designs By: Chalana Munasinghe
Photography By: Suppasan-oad