May 14th, 2018
Permanent make-up guru, Karen Betts, believes in paying it forward and this month updates us on her Gift of Confidence Day.
As I sit here writing this week’s column, despite the fluctuations in the weather, I still get a warm glow inside when I think back to the events of a few weeks ago at my Gift of Confidence Day in London. I’m pleased to report that everything went without a hitch and we gave four absolutely wonderful women a super-boost of self-esteem and a sparkling evening in the limelight.
But let’s go back to the beginning. Picture the scene, if you will: it’s early morning at the beautifully serene Agua Spa in London’s Sanderson Hotel. We’re getting ready to welcome our special VIPs and, alongside yours truly here on permanent cosmetics duties, I’ve got a fantastic team of beauty therapists, hair stylists, makeup artists and more. TV fashion stylist Hayley Sparks is standing by with rails of gorgeous outfits from Katie Piper’s Want That Trend range. We’ve got everyone and everything we need to give our ladies a feel-good day to remember.
So, who were our Gift of Confidence winners for 2018? Let me tell you a little bit about each of them and their personal journeys and you’ll see why we chose them to be our VIPs – our very inspirational people. First there was Tracy Dickinson, a remarkable woman who has overcome tremendous adversity in her life. Homeless from the age of 14 and currently unemployed, Tracy defies all the stereotypes those two words conjure up in most people’s minds. She runs Tracy’s Street Kitchen in Nottingham, where she and her team cook for and feed around 130 people every Friday night. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s finding food donations and organising clothes, sleeping bags and toiletries for the homeless in her city. It was a huge privilege for us to give her the pampering she deserved, including her new microbladed brows which frame her face and make her lovely eyes stand out.
Next, we had the awesome Carly Barratt who, despite being devastated when she lost all her hair to alopecia universalis, somehow found the strength to come out of hiding and use her own experience to help others in dealing with hair loss. Carly now runs a wig consultancy helping people find the perfect new hairdo and she offers emotional support too. She also volunteers for Alopecia UK and Changing Faces and gets involved in as many media projects as she can to keep on challenging society’s perception of the beauty ideal. What struck me about Carly was her positivity and love for life, so it gave me great pleasure to restore her eyebrows for her. People don’t realise how big a part your brows actually play in making you look like you.
The wonderful Sophie Harris was our third VIP. Sophie was born with clubfoot and had endured many leg surgeries as she was growing up. Finally, in February last year, she made the monumental decision to have her left leg amputated and it has literally changed her life. She’s now on the GB para rowing team development squad and is training to be an endurance athlete – which I think is absolutely phenomenal, don’t you? For Sophie’s microblading treatment, I reshaped her existing brows to make them symmetrical and frame her face beautifully.
Last but by no means least we had the incredibly courageous Diana Armstrong. In an almost unbelievable chain of devastating events, she lost her sister and her life-long best friend to cancer in the space of a few months. Then, having lost all her hair because of all the stress and grief she was going through, she went to the doctor with a sore throat, which led to a diagnosis of lung cancer. Months of surgery, chemo and radiotherapy appointments followed. But Diana is a fighter and I’m pleased to tell you she’s now been given the all clear and is back at work. I was so happy to get her brows back to looking their best with a microblading treatment, enhancing her lovely blue eyes. She’s an incredible lady that truly deserved a whole lot of TLC.
After their full day of top-to-toe pampering, we presented our transformed ladies to their friends and family at a celebratory evening reception. I loved every minute of it, especially since we had the incredible Katie Piper as our MC and Alex Lewis as our motivational speaker. I’ve been working with them for some time and I love them both to bits, so I was thrilled they’d agreed to be part of my Gift of Confidence day.
I’m sure you’ll know my courageous friend Katie from your TV screens already, but just in case you’re not familiar with Alex, let me tell you a bit about him because, in my opinion, he’s an absolute miracle man. Back in 2013, he was rushed to hospital when what he thought was man flu turned out to be Strep A toxic shock syndrome, which developed into septicaemia and necrotising fasciitis. The consultants at the hospital said his chances of survival were less than 3%, yet against the odds, Alex survived, even though the infection ravaged his body, meaning doctors had to amputate both his arms and legs and remove part of his nose and all of his lips. He’s had extensive facial reconstruction and I got involved in his recovery to blend his new skin grafts in with the rest of his facial skin and create lips for him using specialist tattooing techniques. Everyone was in awe of Alex on the night and his motivational speech was incredibly moving and uplifting. What a guy!
All told, it was a very special day for us all – and the reactions of our four VIPs demonstrated what I’ve known for a long, long time: that permanent cosmetics is so much more than just make-up. Our four stars of the show left the Sanderson Hotel walking tall, and seeing that, more than anything else, absolutely made my day.
Here’s to next year’s Gift of Confidence Day when my team and I get to do it all over again for another four very inspirational people. You can see more moments from our makeovers on my website’s Gift of Confidence page.
That’s all from me until next time. Until then, may these amazing people’s stories and the blossom on the trees inspire your artistry and put a spring in your step too.