Elena Bridger’s favourite thing about make-up is that it allows her to express herself and use her imagination.

Whether she’s creating an ultra-glam look for a wedding or formal, or something a little more avant-garde, there are no limits to her creativity.

“I got into make-up because I was overweight and make-up made me feel really good about myself,” says Elena. “I started doing my friends’ make-up and loved seeing the smiles on their faces and how happy they felt. I wanted to make everyone feel good about themselves.”

After finishing year 11, Elena worked as a pastry chef and florist before deciding her real passion lay in make-up.

Elena enrolled in Chisholm’s Certificate III in Make-up, a six-month course designed to help students get started in a freelance or retail make-up career.

The course covers all the latest trends and techniques, from special occasion, bridal and fashion make-up, to airbrushing, camouflage, eyelash extensions and fantasy make-up.

It also delves into small business planning, occupational health and safety procedures and social media strategy – all those key skills that are needed to succeed as a business owner.

Elena thrived at Chisholm, finetuning her make-up skills and passing each unit with flying colours. She was even nominated as Vocational Student of the Year at the Chisholm Education Awards.

“The course was awesome,” she says. “I had the most amazing teachers. I was the type to try different things and get out of my comfort zone, and the teachers were really supportive of that. Even once the course finished, they still supported and guided me.”

Elena learnt about everything from sustainability and eco-friendly make-up (using reusable products, for example), to business management.

The course covered different eras of make-up, and one of Elena’s highlights was creating an 80s look with pink and purple eyelids and plenty of blush.

She also loved pushing the boundaries with avant-garde looks. “Avant-garde is arty and out-of-the box, and there are no mistakes,” Elena says. “I did a blue diamond look with golden lashes. It’s really creative and in a practical sense could be used for runway or photography.”

When Elena’s teacher organised a Halloween make-up competition, Elena nailed the brief with a daring zombie Snow White entry. She says winning the competition was her biggest achievement at Chisholm, because the competition was so fierce.

As soon as Elena qualified, she started her own make-up business, Make-up by Elena, and had her first booking within days.

“I honestly wouldn’t have had a clue as to how to set up a business without the knowledge from the course,” Elena says. “There’s so much that goes into setting up a business that you don’t realise. I’m really excited about the future and I can’t wait to see what happens.”

Elena’s advice to others thinking about studying make-up was to ‘go in and just have fun’. “Don’t be afraid to try different looks and get out of your comfort zone,” she says. “Put all your passion into it. It’s going to be hard at times, especially getting started with your business and building your clientele, but just keep at it and you’ll make it far.”