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London College of Fashion

Donna may putting makeup on a lady

Life of Alumni: Donna May Clitheroe is Hair and Makeup Designer at ITV

Written by Jesse Tilley
Published date 14 August 2019

Meet Donna Clitheroe, hair and makeup Designer at ITV and founder of Donna May Makeup. We caught up with her to hear more about her widely successful career and her advice for those looking to follow in her footsteps.

Hey, I’m Donna May Clitheroe, hair and makeup artist and founder of the makeup accessories brand Donna May Makeup. I started off at LCF doing the Fashion Promotion Access Course and then the HND in Design Fashion Styling for Hair & Makeup.

What made you choose LCF and do you feel your course had helped to prepare you for the industry?

In the late 90s, LCF was the ONLY college to go to if you wanted a serious career in makeup - I know before I did my A-Levels that LCF was my aim, so for 2 years I decided to keep a fashion scrapbook, with magazine trend tear sheets, doodles and drawings that I would do and anything beauty or fashion related. I’m sure that because I did this off my own back, as well as my A Level Art portfolio, I was a successful applicant. I think the year I applied there were over 500 applicants for only 60 places.

When did you decide to go it alone and start your own brand? Had you worked in the industry before?

I left LCF in 1999 and have worked as a hair and MUA in both a freelance capacity and also as staff for ITV ever since. I can’t quite believe it's been over 20 years! My brand DONNA MAY MAKEUP started organically. I had a foot operation and was off work for 3 weeks, with my foot up I started doing some hand embroidery. I created my lip logo and made a makeup mat for my kit to sit on when I got back to work (MUAs were always using towels to put their kits on, my mat looked a lot nicer and more professional.)

Every time someone saw it, they asked me to make them one. The orders became so large I had to look for outside help and the rest is history! Which finally led to me designing my Spreadable makeup bag which is now our best seller.

At which moment in your career did you finally realise that your hard work was paying off?

Awww, I’m not sure I have! I’m always striving for the next thing. Once I’ve achieved one thing, i'm straight onto the next. I rarely pat myself on the back!

You’ve had some very recognisable clients in the past! Do you ever feel nervous about meeting a new high-profile celebrity?

Never! Which is lucky or I’d be in the wrong job! Even though I work mainly in TV, half of the time I don't notice who I'm making up! It's just the 'next face’ I’ve got to work on!

What do you love the most about your work?

That everyday is different, and that I meet such a wide variety of people everyday. It’s a job where I’ve learnt to be comfortable around all types of people and to learn to be able to chat about everything from politics to Love Island!

As someone who has been a student, and is also now a teacher - what advice would you give to anyone that would like to follow in your footsteps after their studies?

Work experience, work experience, work experience! I can only say that the difference between me and some of the other students on my course at LCF was that I had work experience lined up at every possibility I could. There was never a holiday where I didn’t do some sort of work.

Even if the work wasn't very exciting, it was another contact for my 'Big Black Book'! I kept a diary throughout my time at LCF and put every single contact that I made into it! I then ALWAYS followed up those contacts with a ‘thank you for having me’ or a ‘Im free soon, can I come in and help?’ email!

Every contact you make is another step closer to another job, contacts are invaluable... at the right place and the right time you will be at the forefront of someone's mind for the next job they are planning - If you have stayed in touch with them that is!