Aruna Maharaj, granddaughter of the first cosmetologist in Trinidad and Managing Director of the Madame Maharaj Cosmetology School, holds her degree in Communications and Spanish. She not only spearheads the school's Internationally Accredited Cosmetology Programme but is also a Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist. Aruna’s and the Madame Maharaj brand has attracted a following of over 70,000 beauty enthusiasts on various platforms. After 60 years of the School being located in south Trinidad, the Madame Maharaj School opened its doors in Woodbrook, late 2017.
In keeping with the theme of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Aruna has understood the importance of holistic health of mind, body and spirit and its role in the success of a business. Aruna Maharaj has founded the region’s first ever Beauty Awards Ceremony. This non-profit organisation's mission is to recognise excellence and elevate standards in the Beauty Industry. The WE Mag team met up with the beauty guru to find out more about her journey in the beauty industry. Here’s her story:
In your experience in the local beauty industry, what would you say is your biggest takeaway?
The biggest takeaway is that a cosmetology school gives young women a positive career choice and an opportunity to put their energies towards something uplifting. I know the joy it brings when we see women looking and feeling confident and nothing brings me more happiness than to teach others how to experience that joy also. We have included a module called 'Life Skills' in our Diploma curriculum which includes training on Intra and Inter-Personal Development, Goal Setting, Finance Management, Communication Skills, Customer Service and other soft skills needed in the world of work today. This to me, is equally important as having the technical skills or talent to do hair and makeup, nails etcetera. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't know how to deal with people, and understand yourself, then it can be wasted, and that breaks my heart.
What are you working on at present, what is keeping you excited?
Presently, I'm working on how to marry Inner Beauty with Outer Beauty. For far too long the Beauty Industry, both locally and internationally, has placed much emphasis on the outer aspect of beauty, but I believe that without inner beauty, outer beauty will not shine no matter how many layers or colours we apply.
What are some of your treasured milestones thus far?
Treasured milestones would be getting our Cosmetology Diploma Internationally recognised, opening the north branch after 60 years of being in south Trinidad, establishing Caribbean Beauty Awards and having our very own Professional Makeup Brush Set and on a personal level, finding inner peace.
What is your biggest dream for your future?
I honestly have no dreams anymore and I know that sounds odd, but allow me to explain. I feel very blessed and contented in my professional career (this does not mean new goals and new projects will not take place) but I would say my new dream now, will be to see other young men and women achieve their dreams of being successful in the beauty industry, whether they have passed through our cosmetology school or not, I just wish for everyone to learn how to harness their talents and achieve their highest potential.
What’s your biggest industry secret you can share with us?
The biggest industry secret, on a professional level - Be open to constructive criticism. Too many of us are sensitive when it comes to people critiquing our work, but this is something we need to train ourselves to be grateful for. We should not let our ego get in the way of receiving feedback. This is CRITICAL to personal and professional growth.
What's your best advice to young beauticians that are upcoming in the industry?
I wish everyone knew how much power they had within themselves. I wish everyone knew that with 100 percent focus and dedication, they can literally achieve ANYTHING. And also not to compare. Comparing your work and ultimately yourself, with others (consciously or not) can hinder your own creativity and growth. Just focus on yourself.
Why do you do what you do?
I cannot explain why I do what I do but I know the benefits of it, I know the contribution it makes to society, I know the beauty it spreads and that makes me wake up every morning, but why or where does this passion come from? I cannot find it, it comes from so deep; I guess when God gives you something, it's almost as if you have no choice but to use it and execute to the best of your ability. I can tell you one thing though, I have my grandmother's blood running through my veins. This was written in our DNA before we were even born.