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    SSI Life chose 5 of the country’s most followed makeup artists on Instagram, and engaged them to do an original look on SSI’s own VIP Services Manager, Mikaela Lagdameo-Martinez. The artists share their inspirations for each look on Mika, personal makeup philosophies, their professional social media playgrounds, the evolution of the makeup industry, and makeup pro-tips for women on the go. Each artist has a unique story of the hard work, ambition, and sheer talent it took to get to where they are today.
  • One of the better things to come out of this brave new social media world is the way some of the most behind-the-scenes jobs have come into the forefront. It’s now a point of interest to know who photographed the shoot, who styled the wardrobe, accessories, and hair. And in the age of the #selfie, where everyone is fixated on the face, everyone wants to know who did the makeup. Makeup artists are enjoying a meteoric rise in exposure, thanks to platforms that showcase both their work and lifestyles, and have become powerful influences.
  • If there is anyone who is a great proponent of ‘less is more,’ it’s Paolo Maranan. Though he holds the title of ‘Celebrity MakeUp Artist,’ (celebrities feature easily into his posts), most of his make-up work goes to your average bridal clientele. “They’re not models, they’re not celebrities,” he says, which is why his cardinal rule is to pick out the best asset or best feature and enhance. “They say I’m really good at contouring and highlighting.”
  • He’s not just talk when he says he wants to bring out the natural beauty in a person; his brides always look lovely and very obviously happy with what he’s done for them, but also like themselves. The kind of make up finish he likes best, he says, is the kind where you “can still see the skin,” and you are “noticing the entire face, its beauty, and not just the Makeup.” In an industry that can sometimes be hell-bent on over-the-top glamour, his looks are like a fresh breeze.

    The beauties on his Instagram always sport enviable, glowing skin— his own included. The occasional posts where he is the model are usually lessons on the transformative power of make-up, as well as the fun there is in wielding a brush.

    “I love it,” he says of social media, “because it is free, very convenient, in real time, and you can get in touch with different people and personalities with ease.” He has a whopping 54k followers on that account alone (the largest number of the five on our list). He says that he does try as much as possible to read all the comments, in return for all the love and support, and even leaves likes and comments of his own when he can.
  • Of the industry, he’d like people to remember that make-up artists are professionals. “We come from different backgrounds,” he says. “We are educated degree holders, and you’ll be surprised with what we accomplished before choosing the love for makeup.” Stereotyping, he adds, should be obliterated in the industry, particularly the idea that makeup artists must always be either women or gay men.

    What’s on Mika?

    For Mika’s look, he says he drew inspiration from Mika herself. “I’ve worked with her before,” he says. “With her features, she’s actually perfect for a shoot, because you don’t need much correcting, and she has the ideal face shape.” Giving her the ‘No Makeup Look’ was easy, and so it was simply left to make sure her skin was still seen and not covered by the opacity of the make-up. You can apply a lot of products, he says, but “blend it and make it almost invisible to the naked eye. It will still register on photos and will serve its purpose.”

    Protips for women on the go?

    “A really good full coverage foundation, or a concealer. Correcting the under eye area instantly gives you a fresher and more radiant look. So even without using any other make up products, just correct under the eye, and you will bring out the freshness of the face. If you don’t have time to put on make up, concealer is your best friend.” If you have more time, “curl the lashes, it will only take you less than two minutes and your eyes will look more tantalising” and “put on a natural lip color and a coral (pinkish Peach) blush to add warmth to your skin.”

    1. Studio Makeup Nudes Palette
    2. Smashbox - Try It Kit Halo + BB
    3. Happy Skin - Shut up & Kiss Me Stylized Style Icon
    4. Smashbox - Fusion Soft Lights Baked Stardust
    5. Prestige - Primer & Ready Face Primer

  • Look up ‘celebrity makeup artist’ and you’re sure to find RB’s Chanco’s name. Her work is the definition of local glamour, doing up her impressive celebrity clientele and making it look easy. A true veteran of the brush, she’s been doing this since the early 2000s (“Fifteen years na?!” she exclaims) and shows no signs of letting up. With two assistants to cart in her kits and her own face always immaculately made up, she is the picture of
    expert professional.

    “I’ve been hearing that my style is really the ‘perfectly contoured’ face,” she says. “Some say it’s the perfectly arched brows, that I’m the brow architect.” Personally, though, she thinks it’s the semi-smoky eyes and pale bright lips that make up her trademark. “And the skin, I really focus on the cheek area, to make it more luminous.”
  • Her Instagram is pretty much a gallery of stars she takes as clients, with competent use of the hashtag (#rbeautified is just great) and an occasional peek at her own rather glamorous life. It’s a wild world, showbiz, but she navigates it like a pro—because she is a pro. The fact is, when RB gets down to business, she does a fantastic job and works the kind of magic that all celebrity aspirants dream of.

    Speaking of aspirants, she has this to say to any makeup artists hoping to break in: “It’s really hard work.” She herself graduated in advertising before realising that makeup was her passion. She started out doing fashion show work for a designer friend (“I didn’t have anything, I just used my own makeup for all the models!”) before joining MAC. And it was at MAC that she learned to work hard. “Eight hours of work,” she says. “Ten to twelve people a day. Everyday for six years. That was the best practice in the world.” Name it, and she’s probably covered it. Her time at MAC also explains her ability to glam things up. “MAC is very eccentric, very wild, very bold,” she says. “They have no rules. Your lipstick becomes your eyeliner, your eyeliner becomes your lipliner, your blush becomes your eyeshadow...”

    It should be said that this was also at a time when the industry was very different. “I know a lot of young make up artists now na, hindi nila alam na ang makeup artists before, ay baklang parlor, ‘beautician’ quote-and-quote, mga bakla sa kalye.” Now, she says, the makeup artist has become sosyal.

    It’s also easier now, in the sense that there are platforms like Instagram connecting people in the industry, but RB says that true success really all boils down to hard work plus passion. “Hindi siya pwede na, ‘Oh, I wanna be a make up artist,’ and then I’ll invest,” she says, “and then after a while tinatamad ako.”
  • After MAC she got into teaching, something she is still very proud of. “That was one of the best decisions in my life,” she recalls. “I imparted my skills to my students. I have more than a thousand graduates. Some of them are very successful.”

    Her Instagram, RB says, is much more about the final look than the step-by-step. It’s a little unusual, because makeup fanatics tend to be obsessed with the breakdown and Instagram is the place to do it. A number of her followers also tend to be fans of her celebrity clients. But it is true that she is much more about the totality of the makeup than the process: “To show the world, to show my followers, that everyday is a
    different makeup.”

    What’s on Mika?

    “Glammed up but fresh.” RB browsed Mika’s beauty file until she found a way to incorporate her personality into her style. “I saw that she was made to look sosyal, sosyal lang forever.” She took Mika’s sun-kissed skin into account, did a little contouring, and played up the eyes—semi-smoky, akin to a Korean or Japanese makeup, to pop out.

    Protips for women on the go?

    “Make up shouldn’t be complicated. Cleansing, make up, and then removing it right after—the basics.” After that, she says, “you need the right shade of powder, the right shade of blush. Then eyeliner, mascara, curler, then a lipstick. That’s it. You don’t need the whole nine yards. You don’t need to spend millions of bucks to beautify yourself.”

    1. Sheen Supreme Lipstick BehaveYourself
    2. Powder Blush Fleur Power
    3. Eye shadow Bronze Frost
    4. Haute & Naughty Lash Black
    5. Soft & Gentle Mineralize Skin Finish
    6. Woodwinked Veluxe Pearl Eyeshadow
    7. Fluidliine Eyeliner Gel Blacktrack
    8. Lingering Eyebrows Crayon

  • If there is such a thing as an ‘Everyman’ of makeup artists, Jigs Mayuga might be it. He describes himself as flexible with jobs, doesn’t think he has a particular aesthetic, and yet applies himself to work with the kind of candour you wish you met in every person you worked with. ‘If the assignment calls for something more avant-garde or more natural,’ he says, ‘I think as a makeup artist you should be able to adapt to certain situations.’

    His work certainly shows his ability to do so. Whether editorial, commercial, or bridal, his holistic approach to makeup yields good results and he has some impressive variety in his portfolio. ‘That’s the thing. I don’t think I have a trademark,’ he says. ‘Some people would say it’s the brows, which is why I wanted to work on the brows today. So I would probably say the
    eyebrows.’ Probably.
  • He’s very much the cool kid on campus, answering questions easily but not carelessly. When asked how he got from point A to point B, for example, he answers that it’s not as though he can even define what point B is. ‘Like with any career, it’s really something that’s a continuous process,’ he says, adding that he himself is still evolving. ‘I think every day is a learning experience. Even today I learned something new.’ Being a makeup artist is really about being open to new things; he makes an effort every year to take a short course somewhere. He’s never done bettering himself. ‘I think if you assume you already know everything there is to know about being a make up artist, that’s when you stop growing, and I think that’s when you should stop trying to be a make up artist.’ So, no, he can’t really define where exactly he is at this point, but he assures us he is still having fun.

    If his Instagram is anything to go by, then indeed he does have fun. ‘It’s not really there to please anyone,’ he says of his account. He does enjoy posting his work there to inspire people, and knows its uses for work purposes (‘Social media is a tool to be able to market yourself’), but like more casual users of the platform he curates a genuine picture of his life there—in the sense that he is both in control of his content and actually enjoys using it. ‘I guess I’ve come to a point in my career where it’s really more I just want to share what I know and what I’ve been doing,’ he says. ‘A lot of my feed now is a lot of different things, it’s not just make up. It’s fitness, it’s Dubsmash, it’s family, it’s food. It’s really just there to let people know that this is my style… It’s just how I am.’

    He observes that there are indeed quite a lot of people interested in the industry, in doing what he does. The market is really saturated with a lot of up-and-comings, so he has this warning to issue: ‘There’s a lot of free work involved in the beginning, especially if you want your work to be out there.’ When he first started out eleven years ago, there weren’t a lot of venues like social media in which to get promoted. ‘Unlike now,’ says Jigs, ‘and there’s a lot of make up artists nowadays… So I think what’s going to set you apart, because in terms of skill I think a lot of people are really getting good at doing make up, is your professionalism.’
  • Having interviewed potential apprentices last December, he’s got a fair idea of just many people want to be makeup artists. His advice is practical: ‘Always be on time, make sure your kit is always clean, you’re hygienic, you’re well groomed. Make sure when you’re at the shoot you’re very professional, you introduce yourself to everyone.’ Have fun, he says, but also be polite and pleasant. ‘Because that way people remember you,’ he explains, ‘and they’ll call you back, and you’ll get to network. And that’s really the most important thing, to be able to network.’ Coming from someone who seems to have found the secret to keeping it professional and keeping it fun, we’re happy to take his word.

    What’s on Mika?

    ‘The make up was minimal, very minimalist… monochromatic.’ He focused on the brows ‘because that’s one really big trend for this season,’ and on highlighting Mika’s great skin, then a really neutral lip colour.

    Protips for women on the go?

    ‘If you have great skin then you don’t need to cover it up. If you don’t need to wear foundation, then don’t wear foundation. Sometimes I find that when a woman wears too much base or foundation it’s kind of aging. And the trend nowadays is really towards just creating really natural, beautiful skin.’ More than covering up with bases, though, ‘Don’t be afraid to experiment with different eye make up looks, the possibilities are endless… experiment with colour and different eye designs.’

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    2. Smashbox - Be Legendary Chai
    3. Happy Skin - Feeling Sculptacular Face Contour Kit
    4. Happy Skin - Don’t Get Mad Get Even Kit
    5. Andrea Individual Lashes

  • Here to demystify their trade a bit, SSI Life picks the Philippines’ Top 5 most followed makeup artists on Instagram, who each did a look on SSI’s own VIP Services Manager Mika Lagdameo-Martinez. They talk style philosophy, the growing industry, their followers, and share their makeup pro-tips for women on the go.

    The stars have aligned for Muriel Vega Perez, and he is very much aware that things have been picking up for him. He’s what you’d call a relatively new player to the makeup game, having been on the map for about five years now. He himself agrees, saying, “I still consider myself a newbie.” It’s a grounding of his own doing, an approach to his growing fame to keep himself in the particular mental state of most definitely “not there yet.” Many artists, he explains, have a particular point in their careers they want to reach. He thinks the focus ought to be what you are learning. “Learning more techniques,” he says. “How to handle situations, how to be professional… and when to stop.” He doesn’t think he’s hit even 10% of his lifelong goal.
  • It’s amazing, then, the level of influence he commands at such an early point in his career. Besides his astounding 22k Instagram followers, a lot of the activity on his other platforms are people seeking to book him. “I started getting serious about it more when I started getting inquiries from abroad.” The range of messages have been heart-warming, with some expressing dismay that he’s based too far away to get booked, or whether they can afford to bring him in. Some have even gone as far as making requests on his vacation days abroad, asking if he can please spare a day because he’s already in the area.

    Perhaps it’s his background that really speaks to people. Once upon a time he played a very different field—the medical one. A registered nurse, Muriel’s story is a testament to the breaking of boundaries, and a beacon to the selftaught dreamers. “They can always makes their own way,” he says, of the people who look up to him via social media. “I don’t believe there is this step-by-step… that there is only one way.” He has a warm, pleasant demeanour that makes it easy to see he wants to pass on his good fortune. “I want them to think there’s really an artistry to it,” he says. “It’s really an art.” Go for the gold, he adds. Hard work breeds talent. “Even if you’re talented,” he says, “if you’re not hardworking… you won’t make it.” His advice is to pick a specific area, and get really, really good at it.

    His makeup is concise yet fun, injected with just a bit of flavour and a bit of flair. He does his best to interpret individual likes and dislikes against his own professional guidelines, and always adding something a little extra, something quintessentially Muriel. It’s worked, because his clients adore him (testimonials often mention that he makes them laugh and soothes the nerves, on top of executing an amazing makeup).
  • A prime example of his signature style? “Ever since I started in makeup,” he says, “it has been all about the smoky eyes.” If you can execute a good smoky eye, people tend to think you are a good makeup artist. “But I don’t want to do just the traditional smoky eyes,” he says, so he gives it a kick by playing with a bit of colour.

    What’s on Mika?

    Inspired by the high demand for the smoky eye, Muriel presents a twist for ladies who “want to look special but not typical.” Starting with a skincare regiment, a bit of toning, and some sheer foundation, he then gives the eye “a brown contour; on the base midnight sparkly eyeshadow in matte blue; blended the corner with a bit of black and bronzer.” A bit of gel liner on the brows, et voila—a look for the woman who likes to party after work.

    Protips for women on the go?

    “Start with really good skin.” Good skin means spending less time on concealing, foundation, and blending. “After that, I think the best advice I can offer is, pick one part of the face that should be emphasised. For example, if you want to wear red lipstick now, just keep everything else simple. You will look really glamourous but then only spent maybe ten or fifteen minutes of your precious time before going off to work.”

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    2. Christian - Smokey Eyes Blue
    3. Smashbox - Be Legendary Lipstick in Latte Matte
    4. Smashbox - Halo Highlighting Wand
    5. Billion Dollar Brows - Taupe Brow Powder

  • Xeng Zulueta is a dream to work with. She comes highly accomplished, with a long list of big name brands in her resume; her wealth of experience has obviously honed her skills, but it’s the way she thinks about her job that shows an artist with a high calibre of critical thinking. ‘I’m not saying that I have exceptionally good taste,’ she says, ‘but I do have a certain aesthetic.’ Everything is a matter of taste, and one of her abilities is taking a keen awareness of the world and interpreting what she sees through the appropriate lenses. These days, she says, it’s all about believable beauty, so she goes and finds something realistic in the image to sell it. ‘I don’t like things which are too perfect,’ she says. ‘I find perfection in imperfection, basically, because nobody really is perfect.’
  • Fortunately, she was not afraid to experiment, and establishing herself in Manila eventually stabilized. She became known for using a lot of colours. ‘They were saying I was like the avant-garde queen,’ she says, ‘only maybe [it] was because I was forced into a role.’ To this day she is really quick to pinpoint her clients’ needs and to adjust to every situation. Having to sell, she says, and having to think about a brand as a whole really helped push her to get where she is. ‘Is it cocky for me to say I put colour back on the market?’ she asks. ‘I think I did.’ She continues to experiment, too, and occasionally concocts her own products from home, geared towards makeup artists like herself, such as a brush cleaner.

    Her confidence and high standards don’t get in the way of her being friendly, something that is true both online and IRL. ‘I really interact with them,’ she says of her followers. ‘If somebody asks for beauty advice, I answer. I never let a whole day pass without replying.’ As much as possible she’d like to be approachable, which is pretty much the case. ‘Don’t be a snob to your followers,’ she advises. Being a diva, she says, is so nineties. That kind of unreachable status has levelled off, thanks to social media, and has even made it so that being plastic doesn’t work, ‘because people can see right through you anyway.’
  • In sum, Xeng aims high, and she usually hits the mark. Her Instagram is full of images that are the pinnacle of industry pro. ‘I want the viewer to say, “oh my God, who’s that?” or “I want to see more!”’ she says. The way she speaks, you know she’s got a sociable personality, and she’s a lot of fun. Still, you know that when it comes to makeup she doesn’t mess around. ‘You have to have a point of reference,’ she says. ‘It has to be, ultimately, a piece of art.’

    What’s on Mika?

    Drawing on the recent New York Fashion Week and going for a very empowered woman-on-the-go look, Xeng emphasised the lips with a marsala red, the goal being “a kind of stain” on the lips, “like you just drank wine,” and finishing up with a quality matte finish. “The last thing you want when you’re doing matte lips is cracked lines.”

    Protips for women on the go?

    ‘Women on the go don’t really have time to do everything. So I like the hair a little unkempt. It adds a sexy element to the look.’ The quickest way to glam up, or change your look? ‘A change of lipstick, for sure. There’s so much power in a lipstick tube. For example, if during the day the corporate setting doesn’t allow you to wear bold lipstick, it’s a quick change for when you’re in the car. If you’ve been known to wear a nude lipstick during the day because of work, then at night I suggest using a bold colour.’ The reverse also works, meaning one can go from bold to neutral and still make a statement. ‘The change of colour is the quickest way to update any look; it’s timeless.’

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    2. Artdeco Profi Eyelash Curler
    3. Koh Gen Do Maifanshi New Aqua Foundation 123
    4. NARS Matte Velvet Lip Pencil “Golshan”
    5. What’s Your Type Black Mascara

  • Teach for the Philippines

    “To the extent possible,” says Patricia Feria, “please feature more of the organization and less of me.” She’s not elusive, exactly, but she would prefer the focus to be on the good work. And Teach For The Philippines (TFP), the ambitious non-profit geared towards putting the most promising young people in public school classrooms for two years, does good work.

    These ‘leaders’ or ‘teacher fellows’ give Filipino children a relevant and inclusive education. They diversify the field of public school instruction, helping students engage beyond their familiar environment. A result is a transformative experience not just for the students and school communities, but for the teacher fellows, who go on to be education equity advocates in their own right. To date, more than a hundred teacher fellows have been recruited. Eager to share their knowledge, these teacher fellows, as well as the organization itself, are helping to transform the Philippine education landscape.
  • Behind the Organization

    As much as she would like TFP to take center stage, an organization is only as good as its people. After working in Finance abroad, Patricia joined the Senior Leadership Team in 2012 to launch the program’s admissions. She took on a number of roles before becoming the Chief Strategic Resources Officer, a position that has her working with a myriad of people and stakeholders. She manages resources, handling TFP’s needs to run efficiently and grow effectively.

    What inspires and empowers her are all the stories she feels privileged to encounter on the job. “Stories from some of the most successful, most determined, and most inspiring people I’ve met,” she says. Whether from the students or the fellows, the principals or administrators, even the old or new members of the TFP team, she is privy to a wealth of experiences that truly move her. “[They] will make you cry, or laugh, and sometimes do both at the same time!”

    Passion and Precision

    She has a no-nonsense approach to what she does, tackling her everyday tasks with equal parts passion and precision. “I’ve learned over the years that who we are is a sum-product of all the decisions we’ve made in our lives, consciously or subconsciously,” she explains, “and of the people we’ve allowed in or shut out.” She was abroad ten years, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and then going on to work in New York and Connecticut. Her own experience living and
    working with individuals of many different backgrounds and value systems enable her to contribute to TFP. Her best practice, as well as solid advice for younger professionals, is to be able to help your boss achieve his goals. Push, she says, and “constantly pull up your juniors with you. That way, when your boss does succeed, he or she takes you with him or her, and you take those who work for you along too.”

    Patricia gives her parents a lot of credit for her achievements. “My parents raised me to believe that my education was something no one could ever take away,” she says. She was told to “go find what you most care about.” She didn’t have to look far. “To me, education was more than just a gift, it is a right.” TFP, she adds, stands on the belief that all Filipino children deserve excellent education. The “dream of giving back” is something she’s actively steered her life towards.

    Purpose Eclipses Stereotypes

    She has never felt that being a woman has ever hindered or helped her, only that she was brought up “to be kind, to always give it our all, to strive for continuous improvement, and to pay it forward.” She believes in doing whatever makes you come alive everyday. “As long as I remembered to follow these,” she says, “whether in the Philippines or abroad, as a man or woman, it never really mattered.” What’s important is fulfilling your purpose. “There will always be things outside of my control, but I can control how I choose to feel and act in response.” And ten times out of ten? “It is better to choose to be kind.”
  • Fears of dullness, aging, and sun damage have prompted us to overcompensate with beauty products and become victim to marketing schemes. The ingredients we put on our skin are just as important as those that we eat. Feed your skin with naturally sourced antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins and nutrients for restoration. These wholesome products will cleanse and revitalize you from head to toe.
  • Just because the sky is looking gloomy and grey, doesn’t mean your skin has to. Stay golden with an illuminating eye palette of radiant neutral hues. A brightening concealer will keep you looking awake and youthful. Add a shimmery bronzer to the cheekbones and brow bones for dimension and make your lips pop with a high shine lip-gloss. A natural tanned complexion can be achieved with organic self-tanning products that protect and nourish your skin. Cheer up; your summer glow is here to stay.
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    3. Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights - Baked Stardust 4. Smashbox Lip Gloss
    5. Happy Skin Get Cheeky With Me Beauty in Bloom 2-in-1 Blush 6. Sheen Supreme Lipstick - Behave Yourself 7. Yadah Silkyfit Concealer BB Power Brightening 8. Smashbox Full Exposure Pallete

  • We can’t control the weather, but we can keep our makeup in tiptop shape by using beauty products with increased hydration and staying power. An efficient makeup sponge will make sure your makeup blends into your skin instead of just sitting on top. Instead of using powder blushes and eye shadows, which tend to streak when they get wet, try longer staying cream shadows and blushes. Tinted moisturizers and primers with a matte finish are smart foundation alternatives that prevent shine. And, of course, avoid the black tears and raccoon eyes with waterproof mascara. Keep your look natural and light this rainy season, and don’t forget to pamper yourself with a reinvigorating bubble bath every now and then.
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    Pro Longwear Paint Pot Let Me Pop 4. Studio Makeup Waterproof Mascara 5. Happy Skin Shut Up & Kiss Me Moisturizing Lippie
    Happy Skin Eye Need A Miracle 7. Art Deco Cream Rouge for Cheeks & Lips 8. Studio Makeup Smooth Touch Tinted Moisturizer
    Happy Skin Insta Beauty Blur Cream Primer Foundation
    Philosophy Raspberry Glazed Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath
    11. Prep and Prime

  • Boxy silhouettes and clean lines embody this modern and minimalist runway look. Incorporate this look into your wardrobe with a pair of sophisticated culotte trousers, co-ordinate sets in solid hues and a textured bucket bag.
  • Monochrome appears on the runway season after season. It is classic, timeless, and creates an instantly polished and chic look. The coat belt tied around the waist gives shape and movement to this style, subtly highlighting the feminine figure.
  • The Family That Makes It A Home

    First things first, Mika’s home wouldn’t be complete without the people she loves and cherishes the most. Mika loves being married to her husband, Chucho Martinez. ‘Being a wife is awesome. You never have to worry about being alone. You always have a friend and a supporter all the time!” Mika is also a mother to two beautiful children, 7-year-old Tyler and 11-year-old Noelle. This home has brought Mika’s family 7 years of wonderful memories, beginning with the birth of her youngest, Tyler, just 2 months
  • after moving in. Now, the kids look forward to breakfast with Mom and “family movie nights” where they have dinner in bed. “As a mom, the happiness, the fulfillment I can’t explain. They are my inspiration.”

    Perks of the Job

    Besides being a wife and mom, one of Mika’s numerous day jobs includes being SSI’s VIP Services Manager. Mika’s closet reveals that being in a work environment surrounded by beautiful fashion everyday has certainly had an influence on her. As a case in point, her irresistible leather lace-up Tod's, shimmering Jimmy Choo wedges, and chic matte gold Giuseppe Zanotti heels. “I'm definitely a bag and shoe person,” Mika confessed, “My favorite Saint Laurent bag and this unique triangle shaped Givenchy wristlet are definitely unique and great finds from SSI.” Her Swarovski filled blush clutch was an equally exciting purchase for her; the stunning piece caught her attention at the store’s Christmas sale last year. She added a beautiful beige Zara scarf to her collection when she felt chilly inside the stores. “How could I resist shopping?” she commented. Mika doesn’t think twice when she finds the perfect pair of shades for her frame; brands like Ferragamo and Charriol never let her down. Another favorite accessory is her Hermes clic clac.. “[It] goes with everything and I usually wear it next to my watch piled on with everything else.” Mika’s Gucci wallet is an extra special piece in her closet. “I got my initials stamped when we had the Gucci artisans fly in over the holidays! It was an amazing experience.” There aren’t a lot of people who can say that! This is obviously a job that has a lot of perks.
  • Mika’s very first purchase as an SSI employee is her most favorite bag; a deer skin Bottega Veneta hobo. She bought it within her first month as an employee. “I went totally crazy when I saw it and couldn’t sleep. That was the start of my salary pretty much going back into the company!” she jokes, adding “it was definitely a struggle staying disciplined especially on the first 3 months… I think I’m a little bit better now. Just a little bit.” Her winsome candor is both charming and amusing. I’m sure most of us would find ourselves experiencing the same temptation in a work environment like that.
  • Bits and Pieces

    It is often the meticulous details that make a tremendous difference to the feel of a home. A candle collection of cozy fragrances is a distinguishing feature of Mika’s humble abode. “Lighting up candles don’t only make the house feel and look cozier, but it makes every area smell clean and fresh all the time,” says Mika. She knows all the tricks to keeping a busy home looking and feeling pristine. “A wick cutter is also a must because it removes that smoky scent when you light it up again... It also keeps the candle clean,” she adds. Mika even uses a candlesnuffer to kill the flame like a true lady. Mika loves statements like her personalized cheese board and her M-tray, features that give her home a unique flare. And who isn’t fascinated with the French Parisian lifestyle and charm? Mika enjoys light reads like, “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are,” which make great accent pieces for the home after the first read. Mika’s home is filled not with plain material comforts, but a collection of special stories and memories attached to every element for Mika and her beautiful family to enjoy.
  • As if work-life balance isn’t hard enough, imagine you’re a super model, and a football player, and a local celebrity, and a dad. Brazilian-Japanese stunner Hideo Muraoka is all these and more.
  • At 27, he has been the face (and body!) of several advertising campaigns both locally and abroad. He regularly appears in magazine editorials and covers, as well as local television variety shows and industry events. He also plays football professionally with Team Soccerroo. And if that isn’t impressive enough, he’s also a hands-on papa to an adorable 5-year-old named Danda. Super model and super dad, Hideo shows us how it’s done.

    A model’s life is anything but routine, with shoots and gigs interfering with any kind of regularity. Simply put, there is no typical day for Hideo. This erratic schedule proved to be especially difficult upon his arrival in the Philippines 5 years ago. He and fellow top model wife, Fatima, had to bring 5-month-old Danda to their respective shoots. Today, they use their career’s lack of regular office hours to their advantage with proper organization and planning, allowing Hideo to spend quality time with Danda everyday.
    In Hideo’s words, “Being a dad is great, especially if you have time and energy to spend with your kids”.

    The fulfillment of fatherhood comes from being able to shape a human being. Hideo recognizes that every person has limitless potential and that being a father means guiding his daughter’s self-discovery and bringing out her best possible self. He understands his responsibility in the formation of Danda’s character and wants to ensure that values like courage, compassion, and discipline are instilled in her. This is his main priority. “I make sure she learns the value by practicing it so it becomes a habit. I make sure that it becomes a part of her.” Fatherhood is not limited to instructing Danda; Hideo understands that it’s about his own continuous learning as well. He admits that he is constantly working on improving himself and makes it a point to practice the same values he teaches Danda. “Kids do as they see and not as they hear, so I have to set a higher standard for myself and be a good example [to Danda]”,
  • 1. M&S Woodspice Shower Gel 2. M&S Cufflinks 3. M&S Woodspice After Shave 4. M&S Watch 5. Brooks Brothers Flamingo Flask 6. M&S Card Holder 7. Brooks Brothers Pink Stripe Bow Tie 8. Reiss Polka Socks
    Hideo explains. He does this in an environment of love and support, making sure to boost Danda’s self-esteem and confidence, which, according to Hideo, is the best gift that parents can give to their children.

    “Danda is whatever she decides to be”, Hideo declares. With a role model father like Hideo, it’s impossible to disagree.
  • “Life is an adventure. Seize the opportunity and find your passion.” –Vince Camuto
    For every fashion-challenged princess, there is a Prince Charming not so far behind. For the sake of 3.5 billion women around the world, that man used to be Vince Camuto, the moniker who once made fine quality accessories aspirational, approachable, and affordable. High on his throne in his kingdom called Nine West, Camuto broke the mystery of the glass slipper, and made every woman’s pursuit of the most fantastical pair of shoes a bit more of a reality.

    “I’m passionate about creating a product that women really want, infusing great style, comfort, and unparalleled value for every stage of her life,” Camuto once famously quoted. Born on the 4th of June in 1936 New York from Sicilian artisan immigrants, Camuto was no stranger to the highs and lows of
    metropolitan life, just as well as the grit and the glamour that intersected it. At age 18, he became a shoe repairman in a New York’s I. Miller Department Store, and managed, in 1960, to start shaping the ladies’ footwear industry, at the helm of the Sadbury Shoe Company of Maine. Camuto’s walk through life was never without a few elevations each time.

    Before the swinging decade ended, Camuto with his business partner, Jerome Jack Fisher, whom he serendipitously met on a business trip to Brazil, founded Nine West, so named for its founding location in Manhattan’s bustling #9 West 57th Street. With Camuto as the creative heart and Fisher as the business mind, the duo crafted the formidable fable in the accessory industry, with the magic spell of highend aesthetics at reachable price points. “It’s never about one person. It’s the teams you
    put in place.
  • Without the right people, you’re nowhere,” Camuto once spoke of the collaborations that came and went through his workshop. Vivienne Westwood, Thakoon, Sophia Kokosalaki, and even performance footwear giant New Balance all crafted limited edition capsule collections with the Nine West brand under his watch, proving that in the thin-heeled world of footwear fashion, it is creative like-mindedness that can make it every bit as stacked and stable.

    After selling off his share in the Nine West Group before the turn of the millennium, then valued at a lofty $900 million, Camuto went on to become the head of his own Camuto Group, the company that became instrumental in bringing the tenets of affordable luxury footwear even closer to the masses. Together with his wife, Louise, a former Swede beauty queen and mother to their five children, Camuto provided design, marketing, and consultancy work for luxury brands all opting to get a slice of the emerging market.

    He also launched his own footwear label in 2005 under his namesake, alongside other specialty lines such as VC Signature Vince Camuto, and Louise et Cie, and just a year after, locked horns with another iconic accessory royalty, Tory Burch, in crafting the quintessential Reva ballet flats. It was also during these dynamic times that Camuto acquired licenses for Max Azria’s BCBG brand, and just as well became instrumental in launching high-end denim label Lucky Brand’s debuting line of totes. To date, the Camuto Group umbrella is now worth
    billions of dollars, producing over 20 million pairs of shoes annually, and is present in 5,400 department and independent footwear retailers internationally.

    Yet, perhaps Camuto’s most lasting legacy is making a lady’s dream come true, in this case, that of singer Jessica Simpson’s. Nursing a failed marriage and a waning singing career, Simpson, in 2006, opted to create her own line of mid-market accessories and turned to the man’s amazing retail and design wizardry. With Vince Camuto at her side, the unlikely fashion duo developed a fashion line that was estimated at $1 billion, the first ever celebrity owned clothing line in history to reach the mark. Indeed, something akin to a happily ever after.

    But, their magical partnership came to a bittersweet end, when in January 21 of this year Vince Camuto succumbed to cancer at age 78. “Thank you, Vince, for the humble power that has taken me everywhere. You are my mentor, my family, the creator of all my dreams. I will forever walk in your shoes…you made them,” Simpson posted on her Instagram account on that tragic day.

    Leaving a widowed Louise, an orphaned brood of five, and a grieving fashion industry and friends, the legacy of Vince Camuto still remains very much alive today, a world where women of different walks of life can still opt to tread with a fashionable pair of heels. And thus is how he will be judged, walking a mile in his shoes.