Alphie Sadsad is a master of illusion. With just a few strokes the National Artistry Lead for SEPHORA Australia can make any face more beautiful. Makeup isn’t just a lifelong interest, it’s a craft he’s worked to perfect since he helped his high school classmates with their lippie and hair.
“Coming from a Filipino background, I learned a lot about the importance of a good appearance from my mother. She’s not only an inspiration herself, she really took care of me when I developed acne in my teens”, he adds.
Sadsad enrolled in a Bachelor of Design degree at the University of Western Sydney when he left school. “I thought the course would suit my creative side because it involved graphic design and visual communications and for the first year I liked it. But as time went on, I decided to defer. Crunch time came when my parents came home and I was watching TV in the middle of the day. They asked me to find something I really wanted to do. I have always loved photography and I had dabbled in makeup, so I decided to do a short course at the Sydney College of Makeup Art”.
After attending the college part-time for six months, one of Sadsad’s mentors advised him to sign up for a full-time course for a year. “My parents agreed as long as I paid my own HECS fees. I still had the same wonderful tutor and she guided me towards makeup retail because it was the best way to develop my skills and build a future career”.
Sadsad quickly found a job with Elizabeth Arden after graduation. “I worked at one of their main counters in Bondi Junction before being promoted to the position of National Makeup Artist. I had only worked for three companies prior to joining SEPHORA at the end of 2017 and I stayed with Arden for seven years. I loved the fact that skincare was very much part of the beauty mix at Elizabeth Arden and my job spec included flying all over the country to support major counters and in-store events”.
The time had come to take a break of sorts and indulge his wanderlust, so Sadsad decided to move to London. “I really wanted to add to my CV. Within a month, I got a job at Selfridges in Oxford Street working on the Giorgio Armani counter. It was an amazing experience being on counter in one of the world’s busiest beauty departments, doing shows and meeting Mr Armani himself. I mastered the abstract smokey eye and red lip and I became truly independent as a person. London attracts different nationalities at different times of the year and many Arabic customers came to the Armani counter. It was great to discover their attitudes and approach to makeup and beauty”.
Sadsad worked in the UK for two years. “When I came back to Australia, one of my friends was working for Bobbi Brown. He called to say – I need your help – and I signed on as a freelancer for a few months. One thing I learned here was the strength of the brand culture. You really feel like you are part of the family. Everyone knows your name throughout the organisation. You aren’t just a number and everyone holds each other in high regard – locally and globally. I stayed with the brand for nine years even though I had initially signed on for a short gig”.
Quickly rising to become National Makeup Artist, Sadsad says: “My role was very diverse from doing PR to heading up shows at Fashion Week. Bobbi Brown literally helped to create the person I am. I really grew in a business, as well as an artistic, sense because I had to manage budgets and ensure that all activities were cost-effective. Part of my job was also to make sure that customers were really being taken care of and I loved the pow-wows with BAs all over the country”.
Becoming a skilled people manager is crucial to building strong teams. “Some people are easy and some are more difficult”, says Sadsad. “My role was to make sure that everyone was aligned with the brand message and that there were no surprises for customers. A strategy that also involved adapting to the location of a given store. Customers who live on the NSW North Coast have different wants and needs to those in the capital city CBDs.
Sadsad was appointed as the brand’s first pro artist in Australia. “Regularly travelling to New York was wonderful and I became more involved in the Asia/Pacific region as a whole. The major takeaway for me was – if you apply yourself you can do just about anything”.
In December last year, one of the most exciting opportunities of Sadsad’s career opened up. “SEPHORA offered me the position of National Artistry Lead and it was the perfect move after working for the same brand for nearly a decade. I loved the idea of working across so many brands – 141 in total. For me and the store assistants, it’s wonderful to be brand agnostic and to see how each brand appeals to different customers. SEPHORA has had such a powerful effect on the cosmetics market and has become such an important part of beauty communities – here and overseas. My job is to help customers see what’s possible and to make their choices easier”.
Sadsad had just returned from Singapore when he spoke to Esprit. “SEPHORA is doing incredible things through social media and in-store design and technology. But personal contact remains very important and my job is to educate store assistants and provide everything they need to do their jobs more effectively. With all the excitement and new developments in the beauty industry, understanding and meeting the wants and needs of customers is one of the most important ingredients of success – now and in the future”.