Interview: Hana Sutherland, make-up artist

'IF ANYONE from my old school reads this they'll laugh," smiles Hana Sutherland. A self-confessed tomboy at heart, the make-up artist – who has worked with KT Tunstall, Patrick Stewart and Tamara Mellon – laughs out loud as she paints a picture of her days at the Capital's George Heriot's.

Playing football at lunchtimes with boys, usually in goal, she was frequently sent to the school matron, having ripped her pinafore in the process.

Yet having recently found herself leading the UK expansion of a fast-growing Australian cosmetics brand, it seems those days are firmly behind her.

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"When I was younger, I was always the one in jeans and trainers with my hair scraped back in a ponytail," the 28-year-old says. "I didn't really wear any make-up – I just wasn't interested."

Dressed immaculately in black, her long dark hair in tip-top condition and, of course, her make-up subtle and sophisticated – Hana is everything you would expect of someone who spends her life trying to make other people look and feel good about themselves.

"The tomboy's still in me, though," she laughs. "I've never been very precious and I suspect that will never change. I am happy to be a girl now, though, and take full advantage of the opportunity to wear make-up and enjoy fashion. It's a girl's right."

It has been an exciting – if not 'I actually chat about make-up with my dad' gruelling – journey for Hana since she dropped out of George Heriot's at 15. Her parents watched with despair as their "wild child" daughter drifted into her late teens, desperately hoping she would find her calling in life.

There is no doubt she has, having not only worked hard to develop a strong client base in London as a make-up artist over the last six years, but to get her foot firmly in the door of Inika, one of the world's most promising make-up brands – she recently became general manager of its UK operations.

On the horizons are appearances on the QVC shopping channel to further promote the organic, vegan and cruelty-free range, as well as developing its availability on high streets across the UK.

"Never in a million years did I think I'd be doing this," she says. "But I love it all."

She grew up in Cramond, South Queensferry and Balerno with her two sisters and parents. Her father is a financial adviser, while her mother is in property. "When I was growing up, she loved to buy a house, do it up and sell it," Hana laughs. "It was a bit like living in a showhouse all the time. I think that being around business-minded people, and creativity, has had an impact on me, though."

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So how did football-loving tomboy Hana go on to style some of the world's biggest stars and find herself at the helm of a beauty phenomenon?

"It all started in Boots on Princes Street when I got talking to a guy who worked on the Benefit beauty counter," she explains. "I was always quite artistic and grew to really like the products available. One day he told me he was leaving the post and thought I should go for it. I did, got it and ended up as manager aged about 19. From there I went to Harvey Nichols for a while. I soon realised, though, that it was the artistic side of what I was doing that I really wanted to pursue, not just retail sales. So, aged 21, I went to London."

She trained at Greasepaint School of Make-Up in Ealing, getting a grounding in all things beauty, from wig weaving to mascara application, going on to find as many professional jobs in the industry as possible.

She worked on TV sets, including Trial and Retribution – and on music videos with future fashion guru Gok Wan. Hana insists it was not until she worked with the legendary actor Patrick Stewart that her father finally began to appreciate what it was she did.

"My dad never really 'got' make-up," she says. "Although he and my mum have always been supportive, he kept saying I could always come home if I wanted. I wouldn't be a failure if I did.

"Then I did Patrick Stewart's make-up one day for a TV interview and when I told my dad, that was the moment he seemed to understand the appeal of the job. We're both Star Trek fans. Now, through my role with Inika, we're able to sit down and talk about profitability in make-up sales too – we actually have conversations about make-up, which is great."

In 2007, Hana met Inika's founders – Australian mothers Miranda Bond and Jenni Williams – at a London cosmetics show.

The idea behind Inika stemmed from Miranda being told she was infertile. As she researched possible causes, she tried to improve her health by stripping all chemicals from her life, from cleaning products to make-up. In three months she became pregnant and the idea of a completely organic make-up brand was born.

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The Inika ethos appealed to Hana and soon she was using its products on clients and models.

Their positive reaction led Hana to take up the post of UK manager. "We didn't even have an office when I started," she laughs. "Back then, the idea of organic, natural cosmetics was laughed at by many people. But I always said attitudes would change and they have. We're no longer an unknown brand and the idea of natural make-up is greatly appealing."

Still freelancing when possible, the future looks face-blush rosy for the tomboy turned make-up artist, turned businesswoman.

"Who knows what is around the corner. I hope that one day I can have all of this, a husband and three kids, and hopefully come back to Edinburgh, too."