French Alumni, Brooke Berge has used her Gold Coast beginnings and study at The French Beauty Academy to forge an incredibly successful and vibrant career working in the Middle East for an incredible portfolio of luxury beauty brands. Her qualification, her first step and pathway to the career of her dreams working as a Senior Trainer for the biggest beauty distributor in the Middle East.
If makeup and cosmetics is your calling Brooke is proof that a solid foundation in Beauty Therapy will prove invaluable to launching your career in this space. The likes of BECCA, BVLGARI, DIOR, Dolce & Gabbana Beauty, Estée Lauder, Eve Lom, Gucci Beauty, Guerlain, Hourglass, Jo Malone, Laura Mercier, Marc Jacobs Beauty, NARS, SK-II, Smashbox, TOM FORD, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent are just some brands in her incredible portfolio.
At that time in my life I was very much undecided on what I wanted to pursue as a career. I had graduated Grade 12 in 2003 and had grown up on the Gold Coast my entire life so I decided to travel and live with relatives in Melbourne for a year. I started working in the Myer department store in Cheltenham. I had no idea which department I wanted to work in, but they put me in Manchester. I knew nothing about Manchester, but I plodded along working in the department for several months. I remember always taking the escalators to the lower floor looking at how glamourous and immaculate the ladies looked on the Beauty floor – never imagining I would end up with a career in Beauty. Months passed and it was one rainy afternoon when I was sitting with my then partner’s sister in their loungeroom discussing what university degree I should take up whilst going through the undergraduate handbook. She mentioned to me then, “Do you know what you would be good at, Beauty Therapy, why don’t you study Beauty Therapy”. At that point in time, a light bulb went off and I started looking at and calling the different colleges where I could study Beauty Therapy. I found a campus close to my home back on the Gold Coast, so I travelled from Melbourne back home soon after and then started my journey into Beauty Therapy.
When I was looking at Beauty Therapy colleges back in 2004, there were very few academies on the Gold Coast, but when it came down to it I chose Gold Coast Training Academy (now The French Beauty Academy) as it appeared to have the best Educators in the industry and a fantastic environment to work in. I loved the fact that it was close to the beach and it reminded me of nostalgic times with my father when he lived in Burleigh Heads. Nevertheless, my main motivator for studying at the Academy was the vast experience that the Educators had, location and the huge amount of fantastic reviews that were written about the academy.
The Educators! They were experienced professionals who were still working in the industry. They would give real life examples in each lecture and you could see how passionate they were about the subjects they taught. During my time at the academy, from day one, I felt confident and comfortable that I chose the best. Not only did I learn a lot, but it also gave me the foundations which I base my career on today. I also met great people whom I am still great friends to this day.
The Academy gave me the necessary skills to start my career as a beauty professional. Along the way I realised that I was more passionate about starting a career in Beauty Retail. Whilst completing my diploma at the academy, I started working as a Beauty Consultant for Clinique. I absolutely relished the fact that I was working in one of the major department stores and giving advice to customers about their skin concerns, etc. I felt so proud that I had the knowledge to be able to provide solutions for the customers problems as well as have the opportunity to use my skills and perform consultations, facials and apply makeup.
As a beauty intellectual, I find it imperative to be trained by an individual who has a vast yet diverse background in subjects that they lecture. Academic background and a significant amount of experience is the key to becoming an exceptional teacher. Having said that, the 2 teachers that I will always remember were Vicki and Debby, both in their 50’s, yet exceptional teachers with a huge amount of passion and experience. I will always remember Vicki lecturing on Makeup and Facials and Deborah lecturing on Aromatherapy and Massage. Both were industry professionals who had their own business and both were so passionate about their profession.
There is no singular piece of advice, every piece of information provided was the best advice received. The piece of advice I have used the most frequently was something so basic that Vicki had shared in one of her Facial lectures. She said when using skincare, to know what sequence to use and apply the products, always remember “thinnest to thickest”. It may come to a surprise for a lot of students and therapists, but the number of times I have had to train, teach or lecture on that statement outnumbers everything else. It is astounding to know that most people are unaware that when it comes to your basic skin care routine, what order to use the products. However, having said that, in my experience, when training new brand lines and products, especially Japanese and Korean brands who have up to 8-12 products in their basic skin care routine, this can be difficult to most consumers.
I started working at an early age. My parents had brought me up to be very independent so I started working as soon as I could to earn my pocket money. As soon as I turned 13 I started working in Supermarkets, Cafés and large department stores. I was also already working at Myer prior to studying and also took up work experience within a couple of well-known Hotel and Island Spas; The Marriott and Couran Cove Island Resort. However, after graduating I continued to work for Clinique for a short time and then continued to pursue my career in luxury retail for prestigious cosmetic brands. Working for the likes of Chanel, then moving to Brisbane to manage the Flagship counter for SK-II whilst furthering my studies Makeup. I then had a brief role in Fashion until I made the decision to move overseas to see what opportunities may eventuate. After attending several interviews I was offered a tremendous number of roles in the Middle East. I knew I didn’t want to go back and work on counter so I decided to seek out a role in training, as I knew I would not only learn a lot to boost my career, but could also use my experience and profound knowledge to teach others about what I have learnt over the years. So, I started my career as a Senior Trainer for one of the largest Beauty Distributors in the Middle East, based in their Headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Knowledge and technique. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the knowledge and signature techniques that were taught to me throughout my studies at the academy. Whether it be facial or massage techniques, makeup application or the importance of workplace hygiene for example.
The essential fundamentals of my studies that allowed me to obtain new roles in my career (or I should say the elements that I have used most often) would definitely have been all of the theoretic modules including understanding the basics of safe working practices, workplace hygiene, infection control and more importantly skin biology, anatomy and physiology, cosmetics chemistry, skin science and treatment plans. In addition the facial (basic and advanced) treatments, and body massage practical elements have proven key. After completing my Diploma in Beauty Therapy, I had the essential knowledge and skill set as well as the practical interviewing confidence to be successful during the interviewing process.
Travel and meeting New People. As a Regional Education Manager for some of the world’s most prestigious and luxurious Spa brands you get to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities. It gives you the opportunity to travel across continents and around the world. It allows you to be trained by the best in the business in their distinct Global Headquarters, as well as work with and meet Company CEO’s and Founders, Global Training Directors, General Managers and Spa Directors from the worlds most prestigious Hotels brands. You get to work and train in 5-star hotels spas for the likes of Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, St. Regis, Six Senses, Burj Al Arab, Shangri-La, Ritz Carlton, COMO Resorts, Banyan Tree, Anantara, Aman, Rosewood, One&Only, Oberoi, Palazzo Versace, etc.
Working as a Regional Education Manager, you need to be flexible. The job it is not only about the travel, yet it does play a big part. Regional Training and Education Managers are responsible for a specific region or continent. Being based in the Middle East, means I am responsible for the Middle East, Northern Africa, India and British Indian Ocean territory. Business Development is also a huge part of the role. This encompasses opening new accounts, cold calling, being a part of Spa Events, new product launches as well as continuous training, follow-up assessments, report writing, etc.
It is so exciting to work in the Beauty Industry, not only are their new techniques and instruments coming into the market to learn about and teach every day, but there are hundreds of new brands and products are being launched all the time. There is always something new to learn and the industry is rapidly evolving each day.
GO FOR IT! The stars are the limit. There are so many pathways you can pursue in this industry, put your mind to it and you can achieve anything!
My goals are primarily to watch my kids grow up whilst being a successful business woman. Women can do anything they want to these days and successfully if they have the determination and motivation to do so.
Scent: Fleur De Rocaille by Caron or Coco Mademoiselle by CHANEL’
Lipstick: Guerlain KISSKISS Lipsticks in a Rose Nude colour, I love to wear anything that is similar to my own lip colour
Book: Rae Morris, Kevyn Aucoin and Bobbi Brown books
Blog: Gina Brooke and Gucci Westman
Best Kept Secret: The Sublime Gold Hair Oil by Miriam Quevedo. A luxurious hair oil that does wonders for your hair. My miracle go-to hair oil to strengthen, repair, restore, smoothe, renew, nourish and protect. Blended with 24-carat Gold and Botanical Oils.
City: Côte d’Azur
Beauty Muse: Charlotte Tilbury and Anastasia Soare
Drink: Limonana (Middle Eastern Frozen Mint Lemonade)
Song: I Hope by Rebecca Ferguson
Quote: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes, then learn how to do it later”. – Richard Branson
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. – Richard Branson
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