She’s versatile, she’s passionate, and she keeps it real – Namrata Soni is Bollywood’s leading makeup and hair artist – famous for her signature red carpet looks, to subtle off-the-screen styling and beauty rituals. With twenty years of experience working with Bollywood’s golden names and publications including Vogue, L’Official, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Femina, Namrata Soni is today most sought after for her effortless talent and insights!
A tomboy to her core, Mumbai-based Namrata grew up in boarding schools and strict premises – never anticipating beauty and makeup becoming part of her future. She decided to pursue Economics and Commerce from Jai Hind College in Mumbai, and after graduation, her mother encouraged her to get exploring and sign up for internships. She then landed as an intern under Coleen Khan, one of the most eminent hairstylists of India. Delving deep into the world of beauty and fashion, it was here where today India’s most respected makeup artist decided to embark on her journey.
Namrata soon started interning under plenty of Bollywood stylists and designers to gain exposure and understand the reality of working within the industry. Doing makeup felt natural, shares Namrata. She could experiment with her creativity and saw endless possibilities to create new looks! Driven by her newfound passion, she then flew abroad and studied makeup at the Delamar Academy of Makeup in London, UK. There were gaps between the industries in India and London, she adds. People weren’t as fearless and experimental with makeup, and she knew she wanted to bring something afresh to the table.
Blending her skills and techniques learned at the academy with her Indian sensibilities, Namrata has dynamically changed the course of beauty in the Indian film industry.
Her first movie as a hairstylist was Main Hoon Na under Dilshad Pastakia, but her breakthrough as an independent makeup and hairstylist was Musafir with actress Sameera Reddy. Namrata recalls the crew being an absolute delight to work with, and even today she feels blessed to have such a welcoming beginning to her road ahead.
As an artist, you’re bound to face new challenges, and Namrata’s toughest was Om Shanti Om where she worked with prosthetic makeup for the first time. With Mumbai’s sweltering climate and eighteen hours of shooting, it was a strenuous task for the stylist to create the looks.
Namrata is also credited as one of the pioneers of elevating equality for women in the styling industry. Back in the days, women were expected to stick to hairstyling and couldn’t expand to makeup since that was confined to men. Geared with her team of stylists, she had fought for women’s rights in the industry for over a decade! “We took matters to court and spent hours waiting for us to be acknowledged. We faced backlash and were told it was a futile fight but we kept at it,” reveals the artist. She accredits her directors and co-stars for their support all those years.
Where she’s enjoyed working with all her co-stars, she’s most proud of having met Sonam Kapoor. Someone who has changed the face of fashion in the industry, being part of her journey has been remarkable for the stylist. She’s also styled Serena Williams and Steffi Gran and is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, IIFA Awards, Elle and Vogue. Being a woman in the industry is an achievement too for her since she’s broken the strict barriers of her profession and proudly leads her own business today.
Tracing back her career, she adores her profession. She loves the fact that she’s able to change the way actors perceive themselves and make them feel good. She’s always thankful for the support of the actors, producers, directors, and the people in the industry that has been her helping hand whenever she needed them to be. However, the long working hours can be a hassle. Everybody tends to think it’s a glamorous job, but it’s not, she clarifies. You need to sacrifice a lot, including your social life. You need to put in long hours, enhance your skills, and educate yourself every day. Most days you may also feel the burden of not prioritizing your health which the stylist herself advises against.
For Namrata, somebody who’s hardworking, loyal, and never gives up is her ideal candidate. She’s not wary about someone’s formal education, what matters most to her is if they’d be able to pour their mind, body, and soul into their work.
“Continue educating yourself and work on your skills,” advises the professional. Stay creative and focused. Part of leading such a busy life is creating boundaries. Remember to leave your professional life outside the moment you enter your home. Remember to always share with your juniors the lessons you’ve learnt, it’s no use being an overflowing cup. At last, find comfort in the fact that there is no you. “Someone can copy the best tips and tricks from you but they will never be you and that’s your power,” adds Namrata.
Namrata also mentions the perils of social media on young aspirants. She’s grown in an era where people understood the value of patience and hard work, but the generation today desires the same level of success their seniors have, within months. They fail to see the years preceding their success. She suggests assisting for two and more years to understand the industry’s requirements for this job.
Her success motto is a Sanskrit mantra translating to – “Almighty allow me to embody you and take you into my soul and bestow me with the best version of who I can be”. Being a good human being is just as important to her. Her team regularly visits Camp Karma to teach acid attack victims how to do their makeup, often provides financial aid to students in her academy that can’t afford a living, and lead a sustainable lifestyle to give back to the planet as much as possible.
Through the pandemic, Namrata has been giving back to the less fortunate by organizing charities with the Delamar Academy of Makeup, makeup masterclasses, and pop-ups at Namrata Soni Makeup Academy. The artist also launched her brand – Simply Nam.
Launched in December 2020, Simply Nam (https://www.simplynam.com/) is an innovative sustainable beauty brand introduced with the Indian woman, climate and lifestyle in mind. It stemmed from Namrata’s concern with used cotton pads and face wipes being thrown away to waste. “I’ve always wanted to start something eco-friendly and sustainable and give back to the world that has been giving me throughout my journey. Hence happened Simply Nam!” she shares. Simply Nam is the stylist’s venture into bringing sustainability to her and others’ beauty regimens. The brand has introduced the organic, microfiber skincare cloth that lasts for five years, making it an eco-friendly choice. Officially available only in India, Simply Nam’s products are made in Korea and Sweden!
A celebrity artist, philanthropist, and now brand mother, Namrata is the happiest when she gets to make people feel and look beautiful. We congratulate her on her 20th year in the industry and wish her all the best for future endeavours!