As makeup and wig technicians, respectively, for Cirque du Soleil’s KÀ, Kelsey Contois-Husch and Meghann Mason don’t just practice the art of beautifying the company’s artists and acrobats—they teach it.
“When you see an artist who’s never picked up a makeup brush before … and you teach them how to hold it, it just kind of lights a fire in you,” says Contois-Husch, who’s been with KÀ for eight years.
Two years ago, Mason and Contois-Husch launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for their Academy of Makeup and Wig Design. Classes and workshops were to encompass everything from airbrushing and wig ventilating to learning how to create the looks of Cirque’s liveliest characters, plus lessons on art and costume design and its history.
That might seem like a lot for the team of two, but Mason and Contois-Husch aren’t the type to cut corners. “If I’m gonna teach you, I want to do it right; I don’t want to half-ass it,” says Mason, who also has been with KÀ for eight years.
The crowdfunding campaign attracted 44 backers and more than $5,000 in donations. Sadly, it ended below the duo’s $25,000 goal, but the support of friends and colleagues opened doors. Monetary contributions flooded in, along with beauty supplies and wig hair to use in their classes. Cirque even let them rent its training facility for their first year of workshops.
By December 2016, help from friends proved to be just what they needed. “We have walls,” Contois-Husch says, sitting next to Mason in their 350-square-foot boutique studio on Spring Mountain and Polaris roads. The space is a comfortable size for everything the pair offers, including workshops on tween makeup application and styling your kid’s hair, as well as classes on how to perfect the smoky eye and how to dress, ventilate and make front-lace wigs. They also offer one-on-one classes and group workshops tailored to students’ makeup and wig interests.
Anyone can apply the techniques Contois-Husch and Mason teach, and they advocate for the hands-on approach. “Some people will spend thousands of dollars to take a wig-making class online, [where] they are just watching videos,” Mason says. “It just blows my mind, because … [when learning how to make wigs], you have to have somebody look at your hands and tell you what you’re doing wrong.”
Contois-Husch and Mason are dedicated to giving their students an in-depth education on their specialties. “I really don’t ever turn questions down because it’s only gonna make them better,” Mason says. “If I see somebody I can help or groom or build their confidence, [I do it because] that is a person I could [eventually] have on my team.”
To find more information on the Academy of Makeup and Wig Design, visit academymwd.com.