By Aida Toro
Many know Strahle as the award-winning international professional Makeup Artist based out of Portland, Oregon. What many don’t know is that she’s been fortunate enough to be a part of startup businesses in various passions while making it big in the makeup industry.
“I am quite blessed to have taken the road less traveled and am able to utilize my experiences and incorporate them in my life today,” said Strahle. “I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but I believe my makeup career chose me rather than the other way around.”
Strahle grew up in the Portland, Oregon and entered the world of makeup as a teenager since her mother managed the Lancôme beauty counter in Downtown Portland. Strahle’s mother was a business manager, developed beauty advisors, and did bridal and event makeup.
“I’m so thankful for my mom for getting me in the industry all those years ago,” she said. “I have already surpassed her career...but so many times I wished I can hire her to work with me on my Strahle Squad team.”
Strahle stated her mother resulted in giving up her makeup career after breaking her back in a snow skiing accident as the long hours of standing and bending were too complicated for her body. Although her mother left Lancome, Strahle continued her work with the company.
“Lancôme has stayed a thread of my career as it’s where I started,” said Strahle. “I have done quite a few things for the brand over the years including fragrance modeling, freelance makeup artistry, Beauty Advisor, Counter Manager, and Business Manager.”
She didn’t realize she could have a career in the makeup industry even though she was doing artistic work. After graduating from high school and still working at Lancôme, Strahle attended St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a full ride basketball scholarship. She earned the scholarship due to her commitment to the sport when she was in high school since the high school she attended had won both State and National Championship consecutive titles.
“I like to say I was an athlete in my past life,” said Strahle.
At St. Joseph’s University, Strahle earned her Bachelor’s degree in Food Marketing and Minor in Japanese since she enjoyed the creative aspect of the business. With that being stated, she moved to Los Angeles, California to assist her brother in launching a video game business called Messiah Entertainment.
“We all grew up playing video games and he wanted help with my experience with marketing and sales,” she said. “My job has taken me all over the world and it’s been such a blessing to be able to work outside of my market and learn from others.”
In Los Angeles, Strahle also worked as a commercial and runway model in television and print. After leaving Los Angeles, Strahle stopped working for Lancôme when she moved to Tokyo, Japan to teach the art of makeup at a beauty school called Takayama Biyou Senmo Gakkou. She also continued modeling while living in Tokyo.
“It was interesting working with Japanese students,” said Strahle. “I really learned the cultural differences and variances of cultural beauty.”
“After playing at such a high level of the game, it’s only fun when you play with or against people who understand the sport at a similar level,” she stated. “ I don’t play pickup anymore either as I’ve had surgery and various injuries over the years as well, so I just shoot around.”
Strahle was also a part of two breweries that were in a start-up phase.
“I’ve been a part of a few startup breweries over the years but I’m happy that beer continues to be just a hobby,” she stated.
Strahle’s journey has been an interesting one, especially since she was once an athlete and collaborator for two businesses outside of the makeup industry. It’s been over 25 years that she’s been working as a makeup artist, however, is approaching her sixth year of being self-employed and being a business owner.
“I think the biggest challenge is simply being a business owner and creating work-life balance,” she said. “So many people look at being a business owner as ‘so fun’ and giving you freedom with your schedule, but you end up working constantly not just applying makeup and styling but doing paperwork, invoicing, client management, and all of the business responsibilities.”
The majority of Strahle’s work is focused on fashion and commercial jobs. In the fashion realm, she would have to say that the highlights were being the Lead Makeup Artist for Fashionxt, which is the #1 ranked fashion show outside of New York Fashion Week (NYFW) for the last five years. The event is a week-long fashion show in Portland which focuses on some of the best designers nationwide and internationally.
“I also got the opportunity to assist other Makeup Artists in fashion shows all around the world including Oscar De La Renta in Los Angeles, Toronto Fashion Week, and London Fashion Week,” said Strahle. “Specifically, in one of the shows I worked on during London Fashion Week, we incorporated bald caps into the tribal makeup look and it was covered by Vogue which was so fun to mix special fx makeup techniques with beauty makeup.”
Strahle mentioned the pace backstage is pretty rapid as it takes an entire team working well together to get the looks done on time. Often times, three to four artists can be working on one model simultaneously, she mentioned.
“I also had a fashion editorial I worked on this year in Montreal with a 1990’s girl crew skater vibe that will get published in Vogue Italia as well,” she said.
As for the work she’s done commercially, Strahle has been working with clients she’s dreamed of working with, such as Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Mountain Hardwear, Oprah, Vitamin Water, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), and many more.
“Nike has been a client of mine for a handful of years and I get the opportunity to work with professional athletes, models, and high-level executives,” she stated. “I love being able to blend the world’s of my creative career and my past as an athlete.”
KFC was an entertaining job for Strahle because she had to create hairpieces with a wig and goatee for the individual playing Colonel Sanders since the person hired to play the part was bald.
Due to her hard work and dedication, Strahle won multiple awards for Makeup Artistry including RAW Makeup Artist of the year after producing her own fashion show designing hair, nails, makeup and wardrobe and was also a two-time winner of the Best Makeup Artist of the Portland Fashion and Style Awards. Although she’ll continue to work hard, Strahle plans in focusing on self-care and her physical health this year.
“I’m a very work oriented person and it’s a challenge for me to dial back,” she mentioned. “I have been doing quite a bit of massage therapy, chiropractic care, Korean spas, hot springs and such, in addition to a lot of hiking and various workouts at the gym. It’s important to me to keep healthy so I can keep up with my hectic schedule with less body pain.”
Aside from taking care of herself, she will be taking a few makeup master classes where she will focus on learning more about photography and lighting in order to completely understand the dynamics of set work. Last year, Strahle completed Makeup Mastered, a year-long career accelerator program and participated in various advanced makeup education opportunities including Erica Car’s “I’m going to Class”.
“I love being a stylist and enjoy the dynamic of working with various creative people,” she said. “Even though I’ve been in the industry for a long time I am still hungry and plan to continue to work on my skills.”