How old should you be to start your own business?
Not easily put down by challenges and naysayers, multi-hyphenate Monica Saranya is taking charge of her life–pursuing acting, hustling at her sales job, while running a freelance makeup service business.
Hi Monica, you shared that diversity is something you relate to on a daily basis. What is diversity to you?
Diversity is in the choices I make every day; the diverse group of people I interact with on a daily basis, the cultural barriers I break, the many hats I wear on any given day performing different tasks with different industries, and down to the portrayal of me when I’m in conversation with someone from a varied background. It’s about embracing and exhibiting acceptance, and that’s something I’ve grown to love with increased exposure to coexist with people from different countries, languages and cultures on a daily basis at and outside of work.
Given we are more mature, more exposed and more WOKE now, we’ve truly learned the art of appreciating and embracing diversity like never before, and this needs to continue in all realms, and not just at work.
What do you love about being 26?
It’s exciting to be in the thick of things. When I was an undergrad, I never thought I would diversify my strengths and run side hustles while maintaining a full-time job. But putting aside the “you can’t do this” or “you need to choose”, I’m glad that I’m managing my full-time job and two businesses, as well as pursuing my hobbies and having a social life!
One of my biggest goals in life was to break the conventional thinking that a woman cannot manage work, life, and family successfully at the same time and that one of the aspects needs to be sacrificed or done half-heartedly to maintain sanity. I’m on it, let me tell you.
Whether you’re 16, 26 or–I look forward to it–36, you’ll always be a work-in-progress and while that’s scary, you should enjoy the process and the opportunities presented to grow. It’s good to set targets and celebrate the wins; personally, I’m setting a goal of sponsoring at least two underprivileged kids’ education before I turn 30. This is something personal and close to my heart and I’m working on it to make it a reality.
What is your personal style?
I love dressing up and I’d wear anything as long as it brings out some of my most flattering features – my collarbones are very beautiful, my neck I love, some chest is always good when you’re not at work, and I have legs for days. I have a very cheery personality and I love bringing that out in clothes as well. I’d pick anything with a pop of colour and frill details–they reflect happiness in an outfit to me!
Being a freelance make-up artist yourself, what are some tips you could share?
- On makeup: Be versatile in your face style as you would with your outfits. I’m someone who enjoys stepping out of my house with nothing but mascara on, as much as I love having a full face with diva lashes and so much contour on. Explore different styles of makeup to be playful and to switch it up for fun.
- On skincare: Be religious in everything that needs to get done; do that 10-step routine if you need to, drink enough water, never skimp on sleep or a healthy diet, exercise 4-5 times a week if you can. All these make your skin glow more than that $90 night serum you just picked up.
What shaped your go-getter personality?
We are all defined by our experiences and being jobless changed me for the better. I remember when I was jobless for eight months, my self-esteem took a hit, my bank balance reflected my worth…it was rock bottom for me. I knew then I never wanted to experience that ever again. Since then, I’ve been pursuing marketing and sales, as well as carving an acting career for myself.
The two roles are completely different, yet so similar. At my sales role, I market and sell a brand, and as an artist, I sell my craft. That’s where the similarities end. The interaction with people in both industries are so different; honesty makes me the best salesperson in the room, and yet it’s also the ability to lie that makes the best actress in the room. Switching between my corporate role and acting roles makes each day different and exciting, and I absolutely love it.
Do you have to be an extrovert to thrive in sales and acting?
I’m an extrovert and I would say my high levels of energy helps me in both sales and acting.
I’ve come across several personalities in the last decade who have proved to be extremely good at what they do in roles that are assumed to be most suited for extroverts. But I also see an introverted colleague of mine who kills at sales every single week. I don’t know how you do it, Siti! It is also the introverted actors who bring their A-game at every scene and leave the rest of us shocked and impressed at the same time with their performance.
It’s all about breaking stereotypes, one at a time.
If you could give one sentence to encourage other women in their 20s who are still exploring their career or passion, what would you say?
Careers are smart moves to find purpose and make contributions to the world. Yes, it pays the bills and help you achieve other goals. But find that passion for yourself too. You owe it to yourself to find something you love and enjoy that also helps you take your mind off the stresses in life, even if it’s only temporary.
If possible, find career opportunities that support your passion. If not, find people who support you in your self-development and passion projects outside of work. I’ve always been very transparent with my educators and employees of my multi-role lifestyle and I’ve been appreciated for it, which makes things easier for sure.
Love her style? Rent from Monica’s top picks:
Beat the stereotypes and embraces the differences. Find out more about our celebration about diversity in our community from our interview series: