FORT FRANCES — This Valentine’s Day is the first year that Community Living Fort Frances District will host a Makeover Event for service users. The event is held in partnership with a young, local entrepreneur who will kick start her new makeup artist business, Milo’s Makeup, by offering free makeovers to the community.
Alex French, 21, officially began Milo’s Makeup last year in November. Her interest in makeup first began as a child when she would sneak into her sister’s room to play with makeup. French and her sister often practiced different makeup looks on each other. Over the years, French continued to hone her skills until, one day, she finally decided to open a business.
Earlier this year, French created a Facebook post about offering free community makeovers. Christal Dolph from Community Living reached out and helped arrange a Valentine’s Day event.
Many beneficiaries at Community Living struggle with mobility due to physical disabilities, said Kim Caldwell, direct support professional (DSP) at the charitable organization. “One of our ladies, her vision isn't very good so she's very nervous about going out,” she said.
“We're just really excited to have Alex come,” Caldwell said. “Because there's not a lot that we can do other than have a hairdresser that comes in, which was really convenient during COVID when we couldn't go anywhere, but just something special and something different out of their daily norm.”
The event is free of cost and reserved for service users from Community Living and has not officially been announced yet. “They get way too excited. And they'll be driving us crazy every day wondering when this is going to happen,” Caldwell said.
Any local services who are interested in partnering with Community Living for future events to support individuals with disabilities in the community are welcome to reach out, Caldwell said.
French looks forward to doing makeovers for all the service users, no matter how long it takes, so that everyone leaves feeling their best.
“I am super excited. I'm a little nervous, of course, but very, very excited to do makeup on different people,” she said.
French will also bring her lighting equipment in case some people are interested in taking photos of their makeup and she added it would be amazing if a local photographer wanted to help run a mini photoshoot.
French didn’t always know she wanted to be a business owner. At first, she studied video game art at Durham College in Oshawa, but quickly realized that it wasn’t her passion.
Her first step into entrepreneurship was on December 5, 2022, when she officially started Milo’s Mutts, a pet grooming business located in Fort Frances that grooms all-size dogs and cats. Later, she opened Milo’s Merch, a merchandise store that prints custom designs on shirts and signs.
Her pet grooming business offers haircuts, nail trims, baths, teeth cleaning and more. As a one-on-one groomer, French says she works directly with the client’s pet with no other pets in the salon, causing less interruptions.
To anyone dreaming about starting their own business one day, French says, “Just go out and do it.”
“You can live your dream if you fight for it and you go for it. I didn't know if my dog grooming business was going to take off, and now I'm very, very busy. And I didn't know if this makeover thing would work — if anybody would want a free makeover — and I've gotten lots of positive feedback,” French said.
“If you're really passionate about something, then there is nothing saying you shouldn't do it,” she said. “I have lots of passions and lots of things that I love to do. I just love working, honestly; I love doing my jobs and everything because it's fun, and it doesn't feel like work.”
Makeup is a way to express oneself, French says. Her go-to look usually involves a bit of pink on the inner corner of her eyes, mascara, and lipgloss.
“I think it's a form of art for sure. And it's on your face so you can show everybody,” she said. “You can make your looks vibrant, or one day you can decide, ‘You know what, I want to have green on my eyelids.’ There are no boundaries. You can just do whatever you want. Halloween is probably the best holiday ever. Because you get to see everybody's makeup skills. And whether it be special effects or just regular makeup.”
In the future, French hopes to hold a free makeover event for seniors. She also hopes to open a storefront for Milo’s Merch and Milo’s Mutts.
Fort Frances Times / Local Journalism Initiative