Photograph by Aleksandra Modrzejewska
A talented makeup and hair artist, Molly Sheridan has worked in film, TV, advertising and fashion, constantly drawing on her passion for art and history as inspiration to help create her unique make up looks.
Then back in 2016 she launched feminist perfume brand REEK together with her mother, best-selling author Sara Sheridan, to celebrate and memorialise strong, unapologetic women through the power of scent.
We caught up with Molly to talk inspiration, motivation and what it's like to work as a mother-daughter duo...
First off, how did you become a makeup artist?
I became a makeup artist by accident. At the time I had dropped out of school early and I wanted to learn a skill. I always helped my friends with their make up at school and I thought it would be easy. I was wrong, but it is a lot of fun.
What do you draw inspiration from for your work?
Inspiration comes from all over the place. For me it comes from journalism, photography, historical references, street style and exhibitions. Sometimes you go looking for inspiration and other times it just finds you. Recently I was at a gardening centre and I was looking at a stack of glossy terracotta pots, and the next day, without realising it, I was creating a warm orange glossy eye for a client.
What keeps you motivated in your profession?
My peers keep me motivated, with both friendly collaborations and healthy competition. I love watching my friends and fellow creatives do well, but it does give you a kick up the arse if you’ve let things drop. It can be really difficult, especially in the quiet months, to be freelance and to keep motivated. I am so lucky that I have people around me to lean on that get it, and talk openly about the good and bad times. There are a lot of people making out things are going better than they are, but we all do that from time to time!
What’s your favourite job you’ve worked on so far?
Every job has its perks and normally a couple of downsides as well. I love working with clients who like fun, fresh and glossy make up. That’s always a good day. But my all-time favourite is being able to create weird and wonderful looks for test shoots because I get complete artistic freedom.
In 2016 you launched perfume brand REEK in partnership with your mum, how is the brand growing, what sparked the idea behind it and how is working with family?
REEK is about memorialising women through scent, fighting for gender equality and challenging the beauty industry norms. The idea came about originally from my mum, Sara, who is a writer with a real passion for female history. We grew the concept together, launching our first perfume, 'DAMN REBEL BITCHES'. Even though we’re only just under 18 months old as a company, we’ve already added lots of products and causes to our ethos, because there are so many inspiring bitches out there!
We both come from family businesses, which means we’re well versed in working as a team. But of course, there are sometimes fights, both of us being feisty. At the end of the day neither of us could do it without the other’s skills and that’s so important. Working with my mum has really opened my eyes to how much she gets done in a day and that has inspired me to get more done every day too. I think we’re constantly learning from each other, and the brilliant people around us that help with REEK, both women and men.
What’s your favourite scent?
I would say if it’s just a general smell then it would have to be Elnett and fresh bread. Not together, although don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! My day to day perfume is 'Damn Rebel Witches', our second scent from REEK. The mix of the fresh citrus and the muddy twigs and leaves makes me feel content. My partner and I both wear it.
What’s the best beauty advice you’d give every woman?
I’d tell everyone to look after their skin with good products, drink water and wear SPF. Yes, even in the UK. It doesn’t have to be bright and sunny for you to suffer sun damage. Boring I know, but good skin takes you well over half the work towards good makeup. After that it would be to try new products, though don’t try that new statement lipstick or liner with the weird brush you can’t quite figure out before going to a big event with a time limit to get ready. Experiment in your own time and avoid stressful makeup's. If you do it so well the world needs to see, then share in on social media or send to your friends.
What is your greatest achievement and what would you like to achieve next?
For me that spectrum is always moving. As soon as I achieve something and move on it’s hard to see it as your greatest. For me, truly growing my freelance business year after year is a huge achievement. It’s probably not my most glam one, but it’s the one that has been the hardest work. This year I’d love to see REEK make some serious noise and get a bottle of 'Bitches' to Grace Jones. Grace, if you’re reading this, I want you to be a smelly bitch.
Who or what is the love of your life?
I have so many. But I am going to be diplomatic about this and say cheese and shoes. Cheese and shoes are the love of my life.
When are you happiest?
Surrounded by my family and friends is the clichéd answer, but it’s the truth. That and when I am eating cheese or buying shoes. If there is a day I can do all these things, then that’s a truly happy day.
What, if anything, keeps you awake at night?
Flying spiders and that one day, probably sooner than I care to admit, my little brother and sister are going to realise I’m not as cool as they think I am.
What was your plan B?
I love that you believe I had a plan A.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
In my professional life it has to be “preparation is the key to success.”
In my personal life it would be “always ask yourself what advice you’d give your best friend if they were in your shoes.”
What would you tell your 18-year-old self?
Take better care of your teeth Molly, and listen to your mum about men and hair removal.
We think female friendships are something that should be treasured and celebrated.
What quality do all your friends share?
I couldn’t agree more. In my early teenage years, I didn’t appreciate female friends, seeing other women as more of a threat than a comrade. Every year gives me more appreciation for the women in my life, not to knock my male friends who are very important to me, but there is a connection and an understanding between women that is really magical. All my friends are loyal kind of people - fiercely so. I know I could call any of my female best friends and they’d find a way to help me fix a problem, and I would do the same for them time and time again.
Fantasy Girl’s night out. You get to choose six women – dead or alive – to spend the evening with. Who? And where do you go?
I’m upgrading this fantasy to a weekend away. Because I strongly believe if you’re dreaming, dream big. So, I am going to start off with a long weekend in Marrakesh, complete with white-walled rooftop terrace, an in-house chef and fleet of drivers at our beck and call. I get to have my fantasy girls’ night out a lot, because my female friends are that great; let’s just pretend they will all be there as well. Then I’d add onto my already fabulous list; Grace Jones, Franceska Mann, Madame Chang, Eve Lom, Pat McGrath and Slick Woods. I don’t know how well these women would get along, but my fabulous friends would defuse the situation.
Book you wish you’d written?
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.
Film you’d like to see the sequel to?
“Welcome to Me”. Don’t know what it is? Watch it.
Song that always gets you dancing?
Blind – Hercules and the Love Affair
Wherever I decide it’s going to be this month.
Over or under dressed?
Underdressed, every time!
Owl or Lark?
Night in and night out?
Depends who with… night in probably though.
Barefaced or full face of makeup?
Word you over use?
True crime podcasts.
Last time you laughed out loud?
When you thought I had a plan A…
Desert island beauty product (we’ll give you sunscreen)?
Hair oil (thank you for giving me sunscreen, may I have SPF 50 please?)
FUCK I DON’T KNOW!
New year’s resolution?
Find life motto.
Follow Molly behind the scenes on Instagram @mjsheridanmua!