By Lauren Hermon
For Gemma Vendetta, what goes on the body is just as important as what goes in.
As a professional makeup artist, the young entrepreneur is working to change the face of beauty in South Australia, starting with her new mineral makeup range which is safe for people with autoimmune diseases to use.
The 35-year-old’s venture is inspired by her own story of struggle, but most importantly, strength, which began the morning after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 26.
“I had optic neuritis in my early 20s, lost my peripheral vision as well as the complete feeling under my armpit and across my right breast,” Gemma says.
“What lead to the diagnosis was when I fell at work and ended up having no feeling in my left leg. I went to the Emergency Room and the doctor took one look at me as I was hobbling down the hall and said, ‘I think you have MS’.”
Then began an entirely new lifestyle for Gemma.
“It wasn’t just a psychological change. I became more conscious of what was going in my body, as well as on the body,” Gemma says. “And that’s where the ‘fire’ in me started to develop a mineral makeup brand which would be safe for people just like me, and those living with cancer and even lupus,” she adds.
Gemma was last year accepted into the South Australian Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (SAYES) program – now known as THREESIXTY, where she wrote a business plan and had one year of mentorship and workshops, learning how to develop ideas.
The ‘cut off’ age to be accepted into the program is 35.
“I was 34 at the time and I had the idea for awhile. When it comes to ideas what happens is it’s out into the universe and if it’s not you who snaps it up, it’ll be someone else,” she says.
Just one year later and Gemma has launched her mineral makeup product range.
Some of the products in her range include bronzers, foundations and lipsticks. It’s been a successful few months for Gemma who is already adding to the range with new lipstick shades and a mineral highlighter, soon to be released.
Gemma packages, labels and distributes the products herself. As part of her long-term goals, she hopes to be more involved in the manufacturing.
Now a decade in remission, Gemma has a studio at Port Adelaide called ‘The Studios’. It is a co-working space she shares with event stylists, Poppy and the Wallflowers, and Samaia Skincare which hand makes soap and bath products onsite.
While her long-term goals involve global distribution, for now, Gemma’s happy her products are giving South Australian women living with autoimmune diseases, including those who are pregnant, a ‘safe’ alternative to looking and feeling good.
“I’m living well and I’m proof that, even with an ‘invisible disease’, you can achieve anything you set your mind to,” she says.
Gemma has also set up a crowdfunding page where people can be part of and track her journey.