We are pleased to announce the re-launch of “Behind the Seams”, as one of our Day 1 content pieces on the Blog! Behind the Seams looks at the stories of Influential Public Figures both locally and internationally in the Creative Industries. Today, we go Behind The Seams with a key Pioneer in the Jamaican (and Caribbean) Beauty Industry, Dawn Petgrave, Principal of D’Marie Institute.
Behind The Seams | Dawn Petgrave, D’Marie Institute
H.P: For those people who may not know who you are, give us a brief introduction
D.P: My name is Dawn Petgrave, but many people know me as “D’Marie”. I wear many hats, I’m the CEO, and Founding, Principal of D’Marie institute. I’m also a licensed Associate Psychologist — so I counsel to people and I’m very involved in Church activities and I’m also a Licensed Minister. What I do depends on the day you catch me and I’m just very excited because God has blessed me with all these abilities and I’m able to use all of them interchangeably.
H:P: D’Marie Institute is a top-ranking business not only in Jamaica but the Caribbean, how did this vision come about to create it?
D.P: The vision for D’Marie Institution came about one morning in my devotion, I had just recently moved back to Jamaica and this was in 2009, and was applying for jobs and just would not get a job, nobody would hire me. In my devotion, I could hear the holy spirit clearly reminding me, of my talents. In my head, I don’t sing, I don’t dance, what is the talent? But it was already clear, I was a trained teacher (that’s what I did in College) and I was a Certified Make-Up Artist. I had already trained with Clinique Cosmetics and Estee Lauder Cosmetics. The idea came about “why don’t you start a school”? And so that’s how D’Marie Institute started in October 2009.
H.P: Did you always want to work in the Beauty Industry?
D.P: Oh No! As a matter of fact, before I got into the Beauty Industry, I like all things nice; I love beauty and I’m very artistic, I love clothes, I love Fashion, and I love putting pieces together but never really thought about the beauty industry until in March 1998. I got hired by a company called Burdines as a floater. They didn’t have a job description for me, but they loved how I interviewed and so they hired me and told me that I would float. So I showed up the following Monday morning and somebody called out from the Clinique department and I went there thinking “the only thing I wear on my lips is chapstick” and that is when the Winter is bad.
Other than that, I have nothing on and I watched this woman totally transformed while getting her face done and I knew at that moment from March 1998, that I want to be able to do that for the rest of my life. It might not necessarily be Make-up, but I want to be able to impact the lives of women that way. So I stayed in Clinique and ended up having to go to training for different levels of certification. Then because I came from a management background when I got hired at that place, Estee Lauder needed a counter manager and so I transferred from Clinique Cosmetics to manage Estee Lauder Cosmetics then fast-forward years later when I returned to Jamaica, in 2012, Mac Cosmetics came to Jamaica and I was the first store manager for Mac Cosmetics locally. That’s how the journey in Make-Up began.
H.P: D’Marie has experienced a metamorphosis recently — when did you know it was the right time to return and how did you prepare for it?
D.P: I think not just D’Marie, but the whole world has been upside down with the Pandemic and so when the Prime Minister said schools had to close, we closed In March. We tried doing classes online, so for the students who were already in the system, we completed them online but it wasn’t effective because what we do is hands-on and so we closed our doors.
There were so many people still writing “when are classes re-starting”, emotionally I wasn’t ready. COVID came in March 2020 and I had just finalized my Divorce in November 2019, I was just dealing with so many things emotionally and the Beauty Industry causes a lot of pain. You’re dealing with a lot of women and a lot of different personalities and then during the shut down just the way some of the students were responding and there were a lot of emotions going on. I got quiet for about 3 years and within that time, I used that time to rebuild, rebuild myself, and ensure that I was healed. Healed from all of the other stuff that was going on in my life and also, used what was left in my hand which was my Degree in Psychology. During that time I joined the Jamaica Psychological Society and got my Psychology license and did a second Master’s in Forensic Psychology which was during my quiet season.
I realized that people were really reaching out and then people were just saying “D, I think it’s time, I think It’s time”. This space where I am now became available, and I thought, that’s the right space! Because I could have the school on one side and then I can have my private practice on the other side.
I am absolutely excited because this time around it’s so different because now one of the things we’re doing is trying to merge psychology and beauty, helping our students to be even better prepared emotionally for the real world.
H.P: What are 2 valuable lessons you’ve learned this far since your return?
D.P: Number 1: People don’t have a lot of money these days! Due to COVID and a lot of people losing jobs which have affected a lot of people. Our prices have not changed since 2017 and I realize now that it is much harder to get people to come because they just can’t afford it and we are internationally accredited and as a result, our fees are going to be a little bit more than the average school. The pound sterling keeps fluctuating and we have to pay over-exam fees in pound sterling.
The second thing I realise is that during our absence, many other schools started. Though those schools may not be accredited, people are still going and they are still competitors. As it relates to location, it is a new location so we are having to do a lot more Marketing, to get persons to know we are up, we are back, and we are in this amazing new space.
H.P: What are some of the classes being offered?
D.P: Right now we’re offering Make-up at 2 different levels; Level 2 and Level 3 and of course Make-up is our Bread and Butter, that’s what we’re known for. But, not because we’re Make-up means it’s the only thing we do. There is Hairdressing, Level 2 and Level 3, there is also Barbering, we have Nail Technology and we’re introducing Short Courses in Massage Therapy and a couple of other things we realize people have been asking for. We also have a teaching Diploma which is an advanced Level 3 Teaching Diploma with City & Guilds, and that’s a course we encourage people to take if they are already certified in a specific area because it will allow them to teach in their select area.
H.P: What are a few tips for someone looking to have a career in the Beauty Industry?
D.P: If you want to join the Beauty Industry, ensure this is something that you are passionate about. Don’t just join because you think it’s exciting and you can make money. The fact is, you’re going to have tough days and it is your passion and drive for the Industry that is going to push you. The next thing is, to know your Industry, know what is going on, and what is trending, because the Industry is always evolving and so you have to continue to evolve as a beauty professional. Be educated, read books, continue with self-development, and update yourself all the time!
Another thing I’ve realized is that because you can make quick money, people don’t pay keen attention to finance, understanding money, working with budgets, investing, to owning properties. If you think of law or medicine, you expect those people to have money. I want Beauty professionals to expect to have money, and to be wealthy, but it will take a lot of work.
H.P: What would you say it’s D’Marie Institute’s “value proposition”
D.P: At D’Marie, excellence is our standard. Whereas Heart Trust would offer an NVQ, a national vocation qualification, we offer City and Guilds, an International Vocational Qualification. Our certificates and diplomas are accepted anywhere in the world, City & Guilds are accepted.
We are in the people business, we don’t see beauty first, we see people first. That carves how we treat people and especially being in Psychology, and having gone through COVID and realise that everybody is impacted has shown us to pay more attention to our mental health and so for us, we care, we care about our students and how they are doing, we care about whether or not they are emotionally strong, because you are going to need that to survive in this Industry. Our Teachers are highly trained — we have a lot of self development courses for D’Marie staff , so we are always trying to ensure our people are evolved at the highest level so our students can get to the highest level.
We’re not just in the classroom, we are Industry people, we are out there, behind the scenes, doing the work, so we know what the Industry needs. Those are things we take back to the classroom, to ensure all our students are Industry competent and ready for the real world.
H.P: How can people take classes?
D.P: Our website isdmarieinstitute.com to view our courses, you can also visit our Instagram @dmarieinstitute, the link is in the BIO. You can also call us at (876) 672-4303. You can also stop by our location at 14 -16 West Avenue, we’re on the campus of Jamaica Theologial Centre . You can also google “D’Marie Institute” and we’ll pop up.