Fatimah Mohsin had never been to a Malay wedding and had blonde hair when she did her first make-up job for a Malay bride.
Now, 14 years later, the 38-year-old wedding boutique owner's services are highly sought after by local Malay brides and celebrities.
She set up Fatimah Mohsin The Wedding Gallery in 2003, and her job has taken her around the world, including Sydney and New York.
Madam Fatimah, who is also a designer, has a calendar packed with Malay wedding appointments, events, exhibitions or television shows which she has agreed to lend her expertise to.
Among the big names she has worked with are TV host Nurul Aini and singeractress Norfasarie, whose wedding makeup and outfits she sponsored.
Madam Fatimah will also be working with Suria actor-presenter Fauzie Laily and his fiancee Nurul Huda Abdul Khalid for their wedding in October.
But it was by coincidence that she first dabbled in bridal make-up.
"I was then working at a make-over studio and was told to give it (bridal make-up) a try. I went in with zero knowledge and it was a complete culture shock," Madam Fatimah told The New Paper in a phone interview.
"I was 'young and dangerous', uncomfortable in a baju kurung, (and had) never been to a (Malay) wedding," she said But for Madam Fatimah, it was a good first experience which spurred her on to take bridal make-up seriously.
At the studio she was working at, she had an average of 13 customers daily and was earning a commission of $10 per person.
But to get more bridal jobs, Madam Fatimah, who grew up as a "tomboy" with six brothers and a sister, needed her own revamp.
"I had to change my image and be more disciplined," she said. So out went the blonde hair, among other things.
Growing up in a male-dominated household, Madam Fatimah said she was "literally a boy".
She grew up in a flat in Geylang, but would go to her grandmother's kampung home in Siglap on weekends with her two older brothers.
There, they would take part in activities like football, rounders and catching.
Now, Madam Fatimah takes her children to her mother's kampung house in Malaysia to expose them to the same experiences that she had as a child.
"You don't even have to go to the zoo to see chickens and ducklings... It's a good learning experience for them," she said.
Madam Fatimah is married to environmental, health and safety adviser Azmi Hamid, 45, and has two daughters, Aa'isyah, nine and Ameera, three.
She revealed that she used to see close to 30 brides a week, but now attends to three clients weekly.
"Even I don't know how I did that...
Must be the passion and drive.
"I was much younger and still had the energy... Now when I have free time, I spend it with my family," she said.
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