Published: 06:00, 18 February 2020
A make-up artist from Kings Hill whose cosmetics range has been used on numerous celebrity faces says he owes everything to his mum who passed away three years ago after a 10-year battle with breast cancer.
Dominic Grief, of Gibson Drive, had always shared a dream of launching his own make-up brand with his mum Joanne, who adopted him from Bangkok at six months old with her husband David.
The pair had struggled to conceive naturally and so decided to adopt, first their eldest daughter Cecilia from Ecuador, after a lengthy two year court process to prove they were able to care for her.
When they decided to expand their family for the second time they set their sights on a child from Thailand.
Mr Grief said: "My mum was very determined to have a child and my dad was very much the same - it was just a matter of them following their dreams. That is why I'm a go getter. I don’t take no for an answer and I get that from them."
After providing evidence to illustrate they were capable of being parents, the Thai authorities contacted the couple to ask if they wanted to adopt a baby boy who had been left on the steps of an orphanage.
The 28-year-old's father, now 67, jumped on the next plane to Bangkok and brought him back to their home near Biggin Hill, before later moving to Benenden.
Mr Grief believes he was one of the first children to be adopted from the country.
He said: "It is crazy to think that I was given a second chance in life. I owe them a lot. It isn’t the richest of countries, I dread to think what would have happened to me.
"I was given the opportunity to have an education and to travel the world and be brought up in a loving family. My only regret is I wish they had brought me up speaking Thai."
The make-up artist, who is better-known in the industry as Dominic Paul, was brought up knowing he was adopted.
He said: "They knew there was going to be a time when I looked in the mirror and noticed I'm a different ethnicity.
"I get asked all the time do I want to go back and find out who my parents are but it's a no. I don’t know anything different to the parents I have now."
He goes on holiday to Thailand every year - a tradition which began with his family. They would often visit the country so he and his youngest sister, Florence, who they also adopted from there, could be exposed to their original culture.
Their mother Joanne, who Mr Grief says is his inspiration for his make-up range, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.
"She called us kids into the living room and said they found a lump. She was so confident that she was going to get through the treatment and then she would be absolutely fine."
After a mastectomy and several rounds of chemotherapy, she was in remission, but when she reached the fourth year of being cancer-free, she was diagnosed with it again and it had spread to the lymph nodes under her arms.
The business owner said: "It went for the second time and it just came back again and again and then spread."
In 2017, she began to get complications and sadly, at the age of 56,passed away at Hospice in the Weald, Pembury, with her husband beside her.
Her son said he struggles to live with the fact he wasn't with her: "I knew the night before that something wasn’t right. I wish I had just stayed there but I didn’t because I was so emotionally drained and wanted to go home and get in bed. It is mad how you can be talking to them and then they are gone.
"It is really difficult thinking that one mother didn’t want you and then the devil cancer has taken another from us too.
"My mum wanted to see us to grow up and get married and that was taken away from her."
The make-up artist's (MUA) passion for the make-up industry started with a fascination about television and film special effect looks.
Unsure about what career to pursue, he went to West Kent College, Tonbridge, to study fashion but realised his future was in cosmetics.
After he finished, Joanne encouraged him to research make-up courses, which lead to him enrolling into the London School of Beauty and Make-up and sparked his 10 years of experience.
He said: "I fell in love with the instant glamour and making women feel so confident about themselves.
"While I was there I learned how to do make-up for people with cancer and my mum loved it. It was such a rewarding thing. She said I think you’re quite good at this."
After that, he went on to Brushstroke Make-up School, studying everything from wedding looks to wigs.
"It was very expensive but it was something I wanted to do and my parents were willing to pay."
When the course finished he felt lost as to what to do next. He sat down with his mum and decided to start doing the make-up on shoots for free.
Within three months of offering his services, he was working with Graham Norton and stars from Made in Chelsea and Ex on the Beach, and styled looks for the cover of ID and Vogue magazine.
His mother's death spurred him on to push his career as far as possible and ensure their shared vision of his brand that they had discussed so regularly became a reality.
He launched his first contour palette on August 6, 2019 - his mother's birthday.
"She was my number one fan. I said to myself I am going to make this dream happen and I think of it as her legacy living on.
"It is a vision with my mother which I have now made into a reality. If it wasn’t for her this wouldn’t be happening.
"Starting a make-up brand isn’t easy, it was the most stressful thing to do but it is so rewarding."
It has been used by many famous faces, including Naomi Campbell, Kim Bassinger and Coronation Street star Helen Flanagan.
They are available to buy online at dominicpaulcosmetics.com, The Peacock Rooms in Sevenoaks and Bond Street to your Street in Tenterden.
More by this authorLydia Catling
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