Expat Entrepreneurs - Noleen

I recently had the opportunity to chat with talented make-up artist, hairstylist and entrepreneur, Noleen Sliney. Noleen was born in Ireland, but has set up a business in Munich, Germany. She shares her top make up tips with us, as well as what she loves about the German way of life. 

What do you love about your current city, what makes it special?

I love so many things here in Munich. I love the lifestyle and I love how I can do so much outdoors as the weather is so much better than in my home city Dublin! Summer is my favourite season and it’s extra special here in Munich. I love that I can go to one of many outdoor swimming pools when it gets really hot. It feels like I’m on holiday. Or I can visit some of the beautiful Bavarian lakes. I really love how centrally located Munich is. I can travel by car to Austria, Italy, France, the Netherlands and so many other countries in just a few hours. And another one of my favourite things about living in Munich has to be the beer gardens. Not only does the beer taste really good (and this from a non-beer drinker), but it’s so nice to sit in the gorgeous beer gardens with loved ones and friends on a beautiful sunny day.

What things do you always ask your guests to bring out for you from home?

To be honest, there isn’t really anything that I particularly miss from home. So I don’t usually ask them to bring anything for me. It’s more people that I miss rather than things. So it’s always lovely when we have guests from home come and visit us. In what ways have you changed personally or professionally since living abroad? On a personal level, I would say that I feel a lot more confident since living here, as I’ve had to go out of my comfort zone so much and really put myself out there. For example, I learnt to speak German in my first year living here, which really helped me to feel more confident. I also feel like I’ve gotten a lot more clarity in my life and really know what I want to do and achieve in my life. I’ve felt very much at home here in Munich from day one and I settled into the lifestyle very quickly. Professionally is probably where I’ve made the biggest leaps since I’ve been living here. I went from working for over 10 years in the finance industry, to training to become a makeup artist and setting up my own business.

What are some of your personal highlights since living abroad?

Learning to speak German is very much a personal highlight for me. I’ve always been interested in learning languages. And one of my goals was always to live in a country where English is not the first language so that I’d have the chance to learn and speak in another language every day. Another highlight has been leaving my old career behind and achieving another goal of setting up my own business and doing work that I love. And I did it in a foreign country and did everything in a foreign language too.

What was the trigger or light bulb moment that made you start up your own business?

As I mentioned, one of my goals was to start my own business. In fact, I’ve had this goal since I was very young. I always knew I wanted to work for myself, but for such a long time I didn’t how I was going to do this. Or even what I was going to do. I finally decided to start my business 3 years ago. I was working in a job that I absolutely hated, doing work that I hated. To be honest, I’d never really ever been happy working in the finance industry. But this particular job was the final straw for me. I was miserable and I couldn’t stand the thought of spending one more second doing something that I hated doing. I thought that I was too old to make a change of career. But I realised that I still had another 35 years until ‘retirement’. And spending 40-50 hours a day, 5 days a week doing work I hated filled me with dread! So I decided to take control of my life and stop making excuses. I enrolled in a makeup school here in Munich to train to become a makeup artist and I then set up my own business. Whilst it was a bit scary, it was the best decision I ever made and I instantly felt happier and knew I had made the right decision.

What have been some of your business highlights? 

My work has been featured on a couple of very prestigious wedding blogs and magazines here in Germany. So that’s definitely been a real highlight for me. Seeing my work in print was such a proud moment for me and a dream come true. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to some beautiful locations since I started my business. I’ve been to places such as Lake Garda in Italy. I’ve also been t one of the highest mountains in Europe which is based in Switzerland as well as some of the beautiful lakes and mountains in Austria. Not only is it amazing to work in such beautiful locations, but I also get to do this whilst working with wonderful clients and photographers. I feel so grateful to have such amazing opportunities.

Can you share with us your top tips on make up styling?

I’d love to share so many tips with you guys! But I’ll try to keep it short. J Applying a lot of product is a mistake that I see a lot of people making. Less really is more! You only need to apply a tiny amount of each product. This will give you a much more natural, more radiant look. For example, I see people making this mistake quite often with concealer and foundation. When applying concealer to your eye area, you don’t need to apply it all around your eyes. And never apply it right up to your lash line. This is actually going to make you look even more tired and will cause fine lines and wrinkles. The darkest part of the eye is generally around the tear duct area. So this is the only place you need to apply your concealer. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your lovely products when you don’t need to. Only apply an amount the size of a pinhead. If you feel you need a little more, build it up slowly If you feel you need to use a lot of a product to get any kind of decent coverage from it then it’s most likely one of two things. It’s either that the product is not suitable for your skin. Or it’s perhaps that the product is not very good quality. Another tip is that it’s best to first invest your time and hard earned money in finding out what products and techniques are best suited to YOU! And what’s really going to enhance YOUR natural beauty. For example, just because a winged eyeliner looks good on some people, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to suit you. Sure, it’s a beautiful look. But you have to think about what’s going to enhance YOUR natural features best. So it’s not that you can’t do the technique. It’s most likely that it’s not the most flattering technique for YOUR eye shape. Makeup and skincare products can be very expensive. So when you do buy them, make sure you don’t waste your money on the ones that aren’t suitable for you and only buy products that you’ll actually USE. It’s better to have only a small number of products that you love and actually use every day, rather than a lot of products that don’t suit you or that you don’t know how to use.

Me working with one of my lovely bridal clients at one of the beautiful lakes in Bavaria (Tegernsee). Photo- Michael Palatini

Me working with one of my lovely bridal clients at one of the beautiful lakes in Bavaria (Tegernsee). Photo- Michael Palatini

What is the best bit of advice you can give for others wanting to set up on their own?

If you feel this is something you’d love to pursue, then do it. And trust me, there’s never a right time to start! Yes, it will feel scary at first. But remember, you don’t have to know everything straight away and you’ll learn things as you progress along your entrepreneurial journey. You didn’t know everything at first in your current career and you learned new things along the way. Something I highly recommend is to surround yourself with like-minded people and people who are already successful. For one thing, you’ll learn so much from those that have already achieved success. But by also surrounding yourself with people who are also just starting out or who are a couple of steps ahead of you, you’ll have each other to help and encourage one another when you need it. This will be invaluable.

Have you adopted any new customs or traditions from various places you have lived?

Whilst we exchanged gifts on December 25th back home, Germans actually do this on the evening of December 24th. So we’ve now started to exchange some of our gifts on Christmas Eve too. However, we still keep a few goodies for December 25th. It’s nice to get presents on two days instead of just one.

What is different about your normal routine currently compared to what it would be back at home?

Myself and my partner are big rugby fans. So one thing that I really do miss about home is going to see our favourite team Leinster play live. We were season ticket holders before we left to come to Munich. So we went to live games pretty much every couple of weeks. Rugby is not so popular here in Germany yet. So we don’t go to see live sport anymore.

When I feel homesick I ………

I never really feel homesick at all. But it’s always nice to catch up with friends via Email or Skype for a quick catch up.

Fav book : Fiction Book: Dracula by Bram Stoker ; Biz Book: She Means Business by Carrie Green

Podcast : The Strategy Hour by Think Creative Collective & She Means Business by Carrie Green (for business) ; Seconds Captains (for sport)

Quote : Someday is not a day of the week.

Instagram account / Blogger: The Ivory Mix (for gorgeous pics & great blogging tips); The Female Entrepreneur Association (for amazing business tips) ; Organic Makeup Artist (for great posts about natural & organic beauty tips)

If we were to visit Munich, where should we go? 

For dinner: Nam Giao, Vitetnamese Restaurant Drinks: Wirtshaus Zur Brezn or Bachmaier, both on Leopoldstraße

Day trip: Chiemsee (the largest lake in Bavaria)

Must see: In Munich: Englischer Garten, Königsplatz ; Surrounding Munich: Neuschwanstein or any of the lakes close by Munich

Best entertainment: The outdoor cinemas are really great in Summer time. And if you don’t speak German, that’s okay, as they also show a lot of the movies in their original language too. Or if your love classical music, there are also outdoor symphonies too.

Favourite way to stay fit: Jogging in the Englischer Garten (the largest park in Munich)

Any other advice: Living in another country is such an amazing experience. And especially in a country where their first language is not my native language. Sure, it has it’s challenges sometimes. But my advice to someone in a similar situation is to try to learn the language. You don’t have to speak it fluently. But even learning it at a basic level will mean you can make conversation with the locals. And even if you end up switching back to your own language, or a common language like English, you’ll win some extra brownie points with the locals, as they’ll love that you’ve made an effort to learn their language. It will also give you so much confidence speaking in another language too.


Another piece of advice I’d give is this. If you ever feel homesick or if you’re scared about moving to another country or city, just remember that home is never that far away. Even if you’re living on the other side of the world, it’s still only a plane ride back home. And with all the amazing technology we have available to us today, no one is ever that far away. You can even see them via video, which makes it feel like they’re there in the room with you. Sure, things are different to the way they are back home. But that’s a good thing. Otherwise, you might as well still be living there. Embrace the cultural differences. These experiences can only benefit you and help you to grow as a person. The quote ‘travel broadens the mind’ is another one of my favourites. Because it truly does.

If you want to know more about Noleen - please visit her:  


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