To Expat José Macuroy Switzerland feels a lot like Canada

José Macuroy is a lucky man. The cosmetician does what he loves – despite the road to get there not always having been easy.

José Macuroy wanted to be a dancer, now he owns a cosmetics studio in Basel.

«I don’t know a lot of people who follow their dreams», says José Macuroy, better known as «Jojo». «And if they do, then they tend to give up halfway. Particularly, when the going gets tough or when they are asked to tweak their plans.»

Working is supposed to be a significant contributor to an individual’s happiness and well-being. However, it is something that a majority of people spend their lives aspiring to retire from. Why? The competition in the working world is getting bigger and bigger and sometimes you have to settle. As a result, a high income and better benefits become the priority instead of satisfaction.

«It’s a real shame», Jojo says.

He, in turn, makes sure to prioritise working in a environment that he is pleased with. Namely, by being self-employed in an industry of his choosing. But Jojo also knows from first hand experience that getting there is easier said than done.

A drastic change of plans

Jojo was born in the Philippines. At age 11 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he grew up and where his parents have remained since. «I completed my entire education there», Jojo says. «That is home.»

Throughout high school, he had a single dream: to dance professionally. He devoted his time to work as a choreographer and instructor; learning, rehearsing and teaching the steps to routines and staying up-to-date on the latest training methods. Parenthetically, Jojo attended a prestigious dance academy and became versed in numerous styles of dance. He was – by anyone’s standards – well on his way to success.

However, things can change on a dime. And following a severe injury to his knee at age 23, Jojo was forced to give up on his big dream. His doctors had told him, that if he were to continue to practice and perform at this level, his injury would get progressively worse. A full recovery was not in the cards.

«Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have.»

At first, this news came as a severe shock. «I didn’t know what to do with myself», Jojo says. «I had spent my entire adult life preparing for a career in dance. I loved it.» The question «What now?» hung heavily in the air. However, as writer Garrison Keillor already said and Jojo is quick to point out: «Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have. Which, once you have it, you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.»

So, Jojo decided to make the most of the situation and went in search of something new soon after. What came next, he could never have predicted.

In 2011, Jojo attended a cosmetics school.

When Jojo reached his late twenties, he decided to move to Germany.

«Doing this was a somewhat unexpected career change», he says. «I’d honestly never thought about becoming a cosmetician before. But I had always enjoyed taking care of my own skin and after spending a lengthy period of time looking to get back to work, it seemed like the good choice.» Jojo had gotten the idea from a family friend: «This man, he took me to his cosmetics studio, showed me around and explained what it is that he does. And, in doing so, he kind of kick-started my interest in the field», he says.

It took him just under a year to complete the program.

When Jojo reached his late twenties, he decided to move to Germany and work in the Hotel and Spa industry for a while. There, he was able to put what he had learned to use. However, despite the experience being rewarding, it wasn’t quite what he wanted, and the idea of opening up his own place flourished and eventually Jojo turned his plan into action.

No limits

Today, Jojo has his own cosmetics studio in Basel, Switzerland. He offers: waxing, massages, manicures, pedicures, brow lifting, lash extensions, tinting and make-up. He started his home business «Jojo Esthetics» about two months ago – in January 2018 – after moving to the city as a trailing spouse. His boyfriend of thirteen years had accepted a job offer that required the relocation.

The business is going well: «I’ve already secured a handful of regulars and returning customers», Jojo says. And his experience in Switzerland has been predominantly positive.

«This country reminds me a lot of back home in Canada. For one, it offers a lot of the same natural wonders: the mountains, the forests, the lakes – the weather is also almost the same», he says. «And, on top of that, the people are incredibly friendly.»

«I went to cosmetics school expecting the worst. So, I grew a thick skin.»

Asked if the decision to study cosmetics led to criticism, Jojo says: «Of course.» It happened again and again that one of his peers gawked at him or asked him what he was doing there – maybe because he was often the only boy in the class. However, for the most part, it was harmless and rooted in ignorance, not hatred. Jojo could just shake it off: «I went to cosmetics school expecting the worst», he says. «So, I spent a lot of time preparing myself for questions, comments, judgement – and grew a thick skin.»

Beyond that, Jojo’s friends and family have – more often than not – shown their support. Although not everyone has been equally enthusiastic. For example: his parents. «They aren’t so positive about it», Jojo says. «But they haven’t made it difficult for me either.» This, he thinks, is because they know that he is his own person and knows what he wants.

Jojo is aware that there will always be people who talk: «Those that whisper in your ear, saying: you can’t do this. That tell you their opinions, even when you haven’t asked», Jojo says. And that can be difficult: «It makes you question yourself.» But he hasn’t let it limit him.

«I have never been ashamed of who I am», Jojo says. «And, in the end, being happy is a very personal thing – it really has nothing to do with anyone else. You just have to accept yourself.»

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