by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Ann Makosinski on Inventing Yourself

Canadian inventor and public speaker Ann Makosinski chats with BEAUBIT; about following her passions — encouraging others to do the same, normalising the idea of a female inventor, as well as the ritual for her amazing skin.

It might surprise people that Ann Makosinski (@annmakosinski) chose a degree in English Literature. The 22-year-old, who is of Filipino, Polish and Canadian descent, is known for her inventions: the award-winning Hollow Flashlight, which runs off the heat of the human hand, and the e-Drink, a mug that uses heat from your beverage to charge a phone. But Ann believes art and science are more closely related than you think.

BEAUBIT catches up with the inventor on Forbes‘ “30 Under 30, 2017” about following her passions — and encouraging others to do the same, normalising the idea of a female inventor, as well as the ritual for her amazing skin.

Tell us more about yourself.

I grew up in Victoria, Canada, and I am an inventor, keynote speaker, aspiring writer and altogether creative person. I just like learning things and making things everyday! 

What sparked your interest in inventing? 

My first toy was a box of transistors and electronic parts. From there I took my hot glue gun and collected junk from around the house, piecing together my very first “inventions.” Of course, they never worked, but the idea of taking the resources around me and piecing them together came quite naturally. 

I would take apart old computers and printers and my parents suggested I join the local science fair on Vancouver when I was in sixth grade. I ended up catching the “science fair bug” and competed in 10 fairs before I graduated high school. 

Many people fully expected you to pursue engineering but you chose a different path for yourself. Could you share with us your thoughts on that?

I always loved inventing and science, but I was also passionate about old film and storytaelling from a very young age. Many people expected me to go into engineering because all they heard about were my inventions and my science fair projects. Nobody told my full story, because nobody was interested in a kid who liked inventing and wanted to go into film; they wanted a genius science fair kid to put on their headlines. And for a time I really did feel that perhaps I should be an engineer. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into engineering because everyone else expected me to, or if I really wanted to. I ended up choosing to do a degree in English Literature. 

Any of my close friends will tell you that before I was “famous” for my inventions, I was that kid in our grade who always made their class assignment a video project. I would be obsessed with different old movie stars, watch silent films and 30’s musicals. I always had had a passion for science and art, and when it came to university, I didn’t want to leave either behind.

“We’ve always regarded science as a career and art as a hobby, but I disagree. The crucial yet often overlooked combination of science and art is what makes the best products and designs out there.”

Why is it important for young women to think outside the box when it comes to their career paths, especially in generally male-dominated fields?

You want to stand out, in any industry or field you are in! The best way you can do this is by being authentically yourself, never trying to fit in, and working hard every day on whatever you are passionate about. Each one of us has different life experiences, so we must bring ourselves and our own ideas (shaped from our experiences and knowledge) to the table every day.

For me personally, I would love to normalise the idea of a) an inventor as a “career” choice, and b) female inventors.

What advice would you give young girls who are interested in STEM, but don’t have many female role models in the field?

Find your own role models — and they certainly don’t have to just be in STEM. Most of my idols are actually in the arts or performative field. I began having obsessions with different people when I was 11 years old. I’d heavily research them, dress like them, do my makeup like them, watch all their movies et cetera. I have always just loved people who were mega-talented at what they do and worked on what they loved every day. 
People like Harry Houdini, Elvis, Carmen Miranda, Mel Brooks, Louise Brooks, and Charlie Chaplin. Also, this might sound extra cheesy—but it’s true!—be your own role model! Be someone you are proud of being.

Your skin is beautiful! What is your typical skincare ritual like?

I am very lucky to have great skin genes from my mum (laughs). My routine is pretty simple. I make sure to get rid of any makeup I have on at night; with Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O Make-Up Removing Solution (SGD19) first, then following up with the Odacité Blue Aura Cleansing Water (SGD77.80) to make sure all my makeup is off. I love using the Dr. Hauschka Eye Balm (SGD53.50) for my under-eyes, and the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (SGD88) when I want a little treat for my face. And always a sunscreen during the day—right now I’m loving the ones from Biossance and Supergoop!

I used to wear foundation almost every day, and then I realized it probably wasn’t great for my skin. I just use the RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Up Concealer + Foundation (SGD62) and set it with some Mac setting powder. These two products do wonders for that ‘no-makeup’ makeup look.

Ann’s Beauty Picks
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make-Up Removing Solution, SGD19
Odacité Blue Aura Cleansing Water, SGD77.80
Dr. Hauschka Eye Balm, SGD53.50
Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask, SGD88
RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Up Concealer + Foundation, SGD62

What is your favourite beauty activity to indulge yourself in?

It’s funny because I thought during the start of quarantine I would be lounging in face masks every other day, but I ended up being too lazy to (laughs). Honestly, I love just taking a hot shower and feeling fresh, stepping into my green and pink terry cloth bathrobe (that I bought because it felt very 1960s and a bathrobe is the ultimate luxury), and moisturizing my whole body afterwards. I like to use more natural products, so I have been using Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand & Body Lotion Lavender Coconut (SGD16).

When do you feel most beautiful?

I don’t usually go look in the mirror and go, “Wow, I feel beautiful!” I guess I feel the most beautiful when I’m working either in front of a camera or more often, behind a camera.

This one time, I was filming a little video while wandering around an isolated Arctic town (I went on an icebreaker ship to the Arctic for a couple of weeks back in 2017), and I was just walking alone around the town holding my camcorder. It was a glorious feeling. I think it was because I was doing something I really loved and in such a special location. It made me feel so excited about all the possibilities of what I could capture. 

Holding a camera and filming something I am in awe of feels powerful and something even words can’t describe. I was capturing the beauty of something that was outside of myself, which I find much more interesting to do anyways. I’m sure if I was a much more fit and active person I would be a documentary filmmaker. Perhaps in a few years, I will embark on this career. 

What are your plans for the future? What would you like to have accomplished in the next five years?

I hope I live in California with five cats, two goats, two chickens and a very large pool. I’ll finally have my line of eco-friendly children’s toys (that run off of green energy) on the market; a bunch of my show ideas have been picked up, sold and produced. I’ll continue to invent, have acted in some TV shows or films, and have written or directed films or some documentary series ideas that I have been mulling over. I hope I am healthy, happy and can provide for my parents. Lastly, I hope I have met Mel Brooks and Ann Margret!

Images credited to Giullian Yao Gioiello (@giulliang).

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