Boston native and proudly Greek American, Thea Vaporis, is a signed model with MMG in New York City and with New England models group in Boston. Thea is a professional makeup artist, running her own company, Khroma by Thea, which she hopes to launch as a makeup line in the future. She has danced ballet for 25 seasons and has taught dance classes for 13 years. Thea has also taught makeup classes at a beauty school and is passionate about the cause for clean beauty. Her multifaceted career in the arts is very impressive and it’s clear that Thea has many talents. I hope you enjoy reading my interview with Thea as much as I enjoyed speaking with her!
Our Rosy Conversation
You are a signed model in New York and Boston. What have been some of your most memorable photo shoot experiences?
My father was a photographer and I modeled as a kid up until I was a young adult. Then, I went to college and beauty school and took a break away from modeling. I was signed as a kid here in Boston and after my break, I really felt like I had not completed that chapter. It was important to find representation and as a makeup artist and a talent. I am signed to MMG in New York and New England Models Group in Boston and I could not ask for a more supportive team – they are amazing. The market has really changed in the last 5 years. There is room for girls like all of us and there needs to be representation. There’s room for that now, which I am super happy about.
You are also a certified makeup artist and work professionally through your company, Khroma by Thea. How long have you been doing makeup professionally? What are some of your most memorable experiences?
I had no intentions of becoming a makeup artist. At 18, my body was kind of on the outs with dancing ballet. I became an aesthetician and went to school for it in 2010. I fell in love with skincare and when I was in school, I was asked to be a model for Kryolan and they did all sorts of beauty seminars and would paint my face as a bride or for special effects… sitting in that chair, I thought “Wow I could do this.” Through college, I worked as a freelance artist for green beauty brands and when I finished college, I decided to go into the corporate side and was a buyer and merchandiser for Walgreens. After that, I actually went and taught at the school that I went to. I’ve always been in beauty, had my toe in it, and now I think that by focusing on myself and my brand, I am able to share all that I have learned.
The latest makeup project that I did was about bringing attention to the cause for ALS. An initiative launched by my friend, Zoe Bucuvalas, for her mother, Mary Bucuvalas, who is battling ALS. Zoe launched a line of sports bras in support of her mother and 100% of the proceeds go to the Pete Frates Foundation (creator of the ALS ice bucket challenge). It was so fun to glam her and her mom for that day. Those kinds of events really overshadow any fashion shoots I’ve done.
You also work for The Parlr, which is an innovative beauty brand concept: the world’s first salon / spa + portrait studio. This seems like it has such a large market given how democratized modeling has become through social media. What do you enjoy most about this role?
I had discovered the Parlr on Instagram and was completely obsessed with the feed and the vibe. I am one of the makeup artists on the team and there was a soul connection between me and the team there. I work freelance for them and I am not there everyday, but I love being there and the vibe of their space is so unique. What I love about the Parlr is I have noticed that they curate who goes with their vibe as clients and who works there. It’s a special place.
How has the pandemic affected the process of your jobs? Social distancing in the beauty industry sounds like it can be quite the (necessary) challenge!
I am really fortunate on the modeling side, social distancing is very easy. For all of my photo shoots, I have been doing my hair and makeup and everyone in the fashion industry is so open and willing to adapt. I wish that a lot of other markets were like that. As a makeup artist, I taught the state board certification for two years; I pride myself on being the cleanest guru makeup artist in Boston since I know the state board inside and out.
You have worked with quite a few clean beauty brands! What is most important to you when promoting organic beauty?
My journey with clean beauty started 7 years ago. I went through a rough time, I was very sick. I have three different autoimmune disorders. As a makeup lover, It was the hardest thing to put something toxic on my face, feel inflamed, and not feel pretty while you’re sick. I was lucky enough to work with clean beauty brands like Jane Iredale and Inika Organics. I work for Inika Organics now by creating content for them and this ties back into me being aesthetician and understanding skin and its ingredients.
I hope that people see that it’s not just a trend and that green beauty is here to nourish your skin. It needs to be made sexier from a marketing standpoint, there’s this negative connotation of clean beauty not being glamorous and not having any performance, and that’s so not true. I really hope that the clean beauty market grows substantially. For example, I know a lot of great skincare comes out of Austria, because there’s an understanding there of what nature can do for your skin.
You have danced ballet and taught dance classes for many years! How many years have you been dancing? What style of ballet did you train? (I danced for 11 years and stopped as a teenager and can attest to how much discipline this takes!)
I have been dancing for 25 seasons! Dance has given me so many gifts. It has taught me teamwork, discipline, to believe in myself and know that I am never perfect. I grew up in a Vaganova school, which is a Russian style ballet and it was very intense and having that mindset very early on taught me so many life skills. I will forever be grateful for that training. I am not a professional dancer, but I am a ballet teacher and have been teaching for 13 years. The connections that I have made with my students are lifelong and I will never stop teaching dance. It’s so fulfilling to me.
I still take class every single week just for myself to get centered. Dance always brings me back home. Last summer, before COVID, I danced in Carmen as a principal dancer and it was the best show and the best music! I have always loved the music and the characters in ballets. With Carmen, there were so many facets to this character, the characters in this ballet are very much feminists; they want to go out and party and be in love, but they also want to be respected. I was able to put my all into that role.
What are some highlights of living in Boston and being a Boston native?
I don’t take this lightly. I really think Boston is one of the best cities in the whole entire world. I have traveled all over the world and all over the US and what I love about Boston is that everything is tangible and everything is close to home. There are world class sports and restaurants… contrary to what many people meet… Bostonians are very friendly when you get to know them… we are just uptight because there is a lot of traffic! I am really excited to see where Boston goes in the next five years and I think Boston is going to be shown in a light of really supporting the arts and fashion as well. I am super proud to see that happening. There is so much history and culture and the history of this city is really unique.
You are very proud of your Greek heritage! What do you want others to know about Greek culture that you value?
I am a super proud Greek and I really think that our culture is very unique. I am super proud of both of my sides of my family. On my mom’s side, my great grandfather came from Greece in 1914 and he opened the first grocery store in Lowell, MA. He was the first man in Lowell to have a car. After 105 years, my grandfather closed it, it is now a historic site in Lowell. My grandfather on my dad’s side was a very well known Greek Orthodox priest and he fought for civic justice in the 1960s. He ran Hellenic College Holy Cross in Brookline, he published over 60 books and he spoke many languages.
Those two male figures in my life showed me that our culture sticks together and our culture appreciates history and education. I will always support the Greek community and if anyone on Instagram who is Greek messages me, I automatically open it and respond back. It’s like trying to find a long lost friend or a long lost cousin. You stick together and take care of your people. This world is so cut throat, you need to take care of your friends and your family.
What is the best part of your Greek family being super close? It’s very similar to Italian families and that closeness sometimes runs contrary to American values with respect to expecting 18 year olds to move out etc.
My dad is a deacon in the Greek Orthodox Church and my mom also works at the church. I respect their traditions and I respect the traditions of our church. It’s my choice to stay at home until I feel that I am ready to get married. It’s an old school thing, but my parents want me to feel spiritually and physically protected. I have 3 younger siblings. I am significantly older than them: there are 6 years, 10 years, and 12 years between all of us. At this time, I would never have a relationship with my siblings the way I do now if I had moved out. I love that I am home and they are able to see me as an example and I am able to understand them as they grow up, too.
Given how multi-faceted your career is, where do you see your career in 5 to 10 years?
What’s so wonderful about the arts is that you don’t know what’s coming your way. In the next 5 to 10 years, I see Khroma by Thea as its own makeup line and I am not going to stop modeling. I am really impressed where the fashion world is going and I am open to how it’s open and flexible and there’s definitely brands that I still want to model for. It will just be more of the same as long as it’s still fulfilling.
Also, another goal of mine in 5 to 10 years is that I really want to start teaching at classes at a university about women’s history, specifically about women’s fashion and the psychology between fashion and makeup in women’s lives. That’s something that I see myself doing way into the future… When I’ve taught makeup history for classes at beauty school, women always have such passionate answers, and it’s so intriguing to me!
What is your dream modeling job?
I think being in Vogue in some capacity would be a dream. Also, working with a brand like Skims by Kim Kardashian. I love the body inclusivity of that brand. I would definitely love to work with some of the great makeup masters like Charlotte Tilbury or Pat McGrath!