Jordana Franks is proof that you don't need a squeaky clean academic record to be successful at everything you do – there are other factors that are much more important. Attending a private all-girls school, she really felt the pressure, and because she excelled in only creative subjects, she felt frowned upon in maths and science classes.
“I enjoyed high school, but more so the social side of it”, she confessed. “At school, everyone was extremely clever, which I don't believe I was – I was more creative, arty, I was rubbish when it came to certain subjects.
“I felt like I couldn't raise my hand in class because I'd say the wrong answer, especially in maths and science. Everybody was so clever in school so I always felt thick. That's the way I was made to feel because I was always put in the bottom set.
“But at GCSE I tried to knuckle down and do well. I did suffer from anxiety when it came to exams so I had to start therapy just to be able to cope to sit them. I did alright at my GCSEs, but when it came to my school it wasn't the best of the best.
“I thought my life depended on doing well in my GCSEs and I put pressure on myself because I was at a really good grammar school, and I thought the success of my future depended on these exams too.
Jordana said that maths and science were not easy for her ( Image: Jordana Franks)
Get the news you want straight to your inbox. Sign up for a Mirror newsletter here
“That's when I started to go into myself and started to panic. My anxiety started at GCSEs because I thought I had to do amazingly at them to have a somewhat successful life. I was a nervous wreck when it came to the subjects I felt I wasn't good at.”
Jordana then explained that she preferred doing A-Levels because she could choose the subjects she was interested in. Gone were the days of trying to work out what X, Y, and Z were in complicated equations – she could now finally express her creativity.
“I did really well in my A levels”, she said. “Better than anyone expected of me.”
“When I was in primary school I was told I wouldn't get into grammar school but I ended up getting two A*s and an A at A Level. But, that was probably the start of the problem when it came to uni because everyone said 'oh she's actually really bright, she should be studying something at a Red Brick uni', even though that definitely wasn't the right place for me.”
She explained she'd always had an interest in art from a young age, and when she was in primary school she'd always be drawing. Jordana also said she had a love for magazines and was really into fashion.
“I was always imagining being a fashion designer and drawing dresses and stuff in my free time”, she gushed.
“When it came to choosing options for my A Levels I did art because I knew I was good at it, and I did business because I thought it could be handy in the future. I also did religious studies because I knew I was decent at it.
Jordana always knew she was into more creative pursuits ( Image: Jordana Franks)
“At that point, I still didn't know what I wanted to do. I just felt like I had to go to uni, but I knew I'd do something arty. I thought maybe fine art but I got talked out of it just because it wasn't a majorly academic subject, and school was a very academic place. I always knew I'd do something in a creative role though.”
Despite hoping she'd get into a creative role one day, Jordana ended up going to university to study business – but the road to university wasn't a simple one by any means. She hoped to go to the University of Birmingham but had what she describes as a 'meltdown' at the thought of leaving her home city and family behind.
Jordana said: “I just felt that university was the next step – I didn't know there were any other paths to take after school, other than going into work, but I didn't know what I wanted to do.
“I remember first year of sixth form when we had to apply for uni and it wasn't even a conversation that we could have about not going to uni. We just had to start by writing our personal statement to apply. You know when you're in year seven that you're going into year eight, so it just felt like the next step and like there were no other options. I didn't even question it, I just applied.”
Jordana believes schools, especially private schools, need to offer more than just university as an option for young adults. She admitted she didn't know you could do apprenticeships in creative industries, and may have considered one of those if it was offered.
“It was never apprenticeships, it was just go to uni or do a gap year, and then go to uni”, she remembered.
After Jordana found out she'd got into her first choice university to study business, she opted to go through clearing and secured a place at Manchester so she could be closer to home.
“I didn't feel prepared to leave home and be totally independent”, she confessed. “I didn't want to be a few hours drive away from my family. I didn't know how to cope with my anxiety back then.”
Jordana is smashing it with her business… ( Image: Jordana Franks)
…but it hasn't been easy! ( Image: Jordana Franks)
She revealed she 'hated every single aspect' of being at university and she struggled to make friends because she wasn't living in halls. She also said that it 'felt like being back in school but ten times worse' because the course was a lot more academic than she'd anticipated. Jordana said her close friends kept her sane at school, but she didn't have the same support network at university.
“I felt like the modules I had to do in first year were just horrendously out of my comfort zone – there was a lot of maths involved”, she reminisced. “I hated it, but I felt like I didn't have any option but to persevere through.”
Despite her struggles whilst at in first year, she felt like there was something to look forward to at weekends – she was working as a make-up artist on the side. In her second year, she started her business – Jordana Ticia Cosmetics.
A-level results 2022
She said all things make-up kept her 'distracted' from the reality of university throughout her first two years.
“By the time I was in final year my business was doing well, but having a business is obviously a lot of pressure on top of uni and my mental health had really started to deteriorate because there were a few modules I had to do that were maths-based which is my worst nightmare.
“I remember sitting in the lecture theatre and it sounded like the lecturer was speaking in a foreign language and I drove home from uni that day and had the biggest panic attack in the car. Coping with all of that was just making me mentally not well – my anxiety was horrific, I felt like I couldn't get out of bed in the morning and I just felt really really down. It was the catalyst for what made me take a leave of absence. I was forcing myself down a path I really didn't want to be on and it was making me ill.”
Jordana said she knew when she was at university it wasn't the right path for her – make-up made her so much happier, and it's something she's had an interest in from a very young age.
When Jordana was younger she had an interest in all things make-up… ( Image: Jordana Franks)
…but she never dreamed it could become her full-time career! ( Image: Jordana Franks)
She said: “I used to go in my grandma's room for hours just putting her red lipstick on when I was in primary school. I've always been intrigued by make-up. When I got to high school, my friends noticed I was better than them at doing make-up so I was always doing it for them to go to parties.
“I never thought of being a make-up artist as a career though – I never thought of it as something to aspire to be. I thought make-up would be a good creative thing to do at the weekends. So in the week I was writing essays and looking at maths problems, and at the weekend I'd do make-up.
“I started doing clients, but I couldn't get the products I wanted to in the UK at the time. Everyone was wearing liquid lipstick and it was all American brands that were producing them and on a student budget paying import tax was too much for me. So my grandpa said to me 'why don't we make it ourselves?' and that's literally how the brand was born.
“We got samples of liquid lipsticks, but I thought it'd just be a little bit of fun whilst I was at uni as I still didn't see myself as a make-up artist or a make-up business owner for the rest of my life. But the brand just took off – a lot of celebrity make-up artists and influencers started using the products and seeing its success at first, I just decided to take a risk and see what happened and I chose to not go back to uni because it was an industry I enjoyed.”
And thus, Jordana Ticia Cosmetics was born – and the rest is history. Boasting pigments, lipglosses, a brand new eyeshadow palette and so much more, people are raving over the products Jordana brings out. So much so that she's struggling to keep up with demand.
Reflecting, she said: “I didn't think it was an industry I'd be in forever, but I thought my mental health was more important and I'd rather do something that I actually enjoyed.”
Jordana said she felt like she always admired make-up artists, but she felt like her academic past had taught her not to aspire to these things. She said: “School had drilled it into us that the only successful path is to be a doctor, a lawyer, or something along those lines so I didn't see the potential in the creative industries.
“Schools never tell you about the success stories from the creative industries – the people that have done less academic things but are maybe making more money than a lawyer.”
Speaking about her success now, Jordana referred to it as 'insanity' and a 'lot of stress and a lot of pressure' but she says it's all worth it.
.Jordana is proud to be the face of the brand! ( Image: Jordana Franks)
“I wouldn't change it for the world and there's nothing else I can imagine myself doing”, she divulged. “It's done the world of good for me because I can express my creativity – I need my creative side to be explored. I find it overwhelmingly crazy that people love the brand and we're getting so much positive attention. I've been doing it for eight years now and I've never had anything negative said. Stressful times, but fantastic.”
Jordana Ticia Cosmetics' liquid lip in shade 'Paint The Town', an iconic bright orange-red, has even won an Attract Beauty Award in 2020.
She said some stand-out moments so far have been reaching milestones on social media, and she spoke about the launch party for her latest product – a nude eyeshadow palette.
Jordana said: “I did a launch party a few years ago and about 30 people showed up so I was so worried that this one was going to be a fail. But 300 people turned up. There were a lot of really influential people, and celebrities and they were there to support my brand and were cheering me on. Seeing the likes on Instagram is different to seeing people in person wanting you to do well and being happy for you.
“There's so much demand so I really need to learn supply chain, which I probably should've paid attention to in uni”, she joked, “but here we are! I'll learn on the job.”
In terms of her brand, she says her audience enjoys looking at the 'behind the scenes, real' content on TikTok, rather than edited things on Instagram.
Jordana has hit some serious milestones with her business… ( Image: Jordana Franks)
…and has even met Dragon's Den entrepreneur Stephen Bartlett! ( Image: Jordana Franks)
“People are more invested in the realness you can get in a video, and on TikTok we've been doing 'day-in-the-life style videos because people like to see the face behind the brand and the people behind the brand. They like to see us being silly and realise that we're just real people.”
When asked about how she keeps herself positive, even in the face of adversity, Jordana admits that she's not naturally a positive person.
She said: “I can be quite pessimistic, I'm a worrier. Every day I'm worrying about something, but I'm trying my best to change that round, and as I've got older I've learned to cope with my anxiety and manage it a bit better.
“There are times when it gets overwhelming and I go into a not-healthy headspace and I think everything is bad and I don't know what I'm doing. At the end of the day I'm 26, this is the one job I've had and there's no brand without me – I'm the name and the face of the brand.
“But, I've done this so long. I've learned to deal with negativity. The only thing that scares me and makes me panic is the intricate details of the business – not the creative side.
“There's always been hurdles – but there's a solution to every situation. I think I've matured and I know everything will eventually be okay. I just have to take each day as it comes.”
She also recommended not being worried about what other people say – she said she personally couldn't care less what people think and she hopes other people follow suit.
Jordana says the key to success… ( Image: Jordana Franks)
…is not caring what others think! ( Image: Jordana Franks)
“At the end of the day I'm trying to build something positive and make a name for myself”, she said defiantly. “It's silly, what other people think.
“You're never going to succeed if you're thinking about what other people think of you, and in business, they're probably admiring you – that you managed to take that risk and do something out of the ordinary.
“There's a lot more people thinking positive things than the one percent who are being negative. In a few years, they'll be thinking how fantastic you are. If it makes you happy, do it.”
And in terms of results day, Jordana says if you've not done as well as you thought it does not mean that your life is over.
She suggests: “Academia isn't for everyone and that traditional path is only for a select few people. Yes, it may be upsetting at the time, but there are other options. Find your passions and you could maybe make something out of it. You need to do something that makes you happy and doesn't make you mentally not okay.
“And if it makes you feel good – go for it. Take risks too, but make sure they're calculated risks. Think about it and see the pros and the cons. Also, don't put all your eggs in one basket.
“Everything has a way of working itself out though if you want it to and you don't give into the disappointment and sadness. Just persevere. Everything is a learning experience. Take your risks younger – uni will always be there if you want to go in the future.”
Do you have a story to share? We pay for stories. Email us at yourmirror @mirror.co.uk