I recently posted on the Allison Barbera Beauty Facebook page asking people what beauty-related topics they would like to read about. People commented with a lot of great suggestions and trust me, I’m on it! One person–hi, Candie!–said she would like to read posts about skincare (specifically my skincare routine). But I’ve been sick lately and my brain isn’t at its creative best, so I’m going to start with some skincare tutorials I love, then I’ll be back with a post about my current skincare routine.
I have lots of people I admire. In the professional arena, I look up to Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler and The Pixiwoos (Sam and Nic Chapman) for KILLING IT in their careers. In my personal life, I am wowed by and strive to emulate the friends and family around me who are super supportive, loving, kind and caring.
In the makeup world, I’ve got my Beauty Icons. Those are the women whose looks I love and whose styles I am drawn to. They have inspired both the makeup I do on clients and what I wear myself.
I wanted to go more into depth with this blog post, but I’ve got some serious brain fog, so I’m going to let the names and photos of some of my favorite looks from my beauty icons speak for themselves.
You’ve read Part 1 and loved it, so let’s move on to Part 2. This is where I tell you about the habits/routines I do have and keep because they work for me. There are some you might have tried and hated, or others you inherently know wouldn’t work for you. And that’s cool! I’m not saying this is a Must Do list. But maybe you’ll see something here that you want to try, or it gives you an idea to do something similar. Which is also cool!
Let me preface this by saying this is my routine on my ideal day. If I have an early job, a lot of it has to get thrown out the window. But when I don’t, this is what I like to do.
Phone Check. Before I even get out of my bed, I look at my phone. I know some people say this is bad, but I need to make sure my personal and professional worlds haven’t crumbled over the last seven hours. If there is anything truly urgent, I respond. Otherwise, I leave it until I’m ready for the responding-to-things part of my day.
Social Media Scroll. Another one a lot of people advise against, but this is part of how I ease into the day. It’s usually more of a Facebook scroll than Instagram, and I do it because I like to see what the people in my life who I don’t talk to regularly are up to (or what they choose to share). I leave birthday comments, I send condolences messages, I congratulate friends on professional accomplishments, engagements, pregnancy announcements, etc. I don’t spend a ton of time on Facebook during the day, but most days, I do this scroll for about 10 minutes in the morning.
Supplements: Round 1. One of the first things I do after get out of bed is take my probiotics and a supplement that needs to be taken on an empty stomach. It’s five total pills, and I like taking them because they have corrected health issues I’ve had in the past, so starting off my day staying on top of my health feels great. As a business owner, I need my energy and focus to be high every day. If I consistently don’t feel well, I can’t do my job, so taking care of my health is just as important as booking jobs and paying bills.
Mini Workout. Next up, I brew my coffee and hit the floor for some hamstring stretches prescribed by my chiropractor and 150 crunches (75 for upper abs, 75 for lower). Next up is my favorite arm workout, followed by 20 lunges and 20 squats. By the time my coffee is ready, I’ve done something else good for my health and crossed it off my list before the day gets to me.
Blogging. In January, I set the goal of posting at least one blog post a week for all of 2018. We are now in Week 43 of 2018 and I only missed one week (I was away on a semi-vacation), but I made up for that by posting twice the next week. I was able to get about 20 posts done and stockpiled in the early part of this year, but then wedding season buried me so I had to write new ones most weeks. And my mind is freshest in the morning, so that is when it makes the most sense for me to write. I give myself a certain amount of time, then I do my best to stay focused and write during that time. I love writing and would love to have three hours a day to do it, but I usually have to settle for 30 – 60 minutes.
Supplements: Round 2. I have more supplements that need to be taken with food/a protein shake, so I do that while watching a comedy special, comedy video podcast or a business webinar/class. That way I’m either laughing or learning while my body gets some nutrients it needs. I’ll take that Smart Multitasking Award now, please.
A Scheduled Going With the Flow Day. After breakfast, I really get into my emails and tasks for the day. I have certain tasks I do on certain days, and the reminders for those tasks are purposely set to pop up at times I know my brain will be most receptive to them. So blogging, typing up notes for classes I am teaching, creating content–anything that requires my communication to be clear and interesting–has to be done in the earlier part of the day while my mind is fresh. And any tasks that require me to do even the slightest bit of math need to happen early on in the day if I want the numbers to come out right. I save autopilot tasks–scheduled emails I already have templates for, printing documents, filing–for later in the day when my brain is slowing down but is still working. And of course, a ton of emails and calls come in during the day. I do my best to prioritize what needs to be responded to right away (i.e. new leads and time sensitive questions) and what can wait (i.e. creating wedding schedules for a year from now, reading a newsletter that I think will have valuable info, responding to a blog post comment, etc.) So I have to go with the flow and prioritize the new stuff while also taking care of as many of the scheduled tasks as possible. I’m better at this some days than others.
Mid-Day Break. As long as it’s nice out and I’m not booked with clients all afternoon, I take a break around 1:00pm to walk to do errands. Sometimes they are work errands, sometimes personal, but getting myself out of my house or studio and away from my computer gives me an energy boost. I have loved going for walks since I was a kid, so even though my walks now have a purpose, they are still one of my favorite things to do. Being able to walk to do my errands–and to bars and restaurants, if I’m being honest!–is an important part of my life and the reason why I will always choose a small apartment in (or very slightly outside of) the middle of things over a bigger and probably cheaper place in an area where you have to drive everywhere.
Daily Wrap Up. I’ve found that as long as I start my day off right with my morning routines and getting out for a walk mid-day, I am generally very productive. The rest of the day is dependent on what is going on that week, but I try to plan it out the best I can the night before. I always did this to some extent, but I really honed in on this after taking a productivity workshop in the Hatch Tribe Members Circle. Every night at 8:00pm (the time I try to end my workday but usually don’t), a reminder comes up to do my Daily Wrap Up. I scan my inbox for anything that absolutely needs to responded to that night, then I look at my calendar for the next day. I delete any non-applicable reminders for the next day (i.e. sending out wedding schedules for one month out when we don’t have any exactly one month from that reminder, following up with someone who has already gotten back to me, placing makeup orders when I’m not out of any products, etc.). I then look at my main To Do list. If it’s a hot mess with crossouts everywhere and tasks written in every available space, I write a fresh one for the next day. Then I look at my new To Do list and what’s left on my calendar for the next day and choose no more than four tasks that I absolutely want to get done the next day. I write “Tuesday” or whatever the next day is on the top of the list and put that next to my computer. Doing Daily Wrap Ups is a newer thing for me but I can tell it’s already been working.
I like structure, but I also like to do what I want when I want, so figure that one out. I have my routines and I stick to them most of the time, but I also create them and can change them up whenever I want, which is where the freedom comes in. All of my routines aren’t fully possible on days when I’m with clients or on set for most of the day, but I still try to grab onto a couple of them when I can. As an entrepreneur, you have so much on your plate. Without a plan or structure, it can feel like complete chaos. And it’s 112% harder (fact that I made up) to run a business when things are more hectic than they need to be.
When you own a business, things are always going to come up. Some days go pretty smoothly, while other days will consist of putting out fire after fire (after fire…after fire). But routines give you that safety net of structure so you don’t feel like you are free falling through your day. Or at least, not falling as far or as fast.
This is my take, but I know I’m not alone. Us small biz owners all have our ways of doing things. If you are successful, happy, and not feeling completely overwhelmed 24/7, I think it’s safe to say you are doing it right. But if you don’t have any routines and you are feeling like things are out of control, maybe it’s time to throw some routines in there. You might already have an inkling of what would work for you, or maybe you’ve read about another entrepreneur’s routines and thought “I like how they start their day off with meditation/a cold shower/running around the neighborhood yelling ‘I did it!‘”
So go on, do your thing mama, do your thing. (Anyone get that reference?) If you want to create some routines, there are plenty out there to inspire you, but you’ve got the freedom to choose or create ones that will work for you.
And now my blogging routine is over, so I’m on to the next.
I’m a Summer Girl and always will be. Early fall in Rhode Island is okay temperature-wise, although I don’t like the short days. Other fall things I don’t like are football (never understood it and don’t want to), apples (they hurt my stomach), sweaters (itchy), and “crisp” days (too cold for snowbirds).
But I can’t write off an entire season just because pumpkin patches aren’t my jam. I’m always going to find things I like and things to look forward to, because my life is pretty bomb and to not recognize and enjoy the good things would be foolish.
Sooooo, wanna hear about my new faves? Let’s do this.
Escada Sorbetto Rosso Eau De Toilette. I have been on the hunt for a new perfume for years. I would ideally like to smell like Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil, but I can not find a dupe for that (although I won’t pretend I haven’t worn it as a perfume before). Until recently, I’d been able to find other scents I liked, but didn’t love. But then I came across Escada Sorbetto Rosso at Ulta, and my search ended. I’m a sucker for cute packaging, especially when it shows the cartoon version of who I’d like to be, but it’s the scent of Sorbetto Rosso that got me. It’s inspired by the Amalfi Coast and mostly smells like watermelon and sea salt, but has notes of pear, amber and praline as well. Normally I have one scent for day time and one for night, but I like this so much I wear it all the time. I keep it on the table next to my front door so I remember to spray some on before I leave. I may never be a carefree, long-legged woman loving life on the Amalfi Coast, but at least I can smell like her.
HotPads. I’m searching for both a Charleston winter home and potentially a new place in Newport, and luckily my friend Jenn told me about HotPads. It has way more listings than Craigslist, and that’s good enough for me. It seems more legit than Craigslist (what isn’t?), as I’ve yet to run across anything that looks scam-ish. Jenn also said she has seen the prices lower on HotPads than Craigslist, which is another good reason to use it. Thank you, Jenn!
Plant Snack Super Seeds Mix Cassava Root Mix. I got the cheddar flavor of these chips as a sample at my local health food store, A Market, a while back and loved them. I only ever saw the full sized version of this flavor at the store though and I thought they looked boring. (Because my regular diet is soooo exciting!) I ended up buying them on a whim one day, knowing I would eat them if I was hungry enough even if they were plain, and I friggin’ loved them! Now I buy them whenever I’m at A Market. They are hands down my new favorite snack.
R+CO Neon Lights Dry Oil Spray. A couple of months ago, I was with AB Beauty hair stylist, Emily, when she said “I got this new dry oil spray that I want to try on someone.” In my memory, I raised my hand then jumped into the closest chair to her, but I think it’s more likely that I said “Do you want to try it on me?” Either way, I ended up being her guinea pig. She loved it, I loved it and now we both use it. Y’all know I’m into hair oil, but I hadn’t used a dry oil like this before. I apply it to my hair when it’s dry and looking like it’s been working those 12 hour days with me (which I guess it has). Neon Lights instantly makes it look healthy, shiny and soft. It’s not sticky or heavy and while it’s got a noticeable scent, it’s one I like so I’m cool with that. I like everything about this product except that it always gets this song into my head. (I realize it’s not called “Flashing Lights Dry Oil Spray,” but close enough.) Thanks, Emily!
High Brew Coffee. I prefer hot coffee–two cups of it–every morning. But I’m going to get a little personal here: I have the smallest bladder in the world (not verified). So if I drink my two cups then go to a morning job, things can get problematic. You see, us makeup artists often have to work for several hours straight without a bathroom break. So when I have jobs that start on the earlier side, drinking two cups of coffee (it may actually be more than that, because the mug I use is plus-size) is not an option. I discovered High Brew Coffee at the convenience store next to my studio, and it’s the perfect substitute for the days I can’t drink a lot of liquid but also need my caffeine fix. Yes, it’s not hot coffee but that makes it easier to chug as I mentally scold myself for saying yes to an early job. High Brew has several flavors to chose from and in my opinion, they all taste great. (Black & Bold has the least amount of sugar, so if you’re normally a black coffee drinker, you’ll probably like this one best.) I keep a bunch in my fridge for my early days. They are my Early Morning Helpers, so don’t you dare take them away from me.
Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father. This show, featuring well known British comic, Jack Whitehall, and his father, now has two seasons on Netflix. It’s a reality show about this father-son duo’s travels throughout Europe and Asia. Jack is fun and outgoing and interested in really immersing himself in new cultures, even if that means kind of roughing it. His father, Michael, is what I think they call “posh” in England. Give this man a 5 star hotel, gourmet meals and good wine or give him nothing. And he is HILARIOUS. Michael has that dry, English sense of humor that I love so much and Season 2, which was recently released on Netflix, showcases that even more than the first season. If you are looking for something good to watch on Netflix, here you go.
Olaplex Shampoo & Conditioner. My hair, you see, is not allowed to be its actual self. I’ve been straightening it several times a month for a decade, erasing any trace of the Italian ringlets that naturally spring forth from my follicles. I’ve got some grays, but those get covered by a semi-permanent dye every six weeks or so. And five years ago, I decided my natural very dark brown (which most people think is black), was good enough for the top 2/3 of hair but not the bottom. That section gets bleached then dyed blue twice a year, with color touchups–no bleach–once a month or so. I also use a curling iron a few times a month to put in a looser curl or wave. (This confuses my father to no end when he sees me doing it. “But sweetie, why are you putting curls back in your hair when you already have curly hair?” “THEY ARE DIFFERENT CURLS, RAY.”) While it may seem like I am hiding the real Allison (hair), everything that I do to it makes me feel more like the real me, who as you know is part Woman From The Sorbetto Rosso Packaging. But all of the color and heat styling does a number on my hair. I am careful to use heat protectants before heat styling, and I use oil on my ends to keep them from getting too dry. Back in I think 2015, I also started using Olaplex No. 3, a kind of souped up leave in conditioner type product that repairs the bonds that are broken during chemical, thermal and mechanical damage. AB Beauty makeup artist and licensed Cosmetologist, Kristin, recently told me about the Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo and Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner. She said they were amazing, and right she was! Even after one wash, my hair felt softer and healthier. I also love the look of their packaging. I wouldn’t mind an apartment that looked like their labels, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I’ve been trying samples of different shampoos and conditioners for a while, but these two are champs, so my search is over. Thanks, Kristin!
Going to Bed Earlier. In my Summer Faves, I said I loved sleeping in. And I still do, but there’s now a house being built across the street from my bedroom window, so I don’t always get to do that. I’ve been falling apart a bit physically lately, so I decided I would experiment and see if my new issues of pulsatile tinnitus, weight loss and racing heart were being impacted by my long work days (an experiment sparked by three of my doctors saying long hours were causing stress–which I haven’t been mentally or emotionally feeling). So whenever I can, I stop my work day by 9:00pm and get into bed soon after, even if I know it will be a few hours before I go to sleep. And you know what? That shit helps. It also makes it so I sometimes get enough sleep to naturally wake up earlier than usual, and before the beeping of trucks reversing and calming sound of hammering begins. I’m going to keep going to bed early whenever my schedule allows in hopes that it will make my body stop putting in requests for a break.
Daniel Sloss. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you might have picked up on the fact that I love comedy. Specifically, standup comedy. That’s why Netflix alerts me anytime a new special comes out. If I’m familiar with the comic, I probably already know about the special. If it’s a comic who is new to me, I have a rule: if they don’t make me laugh in the first 10 minutes, I’m on to the next one, on to the next. (Jay Z lyric, not a written stutter.) Daniel Sloss is a Scottish comic who I had never heard of until his two part special came out last month. Not only did I laugh in 10 minutes, but I LOVED the first special and LOVEDDDDD the second one even more. Daniel is not only a fantastic storyteller and (somehow at only 28) a seasoned comic, but he is smart and his material is new and fresh. I immediately became a big fan and his website is now on the list of comics’ websites I check weekly to see if they are doing any dates in my area. Go on now, check out the special. You’ll love it.
MAC 24 Hour Smooth Wear Concealer. Just when you thought MAC couldn’t come out with any more concealers! This new matte concealer is pigmented, longwearing and comes in a lot of shades. I’ve been using it on clients for a month or so now, and I’m loving how it both blends and covers easily. I use it mostly on the face, as whatever makes it long-lasting also seems to be a little to dry for some people’s undereyes. But if you have an oily undereye area, you could probably use this there. As far as the rest of the face though–where the skin is different than under the eyes–I’ve found this to work well on all skin types.
That’s a lot of good stuff, right? While “Fall” might not be on my list of Fall Faves, it’s better than winter (which yes, I know I don’t experience much of anyway). My new faves are all either making me laugh more, making my body happier, or upping my beauty product game. I love hearing about other people’s faves, so if you’ve got any you want to share, you’re only a comment away.
Habits. Rituals. Schedules. Routines. We all have them, whether we realize it or not. I wouldn’t call myself a creature of habit, but I enjoy a good ritual or routine. I have personal routines and rituals I enjoy–the getting-ready process before a date or meeting friends, taking my supplements while watching a comedy special or video podcast, calling my father to catch up while I’m walking home from doing errands, etc.–but it’s the business ones I want to talk about today.
I read a lot about the habits and routines of successful entrepreneurs. Not only do I find the insights into their lives interesting, but sometimes I pick up tips based off their habits and routines that I can incorporate into Allison’s World. I know who I am and what kinds of habits I’d be likely to stick to, so when I read about something that I think would improve my professional life and make sense for me, I give it a try.
But there are other things that don’t work for me. Some I’ve tried, others I just know. I see several of the same habits and routines come up repeatedly in interviews with successful entrepreneurs. It’s great that they’ve worked for so many people, but they do not have a place in my life. I think there is a small voice in many of us entrepreneurs always telling us to improve (which is good) but also sometimes telling us we need to do certain things that have worked for others (which is bad). Maybe I’m reading too much into it–wouldn’t be the first time I did that–but it seems that some of the articles I read imply that if you don’t have the same habits as some of the mega-successful entrepreneurs in the world, you’re not doing it right.
So I want to smash the idea that we must do some of these habits and routines that circulate so widely. I’m by no means the most successful business owner in the world, but I’ve been in business for over 10 years and we are having our best year yet on many levels, so I’m not totally screwing up. I’m not saying these routines are wrong or bad, but I want to point out that they may not work for everyone, and that’s okay.
Here’s what I’m not into:
Getting Up Early. “Early” to me is between 6:00am – 7:00am. “Gross Early” is between 4:00am – 6:00am. Anything earlier than than is “Film Crew Early,” which is part of why I don’t work on movies anymore. When I have morning clients or appointments, I set my alarm for 1.5 – 2 hours before I need to leave. That gives me time to have my coffee, work on a blog post, answer any urgent emails, shower and get ready. But when I don’t have to be anywhere in the morning, I wake up whenever my body says, “We’re good on sleep now, ma’am.” (My body is polite, and maybe Southern.) I like the idea of getting up Early or even Gross Early, but I regularly work until 10:00pm or 11:00pm, which means I fall asleep around midnight. Forcing myself to wake up 4 – 6 hours after that would not only be cruel, but it would make for a very unproductive day. I am not a good business owner when I’m tired. Every task takes twice as long when my brain is in an exhaustion fog, and even the simplest things feel difficult. So while I have had days when I’ve naturally woken up Gross Early and have loved the amount of work I’ve gotten through before it was even 10:00am, those days are rare and my sleep is precious. I’m not going to voluntarily move to Struggle City so I can seem like a more disciplined or productive business owner. (Besides, can you imagine living there? Every day would be 57 degrees so you wouldn’t know what to wear, stores would never be open during the hours you could get there and you would only have a strong WiFi connection on Wednesdays.) So y’all can wake up when it’s still dark out if that works for you, but I’m sticking with my slumber schedule (or lack thereof).
Making The Bed. Now why would I want to do that? As a business owner with a brutal schedule (which yes, I created), I sometimes feel like I could collapse under the sheer volume of never-ending work. Sometimes I need a power nap to replenish. If my bed is un-made, boom!, I can jump right in. If it’s already made, I have to peel back the layers–more work–and then get in. I’m mostly kidding with this one. I don’t consistently make my bed because I’ve never been a bed maker. I’ve been sleeping like a maniac lately, sheets all twisted and pillows thrown on the floor (what is happening in my dream world?!?!), so tidying up that disaster zone takes a couple minutes. I figure I could use that time to do something more productive, like work on this blog! I know the idea behind this Successful Entrepreneur Habit is that it starts your day off on a productive note and immediately puts you into Routine Mode, but I don’t need help with productivity or routines. So for now, my bed remains unmade most days and ready for me to easily get back into it whenever I need to.
Meditation. During my freshman year in college, I was part of a mandatory new student group that met once a week, I think with the goal of helping freshmen acclimate to college life. (If acclimating meant “finding new places to hide bottles of Bacardi in my dorm room”, I acclimated very quickly.) For one of our meetings, our teacher/guide/shaman/whatever she was, brought us to a meditation class. We all laid on mats on the floor–which I didn’t care for–and were guided through a meditation exercise. Afterwards, everyone in my group said they felt so calm and relaxed during it. Me? My body cramped up and I could not wait to GTFO. That was my first experience with meditation. I have tried meditating multiple times since that forced meditation ambush and have always been met with lackluster results. My thoughts do not turn off, and I always feel frustrated after attempting to meditate. I think I used to get in a meditative state when I was lying out by the pool or at the beach, which was my favorite way to relax until Esthetics school ruined sunbathing for me. I can see how meditation would be helpful for entrepreneurs, but it’s just not my thing.
Morning Workouts. I get the appeal of working out early. You get that necessary evil out of the way early, enjoy a sense of accomplishment first thing and get an energy boost to help you start the day off right. Fabulous! My problem is that if I try to work out soon after I wake up, I feel like I’m going to throw up. Feeling nauseous isn’t my favorite way to start the day, so I push my workouts to afternoons or evenings. I can do my favorite arm workout, stretches and crunches first thing, but my body needs to wake up a bit more before I do cardio (which is always running for me). If you can do workout out first thing, more power to you. But my body has deemed this cruel and unusual punishment, so it’s got no part in my morning routine.
Waking Up With A Cold Shower. This is the quickest way to get me in a foul mood for the entire day. Will I use cool water to rinse my conditioner out so my blue balyage fades less? You know it. But immersing the body of a snowbird in cold water can cause fainting spells, and I don’t have any time scheduled in for those. I am sticking to my warm showers, and I will not budge on that.
Daily Affirmations. I can not bring myself to do this. The closest I get is frequently watching the final battle scene from 8 Mile. I find that very motivating and empowering, which I think is the point of affirmations. I don’t have any problems with professional confidence at this point in my career and I’m self motivated by nature, but maybe my brain is doing secret subconscious affirmations all the time. I will kill it like B-Rabbit, I will kill it like B-Rabbit. Eminem is never far from my thoughts. He’s like a living guardian angel from Detroit for me, and we can all use one of those.
Going To Bed Early. I’ll be honest–I’m jealous of people who fall asleep at 9:00pm. I know if I did that, I would naturally wake up Gross Early, and as I said, I like those days when I do wake up before the rest of the world (or so it seems) and get a ton of work done by 10:00am. However, that’s not the schedule my body is on. I work late, and part of why I do that is to make my mornings better. Hear me out. When I reply or send emails at 10:00pm or 11:00pm, I usually don’t get a response right away. That means I can cross a lot off my list before I go to bed. And then I wake up with less in my inbox, which makes the day feel easier. Starting off the day right is very important to me, and working late at night feels like it gives me a head start on the next day.
When it comes to habits and routines, I think it’s all about what works for you. I have routines I’ve created to make my days productive and organized, but I change them when they stop working for me. I’m open to incorporating new habits or routines, but if something doesn’t make my life easier or make me a better entrepreneur, why would I hold onto it? Surely not because it worked for someone else!
I’ll still read articles and listen to talks about other entrepreneur’s routines and habits, because there will be things that speak to me. And even if they don’t, I like learning about what other people do and what’s worked for them. I find it inspiring to hear any entrepreneur’s story, and if their path to success includes waking up at sunrise, drinking hot water with lemon then loudly chanting for 12 minutes, that’s cool. It’s not for me, with my late nights, sensitive teeth and downstairs neighbors who I would scare, but like DMX says, do you.
If you’ve got a habit or routine that you think helps with your professional life, I am all ears. I’ll be sharing some of mine in Part 2, because you know I can’t resist a two part blog series.
There are some folks in this world who would fight you if you took away their eyeliner. (That is a fight I would pay to see!) Many of us have that one makeup product that we can’t live without, and for a lot of people, that product is eyeliner. That makes sense, since eyeliner is one of the makeup products that can give your eyes definition, make them look bigger, make your eye shape look different, and enhance your eye color. That’s a lot of payoff from one product, right?
So we’ve got Eyeliner Lovers in one camp. They will fight you to the death for the last kohl pencil at Sephora, so keep your guard up. In the other camp, we’ve got those people who are scared of eyeliner, or so they tell me. In some cases, I think what they are really scared of is working with liquid liner, doing a winged liner or having their eyeliner smudge. If you also have that Eyeliner Fear, there is hope for you. Step 1 is to get educated on your liner options. And I can help!
Here’s what we’ve got:
Liquid Liner. Many makeup masterpieces have been created with liquid liner, but it is the hardest to liner work with. Because a good liquid liner is strongly pigmented and is meant to create a sharp line, if you slip up, there’s no hiding it. Liquid liners come in tube, pen or small bottle form, generally with the the applicator attached. The applicator may be a thin brush or a pointed felt tip applicator. The circumference (am I using that word correctly?) of the applicator will dictate how thick of a line you get. If you want a sharp wing or a graphic liner look, you should go with liquid.
Kohl Eyeliner. Y’all need to thank the Egyptians for this stuff. It’s been around since the Protodynastic Period in Egypt, which goes wayyyyyy back to 3100 BCE. It has been used in many cultures by men and women for different reasons. Some believe lining inside the waterline with kohl prevents eye infections, while others think it keeps the sun out of the eyes. Because of the amount of lead in true kohl, it’s actually banned by the FDA in the US. So when we are talking about kohl liners here, they are just a (safer) facsimile of the real thing. You’ll see them in pencil or crayon form in this country. Kohl’s biggest identifying feature is the softness of the formulation and how easily you can blend and smudge it. I like kohl liners for the top lashline, because you can draw them on and smudge them upwards with an angled brush for a smokey effect. I generally stay away from them on the bottom lashline, as the same thing that makes them easy to blend makes them quick to smudge under the eye. They also work really well in the waterline, as they glide on smoothly and a quality kohl liner has loads of pigment. Kohl liners won’t give you a sharp line, as they tend to smudge out a little as you draw them on, so I wouldn’t recommend them for a sharp winged liner or graphic liner look.
Non-Kohl Pencil. I have to differentiate between the two because although they can look the same, they are different animals. Non-kohl pencil eyeliners (let’s just called them “NK liners”) seem to be the most popular with makeup civilians. Which makes sense, because from what I can tell (and I couldn’t find the research to back this up), there are more NK pencils than any other type of eyeliner on the market. Pencil liners can be soft or hard. I don’t recommend using a pencil that’s too soft, as the tip can break off with even the lightest pressure. But using a pencil that’s too hard can cause tugging of the thin eye skin, which is not only uncomfortable but can lead to fine lines. So you have to find the right formulation, Goldilocks. If the pencil has a thin enough tip, you can get defined line from it. If that’s your goal, just make sure to keep it sharpened. Some pencil formulations set instantly, so there is no room to smudge/smoke them out once they are on. Others are more creamy and give you time to smudge/smoke. So think about your liner needs before purchasing an NK pencil.
Crayon Liner. Crayon liners are most closely related to NK pencils, but might be a distant relative of kohl. They are generally a softer consistency and can usually be smudged/smoked out. They might start out as a pointed shape, but even with the ones you can sharpen, they usually end up more rounded. I tend to use crayon liners at the lower lashline, as they are softer, so more comfortable to use there than a hard pencil. I don’t like a harsh line at the lower lashline, but a waterproof crayon liner will allow for a soft line that stays in place. I use a crayon liner at the bottom lashline on all of my female clients (unless they don’t like bottom lashline liner), so my favorite Bobbi Brown ones have an important place in my pro kit.
Gel Liner. I love me a little pot o’ liner! Gel liners are actually more like a cream consistency, but for some reason, “gel” is typically used to describe them. To apply gel liner, you scrape some out of the pot with a clean makeup spatula (don’t you dare use your fingernail), put that on a palette or your hand and apply with a fine liner brush. I know some people dip straight into the liner with their brush when they are doing their own makeup, but that transfers bacteria from your eye to the liner. The pot gets closed after using, trapping the bacteria into your gel liner and making it so you reapply the bacteria–which if high school Biology taught me correctly multiplies when in a enclosed space–back onto your eye the next time you use it. And from an artistry standpoint, I’ve found that dipping the brush straight into the gel liner loads it with too much product, which you either end up wasting it if you notice it and wipe some off your brush first or you apply to your eyes then realize you have way too much on, and that’s not an easy fix. With gel liner, I recommend first applying a very thin line then building it up if need be. Once you go too far with gel liner, there’s no coming back. But it is a versatile liner because you can use it to create defined lines, wings or graphic liner looks, or you can smudge/smoke it out before it sets for a softer look. There’s a little learning curve if you are used to any type of crayon or pencil liner, but if you love liner and haven’t tried this yet, you should give it a go.
Shadow Liner. If you want a soft look that still gives you definition, using a eyeshadow as an eyeliner will get you there. 95% of the time, I use shadow liner only on myself. All you need to do this is a matte shadow and an angled or fine liner brush. You can layer it for more intensity or keep it light for subtle definition. Shadow liner is the most forgiving of the liners because since doesn’t have the texture of a waxy pencil, shiny liquid liner or cream gel liner, so it doesn’t stand out as much against the skin. It also won’t typically show a tiny slip up, where some of the other liners will immediately announce that you had a hand twitch or didn’t get your line even as you were drawing it. If you are doing a graphic or winged liner, mapping out your shape first with an eyeshadow will make the job much easier. Shimmery shadows won’t give you the same type of definition as a matte shadow, as the shimmer particles can look patchy when drawn in a line. (Don’t believe me? Use a brush to draw a straight line of shimmer shadow next to a straight line of matte shadow on your hand, and see which one stands out more.) If you don’t use eyeliner but want to, shadow liner is a great gateway drug to the other liner types.
Permanent Eyeliner. You can’t find this in a makeup kit! Permanent eyeliner is tattooed on. I get the appeal for someone who always wears liner, but put a needle near my eye and I’m going to bite you. If you are considering permanent makeup, keep in mind that we lose collagen and elastic in our skin as we age, and everything starts to droop a little. So that liner that started at your lower lashline could end up a lower than you wanted it. And with the permanent liners I’ve seen, they all seem to turn navy blue after a while. I’m not super knowledgeable about permanent makeup, as it’s not the type of “makeup” I work with, so I would just say, do your research.
Guyliner. Guyliner is most typically black pencil liner at the bottom lashline and/or bottom waterline. It’s most popular with duded who have a punk or rocker style. In my opinion, it looks great on the right kind of guy. But if you put it on a 50 year balding man who wears suits to work, it’s going to look off. I’ve dated two guys who could pull off guyliner and even though they didn’t regularly wear it, I convinced them to let me try it on them. Because why should only one person in the relationship wear makeup? Sephora Date Nights could be a thing…
Did you learn, like, so much? Good! Now your part, Step 2, is to play around with the liners you have or go out and buy one that you don’t have. Then practice, practice, practice and feel free to hit me up with questions.
I have a soft spot for tutorials from real makeup artists. The Pixiwoos, Lisa Eldridge and Charlotte Tilbury gave me as much beauty education as Esthetics school did. In honor of them, allow me to present some of my favorite makeup tutorials.
I’ve shared this one before. Pixiwoo sister, Sam, and I have the same take on Instagram makeup.
Sam referred to these three looks as “makeup to live your life in, rather than makeup to be photographed in.” Love that!
You don’t need to have a winter wedding to wear this look. I just think it’s gorgeous, especially on green eyes.
A lot of the techniques and products I use are because of these four legends. I am so grateful for everything they’ve taught me. There are a lot of bad makeup artists (or people who aren’t even makeup artists) on YouTube, but if you stick with Sam, Nic, Lisa and Charlotte, your face will be a better person for it.
I’ve got a “one more” addiction in many areas of my life. Let me answer one more email before I go for a run, watch one more episode of Grace & Frankie before I get into bed, read one more chapter of this book before I turn my lamp off, eat one more chip with guacamole before I hate myself. I guess that Daft Punk banger from 2001 really had an effect on me…
Luckily, I don’t have the “one more” inclination with cocktails, which has saved me from many hangovers. I also never “one more” another part of my life–my skincare product application. I know that there are a lot of people out there who think that if they use one more pump of product than instructed or apply it one more time a day than they are supposed to, they will see quicker results. But that’s not how it works, Little Miss Impatient.
Here’s a list of things that can happen if you apply more product than you are supposed to (particularly if the product contains a strong active ingredient) or apply it more often than instructed:
Often times, overusing a product will have the opposite effect and make it not work at all, which is a waste of product and therefore money. Although changes may be happening deep down in the layers of the epidermis, depending on the product and the issue you are trying to improve, it may take 2 – 3 months before you start to see a difference. I know this is a tough pill to slowly swallow when we live in a world where a quick injection of instant gratification is preferred, but some things can not be rushed.
Visible skincare results take time. If you are one more-ing any skincare products, you are likely setting yourself up for failure, disappointment and my voice saying “I told you so!” in your head. If you are using high quality products that are right for your skin type and concerns, you will see results if you use them properly. It’s that simple.
Advice given from non-beauty professionals can often be garbage. Sorry, women’s magazines–I stand by that statement. Sometimes, articles and posts are written to promote certain products from lines that are paying for the placement. And just because someone is a beauty editor or a beauty writer doesn’t mean they have any education or training in skincare, makeup or hair. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read articles that tell me that to get beachy waves, I should go to bed with my hair wet and braided. Do you know what happens to someone with naturally tight, curly hair when they do that? It sure ain’t beachy waves or anything close.
I meet a lot of clients who tell me about makeup myths they’ve read/heard. I mean, they don’t say “Hey, have you heard this makeup myth?” (Although I would love that conversation.) They say it more in terms of what they think they are supposed to do, based off advice from a magazine, website or misguided friend. Like “I know I’m supposed to wear pink eyeshadow because my eyes are blue, but I don’t like the way it looks.” I’m here to crush the most common myths I’ve heard, because you deserve a better makeup life.
I’m going to stick with makeup myths only here, because that’s my forte. Recognize any of these?
Purple Eyeshadow Is The Best For Brown Eyes. I blame this on the Almay “enhance your eye color” eyeshadow trios that came out in the late 90s. (I believe Almay was the first ones to do this, or at least the most popular.) These trios and others like them are based off the color wheel. The idea is that since each color on the color wheel has a complimentary color, using the complimentary color will enhance your eye color. In a general sense, that’s true. But there are other factors that can throw this. For example, if you have hazel eyes and get a tan or spray tan, your eyes will look lighter and often more green. Hair color changes can make your eye color look different too, as can the color of the shirt you’re wearing. And many people have a few colors in their peepers. You may look at someone at first think and “Blue eyed baby,” but upon second look you see hints of green, gray or yellow. Now which trio do you chose?!?! Purple eyeshadow is touted as the best complimentary color for brown eyes, and it can look good on some shades of brown. Because of that and because brown eyes are the most common, I think this myth got real popular. But it’s not accurate. In general, purple is a tough color to pull off on the eyes. It can look garish on some skintones and hair color combinations. It also pulls the purple from undereye circles–even after they’ve been concealed–and makes them look more purple/dark. So yes, purple can look good on some brown eyes, but it’s not going to work on every brown eyed girl.
You Can Wear Waterproof Mascara Every Day. Ooooh, no, no, no. Waterproof mascara is fine on occasion, but it’s tough to remove at night, which means more wear and tear on your eyelashes. What does repeated wear and tear cause? Breakage. If you want to create the potential for stubby lashes, go for it. But if you want to give your window-treatments-to-the-soul the love they deserve, lay off the waterproof.
Smokey Eye = Black Eyeshadow. I think a few of the New Jersey-themed shows from earlier in this decade helped perpetuate the myth that a smokey eye is all black shadows (and maybe some silver if you fancy). A smokey eye can actually be done using any color. A true smokey eye consists of three or more shadows in the same color family. Those shadows are applied in a gradient, with the darkest color at the lashline, the medium color above that on the lids and the lighter color above that (into the crease on non-hooded eyes or above the medium color on the lids on hooded eyes). It also tends to have two or three colors at the bottom lashline, with the darkest being closest to the lashline, the medium below that and the lightest below that. This is not what many people think a smokey eye is, so when a client requests one, I always ask “What do you mean by ‘smokey’?” Sometimes they actually want a darker color in the crease, or a black liner in the waterline. A true smokey eye can be done with any three (or more, if you’re feeling ambitious) colors in the same family. So bring me your browns, your greens, your blues, and I will smoke you up.
You Have To Contour Under The Cheekbones. First of all, you don’t have to do anything with your makeup. But if you do want to go the contour/face sculpting route, the first thing you need to do is identify your face shape as well as the features you want to emphasize. If you already have prominent cheekbones or a thinner face, contouring under your cheekbones will potentially make you look older, gaunt or a little on the drag side (not saying that’s bad, but not what I’ve found the average woman is going for). So before you place that contour product into the hollows under your cheekbones, think “Do I need to do this? Will this bring out what I want to bring out?” Just because a Kardashian does it doesn’t mean you should too. And maybe take that as general life advice.
All Foundations Are Heavy. Back in the day, all foundations were heavy. If I was writing this in 1988, this would not be a myth. (And I’d have more issues than heavy foundation if I were writing something called a “blog post” in 1988. You mean a “chain letter,” lady?) Luckily, there are 23,046 (rough estimate) foundations on the market now, with plenty of sheer and lightweight options. And for me, sheer and lightweight options are where it’s at. I look at foundation as a product that evens the skintone, often with a little help from color correctors and concealers. I’ll never understand the appeal of heavy foundations, because I like skin to look like skin. So if you’re with me, there are plenty of foundations out there for you to chose from.
Match Foundation To Your Hand. If you’ve got no face makeup on at the moment, hold your hand up to your face. Yes, right now. Is it the exact same shade as your face? Probably not. So why would you match your foundation to your grabbers? The best place to match foundation is on your jawline. The center of the face is more likely to have pigmentation (including freckles), so you might choose a shade that’s too dark if you match based off that. Your jawline will give you a better match, and it will help you see how far off your face shade is from your neck shade. Things can get a little complicated if your face, neck and chest are different colors due to a tan or spray tan, but that’s for another post. I do want to mention that sometimes deeper skintones can be lighter in the center of the face and darker on the edges, so in that case, you do want to match separately on each area.
Powder Foundation Is Best For Oily Skin. I get the idea behind this–powder absorbs oil. However, I think that kind of absorption works best in a touchup way. My technique with oily skin is to use a mattifying lotion, liquid foundation, longwear concealer in the T-zone, powder to set and then setting spray. My issue with using powder foundations on oily skin is that the oil can sometimes break through the powder, leaving dark spots or streaks that darken the powder foundation. I will say that tends to only happen with very oily skin, but why chance it?
Concealer Goes On Before Foundation. This myth makes zero sense. The idea of concealer is to mask skin imperfections. Foundation already does that to varying degrees, depending on the foundation type. So why in Biggie’s name would you not put foundation on first? If you do that, it may fully cover or start to cover your areas of concern. Then you go in with concealer for more targeted coverage. Not only do you end up using less concealer–so less makeup on your skin and more money in your wallet–but if you are using a buffing brush to blend your foundation on, you are likely rubbing off some of the concealer as you buff. That’s more waste! Be smart and base first.
Concealers Are All The Same. Concealers can come in squeeze tubes, pump tubes, twist pens, cute little pots and palettes. And that’s because different concealers have different consistencies. Some are thin and liquid-y, some are thick and solid and some are in the middle. That’s because different types of coverage are called for at different times. For undereye concealer, I recommend a thin consistency concealer, because a thick one will cake up on ya real quick. But for blemish coverage, you often need the thickness of a heavier concealer to get the job done. Also, there are both matte concealers and luminizing/light reflecting concealers on the market. The latter are meant for coverage of darkness under the eyes (which you should be using a color corrector for first anyway), as the pigment helps conceal and the light reflecting particles bounce light off the area, which cuts some of the darkness. But put a luminizing concealer on a blemish and all you’ve done is draw attention to it when the light hits it. So the exact opposite of what you want. When you are or buying or trying concealers, keep your coverage goals in mind so you can choose correctly.
Makeup Wipes Remove Makeup. Laziness at its finest! And you know it. Makeup wipes can take some makeup off the surface of the skin, but the ingredients don’t dissolve makeup then remove it, so some makeup can still be left on the skin. I’m a firm believe that the only thing that fully removes makeup is oil (in the form of a pre-cleanse or cleanser). Get rid of the wipes, get yourself some oil, and watch your skin improve.
Bronzer Is Supposed To Be Applied To The Entire Face. Bronzer is a product intended to mimic a tan. And when we tan (for those of us whose sunbathing lives weren’t ruined by seven months in Esthetics school), the majority of the color we get hits the high points of our faces (at the hairline, across the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose and around the edges of the face). So not all over the face. I notice a lot of women do this, and the ones who admit it to me tell me it’s because they like to look tan. But what it really looks like is that they put bronzer all over their face, and their neck and chest are two shades lighter. If you want to look tan, use a sunless tanner or get a spray tan. If you want a natural, sunkissed look, put bronzer where it is supposed to go. I know some of you don’t like this advice, but I will not lie to you.
Makeup Can Cover Breakouts. Makeup can work wonders bringing out eye color, emphasizing features and making the skintone more even. But it can not cover raised texture. Yes, some pore minimizers can mostly fill in pores and fine lines so that the makeup applied on top of those areas does not sink in and highlight them. But a blemish, scar or bump that is raised can not be covered completely. Because that would mean finding a product that was thick enough to match the rest of the skin to the height (what else would you call it?) of the raised area. That would be the only way to make the makeup all level, if you will. But it would also mean looking like a maniac. What makeup can do though is cover any discoloration on that area so that the eye is not drawn to it. I feel confident that every pro makeup artist would agree with me here, so you should too.
Do you feel like I’ve cleared some stuff up for you? Good! (I’m imagining you said “Yes! Thank you! You’re the best.”) If you’ve gotten any beauty advice that you think sounds a little off, comment away and I’ll give you my take.
“That was a lifetime ago!” I hear myself saying that when a friend says “Remember when I came down to visit you when you lived in West Palm Beach?” or “Remember all of us walking in our white scrubs from Esthetics school to Dunkin’ Donuts during our breaks?” I call different chunks of my life–like childhood, college, my Florida Years, etc.–my “past lives.”
Within those past lives, I have career past lives. I had seven different jobs before I opened my company and four more during the early years at AB Beauty. Other than a job at my family business–which was there whenever I wanted it for part-time work–I never stayed much longer than one year anywhere I worked. I wasn’t happy at any of my jobs, which is exactly why I started my own business.
My first job interview was at a beauty supply store (obviously). I think it was for a sales/cashier position, or it might have been for office help. I can’t remember, but I was crushed when they didn’t hire me. I was 14, and I wanted to work (and I especially wanted to work around makeup). Luckily, my father opened a real estate company soon after that, and he brought me on as his Administrative Assistant. I had zero work experience–unless you consider my smashing success playing my make believe game, “Small Business Owner,” work experience–but my boss was willing to overlook that.
I learned a lot at my first job, as well as the 10 other jobs I had before I was 28. There are systems, ways of doing things, and often ways of not doing things that I still use. Those past jobs all helped me become the business owner I am today.
It’s in my nature to look back, review and see what I learned from different situations. And guess what? Today, you’re along for the ride. Buckle up, girlfriend.
Job: Administrative Assistant at a real estate company (that my father owned).
Length of Stint: Three years part-time during high school, and during breaks and three of the summers I was in college. So, you do the math. (Seriously, I can’t.)
What I Learned: That I absolutely did not want to be an entrepreneur. I saw how hard it was, and how you don’t get health insurance, sick time, vacation days, etc. I was there since Day One, so I witnessed what went into starting a company. Good thing I changed my mind about that…
What I Loved: Having my own desk; office supplies; organizing the office; creating tracking systems; finding listings clients might like.
What I Hated: Realtors and clients who would call and be rude or mean to me. There’s a special place in hell for people who take their anger out on the person who answers the phone (especially when she is 16, but still more professional than a 52 year old cranky sales agent.)
Job: Real Estate Agent.
Length of Stint: Four years, very part-time (during college breaks and three of the summers I was home from college).
What I Learned: The importance of connections and making sure everyone around me knew what I did for a career. This was in the pre-social media days so I did a lot of mailings. I also learned to do things I still do today, like always having my business cards with me and giving small gifts to those who refer people who book with my company.
What I Loved: Seeing inside people’s houses! HGTV was my favorite channel before it was popular. (Whatchu know about the original “Trading Spaces?”) I also loved being able to help make peoples’ lives better by finding them a place to live that suited their needs better than their current home, or helping them sell a property that no longer met their needs.
What I Hated: Working on commission. At that point in my life, I craved the stability of a regular paycheck. Luckily I was able to do this job in combination with part-time office work at the same company (and l didn’t have many expenses at the time anyway), but I knew that I was not cut out for a sales job.
Job: Weird Sales Job. (Yup, exactly what I had already learned I hated. I wasn’t what you might call “smart” in my early 20s.)
Length of Stint: One week.
What I Learned: Some jobs are legit scams. For this one, I had to stand outside grocery stores and coffee shops and try to sell people crappy kids’ toys, luring the parents over by saying we were doing free fingerprinting for missing children identification kits. I think we said the kits would be sent somewhere to be put in a database–which I doubt they were–and then we would try to sell them toys that we had out on our tables. The job I applied for sounded much different than what it actually was, and I didn’t know what I was getting into until I started. One day I made $20 total after 10 hours of work, said “Fuck this,” and quit.
What I Loved: I made friends with a coworker, Shannon, who I am still good friends with now.
What I Hated: The overall scam; being tricked into it (the owner apologized when I bumped into him a year later); making zero money. But I mean, how Early 2000s Florida was this type of job? Some of you know exactly what I mean.
Job: Office Manager at an environmental consulting firm.
Length of Stint: Nine months.
What I Learned: How to use Quickbooks; project management; the importance of using Outlook reminders to make sure everything got done; how to schedule appointments; how not to treat the people who work for you.
What I Loved: My coworkers. We had a really awesome group at this company (I even got Shannon a job there!).
What I Hated: That my boss was extremely hot or cold. His temper was scary, and after he punched a file cabinet next to my desk so hard it dented, I–along with 90% of the company–made my exit plan. Within three months of that terrifying incident, we had all left the company.
Job: Office Manager at a real estate appraisal company.
Length of Stint: Nine months.
What I Learned: How to use appraisal software; what goes into appraisals and what they are used for; how to deal with a boss who clearly did not want to own the company.
What I Loved: My commute kept me off of 95 in South Florida, so my life was no longer in jeopardy every weekday rush hour as it had been at my last job.
What I Hated: Working out of someone else’s home (oh, did I mention their home office was inside their garage?); that the owners would jet off to Miami for a couple days, leaving me to deal with phone calls from angry people who rightfully wanted their overdue appraisals; that they illegally hired me as an Independent Contractor so I wasn’t able to collect unemployment when they laid me off out of nowhere because the wife’s sister got in a car accident. (You’re right–that doesn’t make any sense!)
Job: School Secretary.
Length of Stint: 13 months.
What I Learned: Some advanced Excel skills (took a class while I was there); the importance of confidentiality (I filed student behavior reports and was privy to staffing issues); that I have impressive willpower (there was a basket of candy on my desk and I did not touch it once during a three month cleanse I did).
What I Loved: The people (both the students and the staff)! I became friends with Dan, one of the teacher’s assistants, and we are still good friends 11 years later.
What I Hated: Waking up early; how I couldn’t go to the bathroom without getting someone to sit at my desk to buzz people in and answer the phones; being bored due to lack of work.
Job: Office Manager at my father’s real estate company.
Length of Stint: 13 months. I did this part-time most days after leaving my School Secretary job.
What I Learned: I actually learned this early on working for my father, but I’ll put it here: I learned how to treat the people who work for you. My father has always been incredibly kind, understanding and accommodating with everyone in any company he has owned. He taught me that you have to let your team know that you recognize and appreciate their work, and you have to make sure that you are paying them fairly and not expecting them to do work outside of their job description without being compensated for it.
What I Loved: The two minute commute; being able to make my own hours; working with fun people.
What I Hated: That it was in Worcester. I really wanted to go back to Newport after my Florida Years, but I had to live at home and save up first (my parents very nicely let me live with them rent-free).
Job: Waitress at a small BYOB restaurant.
Length of Stint: 10 months. A good chunk of this time was during my seven months in Esthetics school. I would go to school during the day and waitress on nights and weekends.
What I Learned: The restaurant scene is too dramatic for me. Lots of coworker hookups, gossip and accusations of stealing money. And yes, hothead chefs are a very real thing. Calm down, you know? It’s just food.
What I Loved: My regulars. Because this restaurant was a small, neighborhood spot, I saw a lot of the same people every few days. They liked me, I liked them, and towards the end of my time there, when most of the rest of the servers were shitty at their jobs, my regulars used to ask me which days I was there and would only come in during my shifts.
What I Hated: For starters, I was trained for one shift, then they fired the waitress who was training me so I was left to figure things out on my own. One of the owners called it “trial by fire,” but it was more “poor staff training.” When I started, there were three owners, and one of them was awesome (we are still friendly today). One was a complete asshole–I’ll at least give him props for showing his true colors from the start–and the other was nice at first, then really had it out for me for no reason. He eventually fired me because the waitress after me did not pass on a phone message I left for him (exactly, makes no sense) then apologized for doing that a year or two later when we bumped into each other. In the end though, my business is thriving and their’s closed down soon after I left. So, I feel good about that.
Job: Restaurant hostess at established restaurant.
Length of Stint: Three months.
What I Learned: That I could pick up on things quickly. This was late 2008, when the job market was real bad, and even with my Bachelor’s degree and years of office experience, I couldn’t find anything for several months. I took this part-time hostessing job while I was searching for a full-time job (and getting my business up and running). I realized that even though it was a different restaurant than the first one and was run completely differently (better), I was able to catch on quickly.
What I Loved: I made friends with coworkers Gretchen and Mimi, both of whom I stayed in touch with for a few years after I left.
What I Hated: I wasn’t there long enough to hate anything!
Job: School Secretary. (Ding ding, Round Two! Different school, different state, a lot of similarities.)
Length of Stint: One year. I did this job while doing weddings and trials on nights and weekends.
What I Learned: I was at a Head Start and it gave me a glimpse into the lives of parents who had financial hardships, behavioral or health issues with their children and some overall tough situations. I think any job that allows you to see life through a different lens gives you the opportunity to be a more empathetic and understanding person. Those qualities have helped me a better business owner and boss, and hopefully a better person.
What I Loved: It was easy and stress-free. I became good friends with two coworkers named Jill, and later ended up sharing an office for AB Beauty with one of those Jills once we both had our own companies. I’m still friends with the other Jill too, and even got to do her wedding makeup.
What I Hated: The low pay (I qualified for many of the assistance programs offered by the community program Head Start was part of); being chained to my desk (another case of “can’t leave my desk to use the bathroom if I don’t have coverage); the hours (I’ll never love waking up at 6:00am) and the boredom. I was overqualified and consequently bored to tears at this job. It was there that I created “tapefoliation,” which what I called using pieces of Scotch tape to exfoliate my arms and hands. Another tactic I used to combat my boredom was to take huge piles of documents I had put in order to file away, then accidentally-on-purpose drop them so I would have to pick them up and re-file to kill ten minutes of time.
Job: Office Manager at a construction company.
Length of Stint: Ten months.
What I Learned: More Quickbooks; how to use Google calendar to run shit (I still do this); how to create order tracking systems; how to process information needed for payroll; the importance of W9s for Independent Contractors.
What I Loved: The freedom. I could leave my desk to use the bathroom, check the mail, run out to my car, etc. without first finding coverage. My boss was also great about letting me take time off to do weddings and commercials. My company really started taking off right around the time this company started closing, so the timing worked out perfectly. My boss was really great to me though and I learned a lot from him, so that meant as much to me as the freedom.
What I Hated: It was really hard to be two plus years into my career and not yet be ready to do it full time, but to watch my boss (who is a little younger than me) and my friend (who ran a salon and wedding beauty company from the second floor of the building I worked in) do it was extra hard for me. I REALLY wanted the freedom that full time entrepreneurship brings and I knew I was close, so I wouldn’t say I was jealous, but I would see them with that freedom and think “I want that! And soon!”
My 11 career past lives taught me a lot about systems, protocols, policies, inventory, organization and basic accounting. And each boss I had ran their company or department in a different way. I took the things I thought they did well and later incorporated those things into my business. I also took note of the things they did that I didn’t think were smart, kind, fair or in some cases, legal, and stayed away from doing those things in my business. I may have dreaded Mondays, hated my boss or struggled financially when I was working some of my past jobs, but I’m glad I didn’t like them enough to stay. None of those positions were in fields I was passionate about, so although I may have had a chance to have a stress-free job that was financially comfortable enough, I know I wouldn’t have been happy.
If I had to go back and change anything about my pre-AB Beauty jobs…I wouldn’t. They taught me a ton, and they gave me the bad experiences that help me appreciate how good I have it now. If I’m annoyed with something at my company, I try to think “At least I’m not dealing with disappearing home-buying clients, asshole chefs and having to get coverage to leave my desk.”
My career path has been bumpy, painful and aggravating at times, but my past lives brought me to my current career life, and it’s the bomb. I hope you’ve got a good one too. And remember–tapefoliation is for hands and arms during times of extreme boredom only.