I’m going to save you some eye strain this week and just give you the link to a podcast I was recently interviewed for. This interview happened in September so I’m feeling a lot more positive about the 2021 wedding season now, but everything else is current.
I started doing monthly recaps in June, then November came along and apparently I forgot. Samesies with December. My bad! Let’s pick it back up for January, okay?
The first month of this new decade was a good one for AB Beauty. We had two weddings, a bunch of corporate shoots and a ton of trials. We also welcomed hair stylist, Lauren Adamo, to the team. And girl, the amount of wedding inquiries we got was CRAZY! We booked several 2020 weddings, and the inquiries are still coming in strong. Thank you to everyone who booked with us or referred a bride! We really appreciate it.
I got to Charleston, SC on 12/30 for my fourth (working) snowbird winter. It’s been awesome, as always. I don’t really do makeup for any clients while I’m snowbirding, so my time is spent handling bookings, creating wedding schedules, coordinating trials, trying to keep up with the latest social media trends, working on growing the business, etc. Due to some health issues I’ve had for the last year and 13 months (but who’s counting?), I’ve been trying to get in a lot of rest and relaxation. That’s not easy for me, as I’ve got Guilt on one shoulder and Ambition on the other, but I’m trying to give my body and mind a break. Once I get back to Newport, things will get pretty intense, so I should probably take advantage of these shorter work weeks while I can.
January was a good month for me and for AB Beauty, and I hope it was for you, too.
I know, I know. If you’re looking for a wedding hair and makeup team, you probably mainly want to see pictures of looks you like and rates that are in your budget–not a long blog post about why you should choose an experienced company. Photos and rates are of course important factors, but because I want you to have not only beautiful bridal hair and makeup but a smooth, easy process with your hair and makeup vendor(s), I have to write this post. What I want to tell you about is just as important as getting that low, messy-but-not-too-messy updo and that glowy makeup that also brings out your eyes.
While you absolutely should choose a talented hair and makeup team, if you want the whole package from your beauty vendor, it’s not just about the perfect hair and makeup looks. There is so much that goes into the wedding hair and makeup process–starting at your initial inquiry and ending after (yes, after) your wedding day–that hiring people who are great at hair and makeup does not mean you’ll have a good experience and get your money’s worth.
There are a ton of wedding hair stylists and makeup artists out there, but if you choose a new company that doesn’t have experience with the business side of the wedding beauty process, you could be in for a headache at best (if you consider that “best”) or a disaster at worst. I can’t tell you how many brides have contacted us over the years because their wedding hair stylist and/or makeup artist fell through, sometimes the week before their wedding. I’ve also heard countless stories of clients who couldn’t get a hold of their hair stylist or makeup artist for weeks, were over-charged or given the wrong rates, had surprise charges sprung on them the day of, worked with a company who refused to make or stick to a day-of schedule causing the wedding to start hours late, etc. And these stories had nothing to do with a hair stylist or makeup artist not being talented or skilled at their craft. It had to do with lack of professionalism and, in many cases, lack of business experience.
At AB Beauty, not only do you get talented makeup artists and hair stylists, but a company with 11+ years of experience in the wedding beauty industry. They say that when you open a business, you should choose to either do something new that fills a need in the market, or improve upon something that already exists. I didn’t exactly re-invent the wheel when I opened an onsite wedding beauty company, but I did set out to improve upon the wedding beauty business model which was, from what I was told by clients, planners, photographers, and married friends, lacking in professionalism, organization and responsiveness.
I’ve learned so much from the business courses I’ve taken, other established business owners I pow wow with, my attorney and my accountant. I’ve also learned a lot from experience, and there’s no way that can be expedited without a time machine. I’ll be real with you: I did some things wrong my first couple years, as I would say every new business owner does. But my “first couple years” were nine years ago, so I’m way over that hump. I luckily had 10 years of business experience before I opened AB Beauty, so my early mis-steps weren’t disastrous.
Have I convinced you yet that experience is important? Good! (I imagined you nodding your head.) But I’m not going to leave you hanging, armed with this knowledge but without the tools to identify the good things, the red flags and what doesn’t matter even though it seems like it should.
Insta Fake. Should a wedding beauty company have an Instagram account? Of course! But does it matter how many followers they have? Not really. Instagram has been cracking down on this lately, but people can buy followers. So you could be looking at a page with 10,000 followers, but any number of those could be fake. When you’re checking out a business’s Instagram, first take a look at how many posts they have. If it’s under 50, you’re likely dealing with a new company. Even if they have a lot posts though, scroll through and see if what they are showing actually applies to what you want to book them for. If their page is 90% haircut photos and 10% bridal hair styling, they might not do that many weddings. Same for a makeup page that shows 90% special effects or editorial makeup photos with 10% bridal makeup photos. Between buying followers, buying likes (yes, people do that too) and retouching photos, Instagram can fake a lot. I do recommend checking out a company’s Instagram, but I wouldn’t base your booking decision off of that alone.
http://www.itshouldexist.com If a wedding beauty company you’re looking at only has Instagram, that’s a little suspect. Where’s the background about their company? Their rates? Information about the services they offer? Yes, visuals are essential for beauty company, but that’s not all there is to it. Websites may seem old school to some people and I agree that can be accurate for certain types of businesses if they only have a website. In the wedding beauty industry though, I think it adds legitimacy to a business if you see that they have a website in addition to other social media (Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest being the most popular in the wedding beauty industry). Creating a website (or hiring someone to) requires more work and/or money than starting an Instagram account or Facebook business page. That shows that–at least at some point–the owner was investing more effort into their business, aka taking things more seriously. That can translate into them taking their clients more seriously, and isn’t that the kind of vendor you want to hire?
Main Hustle. When choosing a wedding beauty company, it’s a good idea to see what else they’ve got going on. Are they a salon or spa that also does weddings? Are they a weddings and events only onsite company? Is this a side hustle for the owner? If you choose a company that has a team of 10 or more people and does I would say 75+ weddings a year, in my perspective, running that company correctly, efficiently and in accordance with the law and tax code is a full time job. If doing weddings is a side job for an owner or is a small part of what they do overall, I would be very clear on how devoted they are to weddings before booking with them.
Some companies primarily do salon and/or spa services but they have a bridal coordinator who handles weddings, which works to your advantage. But for other businesses, weddings are not their focus, which could mean you are not their focus. Some salons–and I want to be clear when I say some, not all–do a lot of in-salon weddings but few onsite weddings, so they might not be as familiar with the factors that need to be thought of when going to a hotel or rental home (parking, set up, scheduling, bringing fully stocked kits and supplies with them, handling payments, etc.)
If you’re considering booking with an onsite only company, it’s a good idea to find out what else (if anything) the owner does. Are they on set 60 hours a week? Do they rent a chair to take salon clients when they’re not at weddings? Do they have another job completely outside of the industry? Those things are all completely fine (and I’ve done two out of three myself), but if there is one person handling all bridal communication, you might want to make sure they are someone who will be able to frequently check and respond to emails, calls and texts so you’re not left waiting for answers for days at a time. I worked as a school secretary then office manager for my first two years in business, but I didn’t have many clients then, nor did I have a team to manage until I went full-time with my business. But I still made sure to check emails and texts throughout the day and responded to calls during my lunch breaks and after work. And there was always downtime on set when I could respond to my bridal clients, but I still kept my film work to a minimum and stopped doing it entirely four years ago so that I could be more available for my wedding clients. Hey, I have to justify my actions here 😉
The People Have Spoken. When you’re looking for a wedding beauty company, I beg of you, please check the reviews! WeddingWire, The Knot, Google, Facebook and Yelp reviews can help you learn about a company from other brides’ perspectives. (WeddingWire and The Knot tend to be the most helpful, as they are wedding-focused and where most people think to leave reviews of wedding vendors.) A company’s photos will tell you if they can create the kind of looks you want for you and your bridal party, but their reviews will tell you about some equally important factors–responsiveness, professionalism, personalities, punctuality, etc.
Like anything else, reviews can be faked, but I know that WeddingWire, The Knot and Google at least have filters in place to verify reviews and/or help prevent bulk, bot or otherwise fake reviews from being posted. If you see a company with 100+ reviews, that’s a good sign that they are legit. But if their overall rating is low, well, that tells you something too. A company (if they’re smart) will only show the good things, but reviews can uncover some of the bad. If you want to see an example of good reviews, check out the AB Beauty WeddingWire reviews. With a 5 star average and more reviews in the beauty category than any other company in Rhode Island, you know we must be doing something right!
Sign On The Dotted Line. Before you book with a company, it’s a good idea to ask them about their contract. First off, if they don’t do contracts, run. A text saying someone will do your wedding hair and makeup is not legally binding, so you’re leaving yourself open to a last minute cancellation by the company (and no recourse for you) if you don’t sign a contract. When you do connect with a company with good reviews whose esthetic you like and whose rates fit in your budget, it’s a good idea to ask them about their contract. Is it an online contract? If not, you’re either going to have to meet up in person to sign it, or do something with printing, mailing and/or scanning. Is that do-able for you? I mean, only 23% of Millennials have printers. (I made that up.)
Maybe a hard copy contract isn’t an issue for you, but if it is, you may want to find a company you like who does online contracts. A lot of new companies won’t have an online contract because they can’t afford the expense, or because they don’t know it’s an option (and one that most clients prefer). And when a new company creates a contract, if they haven’t consulted with an attorney–another expense that some new companies can’t afford–it may not be a solid contract. We’re talking about your wedding day here, and I don’t want to see you go through the headache of a hard copy contract if that’s a hassle for you, or end up booking with a company whose contract may cause problems down the road.
Credit Check. Another important factor in choosing your wedding beauty company might be their payment options. 61% of couples who pay for their own wedding do so using credit cards (and that’s a real statistic). If you’re planning on using a credit card to pay for your wedding beauty services, check with the vendor(s) you’re considering before booking to make sure they accept credit cards. A lot of new companies don’t accept credit cards because they can’t afford the credit card processing fees. (There are ten states where companies are legally required to cover the fees themselves, but many businesses outside of those states eat that fee, as it can be a turn off to potential clients to be charged a credit card processing fee.) So you may come across companies who don’t accept credit cards and that’s not going to work for you, it’s important to know that before booking.
On Your Terms. A company you book with should be able to tell you about their payment terms without hesitation. If they can’t give you any information about that, they are likely either inexperienced or unorganized, neither of which you want in a wedding vendor. A company who knows what they’re doing will be able to give you clear information regarding accepted forms of payment, payment deadlines and any other pertinent information that affects your money. They will have a legitimate invoice and will be able to provide you with receipts. Any confusion around payments has a good chance of stressing you out, and that’s probably not what you want when taking on the already stressful wedding planning process.
The Technicalities. Without a doubt, you want someone who is experienced with the technical side of doing wedding hair and/or makeup. But just because someone has years of experience doing hair and/or makeup, it doesn’t mean they have experience running a wedding beauty business. If someone has been doing wedding hair for 15 years but they’ve never worked in a small business or had any desire to handle the business side of beauty bookings, that may very well affect your experience. The majority of the people I’ve interviewed have told me they don’t want to have their own business because they don’t like the client communication and business side. They solely want to focus on creating beautiful hair and/or makeup looks. That’s perfect for AB Beauty, as I take care of what they don’t like to do. But that “I only want to do hair/makeup” thought is common in the beauty industry. It’s a fantastic quality in someone who freelances or works for a beauty services company, but not in an owner.
You want the person doing your hair/makeup to love what they do. But if they have no interest or experience with contracts, invoices, payments, creating schedules, coordinating appointments, etc., do you want them to be the vendor you interact with? Some people (like me!) enjoy and are experienced with both sides of the wedding beauty services transaction. And others may focus on the beauty side but have a business partner or employee who handles the business side, which is great. I’m just saying, if you’re considering a wedding beauty company, don’t be fooled by years of beauty experience alone. You deserve to work with a company who not only creates a gorgeous hair and makeup look for you, but who can make the business side of the process easy, clear and efficient.
A lot of beauty companies are opened by people who love doing wedding hair and/or makeup, and following your passion can lead to great things. But if the owner of a wedding beauty company is not experienced with running a wedding beauty business, unless they have someone who is working with or for them who is, the owner’s lack of experience will likely negatively affect your interaction with them.
I hope that this has been helpful to you if you’re in the wedding planning process. Planning a wedding can be crazy stressful, but if you hire experienced, professional, responsive vendors, you can minimize that stress. The first vendors you will likely interact with on your wedding day are your hair stylist(s) and/or makeup artist(s), so do you want those first faces you see to be people you’re happy with because they’ve made the process easy and clear for you, or people who’ve dropped the business ball at every turn? I think we both know the answer to that.
I know, I know, not all people born in August are Leo’s, but doesn’t it kind of feel like it? And that’s the way they would want it. (That’s a joke for the astrology crowd.) I’ve got a lot of Leo’s in my life and we tend to get along well, so I’ve got nothin’ but love for my lions. In tribute to them, I am calling this August recap “The Leo Month Recap.”
In August, Allison Barbera Beauty celebrated 11 years in business. I have a pre-teen! That’s crazy. We had 15 weddings, a bunch of trials and some corporate shoots. All of the brides I personally worked with this month were awesome awesome awesome. Jamie, Caroline, Taylor, Victoria and Kate–you rock! Thank you for being so great to work with.
We also booked a lot of 2020 weddings, which I’m psyched about. Next year is going to be BANANAS busy, y’all. We ready.
I tried the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation (which Sam from Pixiwoos raves about), but I got a lighter shade that I needed so I’ve just been using that on the center of my face with my regular MAC Face & Body that matches me on the rest of my face. I need to get the right shade of Light Wonder to use on my whole face so I can really review it. I also tried her Legendary Lashes Volume 2, which I liked a lot.
On the personal front, I had some fun times with friends old and new. I had a party with several friends and relatives to celebrate 11 years in business and we had a blast. I dragged my mom to a bunch of stores to help me find more furniture and decor for my apartment, and we were successful even though she pointed out the SAME EXACT CHAIR I told her I didn’t want, thrice. I took my father to Animal Adventures in Bolton, MA for a private guided tour (his Father’s Day present) and he had the best damn time.
I started physical therapy for this (the doctors think) vestibular disorder I’ve had since last October. It messes with my balance and I’ve tried a lot of things to fix it, but PT is the first thing that seems to be helping. I’m still not totally out of the woods, but I can’t tell you how much of a relief is it have found something that is helping.
August was overall a good month. It maybe didn’t feel as balanced as July, but it didn’t bury me as much as June did. Now we are in September, the second busiest month of the year for AB Beauty. It’s September 5th, and we’ve already done four weddings with two more happening tomorrow and four more on Saturday. That’s 10 in seven days, if you’re counting.
And that means I should probably go to bed. I’ve got two great brides this weekend, and they deserve a well-rested makeup artist.
We’ve had a fantastic, busy, fun, record-breaking wedding season this year! And it’s not over yet–we’ve got two more this month.
In honor of our lovely clients and the stellar work my team has done this wedding season, I’d like to share a few great photos. I am still in the process of getting professional photos from this season so we have a lot more to come, but since this year is just about over, it seemed fitting to do this now.
Thank you to every bride, bridesmaid, Jr. Bridesmaid, mother, grandmother, aunt and Flower Girl we worked with this year. Thank you to the wedding planners, venues, past clients, friends and relatives who have referred us. Thank you to the photographers who have let us share their photos. And as always, thanks to my rockstar team. For the 2018 season, that was hair stylists Alex, Ana, Ann, Candie, Emily, Jen G., Kerri and Liza and makeup artists Ainslie, Alexis, Candie (pulling double duty), Chantal, Emma, Jen S., Katie and Kristin.
By now, I’m sure you’ve read my Wedding Hair & Makeup Help blog post and narrowed down your top picks for your beauty services team. Your next step is to contact those companies to see if they are available on your date. The best way to do that is to send them an email with the information they’ll need to check availability and give you the appropriate rates and information. If they have all of the info they need from you, a good company will get back to you quickly with their availability, so you can then proceed with the process.
My company’s website has required fields for the necessary info, and wedding websites like WeddingWire and The Knot have some of the same required fields. But if you are contacting a company on Instagram, Facebook or via an email address you have, you might not know where to start.
Need help drafting that email? I got you, girl. Here’s how to do it.
Hello, My Name Is. If you don’t have an email signature and your name is not clearly in your email address, you’ll want to let the company know who you are. (Guacamolefreak612@gmail.com may be who you feel you are as a person, but it doesn’t give a company any clue as to what your name is.)
Here’s When It Goes Down. I recommend giving your full wedding date, as established companies are often always booking the current year as well as the following year. And especially if your wedding is not on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you should also provide the day of the week. “Saturday, 7/7/18” eliminates the need for any followup questions regarding the date.
Tell ‘Em What You Need. Do you need hair services, makeup services or both? This will allow the company to know whether to contact/assign hair stylists, makeup artists or both.
Where’s The Party At? If you are using an on-location beauty team, provide the location of where you will be getting ready that day. If you don’t have an exact address yet (maybe because you are deciding between two hotels or a hotel and Airbnb), then at least provide the city/town. It’s important that you tell the company where the hair and/or makeup services will be taking place, not where your wedding ceremony or reception is. They likely need this info to figure out a) who on their team is available and b) if there will be a travel fee. If you tell them your wedding is in Boston but you are actually getting ready at a hotel 30 minutes away, that could affect their pricing and availability.
How Deep Do You Roll? You may not know the exact number of people who will be getting hair and makeup done, but it’s helpful if you can provide an estimate. The reason for this is that many companies who travel have a service minimum, so if you don’t meet that, they should let you know that upon inquiry in case you can find other people who will want their hair and/or makeup done or have to look for another company. On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a big group, the company will probably find it helpful to know that, as they may want to make sure they have enough people to potentially accommodate your group size.
Time It Right. I suggest mentioning your ceremony time in your inquiry. This may also affect the company’s availability. (For example, if you have a 10:00am ceremony–they exist–and the company has other weddings booked on your date but those groups don’t need to be ready until later in the day, they may still be able to accommodate your group.) Bonus points if you also mention whether or not you are doing a First Look, as that affects timing too.
Who’s Your Connect? I always ask clients this anyway, but I (and I would think most business owners) appreciate knowing how someone heard about their company. At AB Beauty, we have a Referral Rewards Program for people who refer brides who book. Those people get a $25 Sephora eGift card after the wedding as a thank you, so it’s helpful to know if someone was a referral. And unless an email came directly from WeddingWire or The Knot, I don’t really know how someone found AB Beauty. So this is not going to affect pricing or availability, but worth a mention.
Still not sure how to craft your inquiry masterpiece? Here’s a sample.
My cousin, Joan Holloway, recommended your company, as she hired you for her wedding last spring. I am looking for hair and makeup services for my Saturday, 7/7/18 wedding. We will be getting ready at the Marriott in Newport, RI. Our ceremony is at 5:00pm, but we are probably doing a First Look. I have seven bridesmaids and two mothers who will likely want hair and/or makeup, plus three Flower Girls.
Are you available on my date? If so, can you please send me your rates* and any other important info?
A thorough inquiry means you don’t have to go back and forth with a company, giving them the info they so they can tell you if they are available on your date. It’s the most efficient way to potentially move forward with your wedding beauty services and cross that task off your planning To Do list.
If you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers, so feel free to holla at me in the comments.
Have a beautiful day 🙂
*Even if rates are listed on a website, I recommend asking for them in case they change after you book and the company increases their pricing. It’s best to have your quoted rates in writing to prevent any confusion.
Allison Barbera Beauty Honored for Excellence in 10th Annual WeddingWire Couples’ Choice AwardsⓇ
NEWPORT, RI — January 10, 2018 — Allison Barbera Beauty recently announced its recognition as a winner of the esteemed 2018 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice AwardⓇ for beauty services in Rhode Island. This is the company’s eighth consecutive Couples’ Choice Award.
WeddingWire Inc., the leading global online marketplace for the wedding and events industry, annually recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals on WeddingWire who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. The top local wedding professionals in more than 20 service categories from venues to florists are awarded the prestigious accolade.
Allison Barbera Beauty was recognized as a recipient solely based on reviews from newlyweds and their experiences working with them. Award-winning vendors are distinguished for the quality, quantity, consistency and timeliness of the reviews they have received from their past clients.
“This is the tenth year we’ve celebrated our top-rated vendors who have helped millions of couples celebrate one of the most important days of their lives,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “This group of dedicated and acclaimed wedding professionals, such as enter your business name, not only make wedding planning simpler for engaged couples, but also serve as a trusted partner in helping to make WeddingWire the go-to place for wedding planning. We congratulate all of this year’s winners on their achievement.”
Allison Barbera Beauty is thrilled to be one of the top beauty service providers in Rhode Island on WeddingWire.com.
For more information about Allison Barbera Beauty, please visit us on WeddingWire.
WeddingWire, Inc. is the leading global online marketplace connecting consumers with event and creative professionals. Operating within a $200 billion industry, WeddingWire, Inc. hosts 10 million monthly unique users across its mobile and web platforms. Consumers are able to read over 3 million vendor reviews and search, compare and book from a database of over 400,000 businesses. Globally, it provides these businesses the technology they need to serve their clients through advertising, marketing and business management tools such as websites, payment processing, invoicing and contracts. Founded in 2007, the WeddingWire portfolio of sites serves couples and businesses across 15 countries in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, making it the worldwide leader in weddings with brands including Bodas.net, Casamentos.com.br, Matrimonio.com and more. The company employs more than 900 and maintains global headquarters in Chevy Chase, MD and international headquarters in Barcelona, Spain.
Hello, gorgeous! Are you a bride-to-be? Congratulations! It’s an exciting time and even though I don’t know you, I’m happy for you.
But let’s be real–wedding planning can be overwhelming. There are SO MANY VENDORS to choose from, and unless you work in the industry or have been involved with planning a wedding before, it’s hard to know where to start. Websites like WeddingWire and The Knot can help with the process, as can a good wedding planner. But when it comes to choosing a beauty services company, it can be tricky figuring out which ones are good and which ones will make your planning harder than it needs to be.
The first thing I recommend is to check out vendor listings on WeddingWire. Pour yourself a glass of wine/cup of coffee/a margarita because this might take a while. You’ll see some basic info and a few pictures from each company and if you like their work, look at their website and Instagram. (If they don’t have a website, you’re likely not dealing with a very professional or established company.) If their website looks legit and their pricing is in your budget (hopefully it’s on their website), then read through their reviews.
There will probably be more positive than negative reviews, so I suggest sorting the reviews by lowest rating. If you see a theme of the same bad vendor behavior in the reviews, that can be a warning sign. I’m not talking a couple reviews or ones that don’t say anything but just give a low rating. But if you consistently see the same negative comments or low ratings in the same area, be careful.
A few things to watch for in the reviews.
Punctuality. Many of the bad reviews I’ve read start with “They showed up 15/30/45 minutes late.” If you see several reviews that mention makeup artists/hair stylists being late the day of, bustle your gown so you can run. Wedding hair and makeup professionals are usually the first vendor of the day to arrive, so if they don’t start on time, that can have a domino effect and make your whole day run late. There’s enough to worry about with the day-of timeline, so why put the start to your day in the hands of a vendor who dismisses the importance of that?
Responsiveness. Wedding planning is a time sensitive thing, and sometimes you can’t make your next move with one vendor until another vendor answers you. And that should not take several days or weeks. If you see multiple reviews that say a hair and makeup company was slow to respond or brides often had to chase them down for responses, do not book them. They’re guaranteed to add stress to your wedding planning, and that’s the last thing you need! WeddingWire has a specific “Responsiveness” category, so I strongly recommend looking at that in the overall rating for a vendor.
Running on Schedule. An experienced wedding hair and makeup team should run on schedule, so buyer beware if you see a lot of reviews stating a particular company ran late. As long as the people in your group show up on time, know what they want, have their hair prepped properly, show up with a makeup-free face and don’t get up from the chair during their service(s), the hair stylists and makeup artists should be able to complete all services in the allotted time.
One Contact Person. Multiple points of contact for any wedding vendor transaction can add a lot of confusion to the process. If you come across reviews that mention this issue, tread carefully. A company with constant turnover or lack of internal structure is likely to add some unnecessary frustration to your planning process.
No Excuses. Most wedding review websites will allow vendors to respond to reviews. If you read negative-review responses that are full of excuses from a beauty services company, I strongly suggest you move on. Excuses and defensiveness are signs that a company lacks professionalism, and is that really who you want to deal with?
After you’ve narrowed down your choices, you’ll want to ask some questions once you establish that the company has your date available. If they can’t answer some of these questions or seem to be evading certain ones, proceed with caution.
How long have you been in business?Not just the hair stylists and makeup artists on the team, but how long has the company been around? Experience doesn’t guarantee that a more established company will always be better, but being in business for at least five years means there is a good chance the company has come across (and hopefully smoothed out) all of the normal issues on the operational side, and has learned how to make the entire beauty process smooth and easy for their clients. A brand new business may not be aware of how to handle everything because it’s hard to know how to address issues you haven’t encountered yet. If you have a question they haven’t heard or a situation they haven’t come across yet, that may cause delays and confusion that will negatively affect your experience.
Do you do this full time or part-time? Ideally whoever your main point of contact is (the owner, your hair stylist or makeup artist, a bridal coordinator, etc.) will work full-time. Wedding questions are sometimes time sensitive and having to wait several days for a response because your point of contact only works three days a week can be frustrating and cause delays with your wedding planning process.
Are there any hidden fees? At AB Beauty, all of our charges are covered in the rates list, contract and/or FAQs on the password protected page we have for clients and potential clients. There are no surprise charges and your rates are locked in once you book, regardless of company rate increases. If a beauty company can’t provide you with all of their rates and charges in writing, don’t trust them. That’s not tinnitus you’re hearing–it’s warning bells.
Do you use a contract? Steer clear of a company that doesn’t use a contract. I’ve gotten several calls from panicked brides over the years whose beauty team last minute cancelled on them, and in those situations, the services were almost always “booked” without a written contract. A good contract will protect both parties, and is also a testament to the level of professionalism that company has.
How much is the deposit/retainer? Amounts can vary depending on the services you book, but you should be able to get a definitive answer on how much your’s would be. If a company can’t provide that answer for you, or seems like they are just saying a number, that’s suspect.
Do you travel? Let’s face it–it’s way more convenient and comfortable to have your beauty team go to you. It eliminates the level of stress that accompanies having to get to a salon or studio and back, never mind the chunk of time that takes out of your day. If this isn’t important to you, that’s cool. But it’s something worth asking about if you’re possibly considering having a team go to you.
Do you use a schedule? At AB Beauty, we do an average of 12 hair and 12 makeup services at each wedding (but have done as many as 22 of each). Without a schedule for hair and makeup, things can get very chaotic, very quickly. And do you know what chaos leads to? Things not running on time. We’re occasionally booked for just hair services or just makeup services and work with another company for whatever we aren’t doing, and when they don’t have a schedule, it always causes the day to run less smoothly than it would with a schedule.
How do your trials work? If you are going to do a trial–and I strongly recommend you do–you’ll want to find out where the company does their trials, how much a trial costs, if they have certain days or hours they do trials, etc., as some of these factors may influence whether or not you want to book with them. Your point of contact should be able to give you clear answers to these questions without hesitation.
What kind of makeup do you use? There are lot of great product lines out there, and maybe you like specific ones. An experienced makeup artist should be able to name three or four of the lines they use most. I personally wouldn’t recommend booking a makeup artist who has a kit full of drugstore makeup, as it those products overall (with a few exceptions) don’t tend to stay on as long or blend as well as higher end makeup products.
Are false lashes included? If you are interested in false lashes, you’ll want to ask if they are included in the makeup service (they are at AB Beauty!) or are a separate cost.
Will I have the same makeup artist and hair stylist the day-of as I would at my trial?If you’re doing a hair and makeup trial, you’ll of course want specific hair and makeup looks, but you’ll also want to make sure you like and trust your artist and stylist. Some companies will put you with different people the day of your wedding and while they may be able to duplicate your trial looks, you may not have the same rapport as you did with your original team. I strongly suggest working with a company who does not switch artists and stylists from your trial.
How many weddings do you normally do each year? If you are unclear as to whether or not you are dealing with an established company, hit ’em with this question. If they tell you they only do five or ten weddings a year, it’s either a part-time or new business and they probably don’t have the type of experience a company who does 50+ a year does. That will likely translate into a less of a smooth process, so I’d keep that in mind.
Do you have any references? If a company doesn’t have many reviews but you like everything else you have seen or read, there’s no reason you can’t ask for references from past brides. If a company can’t or won’t honor your request for this, something is up.
One more thing that’s worth a mention: As you comb through websites and Instagram, you may see some people who call themselves “celebrity” hair stylists and makeup artists. True celebrity hair and stylists and makeup artists don’t usually promote themselves as such, and if they are full-time celebrity makeup artists, they are likely not doing weddings for non-celebs. I’ve noticed that some people in my industry refer to themselves as celebrity artists/stylists, and they’re people who have worked with maybe a couple “celebrities” (and I use that term loosely). I’ve worked with a few celebrities too, but that doesn’t make me a celebrity makeup artist. It’s one thing if someone refers to an makeup artist or hair stylist that way in an article, but if you see the person promote themselves as one, check out their IMDB page and website portfolio and make your own judgement.
I hope this post is helpful to anyone trying to figure out how to book a professional, experienced and talented wedding beauty team. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment.
If you are a licensed esthetician or cosmetologist (or will be after completing school and passing your exams) and you are looking for a job doing wedding hair and/or makeup in RI or MA, have I got the blog post for you!
I own Allison Barbera Beauty, a beauty services company based out of Newport, RI. I have been in business since 2008 and currently have 11 regular Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists on my team, primarily for wedding and event services. Thanks to my talented team, the fantastic people who refer us and our stellar reputation, we have more business than we can handle. I am always hiring for Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists and I have a strong need for at least two more makeup artists and one hair stylist at this time. Like I have work for you right now. Seriously!
Because the wedding industry is seasonal in New England, this is a part-time job. But it can be a very lucrative gig that requires little of your time. If you love doing wedding hair and/or makeup and want to make money on some of the weekend days during the spring, summer and fall, this could be the right fit for you.
I realize there are a ton of companies in the area who hire Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists. I don’t know the inner workings of these companies and really, it’s none of my business. What I do know is what I can offer you as an Independent Contractor for AB Beauty. From what I can see and what I’ve been told, this combination of things is not available at other companies. Interested in what AB Beauty brings to the table? Read on.
I’ve Got It Covered. I get all of the jobs and handle all of the client communication from initial inquiry to photo posting and the million things in between. I do all of the scheduling, trial coordination, invoicing, follow up, etc. I am organized and detail oriented to a fault. I will tell you where you are going for a job and make sure you have contact numbers, know where to park, which hotel room to go to, if there is a certain elevator to use, etc. If you work for AB Beauty, my goal is to make sure you get to do what you love without stressing about locations, schedules and other details.
I Will Bust My Ass For You. I work seven days a week. I have no kids, no husband, no pets, not even a houseplant that I need to water. My energy is put into making AB Beauty run smoothly and grow exponentially. I want to get my artists and stylists as much work as possible and I want them to enjoy working for me. I am always open to feedback and doing whatever I can to make the job easy for each artist and stylist. When someone on the team contacts me, I respond as soon as I see the call, email or text. I refuse to hold up people’s lives by making them wait a couple days for an answer or information they need. This is not a side project or hobby. This company is my life and I take it very seriously.
I Mean Business. My favorite game as a child was a little something I made up called “Small Business Owner.” No joke. I come from a business background. I opened my father’s real estate business with him when I was 15, and went on to be an Office Manager at other small businesses. I graduated with a degree in American Studies and a concentration in Business. I take business webinars, frequently consult with other business owners and am always reading at least one business book. I have great relationships with my accountant and attorney, so everything at AB Beauty is run as it is supposed to be. I constantly network, promote and make valuable business connections. You might not think this matters, but trust me, it does. And you may not realize that until you work for someone who has no business background. They could be the nicest person ever with an impressive makeup kit and an jealously-inducing hair portfolio, but if they do not know how to run a business, they will inevitably crash and burn. If you are working for them when that happens, your income is immediately reduced. Someone can be an insanely talented hair stylist or makeup artist, but that doesn’t mean they can run a business. And do you want to work for a business that is not run effectively or efficiently? I’m going to bet that you don’t.
Do Your Thing. As an Independent Contractor, you are legally allowed to work for other companies. I have had people who work at salons, spas, makeup counters and beauty supply stores as well outside of the beauty industry at office jobs, restaurants and even as a dental hygienist. I understand that as an Independent Contractor, you have to piece together your work. I hope to someday have full-time employee positions with benefits and trust me, I have plans in the works. But until then, you can work other jobs and work for AB Beauty, building the schedule that you want.
I Respect Your Time. When you work for AB Beauty, you will always know your schedule for a wedding one month in advance. If any change requests are made by a client after a wedding schedule has been finalized, I first ask you if you can accommodate the change–even if it is only by ten minutes–before committing to it. I know that as an Independent Contractor, you may have other clients scheduled before or after a wedding, and the jobs for those clients are also part of your livelihood. I also recognize that people have personal commitments and childcare arrangements to consider. I would never want you to lose out on one of your own clients or be late picking up your son because I didn’t confirm a schedule or forgot to tell you it changed. I am also an Independent Contractor (for corporate and commercial work) and I often don’t know get schedule until the night before a shoot. That makes it hard to plan anything, but that’s part of that world. However, I can prevent that from happening with jobs you do for me not only because of the nature of weddings and events, but because of the policies I have for AB Beauty clients.
Experience Is The Best Teacher. There is nothing like experience and I’ve got over eight years of it in the wedding beauty industry. (Eight years of weddings also means we have a huge and steady referral base from past clients.) I also have almost 20 years of overall business experience, as I mentioned above. How does that benefit you? The client interacts with me and is always responded to quickly and clearly. There is no confusion that spills over when you are doing their hair or makeup. That means you walk in to work with a happy client, not one who is mad that I neglected to tell her about hair extensions pricing until that day or never sent her invoice. I frequently get asked about Bridezillas, but I’ve never encountered one. I think that’s partly because angry, high maintenance clients can be created when they consistently get confusing answers or a lack of information from their vendors. I long ago figured out what clients want and need from their wedding beauty service provider and I built my company around those wants and needs. That knowledge and experience is invaluable and impossible to find in a company who hasn’t experienced it yet. AB Beauty has done hair and makeup for hundreds of weddings and events. I don’t remember the last time I got a question that I had never heard before. There are some things that no matter how a good a new company is, they just have not experienced yet. Do you want to work for a company that has already been through it all and worked out the kinks, or one who is still figuring things out?
I Got The Dream Team. My current artists and stylists are the best. Everyone gets along, helps each other out and has fun. We don’t do that gossipy, catty thing the beauty industry is unfortunately known for. Everyone looks out for the other people on the team, and that’s not something I have ever asked them to do. But when you have a group of good people working together, it happens naturally. I have seen AB Beauty artists and stylists exchange tips and techniques, and I do that with them as well. Everyone on the team is friendly, welcoming and happy to help each other out.
Our Reputation Is Killer. Check out our WeddingWire and TheKnot reviews as well as the testimonials on the Allison Barbera Beauty Weddings Facebook page. We currently have the highest number of reviews in RI on WeddingWire with an average 5 star rating. We have fantastic SEO–we are within the first few organic results for several relevant wedding hair and makeup Google searches. We also get tons of referrals from clients, vendors and venues we have worked with before. Along with the artists and stylists on my team, I have worked hard to create an experience that exceeds clients’ expectations. Doing that has given us the kind of solid reputation that ensures success not only for the business, but for the artists and stylists who work for AB Beauty.
As owner, my goal is to get my artists and stylists as much work as possible while making that work as easy as possible. I see myself as an agent. I basically get the jobs, offer them to you, and work out every detail so you can work with happy, informed clients. You do what you are passionate about then bill me for it. I take care of everything else.
If you love doing hair and/or makeup but do not love the business side or the responsibility and years it takes to build a profitable business–something that is becoming much more difficult as the market becomes saturated with beauty companies–we could work really well together.
If you are interested in joining the AB Beauty team, please email me at Info@AllisonBarbera.com. I look forward to adding more rockstars to the team.
It’s the finale! I’m going to miss writing these. If you’ve enjoyed reading these half as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them, then this series has been a success. If you haven’t enjoyed reading them, then what are you doing back? I’m sure there are some Buzzfeed “articles” out there waiting for you.
So let’s finish out this Pros and Cons of entrepreneurship list. After reading these four posts, you should know exactly what you want to do with your life. I’m playin’! But if something I say kicks your ass into gear, then I can and will take the credit. 😉
Pros: You get to do something you enjoy. If you start a business, you hopefully choose a career that involves something you enjoy. Being passionate about something–or at least being very interested in it–is way better than working in a field you have zero interest in. There may come a point when you stop doing what the popular business book The E-Myth Revisited calls the “technician” work–in my case, doing makeup–but as the entrepreneur, you are still in the industry you want to be in. In my experience, working in a field you love makes everything considerably easier. I’ve had my company for 8+ years and I still love opening a new mascara, knowing it could become my new favorite. I still love watching YouTube makeup tutorials and learning different techniques. I still love discovering a new use for a product. And I really still love the feeling I get when someone looks in a mirror after their makeup is done and genuinely smiles. I didn’t have that kind of passion about real estate, air quality testing, the administrative side of education, food service or any other industry I previously worked in. But the beauty industry? That’s my jam.
Cons: It can take away some of your passion. As an entrepreneur, particularly if you are doing a lot of “technician” work, you may find that after a while, you like that part of your job less than you did when you started. It’s probably not that you really like it less though. It’s more likely that you feel weighed down by the business side of entrepreneurship, which requires a lot of energy. I think particularly in creative fields, having enough energy to both create and to manage, market and grow your brand can be very challenging. Speaking for the hair and makeup industries (and I think this example can be adjusted and applied to any creative job), it takes a lot of energy to listen and understand the ideas a client has and successfully execute those ideas so they are happy with their look. A lot can be lost in translation, but a good makeup artist or hair stylist can sort through it. When you give your all to creating what the client wants and then repeat that several times a day, you’re likely drained when you’re finished. But as a business owner, you probably have emails and calls to answer, invoices to send, products to order and a million other things to do after you finish with clients. For some people, that takes the joy out of doing their creative work. Everyone has their own balance they can handle, and the key is to figure that out. In the creative field, you can sometimes find a way to do more technician work than “business” work by working for an agency or as an Independent Contractor for a company. In those situations, you still have to build your brand and do some business work, but the agency or company you work for will offer you the jobs and coordinate the details in varying degrees. (If you hire others though, you immediately step into a managerial role unless you hire a manager.) If you want your business to grow, you will eventually have to find people to do most of the technician and managerial work, but eventually, you’ll have to spend more of your time on being the big picture entrepreneur. (I’m again referencing The E-Myth Revisted. Anyone who owns a business or is thinking about opening one should read this.)
Pros: You don’t have to answer to anyone. If you have a great idea, you can implement it without being impeded by policies or waiting for approval from your supervisor. No one is going to ruin your day by giving you a shitty yearly review or declining your request for one telecommuting day a week. You set your dress code, you do any hiring and firing and you decide how to handle every situation. You don’t have to worry about your boss’s micromanaging or hot and cold personality. When you own a business, you (hopefully) learn from your mistakes–because you will make plenty–instead of worrying those mistakes will get you fired. No more heart-dropping-into-your-stomach feeling when your boss says they need to talk to you. I’ve had some great bosses and some horrible ones, but the one in the mirror–even with her shiny t-zone and thin upper lip–is hands down my favorite. She lets me do what I want and blasts DMX when she’s angry, so I know we understand each other.
Cons: You have a bunch of mini bosses. Each client/customer is your boss in a way. (This may be more applicable if you offer a service.) If they book services or buy products from your company, they are essentially hiring you. And if they decide to no longer use your company’s services or buy your products, they are essentially firing you. You could have several mini bosses at a time and it’s literally your job to please all of them. You need to be disciplined. It’s easy to slack off when no one is over your shoulder. If you are not self-motivated, your business will crumble. Sorry, but it’s the truth. You may find it’s easier to be self-motivated when you are interested in your job, but if you still think you would need a constant push or the threat of someone who could fire you, stay away from entrepreneurship. This rarely happens now that I’m in my mid-30s, but in my 20s, I caught some crap from friends when I declined invites to go out on weekend nights. I very much wanted to be with them, but I also owed it to my clients to show up to their wedding awake, not hungover and sans shaky hands (never a good thing when applying eyeliner). If you are the type of person who will not only consistently go out the night before an early job but will stay for “just one more drink” each time, your business will feel like a 5 star hangover. Except instead of killing your Sunday with its headache and nausea, it will kill your whole company.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. And that’s okay! There is no shame in being an employee. You can be fulfilled and happy with your career whether you work for yourself or someone else. If what I describe as benefits don’t sound that great to you, or the bad seems to outweigh the good, then this probably isn’t your path. If you hate your current job, it doesn’t mean you should quit and open your own business. You may just need to be in a different industry. If your heart is in music but you work in banking and are miserable, see what steps you need to take to break into the music industry. It might take a while, but so what? Here’s where I insert one of my favorite quotes: “Don’t give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
Personally, my worst day working for myself is still better than my best day working for someone else. In the years I spent as an employee before I knew what I wanted to do for a career, I felt a great sense of despair. I knew what I was doing was so far from what I enjoyed, but until my friend Caroline suggested Esthetics school, I didn’t know how to take something I loved and turn it into a job. In the two years I spent working for other people after I had opened my company, I felt frustrated. I so badly wanted to be out on my own but couldn’t do it yet financially. Now that my company is established and I’m financially stable, I feel hopeful, excited and determined. There is a lot of opportunity and I have big plans. I have days that I’m angry that my website is down or annoyed that I can’t get an answer that I need from someone, but it’s rare that I stay like that for the entire day. I think the difference is that I don’t dread my job now. I don’t wish away days. Sure, there are some jobs or clients I know will be more challenging, but nothing is ever so bad that it makes re-think my whole career.
I love that I can basically do what I want. To get to that point, I did have to do a lot of what I didn’t want–doing unpaid shoots early in my career to build my portfolio, working 14 hours on set then four hours running my business when I got home, fighting with my accounting software–but the longer I am in business, the more I can turn down work I don’t need or want and hire other people to do the things I don’t like. (In fact, I have stopped doing or outsourced all of those examples.) And that’s not a hedonistic tactic. Freeing my time of the things other people can do–just as well if not better than me–is smart. It allows me to focus on expanding and growing the company, coming up with the big ideas and then making them happen.
I think it comes down to what you value. An important value for me–which you may have picked up on–is freedom. I need to be able to create a life I want without being held back, and entrepreneurship is the only way I could see to make that happen. Things might have been easier if I loved my previous jobs or not felt this deep need for freedom, but that’s not how it worked out. I know without a doubt that I’m happier as an entrepreneur than I could have ever been as an employee.
In the Usher/Lil Kim collabo “Just Like Me,” Kim raps “If I had one wish in the world, I swear to God, it would be for girls to rock pearls, straight out the oyster.” I don’t feel that strongly about pearls, but I do feel strongly about career satisfaction. Work takes up such a huge chunk of time for most of us, so I truly hope that you have found or will find what makes that time the most enjoyable, lucrative and flexible for you, whether it’s as an employee or entrepreneur.