2018 Game Plan: Checking In

Remember when you said that?

Accountability. You have to have it as an entrepreneur, since you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck. But it’s also a valuable thing to have in your personal life as a motivator to get things done. My 2018 Game Plan post consisted of both personal and business goals, and now six months later–when most New Year’s Resolutions have long since gone to shit–I think it’s time to see how I’m doing. You, my dear, dear reader, are my virtual accountability coach and this is my progress report.

BEAUTY GOALS

Mask Appeal. My goal was to regularly use face masks. I did really well with this in January, then trailed off a bit in February when I ran low on masks. I got a bunch of mask samples from Sephora in March, but didn’t love any of them. I’ve been using the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm as a mask once a week or so since April, so I’m getting better.

Lotioned Up. My goal was to be more consistent with applying body lotion, and I failed miserably in January and February. I think that was because my bathroom in Charleston was cold, so I wanted the shower-to-towel-to-clothing process to be as quick as possible. Now that I’m back in RI and have two lotions I love, I’m doing better with this. Savannah Bee Company Royal Jelly Body Butter Tupelo Honey and Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter in Vanilla Apricot make this easier.

Massage Envy. I’ve been killin’ it with this goal. I do my own facial massage once or twice each week, and my skin has been looking glowy. Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil is my go to for this. If you want to know more about facial massage, check out this tutorial from Lisa Eldridge.

Brush It Off. I’ve also done well with dry brushing, which is good since I slacked off with the body lotion for a while. Dry brushing is quick and easy, but skip it if you’ve got a spray tan or self tanner on, as it will exfoliate off some of your fake tan.

Tame Those Claws. I would give myself a B+ with nail maintenance. I had been filing and buffing almost as much as I should until I got back to RI in April. I even painted them myself one time, which I never do! (By the way, Revlon Nail Polish lasts a good four days without chipping, which I found impressive.) Once wedding season started in April, I slacked off, but writing this post might kick me back into gear…

BUSINESS GOALS

Get Blogged Down. Knocked this out of the park. I love writing and I love sharing tips, tricks and product reviews (as well as the self indulgent posts like this–no shame). I’ve been stockpiling posts and publishing 1 – 2 times a week for all of 2018. This definitely got more challenging once wedding season started, but I’m making a serious effort to keep it going.

Template Time. I reviewed and revised all of my business templates in January and February, which allows me to efficiently provide clear, updated information to my clients and my team. Score.

Socialize. I’ve taken some social media classes and have learned a lot, much of which I have already put into practice. I do Instagram stories a few times a month so I need to get better with those, but I don’t love them. I’ve also updated all of my social media profiles as well as this here blog. I’m far from a digital marketing maven, but I am improving.

Be a Teacher. In Charleston, I did one full makeup lesson and one mini-lesson (lipstick only), plus had one scheduled that the client had to cancel. I did better than winter of 2017, but I’d like to do more lessons this year.

Grow, Girl. I had a plan for expansion that I had been working on for a while, but after three months of trying different potential options, I discovered it’s not going to happen this year. I was super bummed out but I have some other plans in the works. I can’t shake this ambition thing…

No need to tattoo this on my body. It’s ingrained in me with no ink.

PERSONAL GOALS

Give Thanks. I hit a real rough patch in late January–three big shitty things happened at once–but got through it. (Nothing devastating, thankfully.) I haven’t forgotten how great my life is though, and if you played a drinking game where you took a shot every time I silently said “Thank you!” for something in my life during the day, you would be tore up by noon.

Love It or List It. I’m still planning on giving my bedroom in my Newport apartment a makeover. I inherited a plain white comforter from a friend who stayed with me in Charleston the first week of January (she bought it because my apartment was cold due to the unexpected low temps, and I hadn’t brought enough extra blankets with me), and since I want to my updated bedroom to be mostly white, I’m considering this a start.

My dream bedroom.

Overreact Much? As mentioned, I got hit with three shitty things in a row in January. I actually did pretty well reacting to the first one, but lost it when the second, most pervasive issue came up. Then I got sick of myself being so worried and bummed out, so one day I woke up and thought, I’m done being like this. And no lie, about two hours later, things related to that second problem started improving. Then a few days later, I got a big boost with something else related to the second and third problems. Now, I know I’m being cryptic here, but I have to be. The moral of the story though is that either it’s a coincidence that things started improving when I decided to change my mindset–which could be the case–or my mindset somehow helped. It certainly didn’t hurt, so I will try to remember that next time a shitstorm or two makes an appearance in my world.

Listen Up. Uh oh. Not sure I’ve made a lot progress here. I have been trying, but as an entrepreneur who communicates with her clients and team mostly via email and text, sometimes five or six hours go by where I don’t speak a word to anyone. Then when I see someone…I can’t stop! But I am really trying to shut up and be a better listener. I’m more likely to be a listener with clients, but when I see a friend and they ask me about something I feel strongly about (so most things), I tell them everything I’ve been thinking. But, I do ask questions and check in with my friends often, because I want to know what’s going on with them. Still, I could definitely improve here.

Zip it, Allison.

Win Big. I made sure to enter the HGTV Dream Home Giveway two times a day (the max amount you can enter) while it was happening. I didn’t win, but I’m okay with that.

I think I’ve done pretty well overall! I’m on a constant quest for self improvement because although there are a lot of things I can’t control (much to my chagrin), there are some things in my life that I can make better. And those seemingly small changes can make a big difference. I’ll keep working on this stuff for the second half of 2018.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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Find Your Tribe

 

Hatch Tribe, women entrepreneurs

I love owning a business. It’s one of my favorite things about my life. It’s given me the freedom I crave, the confidence boost I needed when I started it in my mid 20s, and the opportunity to both give work to others and support myself. I can’t imagine ever working for someone else again! Being an entrepreneur is perfect for me and I have no doubt it’s what I should be doing.

But it can be mad lonely. I’m the sole owner of my company, so it’s been just me from Day One. Before I get too woe-is-me, let me first say that I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of the friends and family who matter to me, and I realize that’s not the case for every entrepreneur. I consider myself especially lucky that my father is a serial entrepreneur (he’s opened six businesses that I can remember), and my brother now runs a business my father opened. They are great resources for me because even though the beauty industry is seemingly very different from the real estate and property management industries they work in, there are similarities with the operational and expansion sides to these businesses. I also have a close friend who works in the beauty industry and owns her own business. It’s been great to have someone who completely understands almost the exact problems I encounter because of our industry and the similarities in our business models.

Even so, until recently, I never felt like I had a community of entrepreneur friends and contacts. I’m grateful for those three people I have, but three people is not the majority of the people in my life. (Like come on, I’m more popular than that.) And that’s where the loneliness comes in. I haven’t been sitting in a room crying for the past ten years, but I’ve felt it. It’s not loneliness in the sense of “I have no one to hang out with,” but more “I don’t have a lot of people I can relate to.”

So damn true.

Being an entrepreneur is career choice, but also a lifestyle choice. If you own a business, chances are your personal life and career life are interwoven. It’s unlikely that as an entrepreneur, you work eight hours, turn it off and go home to your personal life. (I know not all employee jobs are like that, but let me generalize for a minute.) If you broke my typical day into chunks, it would be Work, Personal, Work, Personal, Work, Personal (with the Work times being the longest) and repeat. And that’s seven days a week for me. It’s not the traditional work schedule, and I can tell that some of my friends and relatives (understandably) don’t get it.

It can also be hard to relate to non-entrepreneurs for a lot of other reasons, but you can read my Prep School series for more on that. What I want to talk about now is Hatch Tribe, an amazing group that I joined last year. You know me–I either love something or I hate it–and I love Hatch Tribe.

Let’s start at the beginning, because this isn’t Memento. (I love a good early 2000s movie reference that only 20% of my readers will get.) I moved to Charleston for my first snowbird winter in January of 2017. I became friends with a tall and witty attorney named Mairin, who I’m convinced is my long lost sister. She got me immediately, right down to the way I approach situations due to my entrepreneur status. (Like she gets mad for me when she thinks someone is wasting my time because she knows I’m already running at a time deficit.) At one point last winter, Mairin told me about the Hatch Tribe Speed Meet and Greet event she had seen on their Facebook page. I went to that event, and I was hooked.  I went to a few other events while I was there, and attended some virtual events (or watched replays) after I moved back to Rhode Island last spring. Everything was helpful, inspiring and valuable, so I continued to follow Hatch Tribe on Facebook, and joined their Facebook group

This year, Hatch Tribe created the Members Circle. It covers the four big areas that I think are essential for a community of entrepreneurs. You ready for this list format?

Advice. Got a question about social media? Accounting software? Hiring practices? If you can think up a question, someone in the Members Circle can answer you or direct you to someone who can. Every single question gets answered, so no one is left hanging. Do you have any idea how amazing that is? In many other parts of my life, I’ve found that people struggle answering direct questions. (So much so that I once wondered if a new punctuation mark replaced the question mark and I missed the press release.) A lot of the issues we come across as business owners are common issues, so even if someone doesn’t work in the same industry as you, they very well may have encountered the issue you’re facing. Or maybe, using my earlier example, an accountant in the Circle can recommend the best accounting software. I’ve been asking long winded questions in the Members Circle since I joined in February, and I’ve gotten tons of valuable advice. There are even topics that you can follow–like Growth, Marketing and Money, to name a few–so you can see what other people post about those topics. The level of organization in this group makes my soul happy.

Question mark
Is this thing on?

Education. You like to learn things to help improve your business, right? OF COURSE YOU DO. Maybe you have access to a ton of classes and the time to attend them in person, but if you don’t, you are going to love this. (And if you do, you’d get more of them in the Members Circle!) Each month in the Members Circle, there’s a new theme and mentor who works in an industry related to that theme. The Mentor of the Month and Hatch Tribe founder, Hilary Johnson, put out helpful 15 minute videos related to the theme, and also do an online masterclass that both connects the previous videos and delves more into the theme. So far I’ve learned a lot about Instagram stories and algorithms, social media content, SEO, perfecting the way we talk about our business to others, the fears that can hold us back in business, the importance of balance and more. If I wasn’t in the Members Circle, these are all things I would have had to research or take classes on myself, if I even thought to do so. But now, it’s offered to me in a way that is always clear and easy to follow, and I can ask followup questions. You find me a better situation than that. You can’t!

Women entrepreneur groups
That’s not me, but I am that happy when I’m learning stuff in the Members Circle.

Support. I’ve been lucky enough to get a lot of support from most of my friends and family in the ten years that I’ve had my business. My immediate family and closest friends have been unwavering in that aspect, and I appreciate that more than they will ever know. But now, with the Members Circle, I also have a group of girlbosses who are truly rooting for me (and I’m rooting for them). Need some examples? Every Friday, Hilary posts something encouraging us to share our wins from the past week. As entrepreneurs, we might not be used to stepping back and saying “I accomplished this” or “My company reached this goal” and taking time to appreciate that. We can do that in the Friday thread, plus give our support to everyone else who posts about their wins. (There’s also a whole “Celebrate” topic, so it’s not just a Friday thing.) Still not convinced? There’s no “Like” button in the Members Circle–because there’s a “Cheer” button. Try to not feel supported when people are cheering you! It’s impossible, like saying “Oh, no thank you” to chips and guacamole. There’s no cattiness in the Tribe–Hilary would shut that shit right down–and no feeling that you are being judged or doing something the wrong way. It’s 100% support, and not because people are trying to sell to you or recruit you. (In fact, there is only one area of the Members Circle where you are even allowed to promote.) If you’re craving support of your entrepreneur life, it don’t get no better. (If I have to get this song in my head, you do too.)

 

Just like that “Ocean’s 8” cast support, except some of us work from home in our pajamas several days a week…

Understanding. It’s real easy to feel misunderstood as an entrepreneur. If some of the people in your life don’t get or don’t like your entrepreneur lifestyle, can you really blame them? It’s not the norm. Only about 7% (depending on your source) of the US population owns their own business. I mean, damn. That’s some kind of rare disease statistic. You might have some people you are close to who aren’t entrepreneurs and get your lifestyle, although you’ve probably had to clue them in along the way. But in the Members Circle, everyone gets it because they are in it too.  This one is huge to me, because I’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain to my family and friends why I have to or can’t do something, or why I have to approach certain situations the way I do. And honestly, being in this group of only girlbosses adds another level of understanding. I know some male entrepreneurs and while I’ve gotten great advice from some of them, the level of empathy and the extent to which some truly listen is lacking. I’ve also found some male entrepreneurs to be condescending, and dismissive of my success because it’s in a female dominated industry. (Fuck those guys, though. If you don’t think the beauty industry is gigantic and growing like crazy, put down your golf clubs for a minute and do some research.) In Hatch Tribe, and particularly in the Members Circle, you don’t have to explain yourself. Everyone there is on the same page.

Entrepreneur meme
#entrepreneurjokes

I had a bit of a rough winter in Charleston this past year and Hatch Tribe–both due to the Members Circle and the friends I met through the Tribe that I spent time with–was one of the big things that got me through it. I’ve made some awesome, badass girlboss friends, and even thought I miss my weekly meetups with some of my them now that I’m back in RI, I still feel as connected as I did while I was in Charleston.

I really think if the Members Circle had been around when I first started my business, things would have gone a lot more smoothly for me. There were so many things I had questions about and needed input on in my early years, and I could have used the support and expertise of the Tribe. It’s still immeasurably valuable even as an owner of a ten year old business though, and there are people in the Tribe who have been in business longer than that. So no matter how long you’ve been paying those self employment taxes, the Members Circle can be beneficial to you.

This isn’t a sponsored post and no one asked me or even implied that I should write it. I wanted to because I appreciate Hatch Tribe, particularly the Members Circle, so much. To be fully transparent, there is an incentive for members who refer other people who join, but duh, every good business has some kind of incentive program. It’s not pushed on anyone in the Tribe (I actually had to look it up to remember what the rewards were). So yeah, I have an invite I can send people who are interested, but I’d be just as happy if you joined on your own. I wouldn’t write this post if I didn’t truly love Hatch Tribe. If you are a regular reader, you know I love promoting the things I’m into, and I’m not shy about saying what I don’t like. (Go ahead–try asking me about beauty influencers.)

As far as cost, joining the Members Circle is, I think, affordable for most entrepreneurs. It’s $34.99 (that’s what, a pair of pants from Express?) for a monthly membership, or $349.99 for an annual membership. One business-related class a month alone would likely cost you more than $34.99, plus you can get lots of free advice from people in the Members Circle who want to share what they’ve learned. And you can’t put a price on understanding and support. Plus, the membership fee is a write-off! (I checked with my accountant to confirm that.) Business owners love write-offs, don’t we?

If you’re a girlboss and you’re feeling unsupported or unsure about this whole entrepreneur thing, there’s a big group of us who want to help. So at least check out Hatch Tribe. Hope to see you in the Members Circle!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Thoughts On Social Media For Business Owners

Is this a closeup of brain cells in 2018?

If you’re a business owner or freelancer and you’re ignoring all social media platforms, it’s going to be hard to survive. (Not impossible, but very difficult.) Like it or not, a strong online presence is necessary for your company. 89% of consumers do online research before buying a product or booking a service. You can’t ignore that number.

My company website has great SEO and I keep the site updated, but one of my goals for this year has been to improve the Allison Barbera Beauty Instagram, our two Facebook pages and this here blog. I’ve been taking classes and consulted with some great companies who specialize in digital marketing, because there is only so much this tech-challenged boss can figure out on her own.

I understand why there is an emphasis on digital marketing and specifically on social media because it can be a great way to reach a lot of people, but if I’m being real with you, I don’t love it.

Let me explain. I’m approaching this all from a small business owner standpoint, so some of this doesn’t apply to some people/companies you may follow (and this post has nothing to do with people’s personal accounts). I’m all for social media as a marketing tool used to promote books, shows, podcasts, tours, etc. My issue is with our society’s focus on social media and the deception of some people’s professional online presence.

I’ve got two main issues with social media, and I am ready to vent.

What About The Business? I am not negating the importance of social media, but I think some people forget that you also have to be good at running your business. A ton of Facebook likes or a beautifully curated Instagram feed doesn’t mean a business provides great services and/or products. A person or company could have 21 million followers but if they can’t answer an email and make it to client appointments on time, are they worth hiring? (By the way, you know a lot of people buy followers, comments and likes, right? Keep that in mind before you get impressed by what you see.) I would love to see some of the focus shifted back to how good a company is at the work they do instead of how pretty their feed is or how much they tweet.

The cool thing about online presence for a business is that you can make it as good as you have time (or money) for. But that’s not the entirety of a business. How is everything inside the business? Is it organized? Are there systems? Are employees being paid on time? Are taxes being done? Are client calls and emails responded to promptly? Are followups sent? How are those invoices coming along? Has an attorney reviewed all legal documents? What are they doing to improve the business? Are there plans for growth? I don’t care if a Facebook post has 1.3 million likes–if a business is not doing what people hire them to do, they are not a good business. Put that in your feed and Like it.

Are you spending hours putting filters on your photos instead of taking care of essential business tasks? If so, you, it’s time to rethink your priorities. #youcantonlydothefunstuff

Show Me Your Credentials. There are social media influencers in all industries. If someone is true working professional and expert in their field, then more power to them! My problem is with those–and we see this a ton in the beauty industry–who pass themselves off as professionals when they are not. Speaking again about the beauty industry, I’ve seen influencers who do hair/makeup on themselves that I know would look horrible in person. But through the magic of filters and retouching, they make it look good (or what many of their followers consider to be good). They often have no training, no professional license and no experience doing hair or makeup on anyone else. But they can Facetune the hell out of their photos and videos, then buy some followers to get their fan base going. New followers see these people with a huge amount of followers, so they assume the influencer knows what they are doing/talking about. But so often, they don’t and people think that what they are seeing/watching/reading is expert advice. Nope! They’ve been duped.

In the beauty industry, it’s easy to find out if someone is a real professional, like Lisa Eldridge, or what my father would call a “phoney baloney.” Check their website portfolio and/or IMDB page and you’ll figure it out.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not jealous or hating on anyone. Even with a team of 17 people, my company still turns down work weekly. We get that work from a decade of providing excellent service that has lead to five star reviews and a pipeline of client referrals that #cantstopwontstop. We have fantastic SEO, thanks in part to my website creators but also because people click on our site after putting in certain search terms and find what they need, which is key for high rankings in a Google search. So I’m not sitting over here, upset that my company isn’t getting business but my competitors with better social media are. We are doing very well, and I do consistently post on Instagram, Facebook and right here, dawg.

The thing is, it really doesn’t matter that I think too much emphasis is put on social media. I would never hurt my company by being a dinosaur and refusing to utilize social media. I’ll continue to post consistently and try to stay on top of things. I’m aware of what I could be doing better, which I will continue to try to improve. But if I have one hour to work on something, I am answering current and potential clients before I post a story on Instagram. Because if I don’t answer that new potential client then, but I post a story then answer the client hours later when I have time again, they very well may have booked with another company. (This could be specific to my industry, as a bride is 8x more likely to book wedding services with a vendor who responds within 15 minutes than one who responds four hours later, but I’ve found it to be the case with corporate and commercial inquiries too.)

You get this, or you’re under 35.

I don’t care what anyone says–I’m not willing to give up decent chunks of revenue and hurt our reputation as the most responsive beauty services company in RI because there might be 300 people out there who want to view a behind the scenes story. I will get them their story later, after actual real time clients have been responded to. My clients come first, but I don’t ignore social media. I prioritize clients and time sensitive issues, but it would be ridiculous to use that as a reason to ignore the social media platforms my client base uses.

Likes, follows, re-tweets, etc. are great, because they give you exposure. They certainly may evolve into clients/customers, and my company has benefited from that. All I’m saying is please don’t equate pretty pictures, likes or follows with expertise, excellent service or high quality products. Anyone with the knowledge or budget to pay a good social media company can make it look like they do well or know what they are talking about. But a true pro will sniff them out, and an annoyed pro will write a blog post about it…

There are companies who do a fantastic job running their company and their social media and to them, I give mad props. That’s an impressive accomplishment and one day in the near future I hope I’ll have the budget for a social media coordinator so that AB Beauty can knock it out of the park there too. But we will continue to provide excellent service not only the day of a job but before and after the services have been performed. Maybe we won’t have 100,000 followers, but if my team is happy, the business is growing and clients are still taking the time to leave us 5 star reviews, what does it matter?

I had to write about this because I have both heard about and experienced lackluster service from businesses who have beautiful and consistent social media. (I’m talking within and outside of the beauty industry.) As an entrepreneur and as a consumer, I’m not impressed by a person or company’s social media game if they can’t answer an email, return a call or provide great service. You can filter the hell out of that Instagram post, but if you dropped the ball on a time sensitive the project I hired you for but I saw two Facebook posts and an Instagram story while you seemingly ignored my question, you’re dead to me. (I know posts can be scheduled so it doesn’t mean someone is actively ignoring me, but it can feel that way.)

I’ve always felt I had a lot in common with Don Vito.

I want to be clear that I’m not knocking companies who provide social media services. I know a few who are awesome at what they do, and I recognize that social media has an important place in a small business’s marketing plan. I’m just saying, let’s not forget that a beautiful feed doesn’t mean a business is good, and a lot of followers doesn’t mean an influencer is an expert.

And with that, my vent is over…for now.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Work It, Girl: A 15 Minute Makeup How To For Bosses Like You

Here’s the cold, hard truth: part of your professional image is based on your appearance. I don’t like it either–sometimes even makeup artists want a break!–but studies say that people who look put together are typically taken more seriously and believed to be more competent, even before they say anything, than people who appear to have put in no effort. As an entrepreneur, I know I need to use every tool at my disposal to ensure that I’m doing the best I can in every part of my business, so if I can do something that will mean someone might take me seriously before I even speak, I’m on it.

This post is for my fellow entrepreneurs and business owners who also want to put their best face forward. I’m going to teach you how to do a basic, polished and semi-quick makeup look. Once you practice a few times and get used to how to do it, you can bang out this routine in 15 minutes. Along with whatever wardrobe and hair styling make sense for your profession, this makeup look will help with your professional image.

Ready?

  1. Eye Primer. If you want your eye makeup to stay on and last all day, you have to use this. And isn’t it your lucky day? I have a post all about how to prime those peepers, and which primer you should use to do it.
  2. Face Primer. You’ve already moisturized your face after your shower, right? Good job. Applying foundation primer while your eye primer drying is your next step then. A quarter-sized amount is plenty, and you can apply it with your hands, like you would with a moisturizer. Primer makes your foundation go on smoother and stay on longer. It doesn’t have to be an every day product, but if you are going to be at events, conferences or speaking to clients or investors all day, that’s a good time to use it. Laura Mercier Foundation Primer is my favorite. If you are going to be on camera or photographed for anything related to your business, I recommend a mattifyer like MAC Oil Control Lotion if you have oily or combination skin. You can use that instead of a primer. Shiny skin is distracting in photos and on camera, but you can help eliminate it with a mattifyer.
  3. Lip Balm. Dry, cracked lips are not a good look on anyone. And if you put lipstick over those lips? Hot mess. Applying a clear lip balm like Glossier Balm Dotcom will make your lips look and feel their best, just like you do when you book a big client/gig or have a killer sales month. Applying lip balm at the beginning of your makeup routine gives it time to fully absorb before applying lipstick, should you choose to do that step.

    Glossier Balm Dotcom, lip balm, Glossier
    The bombest balm.
  4. Eye Makeup. When we are having a conversation with someone, they are (hopefully) looking at our eyes. They are subconsciously scanning our faces to see if we are honest and genuine, and that part of their impression of us comes from our body language and our expressions. Eyes play a big part in our expressions, so I say, frame them up. Depending on how far you go want to go with this, it can either take you one minute or five minutes. Here’s an easy how to for a polished eyeshadow look.
  5. Foundation. I’m calling it foundation because that’s what I prefer, but you can use a tinted moisturizer, BB cream or CC cream if that’s your jam. What’s important about what you choose is thatit matches your skin and evens out your skintone. I prefer a sheer foundation like MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation for dry and normal to dry skin, and Armani Luminous Silk Foundation for normal to oily skin (with a mattifyer under it for oily skin). Apply that with your hands or a foundation brush and blend it with a buffing brush. Start with a quarter sized amount and add more if needed. The idea is not to layer on the product and create a makeup mask. Foundation and its associates, when applied correctly, are meant to even out the skintone so anything that goes over it has a good base to blend into.
  6. Brows. I strongly recommend getting your eyebrows professionally shaped, even if you only do so once a year then maintain on your own with tweezers. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are trim for those windows. Why ruin pretty windows with jacked up trim? A pro shaping followed by some light brow fill in can work wonders. Eyebrows can make a huge difference in your poloshed versus disheveled factor. You don’t need to go crazy with brow fill-in–please don’t go all Instaglam on me–but a little brow powder, pencil or gel applied correctly can make a world of difference. The tutorials below will be a bigger help than my words here.

    Benefit, natural brow fill in
    From Benefit Cosmetics. They know how to do a natural brow.
  7. Concealer. Foundation may minimize some of your areas of concern, if you have any. Concealer is there for what foundation doesn’t cover as well on its own. I’m talking blemishes, redness and dark undereye circles. (For severe redness and dark circles, a color corrector may be needed first.) A pigmented concealer with a thin consistency, like MAC Pro Longwear Concealer, allows you to cover areas of concern without causing product build up. Nothing gives away “I stayed up working until 2:00am” like dark circles, so let concealer keep that a secret.
  8. Cheek Color. If you are tired and overworked (and you probably are if you are a business owner), your skin might look dull and washed out. A good cheek color will make you look much more awake and put together than you might feel some days. I like a good cream blush, like Make Up For Ever HD Cream Blush  because cream blushes blend well and often look more natural. Use your finger to apply a small amount to the apples of your cheeks and blend slightly upwards with another finger, a buffing brush or a makeup sponge. It’s like caffeine for your face!
  9. Top Lash Mascara. Mascara, like the way you take your coffee, is a personal preference. For the top lashes, I personally like Dior Diorshow Mascara and Too Faced Better Than Sex MascaraL’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara is, I think the, the best one at the drugstore level. If the eyes are the windows the to the soul and the eyebrows are the trim, eyelashes are the window treatments. (I can not take this analogy any further.) Wiggle your mascara wand at the roots of your lashes for volume, and hold at mid-lash level and lightly blink into it for length. Mascara makes everyone’s eyes look more open, awake and alert. It helps us fool people into thinking we always sleep well and never have nightmares about our companies closing…
  10. Powder. A good powder does two things 1) Sets the foundation so it stays in place and 2) Minimizes shine. You want to set your foundation so it stays on as long as possible because really, who has time to re-do their makeup? And shine, you see, can look like sweat, and never let ’em see you sweat. You can apply your powder with a sponge or a brush, but either way, press it onto the skin–don’t buff it in. Under the eyes, I recommend using a clean fluffy eyeshadow brush to lightly press it over your concealer, as that powder layer will act as a barrier to keep your bottom lash mascara from melting when it hits your concealer. This whole powder step for both your face and under your eyes is super important and won’t take more than one minute. Rimmel Stay Matte Powder is a solid choice in this department.

    Rimmel Stay Matte, best drugstore powder
    Rimmel Stay Matte pressed powder. This has been in my personal makeup bag for years.
  11. Bottom Lash Mascara. You can either use your regular mascara or get a beauty tubes mascara like Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara. Beauty tubes do not smudge, so if your mascara smudges even with powder over your undereye concealer, consider the tubes. You may want to skip this step on regular days, but I do recommend it if you are going to be filmed or photographed, as it really helps define the eyes.
  12. Lip Color. If you’re shy about lip color, you can knock out two steps at once by using a tinted lip balm. If you’re going to go full on lipstick, make sure the color you choose looks right with the top you are wearing. (The watermelon pink lipstick you love may look great when you have a white shirt on but will clash with a red sweater.) Using a lip brush to apply your lipstick will help keep it looking more polished, since that allows you to control the shape of the color at your liplines.
  13. Cheek Color Revisited. I like to use more cheek color–either cream or powder–at the end of my application to make it a little brighter, and because an extra layer will help it stay on longer. This is a completely skippable step, but if you’re a blush gal, I think you’ll like it. If you are being photographed and are doing your own makeup, definitely add some extra blush, as photography requires makeup to be a little more intense to show up in pictures.

This may seem like a lot of steps, but none of them on their own will take you more than five minutes. And I’m really breaking it down here, so that makes this post look long and maybe intimidating. But the actual process is not!

Other than helping you look more polished, a basic look like this will help take away from what I call “face distractions.” Whether they realize it or not, people experience split seconds of distraction when they see something that is “off” on a face. Shiny skin, uncovered blemishes, unruly eyebrows–you know what I’m talking about. If you surveyed a group of people, most would probably say that stuff would never distract them. That’s because they are not even realizing it. Trust me, I get hired on corporate shoots and commercials to take away physical distractions so the viewer/client/customer is focused on the message of the person they are watching, not a red nose, smudged mascara or a super shiny forehead.

I’ve linked to some tutorials below because sometimes you just need to see a makeup step in action. These tutorials were all done by true pros, so you can trust them. There are a ton of tutorials out there done by beauty influencers who don’t really know what they are doing, but I would never lead you astray like that.

You don’t have to do all or any of these steps every day, but it might be a good tool to use for when you are in the public eye, meeting with clients or promoting your company. This may seem like a lot, especially if you never wear makeup, but you can definitely do this. I mean, you run a business! This might be the easiest thing you do all day. But if you have questions, I have answers, so comment away.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Recommended Makeup Tutorials

Some of the steps are different in these, but that’s okay! They know what they are doing.

If you’re a gel liner girl.

A different type of basic eyeshadow look.

Lisa makes some really good points about work makeup. And this one is eyeliner-free, for those of you who aren’t liner fans.

Lisa’s take on eyebrows.

A great eyebrow tutorial. You don’t have to do the last two steps, but Charlotte gives some great tips to create a more stylized brow.

A solid foundation and concealer tutorial.

A quick bit on how to apply cream blush.

 

Boss Life Gratitude

Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby praying
Dear 8 pound, 6 ounce newborn infant Jesus: Thank you for my Boss Life.

During my first two years in business, I worked full-time at other jobs (school secretary at a Head Start for a bit, office manager at a construction company after that). I ran my business and met with clients on evenings after work, weekends and holidays. When I was first able to go full-time with my business, I was straight out giddy for months. I have a vivid memory of driving down a street in a neighborhood I lived in, smiling and giggling for no reason other than that I was finally out on my own. (And if an old school hip hop song came on during my giddy moments? Fuggetaboudit. Damn near lost my shit in a happy way.)

But as the years went by, I lost some of that excitement. The further away I got from working for someone else, the more I forgot how miserable that made me. (Nothing against anyone in particular–in fact, my construction company boss, Ralph, was incredibly good to me and I learned some business tips from him that I still use today.) You know when you get a new car/new apartment/new boyfriend and it’s so awesome at first three months later you have a ready-to-share list of annoying things about it? That happened to me, the excitement phase lasted a solid year or two.

I have always been grateful that I have my company and have maintained that I could never work for someone else again. The thought of someone else being in charge makes my skin feel clammy. But I think I sometimes get bogged down by the sheer amount of work to be done or the frustrations of running a business and that makes me temporarily forget how friggin’ good I have it.

But I haven’t totally forgotten how dope it is to be my own boss. Being a business owner has become a huge part of my identity. I feel lucky that I am able to be where I am today without some of the roadblocks other people have had to encounter. I don’t take this opportunity to be an entrepreneur lightly, and I work hard to make sure it keeps happening.

Everyday I'm hustlin
Can’t slack off if I want to stay writing my own paychecks.

The written word is extremely powerful to me, so I want to do this post as a reminder to myself–and maybe other business owners who’ve been at it a while–that there are a lot of things to be grateful for in boss life. And if you’re in the Early Struggle Years of running a business–where money is tight and you don’t know if your business will even stay afloat–maybe you’ll find this helpful too. If you are not already at some of these points, they very well may be there for you, possibly even sooner than you expect.

You know I love a good list, so here goes.

Schedule Freedom. When it comes to my schedule, there are some commitments (weddings, commercials, events, classes I attend) that require me to be there at a certain time. But other commitments–makeup lessons, wedding trials, meetings, classes I teach–are partially dependent on when I want to do them. And what I call my “admin days”–days with no clients, meetings, classes or appointments–are completely up to me. Today is one of those. I got up when my body wanted to (7:30am) and have been working from bed. I’m leaving soon to walk to the bank (work-related), then I’ll go Staples (work-related), laundromat (personal) and grocery store (personal). When I get home, I’ll work until I decide I need a break, then I’ll go for a run. I often end my work day around 9:00pm, but my personal stuff is sprinkled in throughout the day. I’m very grateful that on my walk to the bank, I can stop in a store and pick up a birthday gift for a friend or take care of some other task on my personal To Do list. No one is breathing down my neck, timing my return to the office, ready to freak out on me because I walked in two minutes after my break ended. No one can tell me I can’t do what I want to do when I want to do it. Timing-wise, it’s not really work/life balance since I spend more time working than not working. However, it is a type of balance in the way that I don’t have to cram all of my personal errands and appointments into nights and weekends. This schedule freedom is one of my favorite parts of being an business owner, as you can see by the length of this paragraph.

Job Freedom. When I first started doing makeup, I wanted to be a freelance, one woman show. I thought I could work in film and maybe do some weddings on the side. I soon realized working in film wasn’t the right path for me, so I changed course. And that’s something else I am immensely grateful for–the freedom to choose the direction of my career. I don’t have to climb up the corporate ladder to get to where I want to be. I just decide, This is what I want to do, then I go for. It doesn’t always work out, but I’m at least able to try. This career freedom is something I take for granted until I hear someone talk about the constraints of the structure at their company and how they are not always able to work the job they want to be working. Creating my own job description and changing it when and how I want to is exactly what this little INFJ craves.

INFJ life: I will gladly follow rules and policies…if I make them.

Working from Home. Not only do I get to decide when I work and what I work on, but on admin days (or partial admin days), where I do my work. In Rhode Island, I have a office where I meet with clients, but I normally work from home. In my current winter home in South Carolina, I sometimes work at the desk in my studio apartment or, like I’m doing right now, from my bed. (What? The desk chair is uncomfortable!) If I want to work from a coffee shop for a change of pace, I can do that too. Raining, snowing or cold out? Unless I have clients, I don’t have to leave my house to go to work. The convenience of it all is just too good. The freedom to choose my workplace in combination with my schedule freedom makes my job feel more like part of my life than a separate thing I have to go to at a place not of my choosing. When I hear friends say they had a nightmare three hour commute because of black ice but they had to go in anyway, or how their company requires them to go into an office every day even though 95% of their work can be done from anywhere with a computer and a phone, I am reminded of how lucky I am. I love that more and more companies are allowing telecommuting so even if you’re not a business owner, you can get some of this flexibility. It’s a game changer.

Ability to Change the Job. When you’re the captain of the ship, you can decide how you want to run it (or sail it? I don’t know). I’ve worked at jobs where I knew there was a better way to do something, but I couldn’t make changes because of rules, policies, prideful bosses, whatever. But with my company, no one can tell me I have to do something a certain way. When I started AB Beauty, I took what I didn’t like about the beauty industry and some small businesses in general and changed it within my company. Sure, there will always be laws and tax code I have to abide by, but I can create my own systems, style of management, methods of client communication, etc. This is something else I sometimes take for granted, because it is now so natural to me to change something if it’s causing problems. Again, I can’t always do that–and there are plenty of things I do that I don’t like because it makes things easier for my clients or Independent Contractors–but there is a lot I can change when I want to. And guess who I have to get permission from? NO ONE. It’s glorious.

Boss Pride. If you are doing a good job at whatever you do, I think you should be recognized for it, and I think you should be proud of your work. I have what some consider a harsh theory and it is this: 70% of people are bad at their jobs. I stand by that. When I have an interaction with someone who is doing a good job, I write a review, email their manager, leave a big tip–whatever. I think it’s rare for someone to be great at their job, so those 30-percenters deserve a thank you, a pat on the back and recognition. As a business owner, your company may win awards or be recognized in another way, but that doesn’t always happen. What you can do–and this is a hard one for me and I’m sure many other business owners–is be proud of the business you’ve created and the successes you’ve had. And at least in my experience, this pride feels different than the pride I felt when I got good performance reviews or raises when I worked for someone else. The boss pride is cool because you can say “I did this. I made this happen.” At my company, our success is in big part due to my team. I absolutely could not do it without them. So I hope they are proud too! But I do recognize that I played a part in each transaction that has ever happened at AB Beauty. I really feel like I worked for every penny that came in. There is no phoning it in as an entrepreneur (if you want to stay in business, anyway). Maybe this one seems weird to say, but I am grateful for the opportunity to feel proud of making a living for myself.

Friends & Family Time. You know that schedule freedom I talked about? That goes hand in hand with Friend & Family Time. If I want to make plans with a friend or relative and they can give me some notice, I can build my work day around them. For example, my parents came to visit me in SC recently. I can’t take a full day off, but I was able to do some work until noon, hang out with them all afternoon and into the evening, then catch up on work when I got home. I didn’t have to take personal time or play hooky so I could go on a Charleston carriage tour with them. I just got a lot of work done in the few days before they arrived to prep and then worked short, spread out hours on the days they were in town. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–being able to see my friends and family as much as possible was one of my two main personal goals when I opened my business. I still miss some things due to working weddings on spring, summer and fall weekends, but I’m grateful that this ladyboss gig gives me the schedule freedom to spend time with my friends and la famiglia.

Financial Freedom. On one hand, it is nice having consistent paychecks. For budgeting purposes, it’s so much easier to know exactly when you’ll get paid and how much your check will be. And a bad week at work for an employee doesn’t necessarily mean the same as a bad week for a business owner. An business owner’s bad week (or month…or quarter…or year) can mean severe financial stress and pressure. But a good week, month, quarter or year for a business owner? That can mean a bank account bump up you couldn’t get with six promotions at an employee job. There’s no income ceiling for bosses. My paychecks are the payments from my clients, and I can get more or bigger paychecks by booking more jobs, expanding the company, offering more services, etc. I have my ups and downs like any business owner, but I am thankful I have the chance to increase my income without a cap on my earning potential.

Charleston Snowbird. My second personal goal when I opened my business was to eventually be cold as little as possible, which means leaving New England during the winter. It took a long time, but I was able finally do it in 2017. I choose beautiful Charleston, SC as my (working) snowbird home and I LOVE IT HERE. It’s not tropical, but that’s okay. High 50s and 60s in the winter is fine with me (and it’s been even warmer than that lately). Unless I found an employee job that was a 100% telecommuting position, it’s unlikely that I would have had the chance to do this if I wasn’t a business owner. I mean, the only other people I know who winter somewhere warmer are retirees and people who work in the boating industry (and I get too seasick to even consider the latter as a career). Not only is the Charleston winter climate far superior to Rhode Island’s winter nightmare, but being here gives me the time to focus on my big picture business work, as I don’t really take clients here. It’s the perfect refresher and start to each year for me, and I am beyond grateful that my boss life allows me to do this.

A lot of the things I love about my life are due to my business. I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to create the lifestyle I want. When I’m feeling down or in a rough patch, this will be a good blog post to go back to. If you’re considering opening a business, these are some things you can look forward to potentially having at some point too. And if you’re already there, congratulations! It’s easier to quit than to push through, so if you’ve made it out the other side of the Early Struggle Years, props.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Dolla Dolla Bill, Y’all

Scrooge McDuck, entrepreneur income, money talk
Not my steelo.

Cash rules everything around me

C.R.E.A.M.

Get the money

Dolla dolla bill, y’all

-WuTang Clan

Listen, I’m no Scrooge McDuck. I’m not greedy, and I’m not someone who cares to acquire a lot of things. I don’t have expensive taste. Fancy cars, designer clothes, new technology–none of that is really appealing to me. Becoming filthy rich was never on my list of goals. But the truth is, having cash money–at least enough to be comfortable–changes things in a big way.

I spent my first five years as an entrepreneur struggling financially. I wasn’t bouncing checks or ignoring bills, but I only had money to pay for the essentials. I didn’t take out a business loan or borrow money from anyone to start my company, so I had to come up with the money somehow. And it was HARD.

After about six years in business (the first two years being part-time because I had to work day jobs to survive), everything changed. That was due to a combination of updating my website to be mobile-friendly (a non-existent term when I launched it in 2008), the solid reputation that took a while to build and half a decade’s worth of connections and word of mouth referrals coming to fruition. And oh my God, the relief. I could pay all of my bills without anxiety and I no longer had to constantly check my bank account to make sure I had enough to cover everything. I was able to pay off all of my credit card and student loan debt by my seventh year in business, and was even able to start going on vacations! (I mean, I still had to work during them, but sometimes only for an hour or two each day). And not only could I go to comedy shows, join friends for drinks, and show my face at birthday dinners, but I could treat my friends. Several of them had really helped me out when my bank account was hurting, so it felt awesome to finally be able to buy them dinner or grab the bar tab.

But my biggest financial victory was Charleston. Ever since I opened my company, I knew I wanted to eventually live somewhere warmer. I decided on Charleston, SC and being a (working) snowbird there became my ultimate goal. I was financially able to do it in January of 2016, but my father was going through treatment for pancreatic cancer and I didn’t want to be away from him for a few months, so I delayed my snowbirding. I started it in January of 2017 and now I’m back, but for longer this year. Living in Charleston is one of my favorite things in my life. And you can say all you want about positive vibes and the universe, but it was straight out hard work and money that made this happen.

They say money can’t buy happiness, but it does seem to help. Being able to live in Charleston fills me with joy, as corny as that sounds. Having money allows me to make donations to organizations I support, which is important to me because my schedule doesn’t allow me to volunteer like I’d like to (not a humble brag, just something that means a lot to me). Thanks to my bank account, I was able to cover the bulk of the cost of my sister in law’s bridal shower, which she told me after was the best day of her life (trumped, I’m sure, by her wedding three months later, but still). After I got out of my broke years, I was able to loan money to friends and relatives who really needed it. I’m not implying that I’m loaded and can spend as much money as I want without thinking about it, because that is not true at all. But I got to a point where I was able to do things I couldn’t have gotten close to during my first five or six years in business, and help out others in small ways. And that was a life changer for me.

The income change that made the biggest impact on my life was the one that brought me from struggling and worried to comfortable and debt-free. I remember learning about this in a Psychology class in college, but it didn’t sink in until I had to think about things besides registering for classes, what new Bacardi flavor I should try and which parties my crush of the week would likely be at. The studies I learned about in that Psych class said that when it came to life satisfaction and happiness, money only made a difference when it took people out of constant financial struggle into a place where they could pay their bills and live comfortably. When I say “comfortably,” I don’t mean wealthy. I mean whatever income is needed for someone to pay for the essentials, plus some extra that a financial hit–like an unexpected car repair, a big medical bill or even just Christmas shopping–doesn’t put them into a situation that they can not recover from.

I think you can want to have enough to be that kind of comfortable without being materialistic or wanting to be rich just for the sake of being rich. There’s no shame in wanting to be in a place where you can pay your bills and have the income to be able to do at least some of the things you enjoy.

I understand why money can be considered evil, but I don’t think that’s always the case. It’s all about the way you use it and look at it. I don’t view money as a way to acquire more things. (And it doesn’t rule everything around me–sorry, WuTang.) I see it as a tool that makes life easier and more comfortable. Struggling financially adds a lot of stress to a person’s every day life. That’s no secret.  A lot of people feel ashamed and frustrated when they are broke and it can be a tough situation to get out of. But what’s the thing that solves many of their problems? Cheddar. (And notice I didn’t say all of their problems.)

Even though it’s something most of us use every single day, there’s such a stigma attached to talking about money. A lot of people consider it tacky to discuss it, but I think when you avoid talking about something, it can lead to confusion. Some people are in the dark about money management, budgeting, the options when things are bad, etc. because we are not born knowing those things and it can feel embarrassing to ask for help (and a non-option to hire someone for financial advice when the money to pay them isn’t there). I know it can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but especially as an entrepreneur, it’s essential to understand money and how it should impact the choices you make.

Why am I even writing this blog post? Because I have another one coming where I talk about financial struggles, but I wanted to first explain how I view money and how it’s changed my life. This is primarily a beauty blog, but I’m as much of a business owner as I am a makeup artist, so I’m going to write about boss life stuff sometimes. And the cool thing about reading is that it’s really easy to not do it if you don’t want to. So if this type of blog post isn’t for you, you have options. Isn’t that a great thing?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

2018 Game Plan

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. I figure if I want to make a change, I’ll just start the day I think of it. But since it’s early January and I have some things I want to do, I’ll get in on this Resolutions action. Except I’m calling them goals, because as we all know, “resolution” is Latin for “only do until February.”

Why share these goals instead of keeping them to myself? Because I am a lot more likely to do something once I put it in writing. (Also, see my first Business goal.) And I think some of these goals–most likely the beauty ones–might be helpful to some people.

Let’s get this 2018 Game Plan going.

BEAUTY GOALS

Mask Appeal. A good face mask works wonders. Whenever I use a mask, I think Ooooh, my skin looks so good! after. Then I forget to do another one for several weeks. Makes no sense, right? Part of the problem may be that I only currently have one mask (Clarins Beauty Flash Balm), which I also use as a primer. I think if I buy a few more–and put them somewhere where I can’t forget about them–I’ll do better with this one. If you regularly mask, good job. You’re an inspiration to me.

Lotioned Up. I am great at keeping my face, neck and chest moisturized, but it’s like I forget I’m not just a mannequin from Esthetics school. I have a torso and four limbs too! I have been actively trying to be better about using body lotion every day, so I’ll continue working on that. Anyone else with me on this?

Esthetics school mannequin
Note to self: You are more than this.

Massage Envy. Facial massage is fantastic because it boosts circulation, which gives a glow to the skin. When more oxygen is brought to the surface of the ol’ dermis, it helps increase collagen, aka the genetic fountain of youth elixir our bodies naturally produce. To do a facial massage, use some face oil, massage into your skin for 5-10 minutes, and watch dull skin disappear. I know this, and I do it, but not often enough. I must do better.

Brush It Off. Ever heard of dry brushing? It’s when you use a body brush on dry skin to rev up circulation, exfoliate, and stimulate lymph flow. I do this when I remember, but my skin will benefit if I do it more often. Doing this regularly in combination with body lotion will help me shed any winter dryness. If your body lotion isn’t quite doing the job, consider adding dry brushing to your routine.

Tame Those Claws. I get my nails done maybe three times a year. I get a gel manicure, because why do any other kind? But regular gel manicures can weaken the nail bed and make a dent in the bank account. So what I should be doing is simple: keep my fast-growing nails filed down and buff a shine into them once a week. But what do I do? File them only when I break a nail and buff them maybe once a month. I can, and will, change my shameful pattern of nail neglect. I hope you are better than me with this (and by the looks of it, most people I see are!)

BUSINESS GOALS

Get Blogged Down. I love writing these blog posts! But I need to do it more frequently. One of my goals for January is to write a bunch of posts to stockpile for a regular post publishing schedule. I’ve been doing better lately (have you noticed?) so I think I’m off to a good start.

Template Time. I dare you to find a successful business that does not utilize some level of templating and automation. I’ve been using templates for years in my business communication, but it’s time to polish them up. This month, I’ll be reviewing and revising all templates. This will be helpful to my future admin assistant, who I daydream about daily.

Socialize. My social media game could use some help. I’m not horrible at it, but I know I could do better. So I’m taking some workshops so I can step it up and make the AB Beauty brand stronger.

Social media guru
#iwilldobetter

Be a Teacher. Makeup lessons are one of my favorite services that we offer, and I don’t do them often enough. I love teaching other people how to do their own makeup, because I think it’s a helpful skill to have. My goal is to book more makeup lessons to help others emphasize the beauty they already have.

Grow, Girl. I’m tryin’ to expand this beauty empire, you know? I have some specific goals and tasks I’m working on, and hopefully they will lead to a big announcement in 2018. That’s all I’m going to say about this one. How’s that for cryptic?

PERSONAL GOALS

Give Thanks. I am well aware of how great my life is. I am grateful for my supportive family and friends, the success of my business and the freedom it gives me, how I get to live in two really awesome cities (Newport, RI and Charleston, SC), my health, and a million more things. So when I get frustrated, upset or annoyed at anything, I have been trying to remind myself of what I have. I find it tough to do that when I’m in the middle of what I consider a crappy situation, but I am making an effort to think of all the good to pull myself out of the bad mood spirals.

Love It or List It. I don’t own either of the apartments I live in, so I can’t list anything. (I guess the equivalent HGTV show for renters would be “Love It or Break Your Lease.”) I prioritize my beauty studio but have spent some time, effort and money making the bathroom and kitchen/living room in my Newport apartment look prettier. My bedroom, however, is U-G-L-Y. It’s a mishmash of furniture from college, past apartments and my studio before its makeover. It’s time to transform my bedroom into a room I want to spend time in instead of a room that makes me cringe. I’ve got a Pinterest board of dream bedrooms and a friend with a good eye for home decor, so I’m hoping to Love It in 2018.

Overreact Much? Sometimes I catch myself making a bigger deal out of frustrating situations than I need to (mostly when I’m tired). That’s so unnecessary and doesn’t help anything. In my experience, things always work out. I have been trying to remind myself that the outcome is always fine, so I shouldn’t freak out in the interim. I was tested with this today. It’s my second full day in my winter apartment in Charleston. I have a friend visiting, and we were both planning on working from home this morning then we’d go out for lunch. But we woke up to frozen pipes and a cold apartment (even with the heat turned up high all night). My property manager said nothing could be done about it until the weather warms up. Normally, that would be maddening for me, especially because there have already been a few issues with the apartment. But today, I stayed calm. My friend and I decided we would go out for breakfast instead of lunch, and now we are at a cute little coffee shop in my neighborhood. The pipes won’t stay frozen forever, so eventually I’ll live in an apartment with running water again. Until then, there’s nothing I can do. This is a tough pill for a Sicilian Gemini to swallow, as patience isn’t our thing. But I’m trying!

Listen Up. My mother is a really good listener. So good, in fact, that during phone conversations I often have to ask her if she is still there. I try to channel my Inner Mom when I’m having a conversation. If I realize I’m thinking of my response instead of listening when someone is talking, I try to snap myself out of it. I’ll be extra conscious of this going forward. By 2019, they’ll be calling me Allison “All Ears” Barbera.

Win Big. Without a doubt, this is the year I win the HGTV Dream Home. I have only missed one day’s worth of entries so far, but I won’t let that happen anymore. I try for this every year, but 2018 is going to be the year I finally get it.

HGTV Dream Home, Seattle
My future great room.

I’m going to review this post next year and hopefully I’ll be able to say I made progress with all of these goals. You can hold me to it.

Happy New Year! And have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Hearing Voices: The Entrepreneurial Guilt Dilemma

Marshall Mathers, feeling no guilt. #goals

Do you have a song that’s always stuck in your head? Mine is “Guilty Conscience” by Eminem and Dr. Dre. It makes sense that this is my mind’s default song, because I’m awesome at feeling guilty. I was a double major in Guilt and Worry, and not to brag, but I graduated summa cum laude.

Guilt is a shitty feeling. It’s been a longtime companion in my personal life, asking me questions like “Why did you eat that?,” “You’re going to buy that shirt you don’t need?,” “Did you just skip a workout because you’re tired?” I’ve learned to mostly mute the guilt voice in my personal life because it’s been with me since childhood, but my Work Life Guilt voice is newer, louder and harder to quiet. She’s the brash younger sister of Personal Life Guilt, and she is resilient.

Work Life Guilt (WLG for short, and because it bothers her when people don’t use her full name) comes at me hard whenever I’m not working. When I sleep in, she’s on me the second I open my eyes. “Good morning, Lazy!” When I’m spending time with family or friends, she’s all “Don’t worry about checking your phone. Drinking tequila and catching up is much more important than running a business.” Even when I’m at home, wanting to crash after a long day, she’s there. “You’re going to read a non-business book when you have EMAILS IN YOUR INBOX? You disgust me.”

I know WLG doesn’t add anything to my life. There is nothing that she says that motivates me or makes me feel good. She is unnecessary, always wrong and honestly, her foundation shade is way off, which offends me as a makeup artist. I’ve been arguing with her a lot, and in some cases, I’m winning. If you want to know my strategies, read on.

Sleeping In. WLG thinks I should be up at 5:00am every day, working until my eyes close. I disagree. If I have a morning appointment, I set my alarm. But if I don’t have a morning commitment, I sleep until I wake up naturally. When WLG says “Are you for real right now? It’s 8:24am!” I say “Yup. My body wanted to sleep until now. I am a bad business owner, makeup artist and person in general when I’m sleep deprived, so this was worth it.” It’s easiest for me to quiet WLG in this situation because being well rested directly impacts my job productivity (and patience), so I feel justified.

Friend & Family Time. If you asked WLG, she would tell you friends are not important (my guess is she doesn’t have many) and family is stuck with you no matter how much you work. But I like being with my people. In fact, spending lot of time with them was one of my two main goals when I opened my company. When WLG says “I can’t believe you made dinner plans with Machaela when you have New Hire paperwork to do!,” I tell her to shut it. I remind her that I’ve been busting my ass for a decade and there is nothing wrong with having a dinner date. WLG and I both know that I will do work before and after I see my homegirl, and my business will not fall apart in three hours. WLG usually creeps in while I’m with my friend or relative, but I try to push her away. (The tequila is helpful with this.) I’ve found the best way to silence her in this scenario is to have a few solid productive hours before I have personal plans, so I don’t feel like work is being dangled in front of me by WLG’s demon-like hands.

Personal Time.  The work day has to come to an end, right? Sometimes mine ends at 10:00pm, other times it has a soft end at 4:00pm. (That means I mostly stop working for the day, but address time sensitive issues that arise.) My favorite way to end my work day is by hanging out with a friend or relative, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it ends with me reading a book, watching a comedy special or deciding to re-arrange my bedroom for no reason. WLG is very loud during these times, and she often wins. I’m doing my best to believe and stick to my argument that no one should be working every waking moment, and I deserve and need time to re-charge. This is my most challenging argument with WLG, but I’m making progress.

One of my goals for 2018 is to silence WLG for good. If you have your own WLG, I hope you can get rid of your’s too. Let’s let Guilty Conscience be nothing more than a classic Em and Dre hit.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Prep School: The Graduation

Entrepreneur, freedom lifestyle
Congratulations, future entrepreneurs! Now get to work.

It’s the end of the Prep School series. Bittersweet, isn’t it? Before you head out into the entrepreneurial world, let’s go over what we have learned. (Well, what you have learned. I already knew this stuff.)

  1. Some friends and relatives won’t understand that you need to prioritize your business over socializing, at least for the first few years.
  2. You’re going to be broke for some span of time.
  3. There may be people in your life who expect you to not charge them for the goods or services your company offers.
  4. You’re probably going to work every single day, and some of the folks around you will have a hard time understanding that.

Owning a small business is not the norm. The percentage of people in the US who own their own business has varied between 12% – 14% over the past five years, but that still means at least 75% of people are not entrepreneurs. Unless you run in heavily entrepreneurial social circles–and again, LET ME IN if that’s the case–there’s a good chance very few around you own a business. So yeah, they may not get your lifestyle until you explain it to them. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m a big believer in learning about the work schedules, lifestyles and priorities of my friends and family so I can understand them better. If you’re going to ask those around you to understand where you are coming from, you’ve got to do the same for them.

If you are considering opening your own business, it’s important that you understand the sacrifices you will likely need to make. Then you’ll have to weigh them and against the advantages of being your own boss. Once you do that, you should be able to articulate to your friends and family how your career will impact your life and why that’s worth it to you.

Everyone has their own reasons for opening their own business.  I had three major ones. 1) I wanted to wake up and be happy to go to work. I had dreaded my jobs for too long and did not want to spend the rest of my working life hating how I spent the majority of my time. 2) I wanted be cold as little as possible. I knew that entrepreneurship would eventually bring me the freedom to live somewhere warmer during the winter months. 3) I wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible with my friends and family. Yes, I often had to miss out on get-togethers and parties during the early years (and still sometimes do now), but ever since I went full time, I’ve been able to do things like leave at 2:00pm–avoiding rush hour–to drive to another state for my brother’s birthday, help my mother prepare for our Big Italian Thanksgiving or take a friend to doctor’s appointment, all without using personal time or having to get permission. So although I’ve asked a lot in terms of understanding from those I’m close to, it’s so I can spend more time with them.

If you decide to open your own business, you’re going to be met with a lot of challenges. There’s no way around that. But if you have support from your family and friends, that will make it infinitely easier to face those challenges. If you don’t explain your lifestyle to them, they may contribute to the challenges you will have, and who wants that? A little communication goes a long way, so just do it.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

 

Prep School: Of Course I’m Working Today!

Every day I'm hustlin'
The entrepreneur’s anthem.

 

Like Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner says, “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” Tim Ferriss of “The 4-Hour Workweek” would disagree, but I’m with Lori. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you’ll have to first understand–really understand–how you’ll be working more hours than you probably worked in any other job. Once you truly grasp that, your next challenge will be to explain your insane schedule to the people in your life. And that’s what this post will address.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll wear many hats (all of which you will have to design, order and keep track of). Especially at first–and potentially for several years–you’ll be doing some of the what the classic business book The E-Myth calls the “technician” work.  In my case, that consists of doing makeup for clients, ordering the products I need, taking makeup artistry classes, etc. Especially if your career involves services instead of products, you will likely be providing services or covering for employees who provide them at some point. Unless you have a business partner who handles the admin side or an admin assistant from Day 1, you’ll spend a lot of time doing the admin and management tasks. Depending on your industry, that role could include any or all of the following: client/customer communication, vendor communication, invoicing, receiving payments, paying bills, ordering office/store products or supplies, scheduling appointments or deliveries, interviewing job candidates, hiring personnel, firing personnel, payroll, marketing, communicating with your accountant, communicating with your attorney and approximately 27,000 other tasks (that’s a low estimate). And as the owner of the company, throw in time spent on building the brand, making major decisions regarding the direction of the company, constantly re-evaluating systems amd protocols and growing the business via new locations, products and/or services.

So if someone says “Are you working tomorrow?” resist the urge to strangle them. Until/if you have the personnel to cover all of the technician and managerial/admin work, a true day off is unlikely. But it’s unfair to expect your friends and family to know that. I don’t think I would have known it if I hadn’t spent most of my pre-AB Beauty years working in small businesses. And even then, I didn’t really get it until I opened my own company.

I think a lot of people only understand jobs in a black or white way. If you’re not doing something they consider a job, they don’t think you’re working. An all-jobs-are-black-and-white person looks at a teacher and thinks “They only work 7:00am-2:00pm Monday through Friday, and they get summers off.” Nope! They have lesson plans to make and supplies to shop for after school hours, as well as meetings and continuing ed that can’t be done during the school day. Many of them are in the building a few weeks before the school year starts setting up their classroom. (I’m probably missing a lot of responsibilities–this is just what I’ve observed from my time as a school secretary and what I’ve heard from teachers I know). So can we agree that their job consists of more than just the time they are in a classroom with their students?

With my job, which is actually a few jobs (makeup artist, manager, business owner), some people think that if I’m not with clients, I’m not working. In reality, the majority of my 80+ hour workweek is spent managing and growing my business, not doing makeup. I live in Charleston, SC for a few months in the winter and several people–including some friends and relatives–have asked me if I work while I’m there. It’s truly flattering that they think I’m doing well enough that I could go on a three month vacation. But of course I’m working! Because I don’t really take clients while I’m there, I guess some people think that means I just hang out, drink bourbon and eat grits (I wish). What they don’t think about–and this no one’s fault if it’s never been explained to them–is how a business doesn’t run itself. Because I don’t have an admin assistant or business partner–which is the case for many entrepreneurs, at least for a span of time–I do all of the client communication, job schedules, bridal trial coordinating, client invoices, contracts, paying Independent Contractors, managing my team, marketing, coming up with new business ideas, consulting with attorneys and accountants, buying what is needed for our studio and some of those 27,000 other things every day. I don’t expect anyone to understand that until I explain it, and I suggest you have them same outlook if you’re your own boss.

When you do explain it, don’t be a jerk about it. It can easily come off in a condescending “I’m busier than you and my job is more important” way. And that’s not true. It’s just that you decided to open your own business, and that comes with a grueling schedule for a while (if you want to succeed, anyway). If you can clearly–and nicely–communicate to the people you are closest to that you work every day, even if you’re not with clients/customers, you’ve done all you can do with this one.

Have a beautiful day 🙂