I Would Nail That Interview Question

That’s me on the right, baby wrists collapsing under the pressure.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these “getting to know your blogger” posts. And because I’m an introspective, open book person who loves writing, this idea came to me. If you’re a regular reader of this blog or follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m an entrepreneur and a makeup artist. You also probably know that I love Biggie Smalls, tequila and Charleston, SC. But maybe you don’t know about my minimalist tendencies or how well I fare in a directions situation, or some of the other things I’m wicked good at (and notoriously bad at). So I present a small sampling of my strengths and my weaknesses.

Strengths

Getting Rid of Stuff. I donate, throw away or recycle things I don’t use on a weekly basis. You will not find expired medicine in my house, nor will you find a shirt I bought three years ago but never wore. If I don’t actively use it or enjoy looking at it, it’s out. Junk drawer? I don’t think so, homey. If I can’t remember the last time I used or wore something, it’s gone. The only knickknacks I have in my house are things that were given to me as gifts and have sentimental value. (And after a few years, many of those get the boot too.) I get so happy getting rid of stuff I don’t need or love. It feels like it gives me clarity in my life, and who doesn’t want that?

Planning. I am the illest at planning things. It doesn’t mean I love it, but I am damn good at it. My brain has a very easy time figuring out what needs to be done when, then actually doing it. I’ve planned more parties than I can count, and if there is a trip I’m going on with other people, I am the one booking the Airbnb, researching and making restaurant reservations and emailing the group (then inevitably following up with them) to see if they want to do any of the fun outings they spewed out of their brains then left there for me to organize. It doesn’t happen often, but when someone else takes the lead on plans (“I’ll buy the comedy show tickets,” “I got us in for brunch at 12:00pm on Sunday,” “I booked a car to the airport”), I want to cry tears of joy. But because I’m good at planning and the people around me know it, it usually falls on me. We all have our lots in life.

Proofreading. Give me a restaurant menu and I will find at least one typo, inconsistency or unnecessary capitalization. (I love cheese, but I would have a difficult time eating “Spring salad with goat Cheese.”) I proofread my blog posts, social media posts and emails several times before I publish/post/hit send. Sometimes I miss things–which I think happens when you read the same thing 19 times–but if I notice a typo after I’ve posted, I always go back and correct it. My mom is an Eagle Eye too, so she’s my backup proofreader. How did I do with this post, Beensa?

That’s a lot of Irelands!

Reaching Small Things That Fall Behind Bigger Things. The good Lord blessed me with five inch wrists and child-sized hands, so I am the go-to girl when something falls behind the couch at my parents’ house or behind the vintage dresser we use as a makeup station at my studio. I’ve got a slim ulna and a svelte radius, so I will retrieve the lost object for you. You can thank me by giving away that juicer you bought and never used or making sure your professional copy is beautifully typo-free.

Being On Time. Nay, early. I was born early and I like to say I’ve been early to everything since. I spend a lot of time waiting for people, and the chronic Lates in my life either get it together when they have plans with me, or we don’t really hang out anymore. I think being on time shows that you respect the other person’s time, and you don’t think your time is more important than their’s. And being early is just leaving a little buffer for traffic/getting lost/your underestimation of travel time. I’m going to stop this one here so I don’t go off on a tangent.

Identifying The Years Golden Era Hip Hop and R&B Songs Came Out. The ten year span from 1996 – 2006 had some of the best hip hop and R&B music. (That’s a fact.) That decade also eclipsed my high school and college years, when (at least for me) everything was so intense. Just like how I feel like I’m at The Rhino Bar with my best friend, Jess, in 2003 whenever I smell Victoria’s Secret Love Spell, I am transported back to 1996 when I hear “Return of the Mack,” sitting in the backseat of my friend Heather’s sister’s boyfriend’s car while he drove endless loops through downtown Worcester. Or to my cute but palmetto-bug infested one bedroom apartment in West Palm Beach in 2005, listening to “Let Me Love You” by Mario while getting ready to meet Shannon at Blue Martini. Popular songs and songs I love are so strongly tied to my memories from my teens and early 20s that it’s easy for me to think, Who was I hanging out with? Where did I live? Which joker was I dating? when I hear a song from the past, then easily figure out what year that would have been.

1998. How do I know that? Because I remembering singing it with Melissa and Carina in Driver’s Ed, which I took the spring I turned 16.

Weaknesses

Reading Maps, Retracing Steps & Anything That Requires a Sense of Direction. I’d like to think I have a moral compass, but that’s where my sense of direction ends. I am so bad with figuring out where I need to go that if my gut instinct tells me to turn right, I know that means I should turn left. I use Waze for driving new places and Google Maps for navigating a new area by foot, but it takes me embarrassingly long to figure out how to get around areas I have been to several times. My brain is missing that directional section, so I try to befriend people who have it.

Keeping Plants Alive. I’ve never been able to do it! I like the look of plants so I wish I was better at this, but I’m not. My mom has a real green thumb, but I didn’t inherit it. At one point, I was even putting reminders in my calendar to water a plant someone got me, and I still killed it! Maybe self tanner fumes are toxic to plants?

Remembering Scenes From Movies. There are several movies I have seen multiple times, but with the exception of Grease and The Godfather, I remember nothing more than the basic plot (and sometimes not even that). My sister-friend, Danielle, will often quote or reference something from a movie we watched a million times as kids, and 95% of the time, I will look at her with a blank stare (or a “?”over text). Then she’ll say “Spaceballs!” or “Back to the Future” or “Opportunity Knocks!” I envy Danielle and others like her. My film amnesia is bad, but I can sometimes redeem myself with my Rain Man-like memory of Golden Era hip hop and R&B song release identification. (Catch my film reference? Give me props!)

Watched this movie every New Year’s Eve for years. Remember nothing about it.

Calculating Tips. I always tip at least 20%, and I know that means $10 on a $50 check and $20 on $100. Everything else though is just guesses. I completely zone out when I tell someone I’m not good at calculating tips and they say “You just move the decimal…” Whatever I do come up with using my own techniques (based roughly on the fact that since I know how to divide numbers in half, then 20% is less than 50%, so I can get close), I add $2 to account for my probable miscalculation. If you are my server, you will always be over-tipped. If you are my accountant, you will be baffled.

Taking Photos. I fail at this, both in terms of quality and remembering to do it in my personal life. It’s weird, because back in the day I always had a disposable camera on me. I have photo albums from each year of my life from 7th grade until about 2008. Part of this weakness may stem from the fact that I hate being in pictures (most unphotogenic person ever), and it feels like everyone wants to take goddamn selfies with their friends all the time. I would also just rather enjoy hanging out or being in the moment when I go somewhere new instead taking pictures, seeing if they are good, editing them and posting them. Too much work! But, I do like looking back at old photos and remembering good times, so I should try more with this. (I won’t.)

Closing Drawers Fully. I don’t do this on purpose, but I have a tendency to not completely close drawers. I don’t leave them sticking halfway out, but it’s like when my eyes see that my hand has closed a drawer 80% of the way, they say to my brain, Good! Shut it down. I have been doing this since I was a child, so I think it’s just part of who I am. I’m sorry to anyone who has ever gotten an ankle, knee or hip bruise due to my gross negligence.

I’m not THAT bad!

I could add lots more to this post (especially to the Weaknesses list), but six for each category seems like a solid amount. Do you feel like you know me better now?

I hope you’ve liked reading this one. It was fun to write!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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Choose Your Own Adventure

Which path do you want me to lead you down? Winged liner tricks? Cream blush how to’s? Face mask reviews?

The point of this “Pretty Addiction” blog is to give you tips, tricks, how to’s and recommendations to improve your beauty life. Several of the posts I’ve written have been upon request, and I hope they have been helpful. So I gots to know, what kinds of posts would you like to read in the upcoming months?

Please, comment on this post or on Facebook, Instagram or wherever you see this and tell me what you want, what you really really want. Which of the current categories do you dig the most? These are the options:

Boss Life. These posts are all about that entrepreneur life. I talk about my experience and things I’ve learned as a small business owner. Have a question as a business owner or aspiring business owner? I’d be more than happy to give my take on it.

Decades of Beauty. A series covering looks from the 1920s – 2010. Each decade has had several different popular looks, so I could go more into detail about a specific look or looks if that’s what your little heart desires.

Look Breakdowns. I find photos of popular looks or looks I love and give my best guess as to what products and techniques were used. If you want me to do a breakdown of a particular look, send me the photo and I’ll have at it.

Makeup Looks. Here’s where I talk about different looks (i.e. natural, 5 minute makeup, dewy skin) etc. in detail and explain how you can do it (and if you should). If you have a look you want to know more about or try, the suggestion box is open.

My Other Ramblings. If you want to read my rant about Instaglam makeup or know what I’m loving lately, you’ll find it here. And if you have a request for a post that doesn’t fit into one of the other categories, it would go here.

Pro Tips. Similar to the Makeup Looks posts, but more broad. For example, a Makeup Looks post might be about an Old Hollywood red lipstick look, but a Pro Tips post would talk about red lipstick in general, and how to choose the shades and textures that might work well on you.

Product Reviews. Self explanatory, I hope.

I want to hear from you! Please let me know what you want to read about so I can grant your wishes. I’m here to be your personal beauty expert, so you tell me what you want. I am nothing if not accommodating….

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Things I Love: The Summer 2018 Edition

Those look like some other summer things I could love.

Summer goes by way too fast! Why does that happen? June comes along, then you blink once, Fourth of July. Blink twice, mid-August. If only miserable things would go by that fast…

Summer is my favorite season, and I’ve got some new favorites to go along with it. Read on to find out what I am summer lovin’.

Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops. I have been on a quest for the perfect self tanner for years. The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops, which you add into your face and body moisturizers, deliver the glow. I am giving them my pale girl stamp of approval. For more details, read my review of them here.

Drop it like it’s hot.

The Anniversary Love. I started Allison Barbera Beauty as a one woman show back in the summer of 2008 and it’s grown to be a 17 person team that is doing 100+ weddings this year. I did my first wedding on 8/2/08, so even though I had the structure of the business up and running before that, I consider August to be the AB Beauty Anniversary Month each year. I posted about it on Facebook and Instagram recently, and I am really feeling the love and support. That makes this little entrepreneur very happy. Thanks, everyone!

“Nanette.” Have you watched Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” comedy special on Netflix? If you haven’t, go watch it.  Yes, right now! If you have any sense of humor, it will make you laugh. And if you have any empathy, it will make you cry. Hannah is an incredible comic and, I think, person in general and she deserves all of the recognition and praise she is getting. (I was in an elevator with her at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival last month, and I’m kicking myself for not telling her how awesome I think she is.)  She doesn’t have a website, but if you want to show her some love on Facebook, do it to it.

Sol De Janeiro Copacabana Bronze Glow Oil. Yup, talking about my tan obsession again. I bought this product before the Isle of Paradise drops and it works well on its own (but looks even better over my fake tan from the drops). It’s a bronzing oil that you apply to your body and it comes off in the shower. It is a little sticky (though not horribly so) but it smells great and gives a true bronze color–not orange or yellow–so I think it’s worth it. This is by far the best bronzing oil I’ve ever tried. It’s limited edition, so cop it and cop it soon at Sephora.

It works great and smells awesome. A keeper.

Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Cheese. These little wedges of soft cheese heaven aren’t new to me, but I seem to forget about them for months at a time, then they become a mainstay in my fridge for a while when I do rediscover them. They are delicious and only 50 calories per wedge, so a perfect small snack. I’m not going to fact check this, but I think most grocery stores have them.

This Bomb Ass Arm Workout. I’ve been doing an arm workout with free weights for years, but it seemed like it recently stopped having any effect. I found this video on YouTube and I shit you not, my arms starting looking a little more toned after I did it three times. Maybe that’s my wishful thinking or a positive kind of body dysmorphia, but I can definitely feel the workout as I’m doing it and I swear I see the results, so I am sticking with it.

Celeb Luxury Viral Blue Colorditioner. I have had blue balyage on the ends of my hair for five years. I like my blue to be vibrant, but it has historically faded pretty quickly. Jennie Kay Plumb, one of the hair stylists I go to (of course I go to a few) suggested the Celeb Luxury Viral Blue Conditioner to extend my color between touchups, and it has made a huge difference. I use it as a regular conditioner when I’m pinched for time, or leave it on dry hair for 20 minutes when I can. With both techniques, my blue is revitalized, but the 20 minute technique yields better results. They make this conditioner (and its shampoo partner) in a variety of colors. Jennie told me not to buy it off Amazon, so your best is to get it from a salon. This stuff is so good that I haven’t had to do an actual blue touchup since I got it. I think I can now get away with just using this conditioner for touchups between my twice-a-year appointments for the balayage.

Blue balyage forever.

Queer Eye. I mean, how awesome is this show? I binged the second season when it came out on Netflix in June, and I am in love with the Fab Five. Jonathan, the groomer/beauty expert on the show, might be my favorite person ever. I watched him do a live podcast at the Just For Laughs Festival and he was like a gorgeous ray of sunshine. The guys from the Fab Five seem like they have great hearts and truly care about people, and the show seems to really help people. I can’t wait for the next season.

V Clear EPs 7630. I can not get sick, especially during wedding season. I don’t have sick days, and I can’t send anyone to cover me for many of my jobs. My miracle worker MD/ND, Dr. Abbas Qutab, told me about V Clear (previously called “Vira Clear”) a few years ago. I take it as soon as I started feeling any symptoms of a cold or flu, and I end it the day after I stop feeling symptoms. I swear it has saved me from getting full blown sick many times. My whole family takes it, and we call keep it stocked up. It comes in a dropper and tastes like a strong cough medicine, but you can handle it. It’s out of stock on Amazon, but you can get it here. (Disclaimer: It looks like they only make a cherry flavored one now and I have it but haven’t tried it yet, so it may taste better than the original flavor.)

Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter in Vanilla Apricot. Smells amazing, softens my skin, and is vegan, cruelty-free, synthetic-fragrance-free, paraben-free, GMO-free and formaldehyde-free.. What else can you ask for in a body moisturizer? It does leave a non-sticky sheen to the skin, so if you like fast absorbing, matte moisturizers, this may not be your jam. But I think a lot of people would love this. Here’s another one for Sephora cart.

Whip it real good.

Pandora Comedy Stations. I know, it’s not cool to listen to Pandora and I’m old. Don’t care. This one isn’t new to me, but I’m a huge comedy geek and I’ve found myself listening to more of the Pandora comedy stations I like (the Sarah Silverman, John Mulaney and Chris D’Elia stations are my favorites) lately. I put these stations on the way other put background music on. What can I say? I love to laugh.

Sleeping In. On one hand, I love the days when I naturally wake up before 7:00am, because I get SO MUCH work done before it’s even 10:00am. But on the other hand, how good does it feel to sleep in? One of the perks of owning my own business (and, I suppose, not having kids or pets) is that if I don’t have any morning clients, meetings or appointments, I can wake up whenever I want. We are having a record-breaking year with team size, wedding bookings and revenue so I am working stupid long days. (I haven’t had time to eat dinner until 10:00pm the last two nights, if that tells you anything.) So when I can, I reward myself by sleeping late. Of course I feel some guilt for doing it, but I’m not the best entrepreneur, friend, relative or makeup artist I can be when I’m tired and dragging.

Ice Cube On The Face Trick. Sometimes I wake up with a puffy face, undereyes or eyelids. It’s not cute, but there is a way around it. Lisa Eldridge explains it best in this video. I’ve been doing this a lot more lately, and it really does make a difference.

That’s all for now. It’s back to work for me, but I would love to hear some of your faves!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

My Beauty Philosophy

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably pieced together my philosophy on beauty in regards to makeup. It comes through a little at a time in most of my blog posts. But today, I’m going to share with you the five tenets of my beauty philosophy.

Am I doing this because I know I can crank this post out somewhat quickly and if I don’t do this now I won’t have time, and I don’t want to ruin my perfect streak of one blog post per week since January 1? That’s in the realm of possibility.

Here.we.go.

The Five Tenets

Skincare is Queen. If you are not taking care of your skin, your makeup will never look its best. You can buy all the makeup that MAC can make (props if got that TLC reference), but if you don’t regularly cleanse, moisturize, exfoliate and properly treat your skin, you can only get so far. Yes, it takes some effort and some cheddar to make sure your dermis is living its best life,  but it is more than worth it.

Do You. If you want to try a makeup trend because it looks fun, by all means, do it to it. But if you want to try a makeup trend because you think you are supposed to have very thick eyebrows or matte lips, stop right now. The only thing makeup is supposed to do is enhance what you already have and give you an outlet for self expression. If that means you rock a thinner brow because it’s more flattering to your bone structure, or you like a bright pink lip gloss when the trend is a wine matte lipstick, GO FOR IT. Don’t let what’s in right now dictate your look.

Branch Out. A lot of people get into a rut with their makeup routine. It’s great to know what works for you and what you like, but there are probably a lot more looks and products out there that would work on you than you think. Sometimes you’ll be shocked about what looks good on you. If you’ve always wondered if you could wear an electric blue eyeliner or a liquid foundation instead of your trusted Bare Minerals, stop wondering and start playing around. Here’s the great thing about makeup: it washes off. So you’ve got a world of possibilities and no real reason why you can’t explore them.

Know Thyself. A lot of choosing the right makeup comes down to knowing what you need and what would be most flattering on you. Figuring out your skin type, undertones, eye shape, face shape and eye color (that last one should be easy, I hope) will make the beauty world a little less intimidating for you, because that knowledge will allow you to choose the type of products that will work best on you.

Don’t Be a Hoarder. Still using that mascara you got for Christmas…two years ago? THROW IT OUT. When I do makeup lessons with clients, I have them bring their makeup bags so we can see what’s salvageable. These bags almost always contain at least a couple crusty old products. Beauty products have expiration dates for a reason–they lose their efficacy after a certain point. And some products, like mascara, can collect gross amounts of bacteria after a while that can cause irritation if applied to the skin or eyes. Get rid of the products that are old, never worked for you or you just don’t like, and you’ll have a fresher perspective on your makeup routine.

I think I’ve covered all of my basic core beauty values, and I’ve finished this post in time. I am feeling oh so productive.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Bank Account Blues

 

You’d look better with some more weight on you.

Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh, money. We need it, but damn, it can really make life hard for an entrepreneur (or anyone, but you’re in business owner territory here). So let’s talk about it.

This was originally part of one really long blog post, but I split it up into two. If you want to read what became the first post, the rest of this might make more sense to you.

Everything is going beyond great now, but that wasn’t the case in January and February. I hit a real rough patch financially, and I was not expecting it. Happy New Year to me, right? I wasn’t bouncing checks or not paying bills or anything, but I built myself a lovely little psychological prison where the bars were made of Fear and Sadness and the ruthless guard looked suspiciously like me. (Spoiler alert: It was me.)

What I picture the building of a psychological prison to look like, courtesy of Marshall Mathers.

I’ve owned my company for ten years and have grown it from a one woman, part-time gig to a seventeen person, full-time-and-then-some-for-me company. I’ve never been shy about the fact that the first five years were a struggle financially. But I knew I had to push through those and get into the part of entrepreneurship where you not only make a profit, but you can do things again. I turned down countless invites over my first five years because I knew I had only enough money to pay for my business expenses and barebones personal expenses. And when I got through it, it was glorious. (The other post goes into details about just how glorious it was, and how I view money.)

If you are a new reader (in which case, welcome!), let me first tell you about my ridiculous life. From April until January, I live in Newport, RI. That’s my college town, and as my friend Amanda and I say, that’s where my soul is. It is where I have lived for the bulk of my adult life, and even though I didn’t grow up in Newport, it is my home. In the winter–and I am not retired or a trust fund baby–I live in Charleston, SC, which is where Amanda and I decided my spirit is. (My heart is in Nashville, if you’re wondering.) Living in Charleston during the winter is one of my favorite things about my life, but it is not cheap.

That’s okay though, because I know how to save and budget. I don’t buy a lot of “stuff” for myself, because I’d rather put money towards the perfect winter apartment and plenty of spending money for grits and Bloody Marias. I did my first snowbird winter in January and February 2017, and although my rent was so expensive I almost lost my lunch when they told me the price, it worked out perfectly. I had saved enough for both rent and spending money, so I was completely fine.

Gimme that.

This past year, I leased an apartment in a way better Charleston location. And even though it was a 3.5 month lease, it ended up actually only costing a few hundred dollars total more, taking all expenses into consideration. I had saved like crazy again in 2017 to prepare for snowbirding in 2018, but the perfect storm of expenses hit me hard at the worst time.

About three weeks into my 2018 snowbird winter, I noticed that my bank account was looking very lean. It was normally 5 – 10x larger (depending on the time of year) than it was this past January. At first I thought Oh, we just need to book five or six more jobs and things will be normal, but it was a quiet month in terms of booking and big month in terms of expenses. I had to dip into my savings–something I haven’t had to do since I started even having a savings account four years ago–to pad my account. And that killed me.

How could this happen to me?, I thought. I’m the person does a monthly budget and knows exactly when each dollar goes out. The person who use pro discounts and coupon codes and could make a dress out of the CVS Extra Bucks coupons she has used. Sure, I spend money on going out and treating my friends, but that’s not every day (or even every week) and I don’t spend a ton when I am out. I realize paying for three rents (Newport apartment, Newport beauty studio and Charleston apartment) during my snowbird winters is crazy expensive, but I had pulled it off in 2017 with zero issues, so I assumed 2018 would be the same.

CVS Extra Bucks would be my WuTang name.

After some thinking, I identified a few causes of my bank account blues. It came down to a lethal combination of unexpected expenses and timing. My attorney increased her rate right before I needed some legal work I didn’t anticipate done in December, so that was a big chunk. My website domain cost jumped up and my studio rent always increases in January, so even though I knew to budget for one, I didn’t know that the domain would increase by so much. I also had a sizeable security deposit for my Charleston apartment temporarily out of my bank account, which is something I didn’t have to pay during my previous snowbird winter. And, I had taken my “Find a Winter Home” trip to Charleston in November plus another trip in mid-December to get my keys and get my apartment set up for my drive down in January. The previous year, I only took one trip before January, and I had stayed with a friend. In November, I stayed in a hotel, and it wasn’t cheap. The costs from that trip had to be paid in December, which is typically not a high revenue month for my company.

But still, I was surprised. It’s not that I go around spending money on whatever I want, but I really hadn’t had to worry about my bank account for a while. I’m talking for several years. Sure, I had some expense-heavy months in the past few years, but there was always enough cash moola, baby, to absorb those hits. I looked at my company’s wedding bookings in January, worried that maybe business wasn’t as good. But it was great! We actually had more weddings and other jobs booked for 2018 than we had in January of 2017 for that year. The difference was that for the 2017 season, the bulk of our bookings starting coming in in December 2016 and January 2017. For the 2018 season, the bulk of our bookings started coming in in September of 2017.  So although business was better, a large amount of payments hit the bank account during my snowbird winter in 2017 but before it in 2018.

Also, when comparing our 2017 numbers to this year, we had more corporate work in January of 2017. Most Januarys are not that busy for corporate work, so 2017 was kind of a fluke. But between that and all of the December 2016 and January 2017 payments, the beginning of the previous year had nice little cushion, which allowed the normal expenses and the Charleston expenses to land nicely. It just wasn’t the case this year.

How I felt the winter of 2017.

This year, January was the perfect shitstorm of high expenses and a lower income month. Either one on their own would have been fine–and looking back at 2017, I had encountered those exact factors without even really noticing, since previous months had padded the bank account–but together this January, they made an impact I actually felt. All bills were still paid and I wasn’t late with anything, but I did not like the way my business bank account was looking.

So, I did the only thing I thought I could do–I starting a spending freeze (for non-essential items). I only know how to do things in extremes, you know? And I am well aware that the the small things add up. Dropping $50 on dinner and drinks may not seem like anything when I compare it to my regular income, but that was equivalent to my electric bill in Charleston. I held off on going out to eat, meeting friends for drinks and buying anything I didn’t absolutely need. It was a huge bummer, but it felt foolish to me to spend when things were lean. I still don’t take full days off when I’m snowbirding, but in 2017, I was able to take a decent amount of half days off and I loved it. My Charleston life is generally a little slower paced, business-wise, so that I am able to take half days off more often. But for the first six weeks of 2018, I didn’t do much socializing because of the freeze, and that really bothered me. It felt like I was wasting my snowbird winter, but my financial state made me feel paralyzed.

Maybe this all sounds crazy because I was not technically broke. I had money in savings and room on my credit cards (since I pay them in full every month) if things got really bad. But the savings money was my Charleston in-case-of-emergency-fund (the emergency being a slow business year that didn’t leave me with enough to snowbird off that year’s income) and I had worked so hard to get out of that credit card debt. So while those solutions kept me fed and housed, I was still scared. I kept having this irrational thought of What if we stop booking?. Not completely, as that’s highly unlikely for a company that’s been in business for ten years with yearly growth. But I started thinking What if we start booking half of what we usually do? What if I burn through my savings and wrack up credit card debt? Then I would be the 2012 Allison who constantly checked her mail for client payments and reluctantly maxed out her credit cards because she had no other choice. She lived with constant financial stress and fear that one big unexpected expense could wipe her out.

2012 Allison on Halloween, secretly stressing about how much that cocktail behind her cost.

On top of the stress of waiting for a higher income month to balance out the bad months and replenish my savings, I also felt embarrassed. How could I be in this position after a decade in business, the past four of those years being virtually financially worry-free? I thought I was a better business person than that. I really beat myself about that, and it felt so shitty. A lot of it came from this fear of being back in the true broke days of my early years in business, when I carried around so much financial stress that I’m surprised I didn’t fall over. When that stretch of bank account blues ended, I was elated. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I told myself I would never be back in that position again.

On my rare good days (more like scattered hours) early this year I thought, Maybe it’s actually impressive that I had such a good four year run of no financial stress. I don’t know what other small businesses encounter in terms of profit and loss ebb and flow, so I started to think what I was experiencing could be normal. That thought sent me on a search for stories of other established small business owners who had been in this position (and ideally, a happy ending of them getting out of it!), but I couldn’t find many that went into detail about how they felt during their rough patch. They were mostly information on how to solve the problems (which is valuable, but not what I was looking for) or quick mentions of bad times/failures that were overcome prior to great successes. So the idea for this post was born.

When I’m in any type of shitty position, just knowing that other people have been in my shoes helps me feel better. Since other entrepreneurs may also be looking for financial struggle stories that they can relate to, I this could maybe make one person feel better.

As if any adult could fit in my weirdly small child-sized shoes.

It’s not considered polite to talk about money, right? Then fine, don’t read this. (Too late if you’re already this far into it, you weirdo.) But I think especially as an entrepreneur, it is important to talk about it. Unless your business is in the accounting or financial advising industry, money might seem scary and confusing to you. But if you run a business, you have to really understand it. And it’s hard to understand something that many consider tacky to talk about, since that can prevent us from asking for help and advice. If you are an entrepreneur without a good grasp on finances, I think it’s easy to make a lot of mistakes. It’s also easy to feel like you are the only business owner going through a financial struggle, but honey, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I started this post in mid-February, as I was emerging from my spending freeze, and am finishing it now in June of 2018–a record-breaking month for sales for my company. This is likely going to be our best year ever, breaking revenue, booking and company size records. It started out rough, but has completely turned around. Having the rough patch happen forced me to take a really hard look at my monthly income fluctuations and expenses, and I now understand them in a way I didn’t before. That is an extremely valuable realization. It’s allowed me to devise a new plan to prevent anything similar from happening next winter, and I feel confident that it will work.

It’s shaping up to be record breaking year for AB Beauty.

If you are an established business owner going through a rough patch financially, I feel your pain. I feel your fear, your anxiety, your stress and your embarrassment. If you can figure out the causes of your financial rough patch, there’s a good chance you can correct them and/or prevent them going forward. In the meantime, try to recognize the fact that it’s probably just a tough couple of months. Business ebbs and flows but unless we are talking about some disaster that hit your business or a disruption in your industry that negatively affects your company, you are going to be okay.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Beauty Guru Makeup Techniques: The Real Deal

It’s amazing how quickly my brain will make connections between a movie I’ve never seen–like “The Love Guru–and what photo I should put into a blog post.

There are professional makeup artists and there are beauty gurus. Sometimes a person is both, but that’s not who I’m referring to here. I’m referring to the beauty gurus who do Instaglam makeup (which they often do on both Instagram and YouTube), primarily on themselves but sometimes on others as well. I’ve been looking through some of their Instagram posts and watching as many of their tutorials as I can handle, and I feel compelled to make sure everyone is aware of what is really going on a lot of the time.

This post is for those of you who follow gurus on Instagram or subscribe to their channels on YouTube. How things look in photos or on camera can be very different than what they look like in real life. Like shockingly different.

This post is also for beginner makeup artists, because after a decade in this industry, it is my duty to make sure you know the difference between beauty guru makeup techniques and professional makeup artist techniques. It’s fine to know how to do both if that’s what you like and you have a clientele who likes beauty guru makeup, but you have to know when to put on your professional makeup artist hat and when to do the typical guru type of makeup.

I’m going to go through some of the techniques and behind the scenes stuff so you know what’s really up. I can’t watch every video or story and comment on every technique, but these are the ones I see most often.

Baking. Baking is a drag makeup technique that calls for copious amounts of a lighter-than-your-skin loose powder to be placed onto areas you want to highlight. It is then left on the skin for 20 minutes to “bake.” This is HEAVY makeup (if you didn’t pick that up when I said “drag makeup.”) Mario Dedivanovic did this for a while on Kim Kardashian, but cautioned that it is not an everyday technique. Here’s the thing about powder: it sticks to texture. Dry patches? It’s grabbing onto them. Pores? It will happily fill them in and announce their presence to the world. Fine lines? Treats them just like it does pores, but has the fun effect of adding years onto your face.

Drag queens can get away with baking because they are performing, so they are far enough away where you can’t see any skin texture. But if you are baking your makeup then sitting outside for a lunch date with your friend at 1:00pm? She’s going to see everything. Unless someone has no visible pores or fine lines–so basically, infants–that much powder is super obvious in person. Most clients who sit in my chair tell me they don’t want their makeup to look caked on, which is why I stay away from baking.

Makeup baking
Baking leads to caking.

Tip of Nose Highlight. This highlighter craze has gone TOO FAR. This particular trend drives me insane, because it’s really common with beauty gurus, and it is bad. I believe it started because some gurus said it would make the nose look upturned and like, so cute. And I’ve seen some people say they do it because they have a bump on the bridge of their nose, and highlighting the tip makes the bump seem less noticeable in comparison. And others say it makes a flat nose look more narrow, which makes zero sense. Highlighting anything will make it stand out more and look bigger. Do you want the tip of your nose to look bigger or bulbous? I didn’t think so. Plus, part of this trend is to use shimmery highlighter, and shimmer makes things shiny. When did having a shiny nose become desirable?!?! Lastly, shimmer particles fit very nicely into pores, and many people already have visible pores on their nose. Why would you want to point those out? If you insist on doing this technique, fine. Just know that it is obvious and not flattering in person.

Tip of nose highlight
It’s hard for me to not powder this picture.

Tip of Nose Blush. This shit is baffling. It’s not unusual for a pro makeup artist to use some bronzer or blush across the bridge of the nose when doing a sunkissed or beachy editorial makeup, but tip of the nose? I don’t get it. I’ve always applied makeup to cover red or pink tones on the nose, not bring them out. Blush is meant to meant to mimic the natural flush you get on your cheeks, not your nose. A red or pink nose used to mean someone was sick, crying or had rosacea. I don’t know the reasoning behind this one, and I don’t want to.

She’s stunning, but I can’t get down with this trend. (And this looks like a tip of nose blush and highlighter combo.)

Contouring for One Face Shape. If you look up contouring and highlighting tutorials, 90% of them will be for an oval face shape. That’s great if you’re an Oval, but what about the Hearts, Diamonds, Triangles, Rounds, Oblongs and Squares out there? And what about those with features that they are better off not highlighting or contouring? If you are going to venture into the world of highlighting and contouring, you have to first identify your face shape then learn how to contour and highlight for that shape. If you are a Square with prominent cheekbones and you contour like you’re an Oval, you’ll be putting the focus exactly on the areas you don’t want to draw attention to. For more on face shapes and how to sculpt your’s in a flattering way, check out my Shape Up series.

If you’ve got a small forehead, prominent chin or full cheeks, this technique would not flatter you.

Product Dripping. I don’t know what this technique is called, or if there is even a name for it, but I’ve seen it in several tutorials. This is when the guru takes a liquid production (foundation, luminzer, primer, etc.) that comes in a bottle with a pump or dropper and dispenses product directly onto the face. I’ve been doing makeup professionally since 2008, and I had never seen anyone do this until recently. The pro artists I know will dispense product onto their hand or a palette before applying (as do I). I can’t imagine what the benefit would be of applying it directly from bottle to face. And in many of the tutorials I’ve seen with people who do this, they use a ton of product. When I use Armani Luminous Silk or Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundations, I dispense one pump–sometimes a pump and a half–to do an entire face. I’ve seen gurus use 4-6 pumps on themselves. That is bananas! That’s a crapload of makeup, and it’s completely unnecessary. There is zero chance of that much product not caking up on the skin, especially after powder is applied. And good luck blending! The skin can only absorb so much. It’s also a giant waste of product. Please do not do this.

WHY

Emphasizing All Features. I went over this in my Which Team Are You On? post, but here’s the recap: editorial makeup (and pro makeup in general, up until social media) focused on one feature, but Instaglam makeup does them all up. Full coverage foundation, heavy contour, blinding highlight on several features, cut crease eyeshadow, winged liner, thick brows, false lashes, overdrawn lipliner and matte or intense lipstick colors. It is essentially drag queen makeup, which I love when done well on actual drag queens. But drag queens are men who transform themselves into ultra-feminine women. Women already naturally have some of the features and bone structure drag queens emulate, so putting extra emphasis on those features can backfire and make a woman look masculine. (Fine if that’s your thing, but I have a feeling it’s not what those following beauty gurus are going for.)

I see a beautiful woman there, but what stands out? Skin? Highlight? Contour? Eyebrows? Eyeshadow? Eyeliner? Lipstick? Lashes? Or all of it and therefore none of it at once?

So Much Product. With the emphasis on all features, beauty gurus are already using a lot of different makeup products. And the actual amount of product they use is insane to me. Let me break it down.

  1. I’ve already covered drip foundation, and this triangle-of-concealer-under-eyes application makes no sense, as Wayne Goss explains. Every good pro makeup artist I know works in thin layers of concealer and foundation, which allows them to blend easily and use only as much as they need to blur any imperfections and let the skin show through.
  2. The amount of powder used by many gurus–whether or not they are baking–is borderline obscene. Powder is meant to set foundation and minimize shine, using the least amount of product you can. Lots of any kind of powder product is guarantee to cake up on the skin.
  3. You don’t need to use three contour products and a bronzer. If you want to sculpt, a cream contour and a powder contour are the absolute most you would need to use. I’ve seen gurus use concealers, stick foundations or contour sticks, powder contour and bronzer layered over each other. Unnecessary!
  4. If you think layer upon layer of glittery highlight will look like anything other than a stripe of shimmer on your face in natural light, you are mistaken.
  5. Overdrawn lips plus lipstick plus lipgloss plus highlight over and under the liplines? Again, drag makeup. If that’s your goal, proceed.

If you want to use as much product as many of the gurus do, be my guest. But know that a) It’s going to look super heavy in real life and b) Your beauty product spending will increase, as you are using way more product than you need to.

And now for the behind the scenes stuff. Beauty guru tutorials and photos can be very deceiving. I was talking to a friend of a client at a bridal trial recently, and she said she went to a meet and greet for a well-know guru, and could not believe how much makeup she had on. I wasn’t surprised at all! It’s because of those things I just mentioned, as well as:

Lighting. I’ve worked on a several films, commercials and television shows over the years.  So I can tell you from experience that lighting makes a huge difference. If a person is lit well, their skin will look smoother, younger and more even toned than it really is. You can absolutely manipulate lighting to be mega-flattering and soft on camera. But beauty gurus don’t have a lighting crew on set! you say. True, but many of them use ring lights, which can make even the most hack blending job look gorgeous on camera. If they did the same makeup in your bathroom that has those yellow lights you hate, things would look at lot different.

Lighting it up.

Filters. You probably know about Instagram filters, and the editing you can do there. There are also digital filters that many beauty gurus use to make the skin look impossibly smooth and perfect in videos. Don’t feel like reading anymore about this? Then watch Wayne’s video on what he calls live Photoshop.

I call bullshit on some of y’all gurus.

Editing Out Steps. A full face of makeup–especially the way some of these gurus do it–often takes way more time than the length of the video. Application steps, blending and product absorption time can easily be edited out. Sometimes a guru will tell you that, but other times they keep it to themselves. A winged eyeliner alone can take the length of some of these tutorials, so don’t think that you’re doing anything wrong if you can’t do a full face and lashes in 10 minutes and 19 seconds.

Some things take time.

If you are aware of all of these factors and you love guru/Instaglam makeup, then do you, babygirl. I’m not trying to dissuade you from doing looks you like on yourself. I just want you to know the reality of what you see so you don’t think you’re doing it wrong when it looks heavy or unflattering on your own face.

However, if you are a pro makeup artist and you try to do this type makeup on a commercial, film or at a corporate shoot, you’re probably going to get fired. If whatever you are working with is filmed in HD, heavy makeup is going to be magnified and it will not look good. Think back to the last movie or show you watched. Did you see obvious contour? Tons of disco ball highlight? Heavy, dark brows? Nope. You have to know how to do clean makeup if you want to work in on those types of shoots.

I could go on and on about this topic, but I think I’ve covered the basics. If you’ve got questions or comments, you know what to do.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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 🙂

Makeup Artist Dreaming: Who’s the Boss?

Do you want to be an Angela or a Tony?

Once you have gotten educated/licensed and decided which area or areas of makeup artistry you want to focus on, you’ll have to decide if you want to work for yourself or for someone else. If you want to work for yourself, as a freelancer, you will be responsible for finding your own jobs (and jobs for others, if you hire anyone). If you work for a company, the jobs will be provided for you, but you will have certain guidelines to abide by and possibly a specific product line or lines that you are required to use.

There are benefits and disadvantages to both approaches, but there is nothing that says you can’t change directions if you feel that particular setup is not working for you. Some artists who work for other companies have a tremendous degree of freedom and creative choice, and some freelancers may sometimes work as independent contractors for other companies. Initially going down one of the two paths will give you some direction to start with, but it doesn’t mean you career path is set in stone.

If you want to work for yourself, it’s up to you to be organized, disciplined and responsible. When you work for yourself, you don’t get sick days, paid vacation time, or someone to cover for you when you are unavailable. A freelancer makeup artist’s schedule is typically wildly unpredictable, which makes planning things in your personal life difficult. It is hard (and frankly unwise) to turn down a job because you want to go to the beach for a day when you don’t know when your next job will come in.

If you have some business experience, you will find that knowledge very helpful if you decide to work for yourself. You will be responsible for your own advertising, marketing, billing, ordering products, client communication, etc., so any experience in these areas will be beneficial. If you don’t have any business experience, try to find someone you know who can help you with the basics. Or consider taking a business class for entrepreneurs.

Another huge part of being a successful freelancer is keeping yourself motivated. No one can fire you if you decide to sleep until 11:00am every day and take off three days every week, but you will never build your business by doing that. You have to hold yourself accountable and get things done, and especially when you are starting out and don’t have a client base, it can be difficult to stay motivated. But it is critical to your success, so whatever inspires you to work hard—maybe it’s motivational quotes, books by successful entrepreneurs, or goals you want to accomplish—keep them at the forefront of your business. Working for yourself has its challenges, but it can be extremely gratifying. It also gives you the most creative choice and allows you to run your business the way you want to. This is a good path for makeup artists who are independent, motivated and organized.

If you want to work for someone, you have several avenues to explore. You can work at a salon or spa, for a cosmetics company, as an independent contractor for one or more companies, or at a makeup counter. Depending on the position and the company, there are varying degrees of scheduling freedom and travel available. With some of these jobs, you may have a regular schedule and possibly some benefits. You may also be collaborating or working with a team, which is a plus for those who work best with others.

Keep in mind that working for someone else also comes with certain rules and guidelines. The owner/your manager has the ultimate say, which can stifle creativity in some cases. Depending on the company, you may have to use only their products. This is great if you love every single product they make—especially if they give an employee discount, which many companies do!—but if you don’t like the line you are working with, it can make your job difficult.

Most the successful makeup artists who have been in the industry for a while end up as freelancers. Some started that way, while others worked for someone else until they felt ready to make the move. Don’t force yourself to do what goes against your nature and personality type, but also be open to making a change if you realize the situation you are in does not work for you.

Best of luck with your adventures in makeup artistry!

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 🙂

Makeup Artist Dreaming: Narrow It Down

Makeup artistry career
Is this your dream or nightmare type of makeup job?

There are many directions you can go in as a makeup artist. You can specialize in the fashion industry/runway makeup, film and/or television, red carpet/celebrity events, theatre, bridal/events, special effects, editorial, or corporate work. You will most likely work in a few fields, especially at the beginning of your career. Doing so will give you experience with different types of makeup applications, and will allow you to build your income while you are starting out.

At the same time, having some focus will give you direction and allow you to plan your next career steps more easily. Many of the fields overlap (for example, most special effects makeup is for film, and red carpet/celebrity events and bridal makeup have similarities), so even if you have a general idea of what you want to do, that will help you.

If you are interested in the fashion industry/runway, you will need to live in or near one of the major fashion centers of the world. New York, London, Milan and Paris are the four biggest cities for runway, but you will find runway on a smaller scale in any large city. But if you want to make runway your main focus, choosing one of the major fashion centers will be most beneficial to you.

To get started in the fashion industry/runway, you must first assist an artist who creates the looks for the shows. This is matter of networking, perseverance and patience! Do your research to find out which makeup artists you would like to assist, and learn as much about their style, past work and clients as you can. Keep in mind that runway shows are very fast paced, so you must learn to work quickly and, while you are assisting, be able to duplicate the look that has been created by the lead makeup artist. The fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris are one week long each, and are held twice a year. While there is prep work that goes into the shows, doing runway only will probably not provide you with enough income for the year, so you will most likely need to supplement your income with other jobs (perhaps working some of the smaller fashion weeks for other cities, or doing editorial work).

Film and/or television makeup is a popular career choice for makeup artists. While Los Angeles and New York tend to host films and television shows regularly, they are not the only areas where you can work. Because of tax breaks for the film industry, places like New Orleans, Louisiana, Atalanta, Georgia and Boston, Massachusetts have become popular places for film work.

To get in to the film/television industry, most artists start out working on small (usually unpaid) student films and independent films. This is how you learn set etiquette, script breakdowns, look continuity, how to interact with directors and different departments and how to network. After you gain experience and make the right connections—which is how you will get new jobs at first—you might want to consider joining the union for makeup artists in the area you work in. Most big films and television shows are union production, so this is something you’ll likely need to do.

If you work in film/television, be prepared for long days. It’s not unusual to work a 14 hour day on set. If you work in television, depending on which show you work on, you may work at one location every day. Working in the film industry typically requires more travel, both in the sense of traveling for different films and during the actual filming (it is unlikely that every single scene will be filmed at one location).

If you form a relationship with a celebrity, you may be able to break into the world of red carpet/celebrity events. It is important to really understand how to do makeup for photography and film in this industry, as your client could potentially be photographed and filmed at the same event. You have to learn to collaborate with their hair stylist and wardrobe stylist, and be ready to change direction if a hair style or outfit changes after you have planned out a look.

Doing makeup for red carpet/celebrity events requires that you are up to date on the current makeup trends. It also requires a degree of creativity, as celebrities will often debut a new look at an event. It is important that you know your client’s likes and dislikes well, but you also want to present new ideas to them.

Theatre makeup definitely requires specific training, as the type of makeup that is often used is not traditional makeup. Doing makeup for theatre requires that you understand lighting, costumes, characters and scripts. Because theatre productions often include large numbers of actors appearing onstage at the same time, usually the lead artist creates the looks for the entire cast, but they only work with one or two of the lead actors. It would be difficult (and probably not cost effective for production) to hire one makeup artist for every single actor, which is why the actors in smaller productions usually learn to do the makeup themselves.

Working in theatre is lively and fast-paced, but keep in mind that it may not be something you can do full-time at the beginning of your career. If you want to focus on theatre, you should definitely assist a makeup artist who is experienced in that field. Living in a city with a prominent theatre scene, like New York or London, is probably the best choice for you.

Weddings are a huge industry in the U.S., and the majority of brides get their makeup professionally done. You can do bridal makeup anywhere, but there are certain cities that have a lot of weddings. This changes each year, but the U.S. cities that usually make the “The Popular Wedding Destination” lists are Boston, MA, New York, NY, Las Vegas, NV, Miami, FL, Charleston, SC and Napa Valley, CA. Doing bridal makeup in these areas gives you access to more work, but also more competition.

Bridal and other event makeup requires you to work closely with the client to create a customized look for them. Along with the normal factors in any makeup application—skin type, skin tone, eye color and hair color–you have to take their dress, hair style and any cultural factors into consideration. Unless you are working for a salon or beauty services company and someone else does the administrative work, bridal makeup in particular is not just about showing up that day. You have to keep contracts, invoices, schedules and other details organized and you must be good with consistent communication and followup.

Breaking into the bridal industry is easier than breaking into runway or film, as you don’t necessarily have to assist anyone first and you don’t have to start with unpaid jobs or join a union. If you have the technical skills and business sense, you can start building your contacts from people you know. Think of how many women you know who get engaged each year—they could potentially all be clients! It takes a while to build a clientele and reputation, but it is generally a quicker process than building your career in other areas of makeup artistry.

Special effects makeup is most frequently done for films and television, but there is also some need for it in other areas. Special effects makeup is much different than beauty makeup, so you will need some training from a school, course or mentor. If you are interested in this kind of makeup, you will probably find the most work and resources—at least when you are starting out—in California. Because special effects makeup is primarily a subcategory of film and television, your way in will be the same as explained for that industry.

Editorial makeup—makeup for print work—is what many people think of when they think of makeup artists. The makeup you see in magazine spreads is typically done by experienced makeup artists who often work for an agency. The bulk of editorial work is based out of New York, but it is a job that allows for a lot of travel, as magazine shoots are done in different locations.

As with anything that is being photographed, with editorial makeup, you must understand lighting, wardrobe, hair styles and locations. For these types of shoots, it is vital that you understand the vision of the client, art director and photographer. You must be ready to make adjustments as you go, as sometimes the visions will change. If you are working with actress instead or a model, you must take their preferences into consideration as well (as long as they line up with everyone else’s).

To get started in editorial (really in any area, but especially editorial) you will need a portfolio. You can build your portfolio by doing test shoots, aka trade shoots, with a team of photographers, hair stylists and models. In these shoots, you will learn how to collaborate with your team, how to do makeup for photography and how to work with different personalities. After the shoot, you will receive images for your portfolio. Test/trades shoots are unpaid, but building a portfolio is essential and therefore valuable.

There are opportunities for corporate work in any area that has businesses. Real estate companies, insurance companies, universities, hospitals and other organizations sometimes hire makeup artists to work on company commercials, promotional photoshoots, business card photos and events. Corporate work can  consist of doing makeup for 50 employees being filmed for short segments, or for the owners of a company being photographed for their website, or for instructional videos to be seen by company employees. As a makeup artist doing corporate work, you will usually be responsible for hair grooming too. This doesn’t mean cutting, coloring or even full hair styling, but just making sure that the person’s hair looks presentable on camera.

Doing corporate work sometimes means that you have to work quickly to get through large numbers of people. It also means that you have to style and dress yourself in a way that is business-appropriate. Makeup artists are creative people, and this is often also reflected in hair styles and clothing choices. At a runway show or editorial shoot, you can let your individuality show through, but when you are with corporate clients, it is to go with more of a conservative look.

Corporate jobs are usually 8 hours or less, and tend to happen more on weekdays than weekends. It can take 30-60 days to get paid for corporate work, which is something you will want to take into account when doing your budgeting. Once they find a makeup artist they like, corporate clients will often use the same person every time, so it is important to form and maintain good relationships.

You don’t have to decide right away what you want to do, but hopefully this overview has helped you narrow down your interests a bit. You will have to do research, make connections and build a portfolio for any of these fields, but focusing on two or three areas that interest you will help you while you are starting out in your career.

Have a beautiful day 🙂