Prep School: It’s Not a Hobby

No freebies
Gotta let ’em know.

Although you’ll hopefully do something you enjoy if/when you go into business, the career you choose is not a hobby. You’ll need to charge people for the product(s) or service(s) you offer, as that’s how business works. Unfortunately, some people around you may forget that. It will be part of your job to (nicely) remind them. I strongly suggest setting those boundaries early and having a script for the pro bono requests you will likely get.

Even when you are a struggling new business owner, you may find some family members and friends want you to do your job for free. Some people won’t make the connection between you not having enough money to do things with them and how the money you need comes from you selling your products/services to paying customers/clients. I’m not sure if this happens as often in product-based businesses, but it’s been my experience and the experience of other entrepreneurs I know that when your company offers services, some people think nothing of asking you to do your job for them sans payment. “Sounds familiar!” says every bartender ever.

As a makeup artist and licensed esthetician, my friends and family often ask me for beauty advice. I am more than happy to answer their questions, and honestly, I owe it to them since they’ve been so understanding of my entrepreneuritis. But when people expect me to do their makeup and not charge them for it, that is very different. It’s probably my fault because when I started, I wanted to do my friends’ makeup when they came over. After about five years though, I felt differently. As much as I love applying makeup, it is (part of) my job. And if I have a friend over and I can finally relax, the last thing I want to do is work more. I mean, think about it. Imagine you’re an elementary school math teacher and you go to a friend’s house after work one day. How would you feel if she asked you to teach fractions to her daughter and fifteen neighborhood kids?

I charge clients for makeup applications because I am giving them my time and expertise, plus using my products (which are not cheap). Now, there are a few people in my life who I choose to do makeup for at no charge because they are my family and have helped me and my business countless times over the years. And I’m happy to help a friend out if she is touching up her eyeliner at my house and I know a technique that could help her. When I volunteer to do it, it’s because I want to and I think I could help someone improve their beauty life. But if we are going out and a friend asks me to do a full face with my products when I just want to drink some tequila and catch up, I’m not into it.

Whatever job you end up doing has value, and that’s important to remember. I’m not saying you should never ever give away a product or do a free service for someone close to you. But if you do, make sure to be clear from the start what your boundaries are. And avoid casting that net of freebies too wide. For example, I would never ever charge my mother for a makeup application, but a friend who comes over with her cousin who I’ve never met? Nope. Not for free, and not without an appointment set up. You’ll have to figure out who you will give free or discounted services/products to, but I strongly suggest keeping it to a very small group.

In talking to other entrepreneurs, I’ve found that they have all encountered friends or family asking for or expecting free products or services. (I actually saw a post about this from another business owner I know as I was editing this post.) Early on, I suggest setting some boundaries so you don’t feel like you’re being taken advantage of or are losing income because you feel guilty about charging certain people. So in using the example of my friend from the intro who wants to open a yoga studio, maybe she’ll be fine with showing a friend a pose that would help with some back pain, but she will draw the line at doing a full, private yoga lesson for free. If you plan on opening a product-based business and you anticipate you’ll have family/friends who will expect the items you sell for free or deeply discounted, how about alerting them when your company is running a promo? Like “Hey, I know you love this ___. We’re selling it for 20% off right now, so thought you’d want to know.”

It’s not cold-hearted or mean to charge your friends/family for your products and services. If they truly love you, support you and value what you do, they will understand. The key is to set your boundaries early on by not giving away your products/services for free (so don’t do what I did). You’ll have to figure out the best way to say it, which is something a mentor or established small business owner friend/contact could help you with. (If you don’t know any other small business owners, try joining a local networking group or even Facebook page of business owners in your area or industry. You can sometimes get great advice from these types of groups.)

I know this can be a tough one, but running a business is full of tough problems. So get used to it! And I’ll say it one more time in case it hasn’t sunk in: set your boundaries early. That can potentially save you a world of trouble. And that’s what this Prep School series is here for.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Prep School: No Money, Mo’ Problems

Small business
Hopefully you don’t get so stressed about money that you lose all of your identifying features.

If you’re uncomfortable talking about, thinking about or dealing with money, do not open a business. As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to constantly run numbers, as they are indicative of the success and growth of your company. The numbers also tell you what you can and can not do with advertising, rate increases, building/office/storefront rentals, etc. If you’re reading this series and think you can skip over this post and “figure it out later,” that’s a bad move. You’ll be in for a rude awakening, because there is something you need to know.

You’re going to be broke.

How broke you will be and how long that will last depends on your living costs, any financial backing, your debt and the net profit from your new business. But I feel confident saying that most entrepreneurs experience being in the red at some point. My first few years in business were a major financial stressor for me, but I knew that I’d eventually have a real income. I was always able to pay my rent but there were times when I had a budget of $0.00 for my social life. So I had to turn down invites for dinners, trips, comedy shows, even going to visit out of state friends because I didn’t have money to put gas in my car. Even if I didn’t have a client or work commitment and had the time to do those things, my bank account told me otherwise.

Early on in my boss lady life, I had a friend’s sister ask me to pick up a Christmas gift for my friend from a specific store in Newport (they both lived out of the area and the store rejected the idea of e-commerce). This was before the days of venmo (not that I have that now) and for whatever reason we didn’t do PayPal, so my friend’s sister said she would send me a check for the price of the gift and the mailing. It ended up costing around $80, so not a huge amount. But the thing was, that was a huge amount to me because I was so broke. I think it took her a month to send the money to me, and I had to kind of chase her down for it. I knew she had a good job and money was not a problem for her, and since she was not a close friend and not an entrepreneur, she had no idea that $80 was a hardship for me. I wish I could say that was the only time my sad looking bank account affected anything, but there have been countless times over the years that I had to say no to things I wanted to do because I couldn’t afford to. I’m sure there were people who thought I was being cheap or using the “I have no money” excuse to get out of things, but luckily no one ever said it to me.

There are ways to minimize the impact of entrepreneur-related financial struggle though. The first thing I suggest is to get your financial life in the best shape it can be before you open the doors to your business. I went into my business with student loans from college and esthetics school, but had I waited until I paid those off with the Office Manager salary I was making at the time, I would probably still be paying them off today. (Entrepreneur life allowed me to clear them all by Year 7.) I did have three credit cards, which I had always used responsibly, so I made sure those were completely paid off before I went out on my own. I then proceeded to max them out building my business (then paid them off by Year 7), but if I had gone into boss life with student loan debt and credit card debt, I don’t think I would have made it this far. If you are even thinking about opening your own business, start paying down those credit cards and school loans (starting with whatever charges the highest interest rate) while you think. If you decide you don’t want to open a business, you’ve at least done something that will put you in a better financial position.

After you clear as much of your debt as you can, you have to look at your expenses. Here’s where I suggest going into Barebones Living (shout out to Oregon Trail for that one). I certainly did not do everything in the smartest way, but I knew that there were certain expenses I had–rent, car insurance and school loans–that I couldn’t minimize so I had to cut down other costs. I split Internet with my downstairs neighbor for a while, rarely went out to eat (unless I had done a friend’s makeup in exchange for them treating me to dinner), didn’t buy any new clothes or any non-essentials for my house for a couple years, walked everywhere I could to save money on gas, sold clothes on consignment and did a lot of other things I’m forgetting. Basically, if it wasn’t an absolute essential, I put it on a list of things I would buy someday when I had money. Seriously!

I’m no financial expert, but I think my advice is solid. The point of this post though is to prepare you for the reality that you will likely not have much money at some point during your early years in business.  If you’ve always worked low pay jobs and/or been buried by student loans since you graduated, this struggle won’t be new to you and therefore might be easier to handle. But if you are someone who has never had to worry about money, it’s going to be a shock to your system. Hopefully this post will help soften the blow.

I think we hear a lot about the financial success of entrepreneurs, which is good because it can be a reality and is part of the appeal of this lifestyle. But some stories gloss over or glamorize the Poor Years (yes, it’s often years), and how tough that can be. The good news is that if you build a strong business, you will eventually not only have money, but will have no ceiling to your income. That’s worth the struggle, right?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Prep School: They Will Call You Lame

RSVP, entrepreneur
Opening a business? I predict a lot of regretfully declining in your future.

“Can you come out Friday night?” I don’t hear this question often because, you know, I’m in my mid 30s, but it still happens sometimes (and did a lot more when I started my business). I almost always have bridal trials or weddings on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so I don’t go out the night before. It’s not that I would take shots of Fireball and stay out until 3:00am, but even two drinks and a self imposed 11:00pm curfew doesn’t work for me when I have to be up at 6:00am. My clients pay me good money for a professional makeup application, and I’m not going to screw that up with shaky, tired, hungover hands and a lack of focus. I’ve gotten pushback from friends and some of the jokers I’ve dated who couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t go out on a Friday night if I didn’t have to be anywhere until 9:00am the next morning, but I’ve always held my ground. A 9:00am job means I’ll actually arrive at 8:45am, so that’s a 6:00am wakeup, since I have to answer emails, get myself ready and travel to jobs. I’m not doing that on five or six hours of sleep.

I love my friends and family and occasionally like the guys I date, but I’m not willing to make my job harder or give my clients a sub par makeup service because I stayed at Drunky McTipsy’s until last call the night before. Even if I don’t have clients the next morning but I have a huge admin workload, I’ll say no to an invite if I know it’s better for my company if I stay in, work all evening and get an early start the next morning. If you have the same mindset–and really, you should–you may find some friends get all pissy about it. I say, let ’em. If you’re honest about what you need to do to keep your business going and they still think you’re a bad friend for not drinking overpriced vodka sodas with them, then maybe it’s time to re-assess the value of that friendship.

If you think there are people in your life who may give you a hard time for this and call you lame, I suggest explaining to them why you can’t go out as often. (Or potentially at all, at least at first.) My advice is to talk to them about this at a random time, not after they’ve asked you to hang out. If an in-person conversation is not the route you want to go, email is a good option. Something along the lines of “I love you and I have so much fun when we hang out, but I really need to prioritize my business right now. I’m not great at ___ when I’m tired/hungover, and I don’t want to sabotage my company before it even takes off. Hopefully you understand. If you can meet for a coffee/grab lunch/catch a movie sometime this month, I’d love to see you.” Now, what kind of reasonable person would get mad at that?

I think you’ll find there are a lot of people who will get it, and they are the true gems. But remember, that kind of understanding needs to be reciprocated. You’ll have friends who will have stretches of time when they can’t hang out as much because of babies, new work schedules, studying for school or professional exams–whatever. It can be disappointing, especially when these life events (thanks, Facebook!) happen at different times and your schedules/lifestyles never align, but remember how understanding they were of your entrepreneur schedule. Like I said in the intro , you have to value those who are accepting of your entrepreneuritis.

It’s not lame of you to turn down an invite because you are prioritizing your business. It’s lame of someone to give you a hard time for that, and you can tell them the Wisdom Talker said so.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

Prep School: The Intro

Allison Barbera: Certified Wisdom Talker Since  2008.

A psychic once told me that I’m a Wisdom Talker, which is an old soul who gives valuable advice to those around her. Now, she definitely should not have said that to me. I already secretly thought I was a fantastic advice giver, but her validation made my incidences of unsolicited advice skyrocket. I’ve tried to rein it in and will now often ask a friend who is venting “Would you like me to just listen or do you want my input?” But when you come to my blog, you’re in the Wisdom Talker’s territory.

There are a ton of things I’m not qualified to give advice on. Raising children, cooking, training for a marathon, beekeeping–I could go on and on. But when it comes to small businesses, I think nine years of successfully running one makes me qualified to drop some knowledge. I don’t have all the answers and I’m sure there is a lot I could be doing better, but there are also some things I’ve learned that others may find helpful.

A friend of mine is considering opening a business and she recently asked me to be her mentor. (Ego inflation: 6,000%.) I wrote her a series of emails about what I’ve learned and it made me think, Can I share this with other aspiring entrepreneurs? And now here we are.

If you are thinking of opening a business, you’ve got a lot of research and preparation to do. That’s a whole different blog post. What I want to wisdom talk to you about today is how to prepare for the reality that the people around you may not understand your career. Starting a business (including freelancing) can be overwhelming and stressful, so being as prepared as possible with not only the business side but the reactions you may encounter will give you a leg up. I don’t want it to be a shock to your system if some of your relatives or closest friends back off from your relationship or give you shit for your new lifestyle.

Unless someone has owned a business, worked closely with the owner of a small business or had an entrepreneur in their family, they may not really get the demands of your business and how that has to be your priority. Please know that I’m not saying this in a holier-than-thou way. It’s just that it can be difficult for a person who is not an entrepreneur to fully grasp what that means, just like I’ll never truly know what it’s like to be a parent or a professional athlete. But if you are thinking of opening your own business, it might be helpful to be prepared for some of the misunderstanding you will likely encounter.

When you announce that you are starting your own business, you’ll ideally be met with support from your friends and family. Hopefully it stays that way for the length of your business, but don’t count on it. Unless everyone around you is an entrepreneur (in which case, LET ME IN YOUR CIRCLE), there are going to be some people who don’t understand your new lifestyle. Some may support you fully at first, but when it affects them, it can be a different story. If you can’t make it to their bridal shower because you have clients that morning or you can’t go on a trip with someone because you need to invest every extra penny in your business, they may see that as you not being a good friend/relative. Before opening AB Beauty, I had worked in enough small businesses to have an inkling that this would happen, which is why I told my crew early on “I’m probably going to be a bad friend for a few years.” And I did miss a lot of stuff (partly due to the fact that my job requires weekends) but I held on to most of my friends.

This is not a reason to not start a business. There will be people around you who support you and understand that there are things you need to do for your business–especially during the early years–but that doesn’t mean you don’t love them or want to spend time with them. My tactic has always been to explain where I’m at and why I can’t do certain things at the moment, but also to be there as much as I can in other ways. So maybe I couldn’t afford to go out for a friend’s birthday dinner when I was struggling to make my rent, but I’d definitely call her after her first day at a new job to see how it went. Bachelorette parties have usually been impossible for me because they are almost always on a spring, summer or fall Friday or Saturday night and I normally have to work the next day. But now that I have a real income, I can take that bride-to-be out to dinner to make up for it. And the schedule flexibility has allowed me to drive a friend to a doctor’s appointment on a Tuesday morning or help my cousin unpack at a new apartment on a Sunday after a wedding job. The people who have stuck around, supported me and not given me a hard time for cancelling plans because of a last minute job call mean the world to me and they are the ones I make an extra effort to see and be there for.

This was initially going to be one blog post but I haven’t even gotten to the first category yet, so I’m going Series style. My hope is that the upcoming posts will be helpful to not only people who want to start their own business, but to those who are close to small business owners and think “What the hell is this job?” If your partner, sibling, close friend or roommate is starting their own company, maybe it would be beneficial for you to have an idea of what their career life may be like.

But mainly, this is your prep school, aspiring entrepreneurs. Opening a business is risky, unpredictable and scary as hell. But if you can go into it being aware of some of the issues you may face, that’s going to help you in the long run. You know that quote “Over-prepare then go with the flow?” Yes. Do that.

And I want to take a second to say THANK YOU to the many supportive friends and family in my life. They far outnumber the non-supporters and for that, I am immensely grateful. I love you and I’m sorry I missed your _____ last _____.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Things I Love: The Summer 2017 Edition

What makes you this happy?

When I love something, I really love it. Things are either my favorite or they are dead to me. It’s part of my charm! So for your reading pleasure, I present the current Things I Love.

Tequila. It’s a tale as old as time: I once had a bad experience with tequila then didn’t touch the stuff for ten years. I slowly started getting into it again last summer and now it’s become my favorite. I feel fantastic after I drink this nectar of the gods. All other alcohol gives me a foggy kind of buzz, but a tequila buzz makes me feel sharp. Vodka Allie makes half-assed plans and loses lip balms. Tequila Allie will create a Google calendar and schedule your dentist appointments for you. I almost never have more than three drinks (my max is normally two), but when I have even one vodka cocktail or glass of wine, I can feel it the next day. It’s not a hangover, but I wake up and I think Oh, I had a drink last night. When I wake up after drinking tequila, I feel great. Also, anything but tequila makes the faint lines on my face much more noticeable for a few hours. Those lines aren’t as noticeable post tequila. Tequila Allie runs shit and her skin looks good doing it? That’s a win-win.

The Moto Leigh Jeans by Topshop. There are certain clothing styles that do not work on my body. Cap sleeves, A-line skirts and peplum dresses are not for me. And until (somewhat) recently, jeans were in my “What Not to Wear” category. I had tried on rough 7,000 pairs in my adult years, but could never find any that didn’t make me look ten pounds heavier and unhappy. Then one summer day a while back, Vodka Allie went shopping. She bought an animal print winter coat that she felt very boss in. It fit great in the store, but when I (back to regular Allie now) tried it on the next day with a sweater–as one wears in the winter underneath a coat–I discovered that the sleeves were too tight. So I returned it, but could only get store credit. As someone who believes that if you put enough effort into something you can usually succeed, I decided to use that store credit to give jeans another try. I approached the store’s display of jeans with trepidation and a sliver of hope. I tried on a gray pair of Topshop Moto Leigh skinny jeans and was shocked. They fit! And looked good! They became a staple in my wardrobe and were later joined by their sisters Moto Black Leigh jeans and Moto Dark Blue Leigh jeans. I wear the hell out of these pants and I’m going to order some more right now. Interested? Let me save you some Googling: The Perfect Jeans

Drybar Hair Products. Last year, some kind soul gave me the Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo. As a once-a-week-hair-washer, dry shampoo is an essential in my hair product arsenal. Some dry shampoos are garbage, but the Detox is a keeper. Next in my foray into Drybar products was the Triple Sec 3-in-1, which extends your blowout, gives a tousled look and adds texture. Oh, so the trinity of hair perfection? I’m sold. Their Detox Dry Conditioner, my most recent acquisition, makes Day 6 of my blowout look polished and smell fantastic. I’m not usually big on hair products because I’ve got enough steps in my beauty routine, but these products are so good and so easy to use that I have no excuse.

My Coffee. I’m about to get real basic on you. I drank coffee throughout college and in my early 20s but stopped in my mid 20s because the caffeine was triggering panic attacks. So then I was tired and anxious, but no more heart palpitations! Two years ago, I was often exhausted from working a ton (status now: the same) and since I hadn’t had a panic attack in years, I thought I would give coffee a try again. I started by getting half decaf coffees, then small regular coffees and eventually worked my way up to mediums. Once I realized how much money I was spending at coffee shops, I decided the smart choice would be to buy my own coffee pot. I went with an old school no frills Mr. Coffee model. And now coffee from pretty much anywhere else tastes sub par to me. I drink New England Coffee Colombian Supremo with Coffee-mate Italian Sweet Creme (give me a break, it’s the one bad thing in my diet). I’m embarrassed to say how much I look forward to this magical beverage. Sometimes when I go to bed at night, I actually think I can’t wait to drink my coffee tomorrow! Maybe that’s ridiculous, but I’d much rather go to bed excited to wake up for something then go to bed dreading what I have to wake up for.

My Morning Ritual. I’ve read several articles/posts about rituals and habits in business, and how starting your day off the same way every morning makes a huge difference. That makes a lot of sense to my Type A personality. So unless I have a job/clients early in the morning and only have time to shower and put on a little makeup before I get on the road, I follow the same ritual. My eyes open and I check my phone to make sure my personal and career worlds have not fallen apart in the last seven hours. I take my probiotics, some supplements, then make my coffee. While my coffee is brewing, I do some crunches, lunges, squats and a quick arm workout with weights. Then I work on a blog post–I’m in the middle of this ritual now–while I drink two cups of coffee. After the post is done, I drink my whey protein shake while watching some kind of comedy–a standup special, an interview with a comic or comedic actor I like, part of an episode of a funny show–because I like to start my day off with laughter. I used to dive right into emails (and I still answer anything urgent when I wake up), but I now prefer to ease into the day. If I’m laughing, I’m in a good mood. That makes me much better equipped to handle the work day. I take the rest of my supplements during this time, then figure out how the remainder of my day should go. There are certain tasks I do on designated days, but I can’t put too much structure into my day because it really depends on the emails and calls that come in. I really enjoy my morning ritual and believe it starts my day off right.

Castor Oil. Over the past year, I’ve noticed that my eyelashes and eyebrows have been thinning out a little. I looked into lash serums, because I’ve seen great results from them, but learned that many of them have the terrifying aftermath of lash loss when you stop using the product. I had heard about using castor oil on lashes and brows for a while and after my research confirmed that there are no side effects, I went for it. (I also ran it by my ophthalmologist and we had a great five minute conversation about eyelashes.) I started using it on my lashes and brows in mid-April. I’ve done it most nights since then and sure enough, it’s working. It’s not a huge change, but I can see a difference in both my brows and my lashes, and I get more “Are your lashes real?” questions/compliments that I used to. I’ll write a detailed blog post about castor oil at a later date, so keep an eye(lash) out for that one.

“Congratulations” Podcast. You know how I said I love to laugh? I wasn’t joking. I have a blog post in the works about my favorite comics, but I love comedy so much and want to do that post justice, so it’s taking me forever to write. When I finally finish it, there will be a big section about Chris D’Elia, because he is one of my favorites. He has a podcast called “Congratulations” that comes out on Monday nights. I listen on Tuesday mornings while I’m doing my makeup and I look forward to it as much as–maybe more than–my coffee. I laugh out loud several times each “Congratulations” episode, and I know you will too. If you’re looking for a great podcast, this is the one.

Relax Rain App. Two apartments ago, I had an elderly downstairs neighbor who was hard of hearing. He looked like Santa Claus and was very nice, but I hated him at night. He put his TV on full volume and it sounded like the History Channel (his channel of choice) was filming a show in my kitchen. SO LOUD, and it made me have nightmares about World War II. I bought a sound machine, but I would sometimes forget to bring it to overnight trips. My friend Jen told me about sound machine apps, which would solve my problem. I’m partial to rain sounds so when I found the Relax Rain app, I knew I had to download it. It’s got all of the basic rain sounds you could wish for (“Rain on Leaves,” “Rain on Window,” “Light Rain at Night”) plus some for the more adventurous rain listener (“Home in the Rainforest,” “Tent in the Rain,” “Inside the Caravan.”) Now I am safe from loud neighbors and am always surprised when I wake up and see that it has really rained overnight.

Mermaid Kisses Body Wash by Shore Soap Co. This body wash smells fantastic but not in an overpowering way, and due to the absence of sulfates, it doesn’t strip the skin dry. It’s also paraben-free and won’t break the bank at $12 a bottle. For those of you who know what these things smell like, here’s the list: golden amber, musk, sparkling citrus, pink jasmine and lily of the valley. All I know is that that combination is amazing and I will keep buying this body wash. (Along with a lot of other people, as it’s Shore Soap Co.’s most popular body wash.) If you’re in Newport, you can stop by their cute little shop at 302 Thames Street. If not, it’s 2017 so you can order it online.

My Standing Dates. I’m not proud of this, but I’ll work until I drop unless I have plans with someone. For that reason (and because I love them) I very much look forward to the time I spend with my friends and family. But you know how it goes–it can be hard to get together because of work schedules and family obligations. I have a few friends I have standing weekly plans with and we really try to stick with those commitments. These hangouts go in my calendar like work appointments, because I take them that seriously. On Tuesday nights, I chill with my friend (and awesome insurance agent), Julie. We order Thai, watch Southern Charm on Bravo and catch each other up on what’s happened in our lives since the previous Tuesday. On Thursdays or Fridays, I meet up with my friend Greta for late afternoon/early evening drinks. Her boyfriend, Chris, who I’ve also become friends with, meets us after he’s out of work. I always leave our weekly hangouts with my face hurting from laughing so much (and also usually with a little buzz). I really love these “appointments” and I think they save me from small business owner burnout.

My Two Homes. Ever since I opened my business, I knew that I wanted to live somewhere warm in the winter. No one appreciates the summer and fall like a New Englander, and I don’t think there is anywhere better to be than Newport during those six months, so that’s absolutely where I want to be for part of the year. But winter and that bullshit called “spring” that is really just winter with more daylight? No thanks. This past January and February, I lived in beautiful Charleston, SC. (Okay, Mt. Pleasant if we’re being technical.) I can run my business from anywhere and I had coverage for my makeup jobs thanks to my rockstar team, so there was no reason not to go. I already had a crush on Charleston after my visits there over the past few years, but I fell in love with the Holy City after living there for about 12 hours. The people, the weather, the architecture, the grits. You ever get that “This is exactly where I’m supposed to be” feeling? I had it for two straight months. But Newport was my first true location love, and that love is still going strong (for half of the year, anyway). I feel incredibly lucky that I’m able to live in what I think are two of the best places in the country. Working snowbird 4 lyfe.

My Life. This is not a new Thing I Love–it’s a constant. I have a dope life. Part of it comes from luck/circumstance/birth and part of it comes from hard work. I’m grateful for my supportive, loving, funny and smart family and friends. I’m grateful for my team at AB Beauty and the success my company has had. I’m grateful for my health, for the fact that I can walk and my life isn’t filled with doctor’s appointments and hospital visits. I’m grateful for the circumstances and career success that allow me to run from the cold in the winter. Whenever I catch myself bitching about something, right after I’m done with that (or sometimes halfway through) a little voice in my head says, Are you kidding me?!?! I know that I have it good. Like really good. Part of me feels bad saying this because I know lots of people don’t have it so good, often due to factors they can’t control or change. But to deny what I have would be absurd. I’m not trying to rub it in, but I don’t see anything wrong with acknowledging and showing gratitude for what I have.

I would love to hear other people’s favorite things too. (Unless one of those things is “Tupac’s albums.” If so, you’re reading the wrong damn blog.) So go ahead, leave a comment.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

Girlboss: My Review

Girlboss, Sophia Amoruso, Netflix

When the Netflix show Girlboss came out this spring, I was bombarded with texts and emails from friends asking if I had seen it. And of course, I had. I will watch or read anything about entrepreneurs, as I’m fascinated by other people’s career paths, particularly when they run their own business. I also like Sophia Amoruso–the woman who coined the term “girlboss”–who this show is loosely based on. (The main character is named “Sophia,” but has a different last name.)

Did I like the show? Absolutely. It’s entertainment so it has to have storylines about the main character’s relationships with other people. But it also did a good job of showing Sophia’s journey as an entrepreneur. The struggles, the joys, the way it consumes your life–it’s all there. It doesn’t show a lot of the nitty gritty admin end of things, but it would be pretty boring to watch people print checks and file paperwork. It glamorizes entrepreneurship somewhat, but not to a ridiculous extent. But I think it’s an inspiring story and anyone considering entrepreneurship should check it out. Britt Robertson, who plays Sophia, is great, although I think she would be too cool to be my friend.

There have been a ton of characters on television and Netflix shows who are entrepreneurs, but their career is usually not the focus of a show. Often when a character is known to be their own boss, you don’t see them working much. I’m a business geek and always want to know more about them. What made them start their own business? When did they open? How many people work for them? What’s been their biggest struggle? Most shows don’t answer or only touch on those topics, but Girlboss answers all of my questions.

If you want to start your own business but are not sure exactly what you want to do, I’m a big believer in immersing yourself in stories from entrepreneurs in all industries. Read, watch and listen to how they got to where they are. They might say something that strikes a chord with you. So if you’re thinking about being your own boss, go to Netflix (or borrow your sister’s account password, like you usually do) and give Girlboss a try. I really think it’s worth the watch.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

So Two Thousand and Early

Beauty trend predictions
She’s already got the thin eyebrows of 2027 BECAUSE SHE’S PSYCHIC.

I’m super tight with Future Allison. I consult with her every day about a variety of things. What should I do when my lease is up? What’s my next big business move? Can I take a trip to Ireland soon? (Please say yes.) I look at the facts and the financials and sometimes bring in Past Allison to remind me of previous mis-steps. Future Allison is good at showing me a pretty clear picture of what’s ahead. I may not always know the details of my next decision, but I have usually have an idea of what my life will look like later on, thanks to Future Allison.

I also seem to have a little bit of the sixth sense. (Anddddd several readers just closed this window.) I think we all have it, but skeptics would disagree. I occasionally get premonitions about things or dream situations that actually happen, so I can’t write it off. I’m no Rhode Island Medium, but between Future Allison, this minor crystal ball ability, my almost nine years in the beauty industry and what I think is strong intuition, I feel like I have a little peak into what’s ahead.

And so I bring you my long term beauty trend predictions. Here’s what I see for our collective faces (and bodies) in the next decade.

Eyebrows. They are absolutely going to shrink. Five years from now, we’ll look back at the dark, thick, blocky Instaglam brows and the less-stylized-but-still-full-editorial brows and say “Oh my God, so 2017.” I don’t think we go back to the pencil thin brows of the 30s or early 90s anytime soon, but some celebrity or model who has naturally thin brows will come onto the scene, and people will start tweezing a little more.

Highlight. Shimmery highlight/illuminator is just about at the top of its bubble, and bubbles always pop. (Science.) Shimmery highlight will still be on the scene in a few years, but in a much more subtle way.  Something so overly trendy can’t not implode. It may first happen by people switching to matte highlighters, then forgoing them completely. Anti-shimmer talk will abound. Mainstream American cosmetic wearers will learn that shimmer particles settle into fine lines, blemishes and scarring and accentuate them and people will get skirred.

Lips. This has already started—glosses are getting popular again. In ten years, I say we are back to the every- female-over-14-has-a-lipgloss-in-her-bag days of the late 90s and early aughts. The futuristic glosses will claim to do several things—hydrate, plump, provide sun protection, do your laundry—and cosmetic companies may finally find a way to make glosses shiny and long-lasting but not sticky.

Blush. Cheek color has been quiet for some time now, so I predict that will change. Blush will become more obvious and will be touted as the number one way to look more awake and youthful. Powders, creams, gels and liquid formulations will continue to be available, along with some new formulations like spray. There will also be some tool or technique that is said to be new, but is probably something only new to the masses.

Mascara. More ridiculous wands will be created. Bottom lashes will get a little more love. People will still want long, full lashes, but I also foresee glossy top lashes becoming a thing. That’s right–shiny, vinyl finish black lashes. Mascara wands and different shades have been done to death, but textures–other than fiber formulations–have not been explored as deeply. So that will happen.

Contour. Contour is already gone from some circles but in 10 years, you will rarely see contour tutorials and cult favorite contour kits. Professional makeup artists will still use it in a more subtle way–as they have been doing for decades–but the average woman in 2027 won’t be all about it.

Eyeshadow. Cream shadows will become more popular for the everyday woman, as these formulations are easy and quick to apply. There will always be more complicated Instaglam eye makeup looks but if we are talking real life, the easier a product is to apply and the less time it takes, the more the average American woman will like it.

Eyeliner. Eyeliner will always be a staple and for good reason–it’s a product that can really define the eyes, which are the feature many women want to draw attention to. Formulations will continue to be improved to make the liners last longer, as smudging is still the number one complaint from eyeliner wearers. I predict a trend of colored eyeliners at the bottom lashline in shades that bring out people’s eye color.

Skincare. There have and will always be two camps of skincare maintenance: The Diehards and The Little As Possibles. The Diehards will continue to try new products and regularly say things like “regimen,” “serum,” and “hydrating mask.” The Little As Possibles will continue to try products that claim to “do it all,” allowing them to spend minimal time on their skincare routine. Lasers, Botox and procedures like microneedling will become more commonplace as we head into the future.

Body Makeup. Mainstream America will start embracing body makeup as cosmetic companies find a new way to capitalize on insecurities–bruises, redness and dull skin on arms, legs, back and decolletage–that we didn’t even know we had. Body makeup will become more available at the drugstore level. Highlighting and contouring the face might be less prevalent, but get ready for some collarbone highlighting and contoured cleavage tutorials.

Hands vs Brushes. There are a million brushes and sponges on the market, and now some beauty influencers and YouTube product junkies are using things like hard boiled eggs (gross) and condoms (more gross) to blend their foundation. I’d say the ridiculous point has already been reached, and I do hope you agree. Something that’s so trendy–in some circles, anyway–will eventually implode, and this will. I predict that more people will start using their hands to apply face products, cream shadows and even lipstick.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Who wants to check back with me in 10 years to see what I got right?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Which Team Are You On?

Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner. Kylie makeup
The Jenner sisters are often used as an example of what Editorial and Instaglam makeup looks like side by side.

I’ve mentioned this topic in some blog posts and Allison Barbera Beauty Facebook statuses, so it’s time to explain myself. Or rather, explain the current division between Editorial makeup and Instagram makeup. I’m not going to disclose which team I’m on right now (but a quick glance at my work would clue you in). My goal is to make this post as objective as possible and help clearly explain the differences between the two types. This will probably be most helpful to beginner makeup artists and Cosmetology and Esthetics students. You’ve got to know your craft, my friends. Types of makeup might be referred to by a client, photographer or director–either as something they want or do not want–and it’s your job to know what they are talking about.

Before social media, editorial makeup was really the only reference. For the purposes of this post, editorial makeup encompasses not just what you see in magazines, but runway and red carpet makeup as well. I would also include most feature film and non-reality television makeup. If you love the work of Lisa Eldridge, Pat McGrath, Billy B, Mary Greenwell, Val Garland or Charlotte Tilbury–all veteran professional makeup artists with decades of experience–you’re on Team Editorial. Not sure what Editorial makeup is? Let’s break it down in everyone’s favorite list format.

  1. I’m Focused, Man. Editorial makeup typically focuses on one feature. There may be a “supporting actress” feature as well–the peachy cream blush that compliments the smoldering, beachy, bronzey eye–but that generally means the rest of the makeup is downplayed. (Think a sheer foundation and muted lip color with that bronzey eye and peachy cheek.)
  2. Do You. Editorial makeup takes the individual into account. Their coloring, skin type, features, eye color, etc. are all taken into consideration when the look is created. Even on the runway when each show has a certain look, one model may have, for example, the yellow eyeshadow that is the focus of the look winged out a bit to flatter her eye shape.
  3. For Real. In this type of makeup, skin looks like real skin (or it did before some overzealous retoucher got a hold of it). You may see some freckles, pores, evidence of the eye sockets most people have, texture of the skin, etc.
  4. Texturize. Not only is there balance between the focus put on each feature, but the textures used. Unless it is to spotlight a trend, you don’t see a fully shimmery or a fully matte face. So you may see a matte wine colored lip but the foundation has a glow to it or the eye is glossy. Or in that bronzey eye example, the lip is probably if not matte, at least not glossy or shimmery. Mixing up the textures “anchors” the face.

Below are some examples of editorial makeup.

Alexa Chung, blue eyeliner, winged eyeliner
A look created by Lisa Eldridge on Alexa Chung. The focus is on the winged blue eyeliner, which is complimented by glowing skin and a natural lip color.
Pat McGrath
A look by Pat McGrath. The wine color lip is the main focus, but the lashes play a secondary role.
This cat eye look was created by Charlotte Tilbury. Yes, you may notice some contour and the light lip, but it’s clear where the focus is.

Instagram makeup, aka Instaglam makeup, encompasses both Instagram and many YouTube tutorial looks. It tends to be the domain of newer or younger makeup artists and product junkies. There are also “beauty influencers,” who are usually not trained makeup artists, but people who create and post looks they’ve done on themselves. If you’re on Team Instaglam, you may follow people like @amrezy, @iluvsarahii and @mac_daddyy. Want to know the basics of Instaglam? Read on.

  1. I Just Can’t Choose! Instaglam focuses on several features at once. Looks featuring full coverage foundation, heavy contour, strong highlight, a majorly shimmery or cut crease eye, winged liner, thick brows, overlined lips and matte lipstick seem to be the norm.
  2. We’re All One. Instaglam makeup tends to assume everyone has the same face shape, skin type and features. So contour is often placed under the cheekbones, jawline and down the sides of the nose regardless of bone structure and face shape. Brows are typically thick and stylized, with less fill in at the front. Highlight is normally very generously applied to the cheekbones, Cupid’s bow and tip of nose. The Instaglam lip that I see most often is matte, ombre and overdrawn to varying degrees. A grayish lilac shade seems to be popular, but reds and deep or intense colors are big too. Winged eyeliner is prevalent with Instaglam makeup and false strip lashes are usually included. Foundation is matte and full coverage (regardless of skin type) and “baked” with powder, disguising the skin’s natural texture.
  3. Photo Ready. Instaglam makeup is meant for Instagram. These looks are created with the sole intention of being photographed, so the creator can influence lighting and posing, as well as retouching and filters. I’ve read posts where Instaglam beauty influencers were interviewed, and they’ve said they don’t wear the looks they do in “real life” because it doesn’t translate well. It’s similar to theatre makeup, which looks fantastic on stage but crazy town in person.

These are some examples of Instaglam makeup. I’ve chosen popular photos on Instagram which best illustrate the things I’ve mentioned.

Instaglam makeup
Glittery eyeshadow, heavy liner, strip lashes, filled in brows, full coverage foundation, visible highlight and contour, slightly overdrawn lipliner and ombre matte lips on this look by @nikkifrenchmakeup.
Kasey Rayton, Instaglam, cut crease
In this look by @kaseyrayton, full coverage foundation, highlight, contour, a cut crease, strong winged eyeliner, stylized brows, false strip lashes and a matte overdrawn lip are featured.
@amrezy, Instaglam makeup, illuminator, winged liner
A look by @amrezy showcasing full coverage foundation, highlight, contour, a cut crease, dramatic winged liner, stylized brows and light lips.

Hopefully you now understand the differences between Editorial and Instaglam makeup. Feel free to comment with questions.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Balancing Act

 

work life balance

Hi, my name is Allison and I’m a workaholic. I started working at age 15 and caught a real high off opening a company with my father. For my birthday that year, he got me business cards with my name and “Administrative Assistant” printed on them. If you think anyone in my sophomore class didn’t have one, you are dead wrong. My senior year of high school, I got out at 12:00pm every day for an internship that I was supposed to do for five hours a week. Instead, I did five hours a day and got paid for it.

I worked selling real estate during my college years. After graduation, I moved to FL where I instantly found a job (and then another one…then another one). I busted my ass as an Office Manager for two years before moving back to New England. I did a couple stints as an unemployed 20something, but those were always short-lived. In my mid 20s, I spent some time working two jobs, which I continued doing until I went full-time with my business. The days of taking time off or working short 40 hour weeks disappeared, and my new schedule of seven day weeks, 365 days a year began. (Yes, I count answering emails for an hour or two on Christmas or Thanksgiving as a work day.)

The addiction is real. Being an entrepreneur put me on another level, and I’ve started to realize it’s not always healthy. I still don’t take full days off, but in the past eight months, I’ve been working on getting some balance. (I know a lot of people think that term is too lifestyle blog-ish, but I can’t think of a better one.) It’s impossible to be truly balanced, which I recognize. When I’m working crazy long days, I think, I should be spending more time with my family and friends. When I make plans with family or friends, I think, I shouldn’t. I have too much work to do. There is no way to do it all, unless I can figure out how to clone myself. (That’s something I think about more often than I should, as I know it’s not possible. But 50 years ago, no one would have thought that cell phones could be possible, so maybe…)

But less talk about clones, more talk about balance. Us workaholics (and anyone taking care of a ton of things, like kids, parents, school, health issues, etc.) will eventually burn out if we don’t take breaks. And a burnt out workaholic is no good to anyone. I am not only the best entrepreneur and makeup artist I can be when I feel balanced, but also the best daughter, sister and friend.

My quest for balance started after I had a mini-breakdown early last summer. Looking back, I think part of it was from the workload but also probably because of my stress level due to my father’s year-long battle with pancreatic cancer (he’s good now, thank God). It all hit me one day in mid-June when I felt particularly buried in work, and I thought, This has to stop. So I started doing these things, which have helped make me a workaholic on the road to recovery.

More Family & Friend Time. I know, I know–this one is a no-brainer. It’s not only my favorite thing to do but one of my two main goals when I opened my business (the other was/is to be cold as little as possible by snowbirding it in the winter). I’ve historically been better at family time, maybe because I can plan ahead for a lot of it (birthdays, holidays, the annual family reunion) but have still missed out on some get-togethers over the years. Friend time can be tougher because I have a lot of them (I don’t know how!) and they are spread out across the country, plus everyone has different schedules. But I’ve made a solid effort to see my people as often as possible and continue to do so. I even do this new thing, which I never consistently did before: I try to meet a friend for lunch or a cocktail after a wedding job. (Not every wedding, but usually after one a week during wedding season.) My old way was to do a wedding job for three to five hours, go home, eat something, then do admin work for another eight or nine hours. Now I take a few hours to hang with a friend post-wedding to decompress. I live in one of the best summer towns in New England (fact) so it’s silly to pay rent here and not enjoy it with the people I love to be with.

Hitting The Snooze Button. I’ve never actually hit the snooze button because if I’ve set an alarm, there’s a damn reason I chose that wakeup time. But I do prioritize my sleep, because I am shitty at life when I’m tired.  On the days when I don’t have a morning appointment, I let my body wake up when it wants to. I had a two week stretch over the summer when that time was 5:45am, but lately it’s around 7:00am. I have given myself permission to sleep in if that’s what my body needs. Sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep at night or a nightmare about being late to a wedding wakes me up at 2:00am and it takes forever to fall back asleep. On those mornings, I let myself stay in bed until 8:00am or 8:30am, ignoring the commands from my brain to Get up and work, lazy! The option to sleep in if I feel like it is one of the benefits of being an entrepreneur, but the choice to actually do so is part of my balancing act.

Cutting Out Early. One of the strongest parts of my addiction has been stupidly long work days. Two summers ago, I had a sickening schedule. I would wake up around 8:00am and immediately start working, stopping only for the occasional errand or to go for a run. I would end my work day around 12:00am or 1:00am, go to sleep and repeat. The following year, I decided that work schedule was ridiculous, so I started ending my day at 10:00pm or 11:00pm (but also started waking up earlier). Now I try to end my workday by 8:00pm, sometimes earlier. And I take a lot more breaks during the day. I even take quasi-half days at least once week. (That’s when I stop at 2:00pm or 3:00pm to meet a friend, get home four or five hours later, and only address time sensitive issues after.)

I Plead Not Guilty. I have a guilt thing. I used to be really hard on myself for staying in bed until 8:30am or watching two hours of Netflix in the middle of the day. I don’t do either one of those often, but until recently, I would scold myself for doing so. I would think, What are you doing, Allison? Look at your To Do List! But now, I give myself a break. I don’t shirk my responsibilities to watch “Shameless,” but if I’ve responded to all client calls, emails and any time sensitive issues and I feel like intensifying my crush on Lip Gallagher instead of entering receipts in Quickbooks, I do it. And if I start to feel guilty, I tell myself, You are allowed to take breaks without feeling bad about it. It actually makes me more focused and efficient when I get back to work. The guilty-conscience-for-no-reason thing was not doing me any favors. Although it’s not completely gone, I have quieted the voice considerably.

Taking Care of Number One. I saw a quote recently that resonated with me. It said “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” I have struggled with this philosophy before because it seems so self-centered. And it is, but not in a bad way. I’ve learned that I am no good to anyone when I’m overworked, overtired and not feeling well. So besides getting enough sleep, I try to take care of myself physically by eating well, working out, taking supplements, not drinking like a college kid and being on top of any health issues. I am super preventative with my health and very aware of any changes in how I look or feel. (I’ve caught four pre-cancerous moles in the last year. Booyah!) I do this in part for Future Allison–so she has a better shot at not being saddled with health issues by age 65–and partly for Present Allison. Present Allison does better makeup when she is healthy and feeling well. She’s more clearheaded and therefore better at client and team communication and admin tasks. She’s also more apt to drive an hour or two to visit a relative, help someone move or look over a friend’s resume when she doesn’t feel sick, tired or worried about a health issue. So although putting a focus on self-care (lifestyle blog term #2, if you’re keeping count) may seem selfish, I’ve found it actually provides me with the energy and clarity to be more giving when it comes to my personal life and more focused when it comes to my business. Yes, getting a dental cleaning or going for a run takes away time from work, but I’ve decided these things are essential for me. If being a sluggish, fatigued person with plaque-coated teeth and a constant cold is the price you pay for an empty inbox, then no thank you.

My business has changed me for the better and I can’t see myself doing anything else. I am always going to be a hard worker, because I honestly know no other way. But my family and friends are my heart. You know when you’re on a date and the guy asks “So, what do you like to do for fun?” (Ugh. Please don’t.) I don’t have a list of hobbies to rattle off. My answer is “Hang out with my family and friends.” (Also, “Not date.”) It doesn’t matter if we see a movie, go out to lunch, or sit uncomfortably on the one loveseat that fit through my apartment door and talk for hours. The time I spend with the people I love is what keeps me going. I am passionate about my career but being a workaholic isn’t the best way to go through life. I will keep trying to balance things out so I can enjoy my life and be the most productive entrepreneur I can be. I welcome any advice from recovering workaholics.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Label Conscious

Beauty blogger

I’m a First Born, Only Daughter and Sibling of One. I’m a Two Time Maid of Honor who was voted Most Considerate[1] in high school. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies and graduated Magna Cum Laude. I’m an Entrepreneur, a Makeup Artist and an Independent Contractor. I’m an INFJ[2], HSP[3] with Type A tendencies. I’m a Temini[4] who is either a Generation X-er or a Millenial, depending on your source. I’m a licensed Esthetician and a Class 10 Driver who has let her real estate license lapse. I’m 75% Italian, 25% Irish and 100% not doing DNA testing because I need to attribute my emotional outbursts and stubbornness to my genetics. I’m a Bad Boy Magnet[5], an Old School Hip Hop Head and a Runner. I’m a Gluten-Free[6] Vodka Drinker, formerly a Vegetarian and Bacardi Bitch. Not into labels? Wait, I’ve got one more: Makeup Girl. And that’s the most important one for this blog.

I’ve been inconsistently doing blog posts for almost six and a half years, and I recently realized that my new followers might want to know a little about me. (Should I add “Self Important Blogger” to my labels?) Maybe I’m alone in this, but I like to know why people blog about the topics they choose. Is it part of their job? Or are they writing because they are passionate about certain subjects or think they have information that could help others? (All of those are my motivating factors.) If it’s not a work requirement, I want to know what got them interested in the industry, hobby or part of life they write about. If you’re like me and want to know about this little blogger, read on.

I started “A Pretty Addiction” because I am a Makeup Girl. Yes, I’m also an Entrepreneur who knows every good business has a blog, but that wasn’t my main motivation. This blog allows me to combine two of my biggest passions: beauty and writing. As a born Makeup Girl, I have always loved trying new products and techniques. There is nothing quite like feeling of opening a new product and wondering if it will be my new perfect lipstick/mascara/eyeliner. That moment of hope and anticipation is so sweet, and when the product meets or exceeds my expectations, I’m damn near ecstatic. And writing is my favorite way to communicate, so why not combine the two passions?

I’ve also always loved reading about beauty. Production recommendations, application techniques, new ingredients and product technology, how looks were started and evolved over the years–all of that and more. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. There are a ton of beauty publications (both magazines and online) and the US beauty industry brought in $62 billion in 2015.

But what I noticed once I started working as a makeup artist was that there is a huge gap in consumer knowledge. People are buying products–often blindly–but they don’t know how to use them. Many people don’t know their skin type or how that affects not only the skincare products but the makeup they use. They don’t know where to test foundation to see if it’s a color match (on the jawline), how to apply mascara (run the wand back and forth at the lashline for volume, blink into it for length) or why they need a color corrector for dark circles (because the darkness will show through the concealer if you don’t cancel it out first). As a licensed esthetician and makeup artist, I think I can help fill in this knowledge gap. It seems crazy and selfish to not share what I have learned over the past eight years.

So if you like product recommendations, application tips and look how-to’s, you’re at the right place. I also do some posts about entrepreneurship, as the idea that almost everyone needs to be a 9-5 employee is changing, and some of us are meant to ride that wave. I love to hear about other business owners’ experiences and I know I’m not alone with that.

If you are new to “A Pretty Addiction,” you may notice I throw in a healthy amount of hip hop references (or you may not notice and wonder what the hell I’m talking about sometimes). You have to know who you are dealing with here. I am an old school (90s and early 2000s) hip hop girl to the core. I sometimes think in rap lyrics so it’s natural for me to communicate that way. Much like I was born loving makeup, I was born loving rap. It is as much a part of me as my deep set eyes or my freckled arms.

I hope these posts are informative, helpful and fun to read. If you’re a Makeup Girl: Welcome, soul sister. And if you’re not, maybe you do have an inner Makeup Girl who needs to awakened. Let’s bring her out to play!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

[1] I suspect that was because I had a big pool party every year that people wanted be invited to.

[2] INFJ is my Myers Briggs Personality type. It’s Introverted iNtuition Extraverted Feeling.

[3] Highly Sensitive Person. It’s a thing! Look it up.

[4] It’s what they call those of us on the Taurus/Gemini cusp.

[5] But I think they are really just “jerks” after age 22.

[6] Legit allergy, not a diet choice.