Our One Month Peak Wedding Season: The September Recap

In normal years, our peak wedding season starts at the end of April and ends in early November. We still often have some weddings before and after that, but the bulk of our weddings happen during that time. This year, our peak season started September 1 and ended September 30. Thanks, COVID!

We still have weddings in October, November and December, but September had almost double the amount of any other month this year. It’s been nice to be back into our normal weekend schedules, even if “normal” now includes PPE, spaced out setups and extra sanitizing.

We’ve been pretty busy with trials and new 2021 wedding bookings too, which is great.ย  No new corporate or commercial shoots yet, but since some film and television shows are now back in production, that’s a good sign.

Personally, I got to see some friends and family this month and got to hold my baby niece for the first time. She wasn’t too thrilled about that, but I was!

The weather is starting to get cooler, which normally bothers me, but this year, I’m looking at it as a sign that 2020 is starting to come to a close. I know it’s not like everything will go back to normal on 1/1/21, but I somehow think putting this shitshow of a year behind us will at least give some temporary mental and emotional relief.

And now, I’ve got some fall and winter trials to schedule.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

Some Things I Need to Get Off My Chest: The Beauty Edition

I’ve got some things to say.

The title says it all. Let’s get right into it.

Beware of Lash Serums. We all want long, full lashes, but at what expense? There are some lash serums out there that cause the whites of the eyes to turn yellow. I’ve seen it happen to several clients, and I don’t know that the yellowing goes away after you stop using the product. I personally feel safer using castor oil on my lashes, but you do you, Ol’ Yellow Eyes.

Stop Highlighting The Tip of Your Nose. I don’t know who started this trend, but I hate it. When you highlight an area, it looks bigger. Why would you want the tip of your nose to look bigger? If your answer is “I like the bulbous nose look,” then proceed. Otherwise, skip this foolishness.

You Don’t Need That Much Product. Eight pumps of foundation is too much for a human face. Twelve different eyeshadow shades are unnecessary. Five layers of highlight? Get outta here with that disco ball shit. If you put on drag queen amounts of makeup and you’re not performing, you’re going to look crazy in broad daylight. If that much makeup makes you happy, then go for it. But if you’re trying to enhance your features and let your skin show through, cut down on the product amounts.

Learn to Recognize Photoshop. We can all recognize an obvious editing fail–an extra hand in a group shot for a magazine cover, an impossibly small waist on a model in a clothing ad–but in my experience, few people can recognize editing done in makeup and skincare photos on social media and in ads. So much of what I see on social media is heavily, heavily edited. Those photos then get shown to makeup artists, with the expectation that we can duplicate what was essentially created by editing software. It’s very frustrating. I imagine it’s equally frustrating for the consumer who purchases a beauty product, thinking it will give them the same effect they saw in the ad, only to find out they can’t even get close to that. I guess the moral is this–know that what you often see is unattainable, and lower your expectations of what beauty products and makeup artists can do.

This is not a natural look. Neutral tones, but not natural.

Know What “Natural” Means. I can’t count the amount of clients who’ve told me they want a natural makeup look, then have shown me a picture of a Kardashian. Or someone with a black winged eyeliner. Or a beauty guru with lots of full coverage foundation on. To a makeup artist, natural means using a sheer foundation that lets the skin show through, with neutral toned eye makeup that enhances eye color and shape, no strong contour and certainly not loads of shimmery highlight. It’s okay to want more of a full-on makeup look, but just know that heavy foundation, a glittery eye, a winged liner and an ombre lip are not natural.

 

And that’s all I have to get off my chest…for now.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Busier Than Expected: The August Recap

August is normally a very busy month for AB Beauty. Weddings, trials, shoots and frequent inquiries for the next season usually have me working 12-14 hour days and thinking, Why do people say summer is such a relaxing time?

In February, we had around 15 August weddings booked and were on track to book 5 – 10 more. By July, due to all the COVID postponements and cancellations, we were down to two. By September, we will have done eight August weddings. Let’s hear it for last minute bookings!

In August, we also did a ton of trials and one wedding proposal hair and makeup. And we booked a TON of 2021 weddings, as well as a few new September weddings. I’ve been a lot busier than I expected this month.

AB Beauty celebrated 12 years in business in this month, which is crazy. Can’t say it’s our best year in business, but we will make it through.

On a personal note, my month was good because I became an auntie! My niece was born earlier this month and boy, is she perfect. I look at pictures of her 19 times a day.

Unless something insane happens–which is entirely possible–September will be our busiest weddings month of 2020, so I’m gearing up for that.

And now, back to my inbox. The craziness awaits.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

It Doesn’t Feel Like Summer: My July Recap

July mood.

July is the first full month of summer, but it hasn’t felt like any summer I’ve ever known. This past month was a rough one for me emotionally. For much of the month, I felt unmotivated and less creative than I’ve ever been. I’ve since come out of that rut and am grateful for that, but it wasn’t fun.

I normally really like July. Warm weather, lots of daylight and usually some friend visits. The past two Julys, I’ve gone to the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, which I love and have so much fun going to. Out of the peak wedding season months, July normally tends be slower, which gives me a break between the craziness of June and August.

This July has of course been much different. No friend visits, no JFL and no full weddings (just one minimony/bride only services wedding that I didn’t personally do). July did pick up a lot for my company, as makeup services became allowed again in RI, so our makeup trials started back up. I ‘personally did a handful of them and got to work with some of the nicest people. I also did the makeup (and AB Beauty hair stylist, Leah, did the hair) for two branding shoots with Hilary B. Photography. It was a little challenging at first getting used to the PPE Rhode Island makeup artists are now required to wear (N95 or KN95 masks and eye protection), but once my nurse friend, Jenn, got me some masks that fit my child-sized face, I felt much better.

We booked a lot of 2021 weddings in July. We now have several dates that we are fully booked, due to the new inquiries and all of the 2020 brides who postponed to next year. It’s going to be a crazy one!

Once my creativity came back, I accepted a writing challenge my gentleman friend gave me and published two articles on Medium. This one is about my parents, and this one is about my snowbird life in Charleston. I’ve been wanting to pick up some freelance writing work for a while, and Medium has given me that opportunity. If you would be so kind as to read my two articles and give each one a clap or two (clap icon is to the left of the story), I would really appreciate it. Even if you’re not Medium member, you can read two free articles a month.

In family news, my sister-in-law is having a baby any day now, and I cannot WAIT to meet my niece or nephew! Every time I get a text notification, I hope it’s news that this little bambino/bambina is coming. My whole family is on baby watch right now.

Between my upcoming Auntie status and a few plans I have next month, I think August will beat July. You’ll find out in about 31 days…

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Big Time Writer’s Block

Anyone else feel like their energy has been zapped? I mean, damn. It’s Struggle City over here. I can still proofread and edit other people’s writing (something I’ve been doing since my early 20s) without issue, but my personal written word creativity is at an all time low.

Back in 2018, I made a goal to publish one blog post a week. Because I reached that goal in 2018, I thought, Why not keep it going in 2019? So I did. Then I repeated that thought process for 2020. I’m not saying I regret it, but when I’m experiencing a creativity deficit like this, I curse my ambition and inability to give up on a goal.

Like many other people, I’d like to fast forward to whenever that time is when life will be normal again. I’m nostalgic for the days when my business was running at full speed, when I could hug my friends and family and when I wasn’t constantly worried that I caught a virus that could kill me or cause some serious issues. I had it so good! I knew that on some level and recognize that I still have good things in my life now, but it’s becoming harder and harder to smile. (Luckily, my mouth is covered by a mask anyway when I’m with people, so no one knows the difference.)

I’ve got a skincare post in the works, so you should be seeing that soon. If you have anything you want me to write about, whether it’s beauty or business related, holla at me. Requests are always welcome.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

 

My Second Quarter Favorites

Me at Drift Cafe. I was smiling under that mask.

I usually do a “Favorites” post for each season, but I skipped a Spring Favorites post this year because I wasn’t buying or loving much in March and April, and May flew by. So I’m going to approach this as a tax year Q2 Favorites post.

And here we go.

Kitoko Heat Defy Spray. I learned years ago that a heat protectant product is essential if you want to help prevent your hair from getting damage, so I always use one before blowdrying and using hot tools. I switch up the brand sometimes, and when I got to the bottom of my last heat protectant spray in April, I thought it was time for a change. I bought Kitoko Heat Defy Spray, which Jennie Kay Beauty, one of the salons I got to, uses. It doesn’t have a strong scent and it doesn’t leave a weird film on my hair like some products do, so I like it. My hair is in good shape/not damaged, and I consider this to be one of the reasons why. You can support a small business and buy it online from Jennie’s salon.

“#blackAF”. Looking for something to watch on Netflix? Check out this Rashida Jones/Kenya Barris bingeworthy series. It’s funny, thought-provoking and different than anything I’ve ever watched. My friend, Sean, recommended it to me and I’m so glad he did. I can’t wait for the next season!

Cameron’s Highlander Grog Rum & Butterscotch Coffee. I have to avoid caffeine because of my chronic vestibular migraines (a rare nervous system disorder that affects my balance), but I still love coffee, so I drink decaf. I brew it at home, because I almost never like coffee from a coffee shop, and it saves money. My grocery store was out of decaf (and everything else) when I first got back to Newport in March, so I checked Amazon. I found Cameron’s Highlander Grog Rum & Butterscotch and I absolutely love it. It smells amazing, isn’t bitter and is just perfect for me. I’m trying to do less Amazon shopping lately, so I’m going to start buying it directly from Cameron’s.

Friend Happy Hours. I’m safe and careful with it, but I have gotten together with a couple friends (separately) at my house for Happy Hours. I have fans going and windows open for air circulation, plus a big enough living room where we can be spaced out, and I make us each our own separate appetizer plates. I’ve found that I prefer getting together with a friend at my house instead of meeting for a drink, partly because that feels safer right now, partly because I’m not impressed with the cocktails at most Newport restaurants anymore, and partly because I like having conversations with friends better when I don’t feel like a nearby table can hear us (not that they’re really close enough to anymore). These Happy Hours are the highlight of each week, and they’ll hopefully continue well past this COVID nightmare.

Drift Cafe. Here are some things that are important to me: 1) Supporting small businesses 2) Supporting local businesses 3) Eating healthy 4) Staying in touch with past clients. Drift Cafe in Newport, owned by past AB Beauty bride, bridesmaid and makeup model Sam DePaola and her husband, Rob, checks off all those boxes for me. And they show some love to Biggie with their wall art! It’s my perfect place.

The Rhode Island SBA. As a small business owner in events, the first industry to close and the last to fully re-open, my business has taken a big hit since March. I applied for and received a PPP loan and an EIDL, which I’m grateful for. But I had a lot of questions about both, so I’ve emailed the Rhode Island SBA several times. They were always quick to respond, helpful and very nice. It’s a bit of a nightmare being a small business owner who works in events, but the SBA has made it much easier for me.

Seven Minute Workout to Lose Belly Fat. We had a lot of rainy weather in RI in early spring, which prevented myย  outside runs, so I decided to add a YouTube workout video to my routine. I found this one from trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read, and I love it. It’s easy to follow and I can feel and see that it works. On my best days, I would do this and the Lucy’s original Seven Minute Workout along with this Tracy Campoli bat wings workout I normally do, and my while-my-coffee-is-brewing hamstrings stretches and crunches. It’s not the same as running a few miles, but it’s an indoor workout routine that I feel good about.

NCLA Nail Polish. Nothing stays on longer than gel polish, but occasionally I come across a regular polish with impressive longevity. NCLA is one of those polishes. I’ve worn it in the shade Call My Agent, a vibrant pinky red, several times. I got it as a gift and it got buried in my basket o’ nail polishes, so I’m glad I uncovered this gem. It’s vegan and cruelty-free, so you feel good about wearing it if you’re an animal lover.

“The Great.”I read a biography of Russia’s Catherine The Great once, and I thought, My kind of woman. This satirical, comedic drama was one of my favorite recent Hulu binges. Elle Fanning was fantastic, and I’m psyched that this show has been renewed for a second season.

Not bad for the quarantine months, right? There’s a lot of bad/sad/disgusting stuff out there right now, but recognizing the things that bring a little joy to my life makes me feel better about this shitshow of a spring and summer.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

This Year Is Half Done: My June Recap

Father’s Day with my family.

In some ways, it’s hard to believe we’re over halfway through 2020. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was getting emails that started with “Happy New Year!” instead of “I hope you’re safe and healthy.” But at the same, it feels like we’ve lived through an entire year in the last three months alone.

Either way, it’s six months down, six to go with the first year of this decade. June was not a great month for the U.S., but I don’t think you need a recap of current events from me. I know that the tension, arguing and ignorance isn’t unique to my Facebook feed, but Jesus Christ. Can we get a little more empathy and a little less defensiveness? In June, I did a lot of crying and had several “Can I shake some sense into this person? I’ll wear a mask while doing it!” moments.

It feels quite selfish to talk about my personal stuff, but that’s what I’ve done in past recaps, and I’m a sucker for consistency. So, here we go.

In the now rare “good news for my business” category, hair services became allowed again in RI in early June. We’ve been able to do hair-only trials since June 1, so finally my hair stylists at least were able to get back to doing some work. 2021 wedding inquiries started to pick up at the end of June, which is a good sign.

I stopped running The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors Facebook group in June because, as a microcosm of the country, the group was getting divisive about issues within and outside of the wedding industry. I passed off my admin duties to another member and I’m still in the group, but my days of news station interviews and speaking with state reps are over.

Personally, I got to (safely) see some family and friends in June, and each one of those visits was a highlight of my month. I wish I could have a big party where I hug everyone and we all sew our masks together to make a “COVID Is Over” quilt, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, I’ll take whatever I can safely get.

Some things improved in June (at least in RI), but I’m hoping July brings more improvements and progress.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

 

How To Support Black-Owned Businesses

The last couple weeks have been heavy. I’ve cried almost every day, sad not only for what people of color have been going through since this country was started/taken, but for the inability of some people to grasp that. Social media is a nasty place right now, and if I didn’t own a business, I’d be taking a break from it.

I’ve been listening and learning, and know that one of the actionable steps we can to support the Black community is to buy products and services from Black-owned businesses. Here’s a roundup of resources that will point you in the right direction.

Black-Owned Beauty Businessesย 

Black-Owned Bookstores

Black-Owned Etsy Shops

Black-Owned Clothing Brands

Black-Owned Food & Drink Businesses

Business Owners I Personally Know

Reidy Creative

Brittanny Taylor Photography

MAW Beauty Hair & Makeup Studio

A List Compiled By My Friend Tiffanni Reidy of Reidy Creative

 

This is by no means a complete list, but I thought it was a good starting point. I know money is tight for a lot of people right now, so if you can’t buy anything at the moment, maybe some social media love would be appreciated.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Things Are Looking Up: The May Recap

I’ve been trying on dresses from my closet in anticipation of going somewhere where I can wear them. That’s optimism.

I know May isn’t over yet, but it’s close enough! So let me have this one.

In comparison to April, May really flew by. I don’t know if was because restrictions started to loosen up in my state, or because I got to (safely) see my immediate family and two friends, or because I received some grant and loan money or because May is my birthday month, but May kicked April’s ass, as far as I’m concerned. I felt much more optimistic this month, and other than my mid-May eardrum rupture that put me in the (very empty) ER, I’ve physically felt good too. The vestibular/balance issues I’ve been battling for over a year and a half have been good more days than they’ve been bad in this Taurus-Gemini month, and I’m in the low end of my weight range, which always brings me joy ๐Ÿ™‚

A lot of 2020 AB Beauty brides sadly had to postpone their weddings this month, but we’ve still been able to accommodate 100% of our reschedules, which I am SO HAPPY about. We’ve booked work with some new brides too, which the whole team is grateful for. We cannot wait to get back to weddings, whenever that may be.

I’ve been busy with The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors, and I’ve come up with a new business idea that you may hear more about in 2021. Even though I had no makeup clients or shoots this month and our next wedding isn’t until mid-July (if we’re lucky), I’ve been a busy little birthday girl.

This summer is going to be a lot different in several ways, but I’m still looking forward to it. The weather will get warmer, restrictions will loosen, and I’m going to be an Auntie for the first time in July! To me–and I realize I’m lucky in many ways–this was the best May could possibly be, all things considered. I’m looking forward to life continuing to get better over the next few months, and I hope life improves for you too.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

Time Killers: The Comedy Edition

I think many of us are watching TV/Netflix/Prime/Hulu, etc. a little more than normal. Do you agree? Sure you do.

As you may know, I love to laugh, and laughing feels extra needed right now. So if you’re like me and looking for something funny to watch, take a little looksee through this list.

YouTube Shows & Clips

I have Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime for comedy shows and standup specials, but there’s also a lot of comedy gold to be found on YouTube.

Lights Out with David Spade. I love David Spade but you don’t even need to to like this show because each episode features different comedian or comedic actor guests. It originally only ran on Comedy Central, then they started posting full episodes on YouTube. Once corona hit, David began doing episodes from home and video chatting with guests. Comedy Central recently canceled the show for the next season, but it may end up on Netflix or somewhere else where the decision makers understand good comedy. This was one of the great pre-COVID episodes, and here’s what things are looking like now.

Something’s Burning. This show is hosted by comic Bert Kreischer, who has two comedian guests on each episode as they attempt different recipes. I thought the funniest episodes were with Theo Von and Andrew Santino, Chris D’Elia and Bobby Lee, and Colin Quinn and Nick DiPaolo.

Jake & Amir. This show from the College Humor YouTube channel ended a while back, but I still sometimes watch episodes. The two coworkers have often absurd conversations mostly due to Amir’s ridiculous character. The episodes are usually three or four minutes long, so the perfect amount of time if you just want a quick break.

Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik. There are clips from this Comedy Central show on YouTube, which is the only way I can watch it since I haven’t had a TV since the early aughts. Anthony is one of my favorite comics, so watching him with other comics I love–like Tig Notaro, Kumail Nanjiani, Natasha Leggero, David Spade and Nick Kroll–is enough to make me happy. It’s worth a try, especially if you’ve never seen a deadpan-off.

Under a Rockย with Tig Notaro. Tig is another one of my all-time favorite comics. She’s been in the industry for a long time, but has almost no pop culture knowledge or ability to recognize most celebrities. On this show, Tig meets and questions celebrities she doesn’t recognize to try to figure out who they are. If that premise sounds funny to you, give it a shot with this Tony Shaloub episode.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard on Taste Buds. In this Ellen segment, two celebrities are blindfolded and one is supposed to describe what the food they are eating is to the other. I don’t remember any of the other people who have been on this segment, but this Kristen and Dax one makes me cry laughing every time.

YouTube Video Podcasts

I only ever watch video podcasts (you won’t find me just listening, unless that’s the only option) and I also only mess with podcasts hosted by or featuring comedians. Especially with certain comedians, facial expressions are part of what makes me laugh, so why would I just listen if I can also watch?

Congratulations with Chris D’Elia. Hands down my favorite comedy podcast. I’ve never missed an episode and I truly look forward to each one being released. If I were you, I would start with Episode 1 and work your way up (they turn into video podcasts starting at episode 33), because there are a lot of jokes and kind of a language that you’ll only understand if you start it from the beginning.ย  I’ll help you out: click here.

This Past Weekend with Theo Von. There’s something about a funny person who also has a Southern accent that makes me laugh extra hard. Theo is naturally funny, and the way that man’s brain works is unreal. I especially love the episodes where he has guests on (like this one with Sebastian Maniscalco), as Theo interacts with people like no other. And his Anthrax Challenge videos–where he opens gifts from fans and hopes they don’t contain anthrax–are hilarious. I would start here and then work your way up to Anthrax Challenge #10, which just came out.

Tiger Belly with Bobby Lee and Khalyla. I’ve loved Bobby since his days on Mad TV, and he makes me laugh just as much on this podcast he does with his girlfriend, Khalyla. I especially like this episode with comic Brent Morin.

Netflix Shows

Thank God forย  Netflix, right? From comedy series to sketch shows to standup, they’ve got a solid selection.

The Fix. I don’t know how this show is not more popular! I’ve watched the entire season three times so far. The panel show, hosted by comic Jimmy Carr, features D.L. Hughley, Katherine Ryan and two rotating comedian guests each episode. They talk about serious issues–like gun control, global warming and the wealth gap–and then try to to fix those issues with solutions that will make you laugh, but sometimes think “Could some of that actually work?”

Grace & Frankie. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda star in this series about two women who are brought together when they discover that their husbands are in love with each other. I’ve laughed out loud at every single episode, and I’m sad the series is done after the next season. Lily Tomlin is, in my opinion, one of the funniest people in Hollywood.

Parks & Recreation. If you haven’t watched this, get on it! This is a classic for a reason. It’s the kind of show where you can go back and watch any episode and it’s still funny.ย  You’ll fall in love with the characters and when you finish the series, if you’re like me, you’ll cry because it’s over. Still worth it.

The Office. Please see: everything I just said about Parks & Rec.

The Good Place. Such great writing on this show about a group of people in the afterlife. I found Ted Danson’s character, Michael, to be especially hilarious. This show is too easy to binge.

Netflix Standup Specials

I’m just going to name the comic, as some of them have several Netflix specials and I don’t have all day here.

Amy Schumer

Anthony Jeselnik

Bill Burr

Brent Morin

Chris D’Elia

Christina Pazsitsky

Craig Ferguson

Daniel Tosh

Demetri Martin

Donald Glover

Fortune Feimster

Hannah Gadsby

Hannibal Buress

Hari Kondabolu

Hasan Minhaj

Jim Gaffigan

Jimmy Carr

John Mulaney

Kumail Nanjiani

Maria Bamford

Marc Maron

Michelle Wolf

Mike Birbiglia

Moshe Kasher (also has a special with his wife, Natasha Leggero)

Nate Bargatze

Nikki Glaser

Patton Oswalt

Ricky Gervais

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Sloss

Lucas Brothers

Theo Von

Tig Notaro

Todd Barry

Todd Glass

Tom Papa

Tom Segura

Trevor Noah

Sarah Silverman

Wanda Sykes

Zack Galifianakis

Hulu

I’m new to Hulu (started my free one month membership in February then decided to do a paid membership once that was up), but I’ve been making my way through it.

The Mindy Project. This show created by and starring Mindy Kaling was originally on Fox, then was picked by Hulu after Fox cancelled it. This is a cult favorite type of show that really deserves more widespread recognition. The writing, the characters, the storyline, the acting–everything is as good as it gets. I still think about certain lines of dialogue and start laughing, even months after I finished the series.

Community. The six season series about a group of friends at a community college is the most recent series I watched, and one of the funniest. The actors on this show–including Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Chevy Chase, Alison Brie and Ken Jeong, among others–are so good. I find it hard to picture anyone else playing their roles, because they were so perfect for each one. If you watch this series–and I really recommend that you do–please comment with your favorite scene with the dean, because I have one that I think about pretty regularly and it makes me laugh out loud, by myself.

I could keep going, but I have to end this post somewhere. If you’re in need of a laugh, hopefully this helped. I know it can feel easier to cry than to laugh lately, but you can’t be sad while you’re laughing–which is exactly why we need comedy.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚