My Hopefully Slightly Helpful Guide To Ireland

Green as far as the eye can see.

I know, I know–this is a beauty blog with some shots of entrepreneurship posts. Maybe I have no place writing about travel, but here’s the thing about me: I like to be a good helper. And when I have info that I think could help someone, I have to share it.

I recently spent nine days in Ireland, the country of my maternal grandfather’s ancestors (until 23andMe tells me otherwise). I traveled with a friend, hitting up six different cities/towns with no real itinerary. We decided to “wing it,” which goes against the core of my very being, but I surprisingly ended up being totally okay with it. We started in Dublin, then went to Galway, then to Doolin, followed by Killarney, then Dingle, then Kilkenny and finally back to Dublin. I learned a lot while I was there, and since Ireland seems to be a popular travel destination lately, I thought I’d pass on what I learned.

MONEY

Cash Money. I planned on primarily using my credit card while I was there, but I wanted to have some cash on me when I arrived (to avoid hefty ATM fees). I ordered 250 euro from my bank, and I came back after my trip with 10, so I think I got the right amount for me. There were a couple of tours we did (Cliffs of Moher and Killarney National Park) that did not accept credit cards, so I think it’s good to have euros on hand for those kinds of things, as well as for tolls if you are driving.

Euro Euro Bills, Y’All. When you pay by credit card, the merchant will ask you if you want the charge to be in euros or dollars. I had learned beforehand that the financially wise answer is “euros,” so I stuck with that. There’s no way I can explain the reasoning to you in a way that makes sense, so just read this.

It’s gotsta be in Euros.

Gettin’ Tip-sy. They say there’s not a strong “tipping culture” in Ireland, and that certainly was the case from what I observed. There was no gratuity option for most of the credit card transactions I made. I tipped the tour guides, a taxi driver, some restaurants, the Dublin hair stylist who gave me a great blowout and my friend and I left one or two euros at some pubs where we could see others had done the same (seemed cheap but that’s what others were doing). I was a little confused about who to tip and how much to tip. As an over-tipper in the US, it felt so weird not to tip or to leave a smaller tip than I would normally leave, but I tried looking it up beforehand and seeing what others were doing. If I screwed anyone over, I’m sorry!

ACCOMMODATIONS

Where You Rest At? Out of our eight nights in Ireland, we stayed in B&Bs for all but three of the nights. Our first one, which was also our second night in Ireland, was in Galway. My friend had researched some the night before but we didn’t book anything. We walked in, asked them if they had a room, and luckily they did. WINGIN’ ITTTTTTTTTTT! Our first and last nights were in Dublin and I had booked hotels there before we left (I figured we wouldn’t want to deal with a potential hassle of finding accommodations on travel days), but other than Dublin and Galway, we booked the rest of the places the night before we got there. I think this worked because it was off season, but I’m not sure it would be as easy during peak season. We heard that B&Bs–not Airbnbs–were the way to go, and I have to agree with that. We had breakfast options at the B&Bs and our hosts were all very nice, plus the rooms were very affordable (again, likely off season perks). If I were to go to Ireland again, I would definitely stay in B&Bs.

Bed Time. When booking a B&B or hotel in Ireland, you’ll be asked to choose whether you want a twin or double room. A twin room has two beds, which are sometimes twin beds, sometimes doubles. (In one hotel room in Dingle, there was one twin bed and one double bed, which my friend and I played rock, paper, scissors for. I slept very well and spaciously that night.) A double room has one bed, and it’s usually a king or queen. My friend and I got twin rooms everywhere we went, and most of the time, the rooms had two twin beds. And FYI, twin beds in Ireland are roughly thee inches smaller (less wide) than American twin beds. Even I felt like they were small, and I’m referred to as “tiny” on a regular basis.

I won a game of “big bed, small bed” at this hotel.

Be Adaptable. You know they have different outlets over there, right? I was bringing a laptop and phone with me so I knew I’d need to charge them each day. Someone had suggested this three pack of adapters, and they worked great for me. If you’re going to buy adapters, just be aware of the voltage of the thing(s) you’ll need to plug in so you can choose the right adapters.

Switch It Up. I think all of the outlets I saw in Ireland had a little switch on them to be turned on or off for power. My jet lagged brain didn’t even see the switch my first night there, so I woke up to an almost dead laptop. My friend nicely pointed out the switch, and I made sure to turn the outlets on going forward. Easy peasy.

It All Comes Out In The Wash. I had heard that a lot of hotels and B&Bs in Ireland don’t have wash cloths–and this makeup ain’t coming off without one–so I brought some with me. I knew I would just use them and leave them there, so I bought some cheap ones instead of bringing the ones from my house. Some of the hotels and B&Bs did have white wash cloths but along with those were signs saying they were not to be used for makeup removal, so I think I made the right choice.

CLOTHING

Pack Rat. The type of clothing you pack for Ireland depends on where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. If you’re an outdoor adventure traveler, it doesn’t really make sense for you to bring three dresses now, does it? But if you only ever wear dresses and you don’t plan on hiking anytime this millennium, do you. I brought mostly casual clothes, saving my dressiest options for Dublin. But actually, Killarney is where I saw the most fancy folk. I don’t even remember seeing any women in heels until we got to Killarney, which–and this might have been due to the bank holiday long weekend–was full of dressed up people, some in what I could consider club clothes. Other than that, I didn’t feel out of place in my casual clothes.

Minimalist Tendencies. I overpacked, no doubt about it. I was in Ireland for pretty much eight full days (got in around 8:00am the first day), and then a half day there the day we left. For some reason, I had in my head that I needed 12 days worth of outfits. I’ma get real detailed here because I know some of you want that. I brought four pairs of Topshop skinny jeans (denim, light gray, dark gray and black). Three or even two pairs would have been enough. I wore one of them only once. I brought four pairs of leggings (two thin, one thick and one fleece-lined). One thin and the fleece-lined (which did come in handy) would have been enough. I brought three fleeces (knowing I’d wear one or two over my pajamas), but two would have plenty. I packed 12 shirts and didn’t wear three of them. I bought four pairs of shoes–flat boots, wedge boots, hiking boots and sneakers. I could have done without the sneakers, as I mainly wore the flat boots. I brought too many pairs of underwear and socks, but I don’t regret that because they didn’t take up much room. But I definitely could have done without some of the pants, shirts and the sneakers. Ooops.

Fellow overpackers: Try to change your ways.

CLIMATE

Weather Through It. I thought I was going to need to buy a raincoat when I got to Ireland, but that would have been unnecessary. It didn’t even rain all of the days that we were there, which I had expected it would. (But it was also implied several times that we were there in a good weather stretch.) A few people told us that you can experience all four seasons in a day in Ireland, but I never felt summer. It was in the 40s and 50s while we were there, but high 50s and sunny does feel like spring, so I’ll give ’em that. We got hailed on–twice–while on The Cliffs of Moher, and there was a cold, windy day in Dingle. If you want to travel somewhere for consistently warm, sunny weather, Ireland is probably not the best option. But if you hit a nice stretch like we did, it’s really not bad (and that’s coming from someone who flees to the South to escape New England winters).

PUBS & RESTAURANTS

Ready, Freddy? Have your drink order ready when you go to the bar. Cocktail menus were scarce (which I’m fine with, but I know others expect them), and it became clear early on that you’re expected to you know what you want when the bartender comes over to you. We didn’t encounter any small talk from bartenders anywhere we went. Usually we got a “Hiya” or “Hello,” followed by a stare, which I learned meant “Order your drink now or I’m walking away” at most places. This could have just been the places we went to, but it’s worth passing along anyway.

DIY Style. If you order a mixed drink–like a vodka soda–you will be given the vodka in a glass, then your club soda in a bottle, and you become your own bartender. I liked this, as the majority of mixed drinks I’ve gotten in Newport lately have not even been given a half-assed stir, so I’m used to doing that part myself anyway. And since I often drink tequila with club soda and either grapefruit or pineapple juice, I like my mixer proportions a specific way, which only myself and most Charleston bartenders can get right. Maybe it’s my control issues speaking, but this was one of my favorite parts of the Irish pub experience.

H2 Oh No. Contrary to what the last paragraph may imply, I’m not a big drinker. That’s due to a variety of boring reasons, so let’s gloss right over that and skip to the fact that I sometimes just order a water, or have one drink then a water. Apparently this is a weird request in Ireland. I also like to have a glass of water with a drink because I’ve repeatedly read and now wholeheartedly believe that helps with hangovers (which are probably unlikely after one drink anyway). I love a bar that automatically gives you a water with your drink, but you won’t find that on The Emerald Isle. So go ahead, order some aqua, but don’t be surprised if the reaction is a weird look.

Mixing my own drinks in Bullshit Corner.

What’s Your Number? If you’re traveling to Ireland and you have a food allergy, you’re in luck…kind of. Every menu I saw had a list of allergens (did you know celery is one?) with a corresponding number, and that number would be listed next to any menu item that contained it. I have a gluten allergy, which was number 1, so I scanned menus for 1s then made my selection. The problem is that sometimes I only had one or two meals to choose from. It was fine though, as I’m about as big of an eater as I am a drinker. If you have a food allergy (like sulfites, which they also included on the list), you’ll probably feel safe eating at pubs and restaurants in Ireland. But depending on your allergy (mustard is another one!), you might not feel like you have a ton of options. I think a lot of us with food allergies feel that way anyway, so maybe it isn’t an issue. But I like to be thorough in my travel guides.

Speak Up. Being obviously done with with your drink or meal doesn’t mean you’ll be asked if you want another drink or if you want the check. If you want another drink, it’s up to you to get the bartender’s attention and ask for it. Pushing your empty glass to away from you means nothing in Ireland (whereas if you do that in some places in the U.S., you’ll hear a “Can I get another drink as your taking the list sip of your current one). When you’re done with a meal, you may be asked if you want dessert or anything else, but saying “No thanks. We’re all set,” will not get you your check. If you don’t ask for it, you’ll be sitting there all night. So ignore No Doubt and actually do speak if you’re trying to get another drink or settle up.

DRIVING

The Terror. Driving on the left side of the road is scary as hell, and I didn’t even drive in Ireland. My friend very generously did all of the driving (she had volunteered to several months ago) because I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. Now having been in it, that was an accurate assessment. I was the copilot and I took my job very seriously, but Irish countryside roads are insanely narrow, so it was anxiety-inducing. My friend did an awesome job driving and she said it really wasn’t that bad, but I’m tensing up just thinking about it.

Roundabout Central. Ireland has so many roundabouts. And there are often several in a row. It’s enough to make a copilot dizzy! The good news is, they are pretty easy ones and we only got off track once in a roundabout when the GPS lied to us. They’re no Kelley Square (a famous Worcester roundabout about that’s so ridiculous that I know someone who pulls over, calls her Worcester native husband and has him come pick her up if she finds herself coming up on it) roundabouts, so you really don’t need to stress about these.

It’s okay. You’ve got this!

Get Low. Or rather, look low if you’re trying to find a traffic light. In Dublin, let’s say we almost went through a couple of red lights because the traffic lights were lower than we are used to so we didn’t see them. I don’t remember that being an issue outside of Dublin, but that may be because we learned our lesson on Day 2. Now that you know what to look for, just keep your eyes peeled and you’ll be fine.

I Saw The Sign. Dublin may seem like a city with no street names until you look on the buildings where they hide the street signs. It’s like an extra challenge when you’re already in a foreign country driving on the left side of the road, so just embrace it.

Taxicab Confessions. There are no Ubers or Lyfts in Ireland, so get ready to go old school if you’re not driving, taking public transportation or walking somewhere. We only had to do this once, getting from a bar we ended up in outside of Doolin (it’s a great story) back to our B&B in Doolin. I thought my friend and I should go outside five minutes before the cab arrived so we could watch for it, which prompted someone I met to say my favorite comment of the trip: “You’re too organized for Ireland.” I guess I’m Type A in any country, huh?

FLYING

Early Bird Special. I realize it can vary slightly by airline, but I think the general suggestion is to get to the airport three hours before your flight for international travel. My friend and I did just that, and it worked out well. In Boston, it gave us enough time to check our bags, go through security, have dinner at Wahlburgers then hit up Hudson News. It didn’t feel like we had a long wait at our gate after that. For our return flight from Dublin, we budgeted three and a half hours because we had to return our rental car first. That process was a bit of a mess, so I’m glad we added the extra half hour. It did take some time to do everything we needed to do at the airport and while it didn’t take three hours, I’m glad we had the time because we did have to wait in several long lines. If you’re a risk taker, you could probably cut the time down to two and a half or maybe even two hours, but I personally wouldn’t. I’ve been early for everything, including the day I was born, so of course I’m not going to cut it close for an international flight.

Got some time to kill at the airport? Just be cool and watch the planes go by, like this guy.

Get Customized. At some of the airports in Ireland (including Dublin and Shannon), you can do pre-clearance there so you don’t have to go through customs when you get back to the US. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather do something before boarding than after landing when I just want to get home. We had to wait in three separate lines to get through pre-clearance, so having the padding of the three hours kept it from getting stressful. No worrying that we were going to miss our flight and have to run through the airport like maniacs.

PHONE & WIFI

A Cell Phone’s A Celly. I have a Samsung Galaxy (keep your comments to yourself, please) and have Sprint. I had checked with Sprint before I left and they said as long I switched my phone into international roaming mode, I could use it regularly. That wasn’t quite the case, but I was okay with that. If you want to be able to fully use your phone while you are there, maybe just read this. (And if you caught my Big L reference, know that I consider you a friend.)

I didn’t mind that I couldn’t fully use my phone, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you.

Stay Connected. I had zero problems getting and staying connected to WiFi networks in Ireland. I was a little concerned about not having consistent WiFi before I left for my trip, but it turns out I didn’t need to be worried. Lesson learned.

MAKEUP

Whoa. I’m including this section because hey, this is still a beauty blog. My friend and I noticed that many women in Ireland–particularly those in their 20s and 30s–wear a lot of makeup. Like beauty guru levels. Heavy foundation, contour, eye makeup, lips–just full on. I noticed lash extensions on 90% of the younger women I saw. I’m not knocking it, just making an observation.

WHAT I LIKED BEST ABOUT EACH PLACE

Dublin. Let me first say, I’m not a big city person. So I didn’t expect to like Dublin, but since it made sense to be there on travel days, I was fine with it. There were less people than I expected, which I loved. And I got a great blowout at Dry & Fly on Wicklow Street. It was also cool seeing Trinity College and the Temple Bar area (where we stayed both times).

A photo of Trinity College taken on Day 1 of my trip, while I didn’t even know I was awake. Jet lag, baby.

Galway. We spent time primarily in the Latin Quarter, an area of Galway with structures that date back to medieval time. I’m happy in any cobblestone street areas where vehicles aren’t allowed, so I was into it. There was a comedy festival happening in Galway, so my friend and I went to a show the night we were there. Now I can say I’ve been to comedy festivals in three countries, so that’s something.

Doolin. Ah, Doolin. This was my favorite part of the trip. We stayed for two nights at O’Connor’s Guesthouse in huge room with a bathroom at least twice the size of the bathrooms any of our other rooms had. We had a great breakfast there one morning before we went on what they call a “walk” but is really more of a “hike” with local farmer Pat Sweeney. This walk-hike was one of the best parts of our trip.Β  It was a four hour, off the beaten path tour that gave us information and views we couldn’t have gotten on any other tour. Pat suggested to my friend and I that we go to McGann’s Pub, where we ended up making friends with some locals. Doolin is an adorable little town and the first place I would go to if I went back to Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher–a must see in Ireland.

Killarney. We were in Killarney on the Sunday of a long weekend, so it was pretty busy. One of our new friends from Doolin had recommended we take a carriage ride, so we did that. (The carriages are stationed across from the Killarney Plaza Hotel, where we also had good dinner.) We took a ride through the Killarney National Park with our wonderful guide, John, and his horse, Suzy.Β  Like we did everywhere we went, we stayed in the main/downtown part of town so we could walk everywhere. We wanted to see Ross Castle, but it closed before we were able to get there. We did see it from a distance during our carriage ride, so that half counts, right?

Dingle. The seaside town of Dingle reminded me of Newport. Water, boats, a million shops and restaurants–you know the drill. We went to the famed Murphy’s Ice Cream, where even a gluten-free gal like me had options. Instead of a B&B, we went with the Dingle Benners Hotel, which was nicest hotel we stayed at. (FYI, the parking lot is behind the hotel, you have to circle around the hotel through side streets to access it.) We found some very friendly people in Dingle, and I would say it was my second favorite place. Much like Newport, I bet it’s packed during the summer months but I think it would be fun to go there then.

Seaside town life at its best.

Kilkenny. This medieval city looked and felt different than anywhere else we had been. I was determined to see a castle in Ireland, and we finally got to one in Kilkenny. We did a (self-guided) tour of Kilkenny Castle, and I pretended I was a queen while I was walking down one of the staircases. I had my favorite meal of the trip–a perfect burger with no bun, obviously–atΒ Butcher. We didn’t do a ton of exploring in Kilkenny, but I’m glad we went.

Kilkenny Castle. Can cross that off my bucket list now.

If you’re traveling to Ireland and this post helped you even a little, I’ll be pleased as punch. If anyone has Ireland recommendations, I would love for you to share them in the comments.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Fall Faves 2019

It’s that time! New(ish) season, (mostly) new favorites.

Shall we?

Very Cherry Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm. You know I love Green Clean, so I had to try the limited edition cherry version. I went to Sephora one day to buy Green Clean, smelled Very Cherry and loved it, but for some reason left with just the Green Clean. I couldn’t stop thinking about how good Very Cherry smelled, so I went back to Sephora the next day and bought the last Very Cherry they had in stock. I absolutely love it and I’m hoping Farmacy makes this a permanent part of their line.

Smells good enough to eat (but don’t).

Nurse Jackie. I know, I’m like 10 years late to the party. My mom and I started watching Nurse Jackie on Netflix in September, and I’m so glad we did (good, call Beensa). It’s made me laugh, cry and be even more scared of the potential medical issues that can happen to a person. I was sad when I finished the series earlier this month. So I started on…

Fleabag. I’m a little less late to this party. This British television series is about a woman in her early 30s who is dealing with grief, family issues and love. It’s funny, touching and binge watch-inducing. With only two seasons on Amazon Prime, you can watch the whole series in a day if you’re determined. The possibility of Season 3 is up in the air at this time, so fingers crossed.

Shore Soap Co. Coconut Bikini Body Wash. I was a Mermaid Kisses Body Wash gal for years, but when Coconut Bikini came out, I knew I’d be making the switch. What can I say? I like things that remind me of the beach and sunshine when it’s 50 degrees and rainy. This body wash smells of coconut, vanilla and musk–a combination that keeps it from smelling sickly sweet. Good job, Shore Soap Co.!

Summer in a bottle.

Prosecco. Prosecco was an old fave that came back into my life. I’ve been a tequila drinker for a few years now, but it’s been hard to get a good tequila drink in Newport lately, so I was forced to switch to something a bartender can’t fuck up. Sorry for the cursing, but it’s necessary. Prosecco gives me a lighter buzz than tequila, which I like. And there’s something about watching the bubbles in the glass, right? Prosecco makes me think of The Great Gatsby, and since I’m convinced I lived a past life in the 1920s, I consider it nostalgic.

Bottoms up!

Glossier Mint Balm Dotcom. I love the Balm Dotcoms, but did not think I was going to like Mint. I held off trying this flavor for so long, but I finally caved in because I had tried all of the other flavors, so it only seemed fair. Surprisingly, I like it! A lot. It smells like a candy cane, not like mint gum, which I was expecting. It makes my lips feel just as hydrated as the other Balm Dotcoms that I know and love. Glossier has done it (for me) again.

For soft, candy cane-scented lips, use this.

Sunflower Seed Butter. I used to love peanut butter, until it started to make my stomach hurt. I moved on to almond butter, and we had a good run until I noticed it made my tongue itchy. I recently tried Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter, and so far, my body has not rejected it. The individual packs are great for me, as a lot of my eating is done in the car on the way to or back from jobs. Sunflower seed butter makes my tastebuds happy and the 200 calorie portions are enough to fill me up for a while. Props to the person who realized sunflower seeds would taste good.

The perfect snack.

That’s all, folks! I hope you’ve found some of your own favorites this fall, but if not, feel free to bite my style. I’ll never know.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Falling Into Fall Recap

SAD.

Let’s be clear–most of September was technically summer. There are Fall Pushers out there, and I don’t appreciate it. I’ve still been wearing sandals most days, because it’s warm enough to in Rhode Island, so why would I constrict my feet before I need to?

But, it is truly fall now, and has been since September 23. I can’t deny it.Β  So, here we are. The Falling Into Fall Recap for September.

September was the second busiest weddings month of 2019 for AB Beauty. We had 23 wedding and events, loads of trials and several more 2020 weddings booked. We once again got to work with a ton of great brides, bridesmaids, mothers of the bride and groom and grandmothers, as well as with some of our favorite photographers and wedding planners. (Thanks to all of the wonderful brides I personally worked with this month–Brie, Erin, Alison, Emma, Alexis, Michelle and Beth!) The last two makeup artists I was training finished in early September, which made us all happy. And I started working on some new business ideas, which I’m not going to say anything about for a while. Sorry, not sorry.

Personally, it was a good month for me. I saw a lot of friends and family, made some good progress in Physical Therapy with this inner ear/balance disorder I’ve had since last October and hung out with a new friend. (I love making new friends!) My chiropractor fixed an ankle injury I had, so I was able to get back to running. And I got even more excited for my October Ireland trip. September was basically the emotional pre-gaming for my trip, so I’m ready now.

Truth be told, there were a lot of ups and downs for me in September (why relive the downs, though?). But I came out of this dual season month feeling physically better, with some potentially breakthrough business ideas, a new friend and two more makeup artists on the team. I’ll call it a win.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

 

The Leo Month Recap

If you ask my father, August was the best month ever because he got to hold a toucan!

I know, I know, not all people born in August are Leo’s, but doesn’t it kind of feel like it? And that’s the way they would want it. (That’s a joke for the astrology crowd.) I’ve got a lot of Leo’s in my life and we tend to get along well, so I’ve got nothin’ but love for my lions. In tribute to them, I am calling this August recap “The Leo Month Recap.”

In August, Allison Barbera Beauty celebrated 11 years in business. I have a pre-teen! That’s crazy. We had 15 weddings, a bunch of trials and some corporate shoots. All of the brides I personally worked with this month were awesome awesome awesome. Jamie, Caroline, Taylor, Victoria and Kate–you rock! Thank you for being so great to work with.

We also booked a lot of 2020 weddings, which I’m psyched about. Next year is going to be BANANAS busy, y’all. We ready.

I tried the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation (which Sam from Pixiwoos raves about), but I got a lighter shade that I needed so I’ve just been using that on the center of my face with my regular MAC Face & Body that matches me on the rest of my face. I need to get the right shade of Light Wonder to use on my whole face so I can really review it. I also tried her Legendary Lashes Volume 2, which I liked a lot.

On the personal front, I had some fun times with friends old and new. I had a party with several friends and relatives to celebrate 11 years in business and we had a blast. I dragged my mom to a bunch of stores to help me find more furniture and decor for my apartment, and we were successful even though she pointed out the SAME EXACT CHAIR I told her I didn’t want, thrice. I took my father to Animal Adventures in Bolton, MA for a private guided tour (his Father’s Day present) and he had the best damn time.

I started physical therapy for this (the doctors think) vestibular disorder I’ve had since last October. It messes with my balance and I’ve tried a lot of things to fix it, but PT is the first thing that seems to be helping. I’m still not totally out of the woods, but I can’t tell you how much of a relief is it have found something that is helping.

August was overall a good month. It maybe didn’t feel as balanced as July, but it didn’t bury me as much as June did. Now we are in September, the second busiest month of the year for AB Beauty. It’s September 5th, and we’ve already done four weddings with two more happening tomorrow and four more on Saturday. That’s 10 in seven days, if you’re counting.

And that means I should probably go to bed. I’ve got two great brides this weekend, and they deserve a well-rested makeup artist.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Independence Month Recap

Bang! Pop! Boom! Everyone’s dog is freaking out!

I did a June recap, so it only seems right to do one for July. Don’t you think?

July is always the slowest weddings month, for reasons I’m still not sure of. (People going on vacation? Too-hot weather, even though August is usually hotter? Couples not wanting to share their anniversary month with America?) June 2019 was the busiest month in the history of AB Beauty, so I was ready for a little break in July. Joke was on me, though! While July had a lot less weddings than June, we booked a ton of weddings for 2019 and 2020, which kept me busy. We also did a lot of trials–I personally did seven times as many as I did in June–and I started training two new makeup artists. We broke our all-time yearly weddings booking record which was set in 2018, which I’m psyched about. We also had a new hair stylist finish training and I’m in talks with two more potential new hair stylists. I worked with some wonderful new clients and left all of my jobs smiling. I ended up being way busier than I thought, but I had a little more of a breather some days.

On the personal side, it was a marvelous month. It started off with a Southern Charm binge watching night with my friend Julie, then a fun Fourth of July day out (notice I didn’t say “night out,” because I’m 37) with my girl, Kristin. My father had a big cookout the first weekend of July, so I got to see a lot of family and some friends there. My college friend, Caroline and my Charleston friend, Arryn, were in town the following week, and I was so happy to spend time with them. I made a new friend with someone who has been in to makeup model for makeup artist training sessions, and we had a fun first-time hangout. I went to see Nick Kroll in Providence with my newlywed friends Greta and Chris, and I always have a blast with them.

At the end of the month, I went up to Montreal for the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival for my second year in a row. I went with my aunt Michelle and her friend/business associate, Christine. They run the Women In Comedy Festival in Boston, and they are awesome. JFL was fantastic. I saw a ton of great comics and went to a bunch of panels about different shows and topics. I saw people give television show pitches to major networks and I went to two live recording comedy podcasts. I went to a “Boast Rattle,” where comics tried to out-compliment each other. I saw some of my favorite comics and added a few more to my list. I’m already excited to go back next year.

I can’t claim that I had a balanced month, because contrary to the length of the previous paragraphs, I worked way more than I played. Except for when I was in Montreal, 12 – 14 hour workdays were the norm. But hey, that’s the life of a business owner in the wedding industry this time of year, you know?

We have more than twice as many weddings booked for August as we did for July. On top of that, August will be busy because September is our second busiest month this year (and could potentially beat out June as our all-time busiest month), and the month before the busiest month is also always crazy. I’ve got a lot of makeup artist trainings on top of that, plus some trials. In August, AB Beauty will celebrate 11 years in business. That’s bananas, right? I can’t believe I have a pre-teen.

And now, work time. I’ll be back with an August recap before you know it.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Well, Thank You!

My sister-in-law and I. She is a great complimenter. I could do better.

I was recently hanging out with a college friend, you know, talking for about five hours straight as I do with my friends. She told me how she was out with the regular group she goes out with and a friend who didn’t usually hang out with themΒ  joined and couldn’t believe how much they complimented each other. My friend and I were talking about how we both do that a lot (she’s better at it than I am, especially because I sometimes say compliments in my head and forget to say them out loud).

I’ve been thinking about that conversation and how I often do compliment people–friends, grocery store cashiers, doctor’s office receptionists, whoever–on their makeup, hair and nails. If I see a pretty lipstick color, the compliment is out of my mouth before I know it, followed by “I’m a makeup artist,” I guess to justify it (totally unnecessary). When I compliment people I know, it might be a physical compliment like “I love your new haircut” or “That blue shirt looks great on you,” or something about their personality like “You’re always so patient with things. How?” or “You’re a great listener.”

I also compliment pretty much every client who sits in my chair, because I do think everyone has at least one beautiful feature. It can be eye color, eye shape, lashes, skin, lips, bone structure, etc. I think complimenting clients helps put them at ease, but that’s not why I do it. I genuinely mean every compliment I give.

This has all made me think of how much I have appreciated compliments people have given me. Some of those verbal gifts have stuck with me, and those are the ones I want to share now. I appreciated those compliments when they were given, and I appreciate them again whenever I think of them. Because of that, we have ourselves a blog post.

Here we go.

“You’re the only one who knows how to treat the people who work for them.” Someone who works for me said this to me when she was having a tough time at her day job. She had a series of bosses who were mean or didn’t appreciate her, which blows my mind because she is an incredibly hard worker, professional and really a dream employee (or Independent Contractor, in my case). I try my best to make AB Beauty the kind of company hair stylists and makeup artists want to work at, so her compliment meant a lot.

“You look exotic.” A guy I briefly dated in college said this to me when we first met. I don’t know what made him think that–I suspect maybe it was because in comparison to the more preppy styles around me, I looked different–but I took it as a compliment.

I was wearing this shirt and hoop earrings when I was deemed “exotic.”

“You should do standup!/”Do you do standup?”/”I can’t wait until your Netflix special!” I gave the Maid of Honor speech at my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in 2017, and it was one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. I started writing the ten minute speech (turned into 12 minutes with laughter breaks, so what’s up) a year and a half before the wedding, and decided to memorize it. I know I could make my brother and sister-in-law laugh, and maybe my parents and few friends, but I did not expect the reaction I got during the speech and the dozens of people who came up to me after the speech to tell me how funny it was. Granted, my “audience” was a group of wedding guests who knew the subjects of my speech and didn’t have the comedy expectations you would watching a comic, but I still won’t forget all of the compliments.

“How many men have you killed with those eyes?” This pickup line–my favorite one ever–was given to me (at me?) a few years ago. This gentleman kept telling me my eyes were the most gorgeous eyes he had ever seen, which I attribute to some black waterline eyeliner and the tequila he was drinking. Still though, I chose to take it as a compliment.

“Allie is the busiest person I know, and she still makes the time to visit us.” When it comes to visiting friends, I feel like I should get an F. The nine-ish months a year I live in New England are also the busiest months for my business, and it’s rare that I have more than a couple hours twice a week to hang out. So if a friend lives an hour away and I’ve only got maybe three hours max, with the drive time, it’ tough to pull off. I still try to visit though, and the friend who said this (my friend’s husband, but I am friends with them both) lives a couple hours away. They used to live an hour away so I was able to visit them and their kids a few times a year, which was when he said it. Anyway, I always feel like I don’t visit my people half as much as I would like to because of my career, and I have some major guilt about that, so this compliment made me feel a million times better.

“I need to check your hair.” Said to me by a TSA agent at I forget which airport (either Boston, Charleston or Nashville). I had my hair up in a ponytail with the shorter front layers pinned back then pushed up a little because I HATE flat hair on me. (I’d go full 1960s Priscilla Presley every day if I could.) Apparently my hair looked big enough to be hiding something in it, so the TSA agent had to pat it down. I took that as the ultimate hair compliment.

“You two have the most expressive eyes! You look like anime characters.” This was said to actress Dominique Swain and I by an actor on the set of a Lifetime movie I did the makeup for. I feel like I have very few expressions, so it was a huge compliment to be lumped in with an actress whose expressive eyes are part of what makes her great at her job.

I think she beats me out when it comes to expressive eyes, but I’ll take it!

“You are the most organized person I’ve ever met.” A bride said this to me at a trial last week, so this is a fresh one. I don’t know if she’d say the same if she saw my house, but I certainly try my best to be organized when it comes to my business. When a client tells me that and how it makes the bridal beauty process easier for them, it really means a lot.

“You read too fast!” Something my father says every time we watch Jeopardy. I am a fast reader, and although it makes my father mad because I can read and answer a clue before he’s halfway through reading it, I think it’s a good thing. Right?

“Damn, white girl can dance!” Said by a fellow club goer in Ft. Lauderdale, 2006. This was the era of “droppin’ it,” which pre-dated twerking, and as someone who is already close to the floor, droppin’ it was not hard. I’m not a good dancer but apparently this man thought so, and that brings me great joy.

“We’re going to need to use the small blood pressure cuff on you.” Said to me at a recent doctor’s appointment. I feel like my upper arms are bigger than they should be, but my primary care implied otherwise. I’ll take it as a win.

I’m almost there.

All of these compliments have made me feel good, and I hope I’ve done the same for others with compliments I’ve given. The conversation with my friend–and writing this post–has made me want to consciously give more compliments. Not in a fake way, but when I notice or realize something positive or flattering about someone I should make sure to say it out loud. For me at least, sometimes a compliment can turn a bad day (or bordeline bad day) around. Wouldn’t it be nice to possibly do that for someone else, just with a few simple words? I think so.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Emerging From My June Haze

What I felt like doing every time I had a second last month.

I’m experiencing major writer’s block right now. I’m not even sure what the rest of this sentence is going to look like.Β  I usually have several ideas for blog posts, but I’m coming up blank. Maybe it’s because we just finished the busiest month in the history of AB Beauty? 26 weddings, two groups of wedding guests, one hair and makeup for a re-shoot of some 2018 wedding photos and 12 trials, five corporate shoots and four makeup artists training sessions. Hundreds of email, non-stop texts and phone calls on the daily. We are just about to smash our all time record of 108 weddings, and the year is only a little over halfway done.

I’m tired.

I cried a few times, felt like collapsing regularly and caught a virus that still hasn’t gone away because I haven’t had much time to rest. But I also worked with a lot of brides who I love, met some cool people who came in to model for makeup artist training sessions, got two new makeup artist trained and two new ones who are starting their training now and booked several 2020 weddings. I got to see my family once, had a few fun friend visits and a classic Newport Summer day with a local friend, and saw Hannah Gadsby perform in Boston (she was AWESOME). So as rough as the June workload was, I’m choosing to look back on it as a good month.

It’s not that I dislike my job. Quite the contrary, actually. This is my dream job! My makeup artist work itself is great. I genuinely like my clients and I have fun talking with them at trials, weddings and shoots. The business side of my job–client communication, scheduling, invoicing, coordinating social media, etc.–is not super hard, it’s just a lot in combination with my makeup artist job, recruiting and training new makeup artists and growing the company. The makeup artist training program is intense, but I do enjoy teaching and getting people ready for a career in makeup artistry. It’s just when it’s all happening at once with no time to breathe that I feel a little buried. And that was June.

July is much quieter with weddings, but busy with trials and trainings. Even so, it feels lighter and I’m able to get a bit more balance. I have a good friend coming to town for Fourth of July (you’re damn right we’re wearing red, white and blue), my father’s big pool party/cookout this weekend, a Charleston friend visit next week, I’m going to see comic Nick Kroll in mid-July, then off to the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal at the end of the month. There will still be long days, but I’ve got great clients and a rockstar team, so it’ll be a good month.

That’s all I got, friends. My brain is stopping me from writing anymore.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Summa Summa Summa Time Faves

Happy Summer!

 

We’ve got a few different starts to the summer where I live in Newport, RI. The first one is Memorial Day Weekend, the official start of the summer season in Newport. The second is June 1, which I think most New Englanders consider to be the start of summer, even though most of the month is technically spring. Then we’ve got June 21, the actual first day of summer.

So I think it’s time to do my Summer Favorites blog post, right? Now is as good of a time as any.

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. My cousin, Saint Maria, sent me this cleanser and man, do I love it. It’s a cleansing balm, so you use the spatula they provide to scrape some out, then you apply it to dry skin, add water, massage it in, then rinse off. It melts my makeup right off, smells divine, does not leave a sticky film and makes my skin feel so soft after. The scent of cleanser is really important to me. I tried a Drunk Elephant one recently that worked fine but smelled like drywall, and I can’t get past that. Cleanser texture is also very important to me, and the Green Clean texture feels luxurious. The best way I can come up with to describe it is a whipped or light sorbet texture that melts onto your skin. This is a fantastic cleanser that works on all skin types. You can get it at Sephora.

This makes me look forward to washing my face.

The AB Beauty Team. These rockstars are always my favorites, but it’s time they made an appearance in one of these Favorites posts. I am so grateful to each hair stylist and makeup artist on the team. Not only are they crazy talented, but I truly like each person and enjoy working with them. I’m lucky to have 17-and-counting hair stylists and makeup artists who do work for AB Beauty. Thank you, Alex, Ann, Ana, Candie, Chantal, Denissa, Ellie, Emily, Emma, Jen, Katie, Kaydee, Kerri, Kristin, Liz, Liza and Paige! And looking forward to starting training with Shaina and Hayden later this month. Y’all are the best.

Spicy V8 Bloody Marias. It’s a well known fact that I’m a tequila drinker. One of my go-to drinks is a Bloody Maria (a Bloody Mary with tequila instead of vodka). My mother makes the best Bloody mix, and the second best is the Charleston Mix. That’s my opinion, but it’s also correct. I keep forgetting to order some Charleston Mix and I don’t always have my mom’s mix, so I’ve been using Spicy V8s (a suggestion I got from the mother of an AB Beauty bride–thanks, Ellen!). The V8 consistency is not as thick as the other Bloody mixes I like, but it is far superior to the bullshit watery ones some restaurants and bars serve. If you’re a Bloody drinker or want to be, give it a try!

Decorating My Apartment. I moved into the best apartment I’ve ever lived in in April, and I’ve been on a mission to make it look the way I want it to look since. I’ve historically put my money and effort into my company, and that’s still where those things will go if I have to choose. But right now, I can do both, so my crib is getting some love. So far, I’ve gotten a living room rug, a bookshelf, two vintage chairs, throw pillows, a bed frame, a dresser, a bedroom rug, bedroom curtains and curtain rods and real plants. I’ve had pictures and artwork hung up on my walls, and my bedroom was painted peach (to compliment the white, gold and marble elements I’m incorporating). I LOVE making my already beautiful, spacious and bright apartment look better. Each thing I buy makes me more excited to live in my ocean-views top floor apartment. I’m sure this will go on well past the summer, but I think this will be when I make the biggest dent in my “To Decorate” list.

I’m (slowly) getting there!

Secret Outlast Xtend Invisible Solid Deodorant. I know some people skip deodorant, but that’s not my jam. Especially in the summer, you know? I go for runs, I log in several miles a week walking to errands, I’m rushing up and down flights of stairs into my studio and apartment–you know, being active. I’ve tried other deodorants that I felt wore off quickly, made me itchy or had a sickly sweet smell. Secret Outlast Xtend Invisible Solid is the longest-lasting deodorant I’ve tried and it doesn’t make me itchy. I have the Completely Clean scent which isn’t overpowering. I don’t think it’s 100% invisible, but the white color does fade after a bit. I haven’t tried wearing it for 48 hours because, hi, I’m going to shower twice in 48 hours, so I’ll just take their word for that.

Big Berkey Countertop Water Filter System. I find the taste of water to be utterly boring, but I know it’s a necessary evil (and, all jokes aside, something I’m lucky to have access to in comparison with a lot of the world). I’ve been trying to drink more of it, mostly because my body seems to go into instant bloat mode if I have any salt, and I can not stand when my face looks fuller than it already is. Last month, my face looked puffy for days and I had gained weight seemingly overnight. I forced myself to drink a full gallon of water one day, and the next day and I was down two pounds and my face looked normal again. Now I’m sold on the stuff. I go through a few gallons a week, so my brother recommended the Big Berkey. It’s not only better for the environment, and more cost effective in the long run, but the water it purifies is a lot better too. The assembly instructions seemed very complicated, so I convinced my friends Dan and Natasha to put it together for me (thanks, guys!). It’s a big ol’ thing, so you’ll need some good counter space if you get one.

Having Parties. My dope new apartment is the perfect party spot. The layout, the space, the deck, the bay window that overlooks a busy part of town so guests can have fun people watching and yelling out the window–it all works perfectly. I’ve had a couple small parties since I’ve moved in, and I’ve loved it. I don’t cook, but I’m great at buying chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, veggie platters, etc. I have a lot of friends who I would like to see more often, but it’s tough for me to make plans with a bunch of people during wedding season. I can usually only pull off one hangout a week, but when I have a party, I can hang out with several people at once. I’ve always hosted one or two pub crawl type parties each year, but I’m liking these house parties better for now. I love that my friends from different groups meet each other at my parties and become friends. All of my friends are great so hanging out with them all together in one place is the best.

Not what my parties look like. If you threw that crap in my house, we’d have problems.

Glossier Mango Balm Dotcom. It’s no secret that I love the Balm Dotcoms. I’ve tried every one except mint, so of course when the new Mango Balm Dotcom came out, I thought, Gotsta have it. It has more of mango candy scent than a real mango, but I’m into it. It is just as hydrating as their original Balm Dotcom, and I love subtle coral tint it gives. I haven’t felt this way about all of the Balm Dotcoms, but I’ll definitely buy this one again.

Dead To Me. If you haven’t watched this Netflix series yet, get to it! Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are two national treasures, and they are great together. Christina plays Jen, the widow of a man killed in a hit in run, and she is befriended by Linda’s character. There’s some dark humor, lots of twists and a scene in which the actor playing one of Jen’s sons is wearing a Biggie shirt. That did not go unnoticed by me. I usually only like to watch comedies, but I like the two main actresses enough to watch this series, and I’m glad I did. Can’t wait for Season 2.

You know what else I love this summer? SUMMER. In my world, life is better in dresses and sandals. 8:30pm sunsets beat 4:00pm sunsets any day, and you’ll never have to scrape sunshine of your windshield, so how bad can your day be?

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

The Brutal Truth: The Makeup Artist Edition

That’s me in the background, doing touchups on the set of the first feature film I worked on. That one was overall a good experience with a nice cast and crew, but not all of my jobs have been that good.

Every industry has its pros and cons. Teachers may have summers off, but they also have to put up with some bratty kids and nightmare parents. Real estate agents may have the potential to bring in a lot of money, but they also have to deal with demanding clients and buyers who disappear after showing them eight houses a week for two months. And bartending may seem like a fun, social job, but would you want to cater to drunk people every time you went into work? Let’s not forget that people throwing up on a bar is a thing.

Working as a makeup artist is no different. Sure, we get to make people look pretty (or look the part) and that in turn helps them feel more confident. We are able to flex our creative muscles, which you don’t get to do in a lot of jobs. We get to meet a lot of people and work on cool projects. And some of us get to see our names in movie and television credits, which is a good feeling. But it’s not all glowing skin and long lashes (the makeup equivalent of “puppies and rainbows”). There are some negatives to being a makeup artist, and if you’re considering working in this industry, it might help you to be aware of what you could be up against.

Gossip Girl. When I interview Independent Contractors for AB Beauty, I always make sure to tell them we are not a catty, gossipy company. I say that because unfortunately a lot of salons and makeup and hair trailers on set have that atmosphere. And it’s not just a behind the scenes thing. Have you ever been at a salon, getting your hair done while your hair stylist or one next to you talks crap about a fellow employee or a client? Sure you have. I think we all have. I’m not saying every salon is like that–and I’ve been in plenty that are not–but it’s a reality if you’re working in the industry.

It’s not just salons either. I’ve worked with many awesome hair stylists and makeup artists on different films, commercials and television shows over the years, but I’ve also worked with a few who would talk badly about someone the second they walked out of the room or trailer. That makes me so uncomfortable and is part of the reason I no longer take certain jobs. If you’re thinking about working in the beauty industry, my biggest piece of advice to you is to stay out of the drama. Don’t badmouth coworkers, bosses, clients, other crew members–really anyone. It may feel like it’s making you closer to the person you’re talking with if you gossip with them, but it will come back and bite you, either when what you’re saying gets back to the subject of your tirade, or in the form of other people viewing you as a shit talker.

Don’t be a 10 year old girl. Save the drama for your mama (or better yet, avoid it entirely.)

When I’ve been face to face with a shit talker in the past, I’ve always tried to find a way to change the subject. For example, if Nice Person #1 leaves the room and the S Talker says “Nice Person is so full of herself. And she’s not even good at her job,” I would say “Have you worked with her before?” (a neutral question). If the S Talker said “Yeah,” I would ask what job they were on together. Then I would say something like “Oh, was that the one that went a week over schedule and messed everyone up?” or “Did you have a million overnights on that one?” or something off topic but in a natural way. Or if they hadn’t worked together before, I might say “I haven’t either,” then pull from my memory something that I meant to ask them at some point anyway. Like “Oh, I keep meaning to ask you! Have you tried that new Ben Nye powder? I heard it’s really good and I know you like that line.” You feel me? It’s a way out without joining in the gossip or walking away (which isn’t always possible). In this industry, your professional reputation is part of what gets you hired, so why risk losing opportunities because of badmouthing, which adds no value to anything anyway?

TheΒ Professional. The beauty industry has a reputation of being unprofessional. That’s not true of everyone in the industry, and those that I am friends with and associate with are professional. But the truth is, many people in the industry are not. I know this from personal experience and what I’ve seen and been told by other beauty service company owners and makeup artists. Over the course of the almost 11 years AB Beauty has been around, I have received several panicked calls from brides whose makeup artist or hair stylist cancelled weeks or days before their wedding. Can you imagine?!?! (I’m writing this on a Monday and got a panicked call from a bride whose makeup artist cancelled on her for this Friday.)

Professionalism encompasses not just showing up for a job–which you’d think would be a given–but arriving on time, being prepared and having appropriate conversations. It would be a) crazy to go out and get wasted the night before a job and b) tell that to a client, right? I’ve heard of hair stylists and makeup artists who have done just that. I’ve also heard of people who were dressed inappropriately, drank on the job (we get offered mimosas at most weddings!), left without finishing their work, etc. The good news is, if you can act and speak appropriately, show up on time and complete your work, the people who can’t or won’t do those things help you look better.

Are you one of those “I’m already running late but lemme grab a coffee” people? If so, stay out of the beauty industry. You won’t regularly get hired if that’s how you operate.

Even if you are professional, there are people who will assume you’re not, just based on the industry you’re in. It’s a stereotype you have to fight against, but you can prove people wrong. You’ll likely encounter others who decided to play into that stereotype and sometimes that will have an effect on you if you’re working with them, but if you show up on time, are prepared and have appropriate conversations, it will become pretty obvious that you are a true professional.

Noses Up In The Air. For whatever reason, some people look down at makeup artists. Those snobs don’t take our jobs seriously, and for no good reason. I think they think “How hard can it be to put lipstick on someone?” (First of all, no paying client wants just lipstick. And secondly, I’d bet all my money that they couldn’t do a perfect red lip on someone with uneven lips who tries to talk while lipliner is being applied.) People think a makeup artist’s job is just putting on makeup on others–which, by the way, most people couldn’t do without experience–but a) it’s not that easy and b) there’s more to a makeup artist’s job than just applying makeup.

If you’re going to be a makeup artist, you might encounter this even with people in your personal life. The mother of a friend of mine once said “Your parents must so happy that they paid for your college tuition and now you’re a makeup artist.” I thought, First of all, bitch, my parents did not pay for my college tuition, so don’t make assumptions, especially when your eyeliner is as jacked up as it is. But I said nothing, and went on to build a successful company and a lifestyle that she would surely be jealous of if she has to live in New England during the winter, which I believe she does.

If someone looks down on you because of your profession, hold your head up high, look them in the eyes and say “You have lipstick on your teeth.” Even if they don’t or they don’t wear lipstick, it’ll feel good to watch them squirm or be confused.

My advice to you if you want to be a makeup artist is to grow some thick skin (but keep it moisturized). If someone thinks they’re better than you because of their job, don’t let that affect you. What they think of your profession has zero impact on your success, so let them use their energy judging other people while you work a job you love and potentially make more money than them. (The average full day rate for a commercial makeup artist is anywhere between $500 – $1000, depending on the market you are in. So take that, snobs!) If someone thinks less of you because you’re a makeup artist, take solace in the fact that they are wrong, you are right and your face will always look better than their’s.

D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You’d think when you’re on set at least, other people you were working for or with would understand the importance of your job, right? WRONG. The snobs you find looking in from the outside and judging you without really knowing what you do aren’t as bad as the ones who judge you and treat you disrespectfully, even though they are on a set or at a job with you. I’m talking about directors, producers, photographers, wedding planners and others who rush us makeup artists even when we are on time. Or stand in our way/our light while we are working. Or pull someone we are about to do makeup on for a 15 minute meeting then get mad when we are not done on time, etc. Yet we are expected to have the utmost respect for everyone’s job. Know what would happen if a makeup artist walked in front of the camera mid-shot? All hell would break loose!

There’s also sometimes just a general sense of “we’re better than you” that you can feel at some jobs. What the people who are giving off that vibe don’t realize is that the actor/bride/client/model/politician we are doing makeup on is not going to want to be on camera or in front of a crowd without spending some quality time with a makeup artist first. Trust me, no one wants to be filmed or photographed with dark undereye circles, redness or a shiny T-zone.

I’m lucky enough to work with a great crew, producer and hosts on the TV show I work on, and most of the wedding planners I work with at this point are respectful and protective of my time and set up area the day of. I sometimes get to work with awesome wedding photographers, and I love it when they are there. But I’ve also been on jobs with several photographers and videographers who try to move my makeup while I’m working (not my fault if I bite your hand as an automatic response to that), turn off lights while I’m working because they need different light for their shot of a wedding invitation, hit my shoulder with their camera lens while I am applying lipstick, etc.

I once had a photographer move a couch in front of my set up while I was working, essentially boxing me in, and when I asked them to move it after they were done getting a picture of the bridesmaids’ dresses, they looked at me, said “No,” and walked out of the room. I had to climb over the couch and then lift my heavy kit over it to be able to leave. The photographer had left some camera lenses on the couch and I thought “I could ‘accidentally’ pour my brush cleaner on these lenses and ruin some very expensive equipment,” but I let my Professional side overrule my Sicilian side, and I walked out. (Then I texted my photographer friend, Joe Laurin–who would never treat a makeup artist like that–to vent.)

On the set of short film “His Take On Her.” That was another great cast and crew and a fun job, if a little bloody.

If you want to be a makeup artist, you’ll work some great jobs with people who respect and understand the importance of your work, just as you (should) respect and understand the importance of their’s. But you’ll also inevitably work with some real jokers who think your job isn’t important and that you’re not smart or professional. These assholes have their minds made up about you before they meet you, so pay them no heed. Just try to not let it ruin your day when you do have to interact with them. It’s your job to do your best work and be professional, no matter what kind of jerks you encounter along the way (barring of course inappropriate or abusive behavior). You can bitch about them to someone in your personal life after you leave the job. I once told my father about an assistant director was who was rude and disrespectful to the female crew members on set, and for some reason described what the guy looked like. My father’s response was “Guys who look and act like that usually get punched.” Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but it made me feel better. So if it makes you feel better to think that a person who is rude is to you on a job is the type to get punched, imagine them getting clocked and see if that helps.

Trade Off. When you start out as a makeup artist, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is start a portfolio. But how do you get pictures of your work when no one is going to hire you because you don’t have a portfolio? The answer is trade work (aka “testing”). Find a photographer, hair stylist and model who are all also starting out and collaborate on a shoot that you can all use the photos from in your portfolios. I recommend doing that as often as possible until you build a portfolio that shows potential clients a good selection of your work. It’s smart to do these type of trade shoots when you’re starting out, as they will set you apart from the “makeup artists” who just have Instagram accounts with non-pro photos of makeup they’ve done on themselves and friends.

Trade work can also be something like doing makeup for the cover of a local magazine who doesn’t pay you but gives you free advertising in their publication, or doing makeup for the owner of a clothing boutique’s branding photos in exchange for a gift certificate to their store. This is part of the bartering world, and as long as you think the exchange is worth it for your time and level of experience, it’s not a bad thing.

Evidence of some 2013 trade work I did. Worth it. Photo: Jacqueline Marque Photography
Hair: Alexandra Wilson for Allison Barbera Beauty

But there’s another type of “trade” work that will surely be offered to you, and it’s less “trade” than “volunteer” work, except it’s not true volunteer work that is done for a good cause (like the Look Good, Feel Better program.) What I’m referring to is a job that is offered to you for no pay, but with the promise of “good exposure” (cue eye rolling from any veteran makeup artists reading this). If you are going to be a makeup artist, you’ll likely field several offers from people who want you to do makeup for a shoot, small fashion show, competition, etc. for free, but with the guarantee that you’ll get good exposure from doing the job. I don’t know if it’s common to be asked to work for free outside of the beauty industry, but it is very prevalent in this industry.

I took some of this “good exposure” work when I started, partly because I didn’t know any better and partly because I needed the practice. I don’t think I ever directly got any work from those type of jobs, but I did gain some experience, which has its own value. After a while, I realized I didn’t need those types of jobs. I’ll still very occasionally do a trade shoot if it’s with an AB Beauty hair stylist, a photographer I love and a model whose look I like, but that’s it. For anything other than that, unless you are my mother, my sister in law or select cousins, if my foundation brush touches your face, you’re paying me. This is my livelihood, and my time and my products–along with my 10+ years of experience–are worth more than one million exposure “dollars.”

When you are starting out, it may be worth it to take some exposure jobs to get experience, but I wouldn’t take this type of unpaid work past your first year as a makeup artist. I also wouldn’t do it that often, as your time would be better spent doing trade shoots and taking classes.

This ended up being a lot longer than I intended! Surprise, surprise, I have a lot to say about my career as a makeup artist. For me, the pros heavily outweigh the cons, and even my worst day in this career is better than my best day in my previous careers, as I’m doing something I enjoy, and on my own terms.

If you are starting out as a makeup artist or thinking about becoming one, I think it makes you better prepared if you’re aware of some of the not-so-great things you may encounter. No job is perfect, but if you love what you do, are good at it and are professional, this job can be damn close.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Life Lessons From A Small-Sized Adult: Part Two

Look at me, getting to Part Two in a timely fashion! Let’s get right to it.

DATING & RELATIONSHIPS

Trust Your Gut. You ever get a pang of “This isn’t good” when you’re involved with someone? I have, too many times to count. And for the longest, I ignored that gut feeling because I liked a guy, or at least liked what I thought he was or could be. Guess what happened every time I ignored my intuition? Up in flames, baby. I was the master ignorer of gut feelings and red flags in my 20s. The red flags were often so obvious that my friends could spot them, sometimes from several states away. But I would make excuses for some dude’s bad behavior, analyzing his life and coming up with a hypothesis on how he got like that (born an asshole, as some people are) and why it was okay (it wasn’t). I sometimes put up with things for a month or two more than I should–which I’m working on cutting down to “not a minute longer than I should”–but I don’t drag things out for several month or longer because my intuition bells ring too loudly if I try. I say intuition because while sometimes the red flags are obvious, other times it’s hard to tell if it’s red flags or just normal human flaws, but my gut always knows which side they fall on. I’m betting your’s does too.

Speak Up. In my 20s, I was afraid to say how I really felt or talk about where things were going with guys I dated. Not only did I not want to put pressure on someone, but I think I wanted to be that chill girl who is cool with whatever and didn’t need to make plans. But that kind of attitude or failure to communicate caused a lot of confusion and sometimes heartbreak. Now when I start to date someone, I’m very up front about my schedule and how I don’t stand for constant bailing and consistently pushing plans back by several hours for no reason. I figure if a guy doesn’t like that, he can go find someone else. I don’t have the kind of traditional timeline that a lot of people have that involves moving in together, getting engaged, getting married and starting a family, but if those things are important to you, I say let ’em know. Maybe not on the first date, but also maybe not before you get too far in. I’m not a relationship expert, but I’ve noticed a big difference in the relationships I’ve been in where I wasn’t shy to say how I feel or what my non-negotiables were as opposed to those where I didn’t say a peep about anything that was important to me. It can be scary to be so open with communication, but I’ve learned that it’s definitely worth it.

Actually, I’d rather they communicate with me, but I did find this funny enough to make my Facebook profile picture for a minute in 2016.

Let It Go, Let It Go.Β To me, the worst part of dating isn’t the near constant disappointment or the analysis/translation of texts that often needs to be done. It’s how much mental time and energy I sometimes expend, particularly when things aren’t going well. I’ve gotten a lot better with this over the years and my tendency to cut things off by the three month mark is helpful, but I could still improve. When I catch myself in the midst of dating overthinking, I try to force myself to snap out of it and let those thoughts go. I’ve learned that overthinking and worrying does nothing to change the past, has no affect on what could happen in the future and makes me feel like shit in the present. So I do my best to pull away from those useless thoughts (which usually also means avoiding going to my friends for input) and focus on more important things like my business, redecorating my apartment and taking Buzzfeed quizzes.

OWNING A BUSINESS

Get Thee A Support Group. Girllllll, running a business is a wild ride. But if you’re a solopreneur, it can be mad lonely. I’ve learned that surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs who I can turn to for support and advice is essential. I’m lucky enough to have found my people through Hatch Tribe. And, well, I’ll just let you read this.

Save Yourself. Unless someone else is funding your business, you need money. And probably more than you think. As a business owner, I wasn’t in the position to put away much in savings for the first five years. But once I could, I did, and now I can’t stop, won’t stop. You never know when a law or tax code is going to change and cost you. Or when something is going to change/break/flood at your office or storefront. I’ve found that having a good cushion of savings helps me weather those unexpected storms without putting me in a bad position or causing anxiety.

Give Me a Break. I’m the first to admit that I’m not great at taking time off. But, I am improving! I’ve learned that giving myself permission to take the afternoon and sometimes evening off (I’m not quite at a full day yet) is not only important but imperative to my personal well-being and my aptitude as a business owner. Batteries need a recharge, you know? Entrepreneur burnout is real and it is rough, but it can be avoided by taking some time off. I’ve found that scheduling in hangouts with friends on my calendar like I schedule in meetings and client appointments makes me take those breaks (which I always love) so I don’t work all day, every day.

Sometimes you have to take a break, throw on a blue wig and go out with a friend on Fourth of July Eve.

MONEY

You Ain’t Rich. Or I don’t know, maybe you are. If you’ve got a yacht, six houses and a personal assistant for your dog, skip to the next section. But if you sometimes look at something and think “I wish I could afford that,” stay right here. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life is to live within your means. If I’m being honest, I’ve personally been pretty good at this for my whole life, I think because I’ve always had people around who weren’t, and I saw the struggle they went through. Some of the lessons I’ve learned have come more from watching others than experiencing it myself. I saw people who could barely pay their rent or mortgage spend money on nice cars, trips, clothes, concert tickets, etc. then feel major stress when their bills were due. Even from a young age, I remember thinking Why don’t they just buy the stuff they can afford? I don’t mean this in a judgmental way, and maybe the things people buy that they don’t have the money for bring them so much joy that it’s worth it. As an observer of life and a Psych minor who is fascinated by people’s behavior and choices though, I wonder why some people buy things that they can’t afford but also constantly feel stressed about money.

I’ve had my share of the bank account blues, and I’m no financial wizard, so I’m sure there are things I could be doing better. But I try to be very aware of what my expenses are, what my income is and what that leaves me for spending money. Once my business took off and I made enough to have spending money, I figured out what kind of lifestyle I could afford and went from there. Having little or no money is crazy stressful, so why put yourself in that position? I realize it can’t always be avoided, and I’m not talking about people who are born into poverty or experience unexpected major financial problems. I’m just saying I’ve learned that I had to say no to fun trips, new clothes, dinners out, etc. at certain points in my life because doing those things would put me behind with my bills. The point of this very long section is that if you’re struggling financially, it may be worth it to take a hard look at your lifestyle and see if you can really afford it. If you can’t, you can either minimize your expenses, increase your income, or both, which will in turn likely reduce your stress. And isn’t life better when you have less stress?

By all means, take a vacation if you can afford it. But if it means you won’t be able to pay your rent that month, I’d advise you to think twice.

Sweat The Small Stuff. I’ve never been shy about saying that my first five years in business were a struggle. I was making just enough to get by, and it was tough. I reduced as many of my expenses as possible, and I also learned to pay attention to the small stuff. Gone were the days of buying coffee, which could easily cost me $500 a year if I did it five days a week. At the time I lived in Struggle City, that $500 a year would pay for two months of rent at my shared office space, and now I look at $500 as two round trip flights to Charleston. Also during those years, I learned to check for coupons and promo codes before I bought/ordered anything. Even if I only saved $25 a month, that was half my electric bill or Internet bill at the time. I set alarms on my phone so I would never go over my parking meter time and get a ticket, I sold clothes I didn’t wear on consignment instead of leaving them to collect dust in my closet, I printed business documents double sided so I didn’t have to buy as much paper, etc. I found that these small savings added up, and I still do all of those things today.

Give It Up. Even in my broke-est (not a word) days, I still knew I had it better than a lot of people. Not just financially, but because of my quality of life. I was safe in my own home, healthy, had food and access to clean water and had shelter. There are a lot of people who don’t have all of those things, and money can help improve their lives. So seven years ago, I decided my New Year’s Resolution would be to make a different charitable donation each month that year. I kept that up after 2012, and now I’m able to give more money and do it more frequently. It’s not a humble brag, but I’m mentioning it because it’s one of the financial lessons I’ve learned. I feel like part of my responsibility as someone who is lucky enough to have a good life and have my basic needs meet is to help out those who are struggling and haven’t been so lucky. I know I talk a lot about saving and buying what you can afford, but I seriously doubt anyone was ever met with financial ruin because they made too many donations.

MISCELLANEOUS

Move, Get Out The Way. You ever try to get by someone when they have plenty of space and they somehow don’t see you so they don’t budge? Or walk up to a bar with two friends and know that if the oblivious guy sitting there moved down to the empty seat next to him there would be three open seats for you and your friends? Isn’t that maddening? I’m assuming someone taught me this when I was young, but I am always very aware of where I am in relation to other people and if I am taking up more space than I need. I want to be comfortable, but I also want other people to be comfortable (unless they like Tupac better than Biggie). I think part of being a good human is being aware that other people exist, and acknowledging that it’s not just you and the people you are with in when you are out in the world.

Timed Out. I’ve been late a few times in my life (not for clients), and it always makes me feel frazzled. I also find it very rude to the person I am meeting up with/have an appointment with, as I believe it gives one of two messages (often both): “Your time is not as important as mine” and “I’m bad at time management.” I don’t think my time is more important than anyone else’s and I’d like to think I’m good at time management, so those aren’t messages I want to give. Being on time (usually early) has served me well in my professional life, as it’s part of what proves to clients that I am responsible and reliable, and in personal life, I think it’s made me viewed as a reliable friend. Like Ashanti, I’m not always there when you call, but I’m always on time.

Late? Not me. I was born early (literally).

Forget The Shoulds. At my age, some people would say I should be married. I should have kids by now. I should own a home, not rent an apartment. But I don’t give a shit about how other people think I should live my life. My life is dope. I’m not a conventional person, and I have no desire to do things that way some others think I should. I didn’t learn this lesson until my mid 20s, but I’m glad I did because it’s a big one. If you know a decision you have to make is smart, won’t hurt others and will make you happy, I say do it to it, even if you face disapproval. I’ve learned to make my decisions that way, and that is part of what’s allowed me create the life I want. I realize some people have very strong-opinioned people in their lives who put pressure on them, and I’m sure that’s tough. No one who I love has tried to blatantly should me into something, so I’m lucky. But I have encountered some people–even some who I care about–who have implied that I’m doing something weird or living life the wrong way, and some who’s disapproval I can sense. And to them, I (silently) say Your opinion about that means nothing to me. Let’s break down your life and see if the shoulds you caved into worked out for you. I’ve learned to live my life the way I want to, and it’s working out great.

 

I’m now over a week into my late 30s, gaining so much wisdom it hurts (everything hurts after 35) πŸ˜‰ If even one thing I said helps you or makes you feel better about something, I’ll consider this two part series a success. Thanks for reading!

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚