Service not Servants

Being in a service oriented business for well over 20 years and not just in the bridal industry, I can only imagine some service horror stories. The customer is often confused, frustrated and upset by circumstances that are exasperated by several factors. When and if you have a unhappy client, the most committed service providers need to LISTEN and EMPATHIZE. Clients want to feel heard first and foremost. I am forever grateful to have clients who have invested their hard earned dollars for our services. As a business owner removing emotions but acknowledging the client emotions is a necessary step to resolution. We love servicing clients to the best of our abilities with the upmost respect. We are not however your servants.

“All ears! I’m listening!”

Sometimes in weddings or other events clients become unserved by their own actions. I have held crying babies/moms/brides. With weddings I’ve had my share of clients with hangovers, intoxication and I have even been puked on. Yes, that is a fact. That is a little bump in the road but not a deal breaker when it comes down to the client interaction. The following is what not only what I consider intolerable but I’ve listened to other artists explain why some clients are a hard pass when we are considering you as a client.

1. Not respecting our policy (a busy professional doesn’t need to make exceptions) when we have a policy it’s not to give you a hard time. Its our best practices to give you the client a clear expectation.

2. Excessive requests. Your 27 emails about your eyeliner are a little red flag that we cannot ignore.

3. Micro management of your artist. Example: holding the mirror the entire process, instructing artist what to use/how to use and when to use a product. Wanting us to give you lists of all of our products. Texting us after hours. If you give us a little trust and confidence, your results are better than scrutinizing our every move.

4. Respect our time. Artists with a high demand for services will not be able to accommodate lateness/constant rescheduling requests. If we tell you that your appointment is an hour and you arrive 30 minutes late then you will receive a express service. We want you to have the full luxury of your entire service. Punctuality is important especially for weddings!

5. Unrealistic expectations. We cannot make you into a snapchat filter, remove years of neglected skin or reverse the aging process. We can help and guide you to a better place.

This was a controversial article and I wrote it to make it clear that sometimes we aren’t a good fit for the job. Taking on clients is a huge commitment and while we absolutely adore 99% of our customers sometimes that 1% makes it’s way to our inbox. We will respectfully decide to pass on your business if we feel we are unable to please you.


Monday for a MUA

Its 6am and I’m self employed. There is something about mornings that gives me more motivation than a late afternoon. Monday morning in particular is when I catch up on emails, wash brushes, restock/organize my kit and review my calendar for the week. Many makeup professionals consider Monday their off day because we’ve been hustling all weekend.

There is a negative connotation associated with the 1st day of the week. Monday blues are a real downer for many reasons. If you hate going to work I guess Monday grind isn’t your favorite. I like Monday and I think it’s the best time to set up your work for success. So here are some tips to make your Monday more comfortable.

1. Wake up early. The quiet morning to have coffee, meditate, or read is your me time to get your mind right.

2. Dress well. Casual Friday in office environments changes the tone of the day so why not make Monday your day to bring it on with a fun lipstick or awesome shoes. Good shoes and lipstick make me so confident.

Restocking lashes for my kit

3. Tackle your most challenging tasks on Monday. Once it’s out of the way you are smooth sailing. Today mine is setting a new printer.

4. If Monday gives you the blahs then schedule something that gives you joy. I love cooking so on Monday night I usually plan to make a nice meal and enjoy some wine. It could be a yoga, nature, or even a binge worthy Netflix show. Having that thing to look forward to at the end of work day will make it easier to transition from a negative perspective.

So get out there and have a good Monday. You deserve to live your best life 7 days a week.

Finding the makeup artist for your wedding

Everyone sees your face first. This is a once in your lifetime event so having a professional makeup artist is crucial for your photos. All eyes will be on you. The following steps are going to help you find the best fit in beauty.

Makeup by me

Step 1. Start asking your friends, family, vendors or anyone who recently married for recommendations for makeup professionals. Look at their websites. Yes websites. Not just Instagram or Facebook. The website should tell you about the artist, showcase photos of their work and some will even have their rates/booking requirements. My website is if you want to take a look.

Step 2. Email your choices to check availability for your date. Do not wait too long. The most desired professionals get booked 9-12 months in advance. Pay special attention to how promptly they reply and their communication.

Step 3. Check their social media. This will often show more work than the website. Is the type of look you desire in their photos?

Step 4. Set up a trial run if you are not 100% comfortable. This is the number one reason we get last minute inquiries. Brides wait to trial closer to the wedding, they are dissatisfied with the results/service and then they scramble to find someone else. If you are committing with a contract and retainer, you will likely forfeit money to change artists.

Step 5. Establish with your wedding party how many people are committed to services on the wedding day. We need to know exactly how much time to allow to commit to your wedding.

Step 6. Review the contract. Actually read it. Not skim. Our contracts are to protect not just the artist but also you. Details like parking, event set up requirements and late fees are common conditions.

Step 7: Submit your contract with a retainer to lock in your date. Follow up with your artist to make sure you have confirmation of receipt of both.

Makeup by Me

Once you are booked you can relax knowing your decision is sound. Makeup is a great way to exercise your personal style so be sure your artist has the kit and skill to achieve your goals.

Leaders never stop Learning

I see it. You are a successful single entrepreneur. #girlboss #bossbabe #goaldigger Isn’t it just glorious being your own boss? Well yes, sort of…


1. YES I make my own schedule.

2. My company, my way

3. Controller/Ceo/President/Owner

4. Company philosophy works for me.

5. Gives no shit what “the man” is doing. I am the man.

Now real talk

1.No sick days, vacation pay, employer benefits provided (I’ve spent the last two weeks taking care of sick husband)

2. Self discipline is a art form in itself (set your alarm when to start working and when to Stop each day)

3. Fiscal responsibility( do artist even know math?) Know your profit/loss

4. Filters aren’t just for your Instagram stories. I teach myself not to exploit my business with my negative tongue.

5. Gives too much time to business forgets self, family, happiness and health.

It wasn’t so long ago that I was just Pamela Butler, Professional Makeup Artist. I was friends with my community of fellow MUAs but I didn’t have to worry them. I took every gig I could whether it made sense or not. Then I got bigger, needed a assistant. Then my assistant needed an assistant and then I needed hair stylists to make our makeup shine in photos. Boom! Today a team of 12 artists on our Kentucky Bridal Squad.

The first year in business my CPA said “Pam, you need more revenue. Raise your rates, increase your broker’s fees, add services” So I did and I got smarter about being in a profession that traditionally struggles. I listened. I watched. I screwed up until I got better at it. It was painful and hard. I have no reason to keep doing what I do other than I love it. I’m naturally nurturing. I’m also moody, stubborn and sensitive.

The number one reason I see people form a “glam squad” is for money. Ha! Hope you like giving it away for a few years. My website value alone is a years salary to some. The money I use to spend on vacations, shoes and clothes is now set aside for insurance, business demands and taxes. That is not making you nearly as excited as Charlotte Tilsbury’s new lipstick is it?

Some makeup friends flaked on me and in the process I lost some friendships. I didn’t enjoy this aspect of my new position at all. I became hyper devoted year 2 into building a brand and ignored my health. Weight issues, arthritis and anxiety disorders are common among business leaders so I too suffered from them.

I’m getting there. I am proud of my progress. I am not trying to change the world, I don’t think I’m a great but I feel accomplished enough for now. My husband supports me, my kids understand my love of work and the rest of my family enjoys watching my work life flourish. So my closing statement is this. If you derive joy from helping others, development, and retrospect then maybe having a team is your future. I wish you all the best. Call me if you need a hug.

Wedding makeup trial run

Ok bride to be, you have done your research on possible vendors for makeup and now you are ready to narrow down your options. This article is to lay down the expectations of a wedding makeup trial appointment.

1. Know your artist’s work. Does it reflect the type of look you desire? If not move on…..your artist will be showing their skill in their portfolio.

Makeup by Pamela Butler

2. Understand price and booking information. Some artist charge a combined rate for trials and day of wedding while others charge a trial fee separately from wedding day. It’s like paying for bananas by the pound or piece.

Once your trial is completed, how long do you have to complete a contract and secure your date. Does your artist even do trials without a contract? We recommend try before you buy if you are unsure before legalizing your beauty professional.

3. Be prepared for questions. A makeup artist needs to know about allergies, sensitivity, skin type, lifestyle choices, and anything to do with your wedding style. Your makeup/hair needs to cohesive with your wedding gown, venue, florals, etc.

4. Bring only one guest or go alone. If you bring someone make sure they have your back and support your choices. It’s your day, you get to choose how you feel beautiful. You’ve heard the saying “too many cooks in the kitchen” well too many people telling your artist what to do ends in frustration and confusion for everyone.

5. Be realistic. Good makeup begins with a healthy lifestyle, a skincare regimen and avoiding bad habits. Smoking, tanning, and dehydration, will directly affect your outcome. Your artist should discuss the appropriate ways to get you back to good habits.

Photo by Gary Barragan

6. Allow your artist enough time to understand your request. We ask for an hour to complete one bridal makeup application. We also recommend wearing the trial appointment makeup for a few hours to test durability of products. Everyone has different results based upon skin type and products.

7. Make sure your artist asks for Feedback! This is huge. Never feel like you are pressured into something! Artist need to make every effort to please you, the client!

For a makeup trial with me use this link

Let’s create a magical makeup just for you!

Booking minimums

So I feel bad, I really do which is why I’m writing this blog. Many professional bridal artists who travel to you have booking minimums because we have to be smart. The minimum is either a number of services or a set dollar amount based upon the average size wedding the artist is targeting. Ours is 5 services or the equivalent of $450 per artist. This does not mean we won’t come to you for less than 5 people but it does mean that you will have a different rate than those bookings. I know, there are many bride only scenarios and that seems unfair but here is why these policies are in place.

Bridal beauty services require us to supply our client with quality products that stand up to performance standards for photography and endurance. That’s a hefty percentage of our expenses. Then there are income taxes, insurance and transportation expenses associated with our profession. We also have to make a profit. If we don’t profit then we can’t provide you with the best case scenario. Car problems, lack of insurance and tax avoidance directly affects both the artist and the client. A thriving professional in any career will translate into the services to clients.

A bride only booking can always opt for a service at our location based upon our availability for a better rate. The on location service for groups makes more sense because logistics of wrangling 10 bridesmaids is harder than a single bride.

It has become somewhat of a bonding experience for bridal parties to spend the morning getting pampered whether it be hair/makeup services, mimosas, yoga or brunch. What a better way to prepare for such an important moment.

Any Saturdays in May June Sept and October are peak days for weddings in Kentucky. The demand for services is highest during this time. This typically means we have little flexibility on group size during this time. If your wedding is on a different day or month you have more options in your vendor pool. Additionally travel during peak times can be a challenge. I have personally committed myself to only one wedding per day to give my weddings the ultimate experience which means your day is stress free as well as mine. I don’t want to rush thru a service so I can make multiple weddings. I have done it in the past and I’m not saying it’s the right choice for all artists but I chose to fully dedicate my time to one wedding at a time.

Whether your wedding is a small family only ceremony or a grand occasion for up to 500 people, I would love to be your makeup artist.

Memorable Weddings

I thought it would be nice to share with you guys some really cool things I’ve seen at weddings as a make up artist and also as a guest.

Photo by Gary Barragan

One of the 1st weddings that comes to mind is one that I was the make up artist that took place at 21C. The groom was a professional Skateboarder, the bride Jessica, had lots of neat tattoos loves animals and the healing magical powers of crystals. You’re probably wondering how I got that bride,  I’m wondering that too but I can tell you her and I connected because she is a infectious individual! Her wedding day spoke to her lifestyle plus the love she had for her future husband. I remember I saw the ring box which was a glass vessel with moss and a unicorn surrounded by crystals. I said “where’s the ring bearer”.  A grown woman said “I’m right here”. I’ve never seen an adult ringbearer but I loved it. All the ladies wanted a mysterious dark look. Her dress was beaded with a nod to the magical environment in which they married. So very neat to share that experience. 21C was a perfect setting for this Chicago couple.

Photo by Wildaboutyoupix

Another wedding that comes to mind is when I was a guest at a wedding. The bride and groom had a rich history attached to the venue Churchill Downs. The bride actually married in Paddock area. The red roses and the Derby inspired décor was something Carrie had dreamed about all her life. I mean if you’re gonna have a Kentucky wedding why not have it at Churchill Downs.

Sometimes I meet brides and  I wish that we could talk all the time. And that was my bride Sarah Sahni. Sarah had a cultural wedding that took place at her parents home. There are many things at the time that I didn’t understand about cultural ceremonies. I love the rich colors and the jewelry and the elaborate opulence that takes place with these types of weddings. Sarah and I still talk to this day.

When my own daughter got married I wanted to make sure that her day was about her and her groom, my son-in-law Daniel. When she said she wanted to marry in our backyard I was so excited because we could make it special and unique for her. Plus she was very considerate trying to save her mama some money. Needless to say there was a lot of emotions at this wedding. When it’s your family it’s a big deal so I couldn’t write this blog without talking about how perfect she looked as a bride.

Photos by Gary Barragan

So to all the brides/grooms who got engaged over the holidays. I’m sure you’re trying to work out a plan on how to make your day the best.  Don’t be afraid to be different and personalize the experience to you and the person you will love for the rest of your life. Sometimes breaking the rules will make your day the most memorable.

Makeup for Your Wedding Day

You got engaged! Now is the time to start planning and securing your wedding dream team! My first piece of advice, don’t let social media, family and friends dictate your wedding look. Its YOUR DAY and chose a pro who specifically works with weddings. There are many pros who are great at salon services but may not be the best choice if they aren’t “event” experienced. Beauty professionals who work off site know the drill. We bring all the necessary tools, products, and performance goals that someone who mostly works in one place may not understand.

Now let’s talk about choices for makeup. There is alot of information available via pinterest, Instagram, etc when you begin researching wedding makeup. My thoughts are that your wedding makeup should be a elegant, elevated, expertly applied version of makeup that you would normally wear. For example, if you love to play up your eyes, then hire a makeup artist that will work with you to create a wedding eye look that will dazzle your groom into fainting! Well maybe not fainting but at least let’s get him to cry. I feel if the groom sheds tears then my job is complete. If you don’t wear alot of makeup I suggest avoiding the “Cardi B” styles and going for more of royal wedding look (I’m obsessed with Kate Middleton).

Makeup by me

The problem with Pinterest and such is that their photos for inspiration are typically only done on models, there might be a ton of editing to the photos, and the lack of customization to the person. A bride with a hooded eye may want to have a makeup that is different from a bride with almond eyes, round eyes, or wide eyes. A makeup trial is the perfect time to work with your professional to create a taylored look that is unique to you, your overall wedding aesthetic and that is flattering to your features.

If you got engaged or know someone who did and wants to set up a trial, I’d love to hear from them. They can even use my booking link to schedule a meeting/trial run here

Makeup by me/Hair by Brooke Meadows

Photo by Ashley M Brown/ Shining Light Photography

I’d love to help all brides look their personal best on their wedding day!

Trade For Print/Exposure

For those of you reading this blog outside of the creative industry there is a thing called TFP. It means Trade for Print. This is an arrangement sometimes between model/photographer/creative talent for shoots. It is typically no exchange of fees for all individuals participating on a photo shoot. This arrangement works in the favor of future professionals who need content for their portfolios. There is a time and place when I feel it is beneficial and there is also a time when it is not beneficial. I want to start by adding I have personally done TFP and I made mistakes because I too was a newbie eager to build a name in the industry. I want to prevent those mistakes for you.

Photo by Gary Barragan

When I was new to set work I would follow and seek out the attention of photographers who made photos that fit my style. Joshua Eskridge was one of the most talented players who used The Beauty Patrol as hair/makeup team. He helped launch our popularity with the photographer community. I will always be grateful to him to what he taught us about photography. He is AMAZING! We did do some trade work but it led to many gigs that were paid. That’s a key component I want to cover.

Behind the scenes with Josh

Trade work should lead to paid work. It shouldn’t be long term with any one person. If you are only doing trade work with one individual and never get paid then stop to think how you are benefiting from the arrangement.

Trade work can fill a void. We needed more ethnic diversity in our portfolio so we recruited those types of models and did some trade. That work helps us position our portfolio to be more inclusive.

Trade work where someone profits but you are excluded is a sure way to get you less and less paid work. If someone has financial gains then everyone should be able to be compensated. This might be my opinion only but some compensation seems pretty reasonable in this case.

Fact: professional makeup and hair products are expensive and we them need to sustain our kits. Kit fees can be requested to cover your product use even if you are donating your time. Parking fees/expenses associated with a shoot need to be covered by the client. At least don’t lose money by offering your TFP arrangement.

Lastly, make sure when you agree to do a TFP that you have some input on the outcome and usable images of your work. Close up beauty shots are best for your portfolio. Don’t be afraid to talk thru your expectations with the creative team to make sure this shoot is the best case scenario for your needs. Everyone using images on social media should be tagging the team that helped create the work. This is a big one that is often overlooked. Be choosy and don’t get trapped into being that artists labeled as “will do anything” at the expense of your livelihood. It’s ok to say NO.

Will work for cheese?

I’d be happy to hear your thoughts about TFP. I’m here to explain my position and point of view as a makeup artist.

Bridezilla, momzillas and I know more than you zillas

Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate that I haven’t been burdened with terrible experiences when it comes to weddings. I do get asked about bridezillas often. Trust me they are out there and I’m not saying I’ve never had one because I have stories! My secret is “I’m not available for your date” works when I get the inkling that a bride, Mom or anyone involved with my booking process has red flags. For the benefit of future brides and other vendors these are some of the red flags that apply in my industry.

1. Understanding the booking process and requirements. If you don’t include all the requested information and requested deposits/retainers to secure services but you have repeatedly emailed about it, I may assume you are not a serious client. It is very common for beauty pros to have booking minimums in peak season. I cannot afford to take a bride only in the middle of the day on the busiest Saturday of the year. At the time of booking your day I need to know the location, number of services and what time you need to be ready. I want your wedding day beauty to be a luxury experience that isn’t rushed and this will ensure you feel pampered!

2. The number one issue pros most often have challenges with are clients who do not respect our time. Being late or no shows for appointments are a sure fire way to get fired as a client. Especially if your pro jumped threw hoops to accommodate you for last minute requests. Just as it is an expectation for me to be punctual, we also expect it of clients. It can throw off our entire day and cause us to rush thru your appointment, miss lunch, work over, etc. No one likes a hangry artist!

3. Mom, you are very important. We love Mothers of Brides, Grooms and all Moms! I’m a Mom too. Motherhood is a hard freaking position. However when it comes to the bride…SHE IS OUR CLIENT. In order for the bride to feel her best we must follow her desired look and if mom wants something different, well this is when Mom won’t win. For example, I had a Mom who wanted to dictate the makeup her daughter wore for the wedding day regardless of the bride’s wishes. I didn’t book the client. I could tell the bride was uncomfortable with the request and I’m not willing to make any bride feel that way. Mom, I like different things than my daughter but I still love her. Let your daughter be the director of her beauty.

Photo by Jessica and Sarah Photography

4. This one is my favorite. We all know someone who is good at makeup right? I was at a wedding recently when a bridesmaid was talking about makeup to all the bridesmaids. She was educating them on products, techniques while she “did her face”. She opted to do her makeup instead using my services which is totally fine with me. The problem is she gave bad information. An expert at someone’s own face does not mean they have the knowledge, experience or results of a pro. A makeup enthusiast is not a makeup artist. I spent years honing my craft. No dispute that some people can be self taught. I’m not a dentist. I shouldn’t fill your cavities.

Open wide…let’s get to drilling!😁

5. This one is touchy but it does happen so I’m going to dive in. Another reason to give your artist to chose to pass on your business is unrealistic expectations. Social media and self editing tools have made this issue a beast for some beauty pros. A airbrush machine will not erase wrinkles, years of skin abuse, open wounds, etc. We have access to lots of tricks and most of the time we can make a great improvement for any issue. We ask that our clients provide photos for inspiration and we also ask that they show pictures of them when they felt good about they look. Pinterest/Instagram and Snapchat are full of high glam filters and photo shopped models. Most of our clients are not models. Hair artists too. We can use extensions and devote hours to a hair sculpture with an arsenal of products but that is not an achievable solution for many brides. Someone who never wears makeup might think they want a dramatic look until they see it on their own face. My esthetic is more celebrity inspired beauty that is a beautiful version of you and not an illusion.

Not our work!

Pinterest hair art

Not our work!

A BIG makeup from pinterest/we get this a lot and it’s almost always toned down

My intention are always good. Some might disagree with me, some might find this funny, and others are probably cheering me on. This is real life as wedding makeup professional. I love doing weddings. Its an honor to be chosen for the position of your makeup artist.