One of the question I get often is “How did you get started as a Makeup Artist?” Well, the truth is it wasn’t the plan. I needed a job that wasn’t late nights where I could make money and raise my two little ones. I went to Dillards Dept store when they opened in Kentucky and applied for a position. I wore my Kmart red power suit and my full face of drug store makeup. At the time I wore pancake foundation. It was thick, smelled like rubber and made me feel ready to conquer anything. When I got there this most elegantly designer woman plucked me from a crowded a room of applicants and asked me if I ever thought about working in cosmetics. She was not prepared for what I did next….y’all I did a play by play of my “routine” to demonstrate my skills. I was hired and rapidly earned the title of Beauty Advisor which I proudly can say taught me that I could be creative and smart. I was promoted two times in under a year and made my life’s goal to create a motivated team of Counter Managers and Beauty Advisors for LANCOME who will insure I got my monthly bonuses. I pulled odd some hair brain events to get those sales up.
Now this wasn’t my first job in the industry. I actually worked in salon in Arkansas where I got the notion I should look like Cyndi Lauper, Boy George and Madonna roled into one person. Pink hair, shaved head, bleached and mohawks. I’ve done them all and it was fun. I was ready for makeup.
LANCOME lasted a good while then I took a less business more artistry position with the cosmetics empire, Estee Lauder. Working for brands was the best way to get your name out in the industry at the time. We had no Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. People commonly went to makeup counters for advice. I worked with highly respected individuals who in turn taught me how to turn a customer looking for a lipstick into a loyal client who looked at me as their personal source for products and applications. I met so many wonderful people in those positions. Some of those still in the trenches at department stores.
I did image consulting for corporations where I would teach professional women how to wear makeup at work. Yes it was a thing. Crazy right?I met someone thru that who would convince me to leave the world of makeup and enter into the world of insurance. I worked in sales at Aetna. I sold employee benefits to employers and brokers. This is where I learned to talk to total strangers about one of the most stressful issues. I liked my job. I loved the money. That position bought my first house, made me feel successful and validated my desire to crush the stigma that women could not make it in a good ol boy industry. I’m not sorry I did it but I don’t miss it. The Aetna position ended when my office here closed. I worked at a popular agency for one year before i was let go after telling my bosses off for making fun of my new hair color. Fast forward to my return to makeup.
Many of you know I worked and managed at MAC Cosmetics. It was a new brand to Kentucky and a fairly young company when I started with them. Managing artists again and this time very different artists than my other positions. It was great for a long time. I’m not going to say it was a walk in the park because that would be a lie. The expectations were sometimes almost impossible but I still dedicated a large part of my time to this brand and it’s local success. Some of my biggest mentors worked at the corporate level in Chicago. I am grateful that I no longer work there. I got mad respect for alot of retail workers because of it. I worked too much and too long for a company when I could have been dedicating my time to better use. It was then that I knew I had to find a way to use my knowledge of all those experiences to do something for me. Before I left I was working 14 hour days to do weddings and a retail shift on weekends. It was time to take my passion for people and turn into a brand.
I worked my first two years 2011-2013 pretty much just me and one assistant. The decision to form a team was a means to an end. I was referring out as much as I was booking. The Beauty Patrol was a scary and intimidating move. I worked and invested long hours into what will work or not work. I can boldly say I’ve made mistakes. It’s not something to take lightly when entering into the world of self employment.
Freelance makeup artists are typically less respected than traditional careers. My goal was to get the respect anyway. Every day and every year there are new ways to evolve not only my art but also my business. It’s all good and I still love it. One day I will retire with the hope I left a little impression with my clients/colleagues.