It’s no secret

It’s no secret that running a business is hard. Things don’t happen overnight in most cases. As a professional makeup artist I find it more and more demanding to be constantly aware of product launches, trends, business demands, client expectations, and industry norms.

Cosmetics in my kit. It’s always evolving.

It’s no secret that a woman or man who hires a makeup artist wants to feel beautiful, confident and comfortable. That makes complete sense to most right?

It’s no secret that being professional is an investment in your future business goals. Yes you can have fun and still not be a risk for a label. Drunk, sex crazed, politically hostile, self absorbed, etc. You know what I mean, that selfie in your bathroom of a drunken night out with you practically nude, mascara smudged and it’s obvious it was fun time. I’m not to judge but your potential clients…hmm

Too much? Nah. This is just Louisa with me on a Tuesday😎

Its no secret that social media has made much of our lives front and center. What does your social media say about you? This is what I think mine says. I’m serious about professional makeup artistry. I love my family, animals, and nature. I enjoy travel. I admire other art forms like home decorating, cooking, fashion and music.

The day I picked up my pet rooster “Harland”

Is oversharing something only my demographic believes unnecessary? Yeah, I’m older that most of my colleagues. Fortunately I am still young in my mind and I surround myself with some very refreshing millennials, gen y and z. My generation believes in work/life balance. Isn’t that the key to happiness? I think it’s no secret.

My sweet tribe of grandchildren on the beach last week

My point is that no matter what kind of culture you wish to create is that it’s no secret that anyone, everyone you come in contact with both in person and digitally will respect boundaries. My boundaries have worked for me and my business goals. Do you have business boundaries? Tell me your secrets!


Makeup artist life

Today I have a schedule that begins at 3pm. I’m not sure what time I get off and I’m not sure what what my client expects or what they actually want. Welcome to the world of freelance! There are advantages to not punching the clock. There are also challenges. When I worked at a makeup counter I knew my working conditions, schedule, all the products available to me and what to expect in my day. As a freelance makeup pro, there will be unpredictable circumstances. Oh your client might send you photos of themselves or their desired look but when you arrive you might hear things like “I only have 30 minutes for this appointment, I only wear green eyeliner, glitter is goals, or I want to look like I’m wearing nothing but perfect” You have to make it work! This is makeup artist life.

Photo by Lindsey Whiting

Clients aren’t guilty of anything other than not knowing your profession inside and out. If I go to a chiropractor appointment, I don’t know their job requirements either. Why would I? I know that some career artists get very upset when clients throw them a curve ball with weird questions/requests or when clients ask for services out of the ordinary. It’s okay! Just because a client asks doesn’t mean you can’t guide them back to reality with grace and respect. Plenty of times I’ve had clients with great expectations, high demands and who required some coddling but it’s not all clients. Maintaining a game face and pleasant demeanor will get you far in these circumstances. Keep smiling. When you come out of the difficult scenarios on top you can go home and have a glass of wine. Wine is always better than whine.

I love my chosen career path. I love my clients, colleagues and makeup! If you find that your position as an artist is becoming stale then it’s time to evaluate your practices. Diversify your product choices, prepare your clients for services, and take time to breath before you react to obstacles.

I now offer coaching for future professionals to help them thru some challenges I had in the early stages of my career. For more information check out

Beauty Law

For once I’m going to blog about something more light hearted and funny. I often have people say things like “Do you look at everyone’s makeup with an artist eye?” Well, yes I do. When I created the name for my team The Beauty Patrol (Makeup and Hair Authorities) I jokingly said we should issue citations for violators of beauty laws. We see them everywhere we go! If you are worried about being a law abiding citizen, I have compiled a list for your protection. This is meant to be funny but I take the following very serious👮

Makeup by Pamela Butler Photo by Ben Marcum (law abiding citizen)

The Beauty Patrol understands that you love makeup! We do too! However if it takes you longer than an hour to get ready and you use more than 40 products on your face at a time. Go straight to jail and we are confiscating your Sephora Haul. This is the most serious of offenses. Chose a focus. Your full coverage, highlighted and contoured, fleeked brows, winged liner with a cut crease, glitter, three pairs of false lashes, and dark lips is hiding you. We like your face, let us see some of it!

The older you get the more makeup you need. “M’am, put down the brush nice and slow.” As we age we need less of some products like foundations and powders but more of others like lipsticks/blush/brow cosmetics.

Violations that will get you a warning but no jail time: tanning, not washing your face at bedtime, skipping moisturizer, and over drawn lip liner.

If you are guilty of any the above we encourage you to turn yourself over to authorities for a makeup lesson. We have reformed some beauty law breakers who are now law abiding citizens.

Lets all get along

So I have as many makeup artists followers as I do friends/clients on my social media. Why do you think they follow me or my business? Is to gain knowledge about my brand? Is it to copy my work? Is it because they think I’m entertaining? Do they hate my work or like it? Hmmmm, I wonder what their doing on my page? Guess What? I Love It!!!!! Go ahead and follow me! I’d love to get to know you better. Some of my best confidants are other makeup pros. I’m certainly not a social media wizard but I do find inspiration in the work of other makeup artists. I think it’s great to expand your professional networks to include your competitors and keep it classy! Celebrate their successes and be supportive during their fails. Who else is going to understand our profession better than those who practice it?

Makeup by me on another Makeup Artist…Bethany Kooyman /Photo by Ben Marcum

Now, I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never felt intimidated about another makeup artist poaching clients off my posts but if they are successful at it then maybe good ol karma will take care of it. I believe there are plenty of clients for me and all of my fellow artists. Much like a garden, with lots of florals. Each flower is unique and some people like roses while others like peonies. Both flowers that smell fragrant, look pretty but different. That’s how interpret the difference between makeup artists. Together we make a beautiful diverse bouquet.

I don’t do FX or Gore makeup. It’s not my thing but I do admire those that excel at it. I like clean, natural modern makeup. It’s a preference. I follow artists who do FX because it’s fascinating!

This week I saw a link to review someone in the business (not on my team) but I have worked with them often on weddings. I went to the website and gave her 5 star review⭐ Why? Because she is AWESOME! Another example is when a fellow competitor asked me about a booking process. I freely told her what I do in my process. I believe in elevating the industry and laying the foundation for others is a NO brainer!

With that being said, newer artists specifically don’t expect your mentors to hand you everything on a silver platter. It means more to work for some things and earn your footing instead of having someone hold your hand all the time.

Commitments, Contracts and Cosmetics

I will never pressure someone to book with us. Our work is very visual and we have the reviews so if you don’t book right away that is fine with me. We don’t “pencil you in” and this is why…

My pencil collection for eyes, lips and brows

When I first started my freelance career I believed clients who said “pencil me in” so I would literally put them in my book, and count on them to honor their booking. No contract, money exchanged up front and no commitment. I would decline multiple inquiries and decline any invitations to personal social events. Guess what happened? I got burned and burned bad. When clients cancel last minute, I would lose money and time. It’s part of owning a legitimate business to ask for legal documentation of your reservation. This is my career not a hobby and I treat it as such. Without contracts and retainers there is no confusion on what happens if your booking is cancelled, postponed or moved to another date. Those contracts also protect the client in the event that things don’t go as planned.

Bride: Kelly/Photo by Allen Adams Photography

Makeup by Pamela Butler Hair by Brooke Meadows

My contract covers everything from allergies to location to payment options. It also explains to the bride what happens in the unforseen event of me being sick, unavailable or stuck in snow storm (we know that’s possible in Kentucky). I have had 4 brides last year who paid another makeup artist money up front without a contract only to find out that their money was lost due to negligence from the makeup person. I refuse to call them an artist and let’s just stick to “con artist”. Those contracts state what is paid in advance and that’s the only way to have it in writing should the bride need to take action.

Makeup and Hair professionals are not excluded from protecting both the client, and their livelihood. When you cancel or don’t committ in writing you run the chance of getting scammed, stood up or even inconvenienced by your wedding vendors. There have been several local vendors who made the news because of such shenanigans. Brides had to sue vendors to recover monies paid for services/products not delivered based upon a CONTRACT!

While it may take some time to read over your proposals, signing a contract, paying your retainer to secure services, it is the best practices and necessary information for you and your professional.

I only want to provide all my clients with a positive outcome and laying the foundation for clear expectations is a start.

The journey

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.

Working in California with some former MAC colleagues

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.

One of my favorite retail clients! Love Linda💖

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.

My happy with self employment face

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.

Weddings are like rodeos

I used to be cowgirl. Barrel racing every weekend at the small arenas in the rural parts of Arkansas where I grew up. Horses are big creatures and so much fun to ride. Unfortunately, I developed some pretty intense allergic reactions to them when I turned 18 years old. This ain’t my first rodeo! I’m not allergic to weddings yet. 

At the rodeo there is alot cheering and hollering for the cowboys and cowgirls. In my hometown it could be hot as fire or cold as ice. The weather wouldn’t stop a good rodeo. It’s a family sport. Dangerous and exhilarating experiences enjoyed by both participants and spectators. My sister’s and I had our fair share of injuries from either high spirited horses or risky stunts. Not much different than some weddings I’ve attended. 

Weddings and rodeos have wranglers. The wedding ones are the planners, coordinators, and venue hosts. Their job is no easy task and sometimes underestimated. The rodeo wranglers caught lose animals, kept the riders and spectators safe plus accommodating anyone who needed it. Wedding wranglers do that plus some! Get a good one and you won’t be sorry. 

Rodeo contestants dress the part. Boots, hats, big belt buckles and dusty denim make a cowboy look authentic. Bridal parties also dress for the event. Alot of thought and planning go into coordinating the attire for the big day! Brides say yes to the dress! I’ve seen some very beautiful wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses that would make your heart buck like a wild bull. Your hair and makeup are the toppers like the hat to the cowboy. And to be sure you never forget how awesome you look having a good photographer/videographer there to capture it is a good plan. 

I took my grandkids to their first rodeo in Texas

My mom used to run a little diner at the rodeo arena. Cowboys and cowgirl burn alot of calories therefore they like to eat to fuel them up for competition. Wedding guests also like fueling up on plated dinners, bufetts and food trucks. And they love the cake!  Add some spirits and you got yourself a party! Weddings that have good food and drinks are the fuel for a memorable experience! 

One of my favorites

The National Anthem and a prayer are common at the rodeo. The reverence and respect for the sport and the riders is a traditional for as long as I can remember. Walking down the aisle to meet your future spouse is also a tradition. The music, the attire and setting with everyone watching! It brings the emotions out of even the toughest hearts. Weddings are emotional! Tears and laughter. Hugs and kisses. Ceremonies with traditions. Just like the rodeo.

Giddy up y’all for wedding season 2018, it’s going to be a good ride!

2017 the good, the bad and in between 

I’m not really sure what I will change about 2018. I did a few things in 2017 that were definitely a learning curve and every day I seem to pick up new insight on how to make my business thrive in a competitive market. Weddings just keep getting better every year and with that comes changes. I’ve listed some thoughts below that I believe make a difference with the bride and the bridal party.  We won Best of Weddings with The Knot so I’m kicking off the year in a positive position. 

1. Brides are getting wiser. There are many ways for brides to get information on vendors. You are always being watched by someone who is a potential client. I hear many stories. Brides talk alot! Just because you do good work doesn’t mean you can slip up on other areas. The wedding industry is growing. You are replaceable and they will not only replace you for being unprofessional, they will tell everyone! Bad news spreads faster than good news. 

2. Mothers of the bride need to be treated like Queens. This can also apply to Mothers of Groom in some scenarios. Don’t short change Moms. Our job is hard. My own daughter married in June 2017. I wanted it to be perfect. It wasn’t but that’s ok and the people who tried to make me feel less stressed are the ones I refer to engaged couples. 

Photo by Jessica and Sarah Photography

Mom is a big part of the day photo by Jessica and Sarah Photography

 3. There are always some clients who aren’t right for you. I had a client last year that trialed but didn’t book. I could have taken it personally but in reality I wasn’t a good fit for that wedding. Know when to bow out gracefully. Let them Go! 

4. This one is tricky. Sometimes self employment feels like a license to say anything you think or feel. WRONG! Cool, calm and collected 24/7 is the best policy. 

Just grin and bear it

5. Alot of people like my team because we are active, interested and customer service focussed. Sometimes it is simply response times. No one likes to wait for a repsonse. I sent an email out for a home project and it took the person a week to respond and in my head I was thinking (maybe I should find someone else for this job). The quicker the better. Clients appreciate the fastest response times. They feel important when I am prompt and detailed about their requests. 

6. Bridesmaids are your future clients. Giving them a lesser service is a mistake. Make time to make them feel special too. Too many of my colleagues believe running the business means watering down the bridesmaids requests. They are wrong. They opted to have you there too. Sometimes they are my biggest repeat clients. Yes it’s the brides day but those ladies might have their day some day too. 

Photo by Hannah Kik

7. Promote your best work. Don’t post every pic because you feel the need for social media activity. That pic of your bride with her tongue out. Skip it. Your trip to Starbucks everyday….not relevant. Coffee is life you don’t have to tell me.

8. Stay in your lane and don’t worry about anyone else. If I crash it will be of my own original mistake. If  I soar I want it to be because I worked for it. I do what I do and I hope I’m successful. Being authentic and coming up with my own plans has always worked best for me.  As makeup artist the person whose face is in your hands should be the only inspiration.

I bet your job is fun

Whenever I hear “I bet your job is fun” from people in my makeup chair, I respond with “absolutely, I love it!” In reality the makeup part is very fun. When I think of fun jobs what comes to my mind is someone who has the best life by spending their career time in a passion based business. My passion is people, makeup is just our connection. I’m sure I wouldn’t thrive in a job that didn’t expose me to new people. For the most part, I love people! The mental part of the job is having great energy whether it’s a photo shoot, wedding or a special occasion for the client. I’ve been in scenarios when the energy isn’t good as a result of varying factors and it most certainly affects the outcomes. My best experiences as a makeup artist are emotionally based between the client and me. 
Behind the scenes photo with a very fun client, Carrie and Alexis Mattingly from my team at Ben Marcum Studios

Then there is a not so fun part of being a makeup artist and as in any other career there are tasks that I find difficult. Being your own boss requires self discipline. I have almost fired myself a few times. You also have to be responsible for your own motivation. If I feel stuck in a rut, I know it’s time for me to take a break and do things that help me refresh so when I do return to work that I miss it. Your work life balance is the biggest challenge and the most crucial element to happiness. After wedding season I take a vacation. One of my favorites was the Pacific coast in Oregon and it was such a beautiful place that I gained inspiration that came back to work with me. Spending time with your loved ones without work is the best! 

Bill (my handsome husband) and I during our trip to Oregon. 

So yes my job as makeup artist is alot more fun than some jobs I’ve had in my lifetime. In my past life I have worked on a farm, in restaurants, salons, retail, and corporate America. Each job had it’s ups and downs but my makeup career is the one with the most highs that leave me confident that I’ve landed in the exact place I’m destined. 

My job is fun


Makeup and Cakeup

I was talking with one of my makeup artist friends about the community and creative professionals. She asked me “Am I stable?”  What that means to me is that you’re are secure, sane, and steady. I find it really rare for artistic folks to be truly stable by normal standards. We thrive on visuals, moods and admiration. What we lack in stability we make up for it with a charisma that involves our medium of choice. Mine is faces. I want to make art on your face, that sounds totally unstable right? 

I find it so heartbreaking to see an artist not struggle with their craft because they are talented but yet they are living in a unstable manner. Money is part of stability. We need income to live, thrive and be comfortable. Maybe not lots of it but we do need some, and I happen to enjoy having money. 

I told my friend that being a creative business owner is like making cupcakes. We stay in the kitchen perfecting the recipe, making cupcakes focusing solely on the art of cupcakes. The taste, the size, color, texture and smell. We become cupcake obsessed. Seeking ways to make the most cupcakes until we look up and see a kitchen full of cupcakes but no one has tasted them. When you focus on art,  the business can be forgotten. When you focus on business, the art might be put aside.  Learning to make delicious cupcakes, finding cupcake customers who eat your art then tell their friends they should try your cupcakes too is the key to growth and stability as a cupcake “artist”. 

I have found that some of the happier makeup artists are the ones who have a community. If I didn’t have my artsy friends I would go crazy. My stability is my creative process then coming up for air to focus on the people who make my business thrive a priorty. Who is that? It’s my audience on social media. It’s my neighbor. It’s someone I met at a social function. It’s the photographer who I followed, it’s my family, my past clients and my wedding vendors. It’s anyone I meet that is interested in hearing about my job. See, not too hard right? Well it’s easier said than done. So now I feel like making cupcakes might be the best motivator. Cupcakes make everything alright.