the makeup artist life : can i have a swatch of lipstick for later?

October 30, 2013By stephanie 2 Comments

I once had a bride ask her bp makeup artist to have her full tube of lipstick from her kit …    she asked right in front of everyone, right as everyone was dressed and ready, and she didn’t even say please. Just “Can I have that tube of lipstick …?” She didn’t even offer to compensate the artist for it. Being ever so gracious, and perhaps somewhat stunned, the makeup artist handed over the tube of lipstick.*

As makeup artists for bridal clients, we completely understand that you’ll need to touch-up – especially lipstick – and normally, makeup artists offer three things :

  • to provide the name of the lip products used so that the client can purchase it for themselves;
  • to pick up the lip products used and the client can reimburse the artist; or
  • to provide a swatch or sliver of the colour used, free of cost (because really, a bride doesn’t need a whole tube to touch up).

More often than not, option #3 is what brides choose to go with and what makeup artists are more than happy to provide. The one issue – where to put that sliver of perfectly rosy pink lipstick?!? We often remember to pack the essentials : extra lip wands, mascara wands, cotton swaps and pads … but rarely a container to flip a chunk of lipstick into. Not necessarily because we are absent minded either … sometimes its because who really wants to carry one more thing in their kit? (Don’t lie MUAs  … you know you HATE having to carry unnecessary items.) Here are three things I use to pop a swatch into when the bride is ready to go:

  • Little bead/craft containers from the dollar store : the dollar store is nifty for stuff like that. I believe you can get 8 for a dollar and while the smallest size is still too big for a little swatch, it does the trick.
  • The plastic case from the set of fake lashes you used on the bride : I use this trick most often, because they plan to discard that case anyway. Reduce, reuse recycle, I say. I also like that I can swatch multiple colours across it and it won’t get messed up.
  • A square of tinfoil. This is a great option because a) if you have to bring it, a large sheet of tinfoil folded up takes up no space, b) if you are working in a bride’s home, chances are she has the tinfoil, and c) the lipstick stays in tact and doesn’t get absorbed in by the tinfoil.

Never get caught off-guard ever again and hold on to your precious tubes of lipsticks and glosses.

* For clients+brides : as makeup artists, we spend a lot of money developing our kit so that we can provide a selection of products, colours and brands to our clientele. In fact, plenty of our freelance earnings goes back into our kit, not our pocket. If you really want the full tube of lipstick and not just a swatch, it would be best to offer some compensation for the cost of the lipstick so that it can be replaced. Or, see option #1 or #2  so that you can enjoy a full tube of lipstick or gloss at your own expense and not the makeup artist’s. You wouldn’t ask the plumber for his wrench “just in case” before he left your home, would you? That is an essential tool for him, just as lipstick is to us.
For makeup artists :  always be prepared. The brides day is about kissing her new husband, so its not unreasonable for her to ask for a swatch or for some touch-item items. Use the tips and tricks above, or if you are okay with giving an almost empty, down to there tube of lip colour, go ahead. If a client asks for a product that is still pretty new, smile, say yes, and then request compensation for it.

the freelance life : isn’t late just … late?

October 23, 2013By stephanie

Recently, I had to let an assistant go from the BlushPretty team. She was a great person and very personable, but there were a few things that didn’t mesh with the BlushPretty team brand. Emails were sent. Words were said. I wish her a bright future in makeup artistry.

This person had four bookings with our team before I let her go. Of the four, she arrived at two of them late. She did text me beforehand. She did have reasonable explanations. And also, lucky for the BlushPretty brand, there were other artist(s) booked for the same job(s) who did arrive on time so her lateness would not be an issue (or at least a major one).

When I mentioned this to her as one of the reasons in her email, she quickly responded with the following rebuttals about being late:

– out of the four bookings, she was late for only two;
– she contacted me in advance once she knew she was going to be late; and
– for the second time she was late, she was barely ten minutes late.

I agree. She did let me know that she was running late slightly before the call times  -that’s fine and I’m all for emergencies (the first was for her ill dog, the second was late due to traffic). But two out of four bookings is 50% of being late and she was still very well under her “probationary period” with our team. But poe-tay-toes / pah-tah-toes – isn’t late just being late when it comes to running a freelance life?

How could I ensure that she wouldn’t be late again, or that she would be late on a job where she was the sole artist for the booking? Given the clientele that we work with – brides on a schedule – timing is everything. Don’t you agree? They won’t understand about an ill dog. They won’t understand that you were coming from faraway – you should have allowed for extra time. While she brought up valid points … late is still late.

If you are a freelancer trying to pave your way through the scene, here are a few things to consider when managing bookings, travel time, and everything in between.

Don’t trust the estimated time on Google Maps. If Google Maps tells you its 40 minutes from point A to B, then leave your home 60 minutes prior. Google Maps won’t allow for rain, detours, construction, pedestrians, and your sometimes inability to actually follow any of the directions (my left or Google’s left?!).

Don’t allow “just enough time” in between multiple bookings. Figure out the time distance between to two bookings, and then factor in 30 minutes extra to accommodate any extra needs of your first client and another 30 – 45 minutes for unexpected travel delays (long elevator waits, the parking garage won’t accept your credit card). If timing does end up going smoothly, well, then you have an hour or so to breathe, eat, and recollect yourself for your next client.

Tell each of your clients what your day is looking like. Tell the first person that books you that you have another client at so and so time. Tell your second/third or fourth client of the day that you are booked just before them but will travel over immediately after. Be accessible via email and phone to let them know your ETA. Be honest that there is a chance you may be late getting to him/her. Keep everyone informed and let them know that you are going to do your best aand your hardest to meet all call times.

If you’re late (because it does happen), just apologize and don’t go into heavy, over-compensated explanations. You are already late and they know it. A simple, “I didn’t allot for midday weekend traffic, I am so sorry”; “My alarm didn’t go off and I didn’t have a back-up alarm, I am so sorry”; or “I didn’t manage my time right between clients, I am so sorry” will do. Constant apologies will remind them of one thing: you were late. And they are running late. Do your best to complete the client at the agreed upon end time and hope that they understand and will consider recommending you or booking you again. If they don’t, well, at least you were apologetic and did your best. It doesn’t hurt to give them some monetary relief of their service either since it was your fault you were late. Remember – turn the tables – if you had a vendor show up late or not meet the agreed upon requirements, wouldn’t you ask for some sort of compensation?

And here’s the biggest wisdom of truth: if you can’t be somewhere on time, or close to a reasonable time, do not book it. Tell the client you can’t. Booking multiple clients in one day is definitely a great way to increase your freelance earnings BUT if you are in any way late that can cause a major disruption to anyone’s “big day” … you pay with your reputation. Your reputation is worth more than what you are paid for the service in the long run.

So, really, isn’t late just late?! Let’s discuss!



the freelance life : airbrush 101

October 2, 2013By stephanie

Airbrush is a very popular request amongst BP clientele and without a doubt owning an airbrush system is a useful addition to a makeup artist’s services and extension of their craft.

Wielding an airbrush gun takes practice but can easily be mastered over time. I think the hardest part of airbrushing comes after you have used the gun and completed makeup for your client: the clean-up.

Like anything, it is so much easier to take something apart than it is to put it back together. Hence, some artists clean around the gun and spray through cleaner but rarely take it apart. I find its best to take apart your gun after every use and give it a thorough cleaning. Less build-up leads to less on-the-job clogging.

Here’s the secret to a really clean gun: the pipe cleaner … or as they call them at the dollar store chenille sticks. Yes – the key to getting a clean and working gun will cost you $1.

There are three ways that I like to use the pipe cleaner to get the gunk out:

1. straight across the head of the gun to the back just like how the needle travels through the gun;

2. through the head of the gun again, but angled up through the bowl – a lot of buildup happens between the bowl to the head; and

3. through the spray tip of the gun, you may think you have gotten everything out during a spray but thread a pipe cleaner through and see how much more comes out!

I always use white pipe cleaners so that I can keep threading and scrubbing until no more foundation can be seen on a fresh white pipe cleaner. I also find that the pipe cleaners are flexible so you can bend and twist them to get into the nooks and crannies of your gun. The “chenille” part of them act as good scrubbers too.

Alright – so you’ve given your gun a thorough cleaning. What now – how do you put it back together? Well, there is a system but every gun is different. I’m not the best at doing videos, but here is a picture step by step guide for you to follow! Beware, it is picture heavy. And also, I don’t know the technical names for any of the parts, so please excuse my “nicknames” for the pieces. Lastly, I’m totally TOTALLY aware that you can see me in my blue shirt in the reflection of the airbrush gun.

Start with your top hat piece (what you press down on to move the needle). Note the divoted edge – this should always face towards the back of your gun.

Insert like so.

Screw on the tip. (Sounds dirty, but if you’re doing this, it means your gun is clean!)

Locate this doo-dad. I call it the wiggly nail piece … but you should never use it as a nail. Ever.

You are going to insert the doo-dad into the back of the gun, and slip the tongue of the wiggly part up behind your tophat piece.

Like so.

Insert your needle, through the centre of the doo-dad, through the bowl of your gun, and right through to the tip. You should see your needle come through the tip.

I know what that piece on the end is … it’s a spring! Probably the only term I know. This piece is important to your gun – never ever lose this piece. Place in on the end and push it into the gun.

I call this piece the locking bolt thing. It’s neither, but it does lock everything into place once screwed in. Find it, and place it over everything and screw it in tight, but not toooo tight.

Like so! Once you have this on, you should have tension and when you press down on your top-hat, you should be able to see your needle move back and forth through the tip and bowl.

This is my smaller bolt thingy. This will double lock everything into place.  This goes on the very end and screws on.

It’s just he finishing touches now: screw on the back piece of your gun, and the two itty bitty spray pieces to the tip.

And there you go: you have officially cleaned and put back together your shooting air makeup gun thingy!


biz shiz 101: don’t call me the m word …

October 8, 2012By stephanie 2 Comments

Lately, as the BlushPretty team grows, we have been holding monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) meetups at the studio called, Freelance 101. It’s an opportunity for the ladies just starting out in the world of beauty and freelance to find their footing in this big crazy world of blush, lipstick and bridezillas. I developed these meetups because when I was starting out, I had no one to really guide me in the industry and I made a lot of screw ups. My m.o. now is to not let my talented team flail around like I did and to bring us all together to offer advice, stories, and most importantly support. Um. I think it’s working … :)

Anyway, I thought my team, or anyone interested enough to click on by, might like to read some business-related posts as well, once in a while. So here it is: Biz Shiz 101.

I’m going to start this series by reflecting on the ONE word I hate when people use it to refer to what I do. Not makeup artist. Not mogul. It’s:


Don’t get me wrong. I have respect for women who have embarked on being an entrepreneur through some milestone or mishap that occurred while incubating/raising a baby and gave them some awesome idea for the latest baby gadget like, motorized strollers or something; BUT this word does not reflect me or my business. And I also think that there are plenty of other women who have developed and created a powerhouse of a business – NOT because they are moms, but rather because they are just that whip-smart and hungry.

I love my boys. I really do. But I also love my business just as much. I didn’t become an entrepreneur because I am a mom and wanted to do something that would allow me to be a mom – it’s a perk, don’t get me wrong – but really, I was (am?) an entrepreneur AND a mom. Two separate and wonderful things.

Put it this way, if my wonderful husband decided to quit his job and start his empanada business full time (and I must say, he makes the BEST empanadas out there), do you think anyone would turn to him and say “look at you being a dadpreneur?!?!”? Have you ever heard the word dadpreneur? Have you ever seen a book written for men who want to run businesses and refer to them as dadpreneurs? Probably not!

(But do a Kobo book search for women who are entrepreneurs: “Mommy Inc.”  “The Mompreneur” –  you get the picture, right?)

Okay, so you’re probably wondering, where the heck is Stephanie going with this. (I’m beginning to wonder that too … I’m rambling).

It comes from the fact, that being a freelance beauty artist (or even a freelance female anything), can sometimes be regarded by others as a “hobby” that you do. I find that this is especially so when you are a mom. They think it’s something you do “to make a little extra money” as opposed to something you do to pull in a really decent hourly rate when you break it all down. Or something that you’ve spent a considerable amount of time on developing a brand, creating a marketing strategy, and networking to increase your client base – how the heck is all that work “just a hobby?”. You mention one milestone you are really proud of, and all they will say is something like “Look at you being a mompreneur”. Like, it’s all cute and you’re wearing a frilly dress or something. What they don’t realize is you’re a shark! . And you my pretty little artist, always have to act like one (perhaps a shark in a frilly dress …).

So what I am saying is its hard. It’s hard to be seen as a serious freelance artist and really make a go of it when the people whose support means the most to you don’t see it the same way. It’s discouraging. (And this goes for whether or not you are a mom. It’s hard to be taken seriously when you’re a mom and a freelance artist; and it’s just as hard to be taken seriously when you are just a freelance artist). But, you have to put on your big girl underpants and prove them wrong. Really wrong. Don’t let MOMPRENEUR, the dilution of the strong word, ENTREPRENEUR, get you down. Don’t just sit there and take it. Show em the numbers and the hard work if you have to and make them take you seriously.

So here’s the anecdote:

I had this one mom during little league season turn to me and say, “I heard you mentioned you have a studio downtown Steph, is that for your makeup and hair thingy?”; yes, she said “thingy”. I replied yes, and she went on to say “so you like rent a chair or something?”. Again, totally annoyed, I said “no, I own the whole space and I meet my clients there”. And when that didn’t register she said “huh. well, look at you an your little hobby. moms making money”. And while I’m not normally one to talk about finances, at that point I lost it and said – “well, if a hobby gets me $150 bucks for a 45 minute skin treatment – I’ll take it. What’s your hobby these days?”.

End of conversation.