I’ve always liked been intrigued with self-care and pampering, but when it came to makeup artistry, not so much. Once I was in my late teens/early 20s, I began to learn how to apply makeup on myself. I received many compliments on my makeup and was asked by a coworker to do her makeup for her birthday (shoutout to Ashley!). After agreeing to do her makeup, I realized that in my hometown there were very few, if any, service providers for freelance makeup artistry, especially for women of color. I saw a void in an area that had the potential to be a profitable market, so I decided to fill it. Only a few weeks after that is when I decided that I would begin offering makeup services locally. From there, my first side hustle, “Makeup By Monica,” was born.
When people ask me how I learned to do makeup, I explain that I am a self-taught makeup artist with informal instruction from “Youtube University.” When I was learning to do makeup, I worked a desk job in front of a computer with ample “down time,” which afforded me the opportunity to literally watch hours of Youtube videos. Between Youtube and good old-fashioned trial and error on myself, my basic skills were formed. Since then, I have attended and watched demonstration classes hosted by professional makeup artists to learn new techniques and improve on areas that I was weak. I look forward to doing some 1 on 1 classes with industry leaders soon. Continued learning is vital in any industry, but especially the beauty industry.
I started doing makeup in 2011, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until 2013. Even at that point, I came to realize I was still treating my side hustle as a hobby rather than a business. After some self-reflection and a few rebrands, Monica Nicole Beauty was established in 2016.
Upon moving to Charlotte, NC, I refocused my brand to bridal and beauty makeup artistry. My artistry focuses on bridal and special event makeup, which differs from previous years when I offered mostly makeup applications for ladies going out for a night on the town. 2019 is my first full calendar year promoting my business and offering services in the Queen City, and I am on track to gross approximately $25,000. As a licensed esthetician with the expectation of obtaining my instructors license this year, my potential earnings are limitless. I look forward to doubling and tripling that amount in years to come.
Since my transition to a larger market, growing my business has had its challenges. Social media and my email communication to my contact list have been my main marketing methods. With social media, what you post directly impacts the way your business is perceived. As simple as that sounds, it is for this vital that thought and consideration go into every picture, video, caption, tweet, and snap. Clear pictures, grammatically correct captions, and a consistent “voice” are things that potential clients notice. The same things go for email communications. Building a contact list of clients, potential clients, and those who care to receive updates on your business is the perfect way to stay in contact with your target audience. Additionally, collaborations and styled shoots can be a great way to network and build a marketing portfolio.
I differentiate myself in a saturated market by staying true to myself and my artistry. Stepping into a saturated market in new area with zero clients took courage and determination. Although it would have been easy to cater to the demographic that I have worked with in the past, makeup for the night life isn’t where I gain the most personal fulfillment. Staying true to my purpose, initiations, and goals, working constantly to hone my skills, consistently upgrading my kit, and updating the systems I use to communicate with clients have, without a doubt, have played a major role in my success thus far in attracting my target audience. I often ask new clients how they learned about my services and what prompted them to contact me, and the top responses are ‘Instagram/Referral and the style of my artistry.’ This feedback is valuable because it lets me know that what I’m doing is working and that I may need to increase my marketing efforts in other areas.
For any side hustle or start up business, the first thing you need, aside from the skill in your respective industry, is the ability to self-motivate. You can’t count on the encouragement from others to fuel the drive towards success, that has to come from within. Any aspiring entrepreneur or solopreneur must be adaptable, teachable, focused, and inventive among several other things. People often think that being an entrepreneur is all about taking risks, and while you definitely have to take risks, properly educating yourself and being open to guidance, inspiration, and correction from those who have successfully surpassed your current position is also necessary. Being vulnerable in this way can be very rewarding. Being personable, organized, prompt, and receptive of criticism are among the top skills necessary specifically for an aspiring makeup artist.
I recommend finding artists whose style and/or success you admire. Learn their stories and how they obtained their success. Be inspired, but don’t attempt to be someone else. There’s value in your story and what you have to offer to your clients and the next aspiring makeup artist who, years from now, may be where are currently. Some of my favorite industry educators and inspirations include Tiyana Robinson, Mali Thomas, Marquia James, and Yanneek Brinson. Aside from the artistry, finding resources for the behind the scene necessities such as business building, social media marketing, SEO, and taxes has never been easier. With social media, you can find reputable local (or even distant) resources with a quick search.