The beauty business offers a lot of opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and one of the important niches of this segment is bridal make up. We talked with Tayelor Kennedy, a prominent celebrity and bridal make up artist based in Connecticut with clients in the Tri State area as well as Boston, on how to get started and succeed in the make up business.
Tayelor is an experienced skincare expert, stylist and make-up artist, whose areas of expertise include complete makeovers, bridal fashion consulting, and custom eyebrow shaping. She is also a beauty editor who has written for various magazines and websites on all beauty and fashion related areas. She is currently penning her first book, Absolute Style and Beauty, while running her blogs Everything Bridal Girl and Absolute Style and Beauty.
How did you start as a makeup artist? What inspired you to become one?
My interest of beauty began at home. My mother was the ultimate classic beauty. She was very adamant about skin and body care. She started me on the daily and nightly ritual of, cleansing, toning and moisturizing when I was about 10. And, I would sit and watch her dress for her nights out, watching with fascination as she applied her make-up with precision, which led me to attend Christine Valmy International in NYC to become an aesthetician. There were make-up classes included but, by then I was self taught and freelancing for various cosmetic lines.
You are a celebrity as well as a bridal makeup artist. How do you differentiate these two markets, particularly in terms of marketing strategies to reach potential clientele? Which of these niches do you focus more on?
Marketing to work with celebrities is more of a networking situation. Meeting seasoned artist and becoming an assistant is one way. Another way to break into the celebrity market is to put together a professional portfolio of your work and seek representation with an agency. The bridal market is a combination of word of mouth and advertising and partnering with other industry professionals such as a wedding planner, jeweler, photographer or florist. Again, having a portfolio is a good tool.
I enjoy working with both markets but I focus on brides. It’s such a joy to be a part of such a happy occasion.As a makeup artist who has worked with celebrities like Aerosmith and The Pointer Sisters, how do you land these celebrity clients?
It’s important to network with other industry professionals. I obtained both of those opportunities through another artist that was the lead make-up artist and needed assistance.
In your career as a makeup artist, what has been your biggest mistake? How did you learn from it?
In the very beginning I didn’t document a lot of my work. I didn’t obtain photos from photographers. I’d call them 8 or 10 times but if I didn’t get a response, I would stop calling. I also didn’t keep accurate dates and locations of places worked or, get a letter of recommendation from the photographer or videographer that I worked with. I learned that not having accurate records could cost you money and jobs. If you cannot remember the names and dates of the people that you worked for, it’s difficult to obtain other jobs as you do not have anyone to give you a reference.
What are the factors needed to succeed as a freelance makeup artist?
The first thing you need is passion for the work. If you don’t have that then it’s going to be an uphill battle. Second, you need to like working with people. This work is all about communication, whether you’re working on a bride, movie set or, corporate video, being friendly is important. A few other things that will help with being successful is having organizational skills, this is a business just like any other business, you’ll need marketing skills, networking skills and money management skills. And lastly, you should attend continuing education classes and workshops. With the new technology in make-up application, it’s important to keep your skills at top level. No matter what sector of the industry you’re in.
You work from home. How do you balance your business with your personal or family life?
Thankfully family and friends are also working during the same hours and most are self-employed so, they know how valuable time is. Of course there is the occasional let’s meet for lunch and it turns into the entire afternoon but that is rare. I schedule my family and friends time after 4 and on weekends providing I am not prettying up a bride.
What are the pros and cons of working from home?
The best thing about working from home is a more relaxed atmosphere. You can set your office up to your specifications and if you choose, you can work in your pj’s. And one of the best things is getting to listen to the humming birds in my back yard. The drawbacks can consist of not planning each day just like you were going into an office, leaving your home office to run unscheduled errands, doing housework instead of revamping your marketing plan, or scheduling meetings with prospective clients.
What lessons have you learned from running your business?
That there is no way I can do it all alone and you cannot possibly get it all done in one day! I’ve learned that you need assistance. It’s important to have a team or business coach to keep you on track. I also learned that it is very important to write everything down. No matter how small the task is, it must be documented. In addition to writing down daily tasks, a business plan and marketing plan is a must to reach your desired outcome. It is also important to understand that mistakes will be made. There is no way around it. It’s part of the learning process. And last, it’s important to eat good healthy food, get plenty of sleep and exercise. It takes energy to run a business.
What advice can you give to other women entrepreneurs?
I would advise other women to go for their dream. To do the necessary research, get outside support from a business coach. It’s important to have someone on your team that isn’t emotionally invested in you. While they will be supportive, it will be difficult to move out of the box that they’ve placed you in and this could impede your business growth.