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Makeup Artist & Hairstylist Bridal beauty is a lucrative business you can operate easily from your home.

By Elizabeth Wilson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Makeup Artist & Hairstylist

Startup Costs:Under $2,000
Home Based:Can be operated from home
Part Time:Can be operated part-time
Franchises Available?No
Online Operation?No

Business Overview
What:Display magic with powders, lipsticks and shadows, and help clients look their best for weddings or other special events.
Advantages:Start part-time and on a shoestring. Get the rewards of helping people feel good about themselves.
Challenges:Must possess skills and talent to turn a plain Prudence into a dazzling Diana as well as the teaching skills to send clients home with tips on how to achieve everyday glamour results for themselves.

The Market
Brides or clients who want a beauty makeover or spa-like treatment brought to their house; can branch out to serve actors, models or those recovering from facial surgery or injury.

What You'll Need to Get Started
In some states, you need a cosmetology license to work on clients' skin, so be sure to check with your state board of cosmetology. Other than that, all you need is makeup, brushes and sponges, and your own innate talent.

To get attention:

  • Target brides by establishing relationships (be sure to leave brochures and business cards) with wedding-oriented businesses such as bridal consultants, bridal shops and caterers.
  • Work up referral networks with event and party planners.
  • Nab clients who want a beauty makeover by placing ads in local Yellow Pages and newspapers, and leaving brochures at hair salons, trendy boutiques and dress shops.
  • Give workshops for women's groups or experiment with home parties � la Mary Kay--but keep in mind that if beauty products are sold, a resale license will be needed. If the plan is to work with disfigured clients, introduce yourself and leave brochures with plastic surgeons and oncologists.

Q&A With Bridal Makeup Artist Renee Armour spoke with industry professional Renee Armour of Two Fishes Artistryabout how she started and grew her lucrative bridal makeup artistry business.

What would you recommend people do first if they're interested in starting a makeup artistry business?If you've never worked in the wedding industry, only the beauty industry, I would recommend working for a planner for a few months as a paid employee or volunteer. Helping in the office with planning an event or even assisting on the day of [the event] will give you invaluable insight into the wedding industry. Just because you know how to do great wedding hair or makeup does not mean you know weddings. This is especially true if you are an on-location service.

Do your research. As with any new business, learn what your competitors are offering and dig deep into their businesses. Understand your market, what services are selling and for what price. Ask your friends, family and co-workers their opinions on a certain vendor, and take notes.

Join The Knot, get on Wedding Wire, study every single blog on weddings you can get your hands on. Put yourself in the bride's shoes when you are evaluating other wedding vendor sites--even the ones not related to beauty. Assess whether it was easy to navigate, eye-catching, easy to book, informative, well-written and--most important--would you want to buy from that person? Make notes of why you wanted to buy from [that vendor].

There is a marked difference with someone who is a polished, buttoned-up professional hairstylist or makeup artist. A stylist with those attributes who has also done her research on the wedding industry is an authority, plain and simple.

How did you get started?I started by purchasing a website and business cards. Then I called a list of vendors in my area that I wanted to be associated with to tell them about my service. I reached out to blog sites that I felt a connection to and volunteered my services on photo shoots and blog writing.

Do you think now is a good time to start up a wedding beauty/makeup artist business?Yes, I do. If you are a good artist, you'll get work. Wait . . . let me rephrase that--an outstanding artist, who e-mails people back in a timely manner, shows up on time, goes way above and beyond for his or her clients, has passion for what he or she does and understands how to communicate in very stressful situations--then yes, it is a good time to start a wedding beauty/makeup artist business.

What services can wedding beauty professions offer in this do-it-yourself world to remain cutting-edge in business?A makeup artist could offer a class on bridal makeup for the do-it-yourself bride, and a hairstylist could offer a class on the classic bridal chignon. A lot of brides are using message boards to post tips about makeup or hair, and some are taking a trip to their local cosmetics counter for makeup application lessons. For the most part, though, I think hair and makeup are sort of isolated from the do-it-yourself trend. There is no doing it yourself if you find a really talented makeup artist and hairstylist. The artists need to know your personality and understand your style, and then elevate that to the next level. It's like hiring an interior designer and walking into a room that is fabulously "you." Sometimes you really do need to leave it up to the professionals.

What kind of person does it take to do what you do?Patient, intuitive, creative, calm, reliable, thick-skinned, warm-hearted, eager to please, talented, confident, understated, flexible, jovial, ability to style-step and, above all, passionate, passionate and, finally, passionate about bridal hair and makeup.

What kind of training and background are necessary?In Florida, you need a Facial Specialist Certificate to be paid to do makeup. You need experience doing makeup on as many skin types, skin tones and ages as you can--and not selling MLM [multi-level marketing, such as Mary Kay, Avon, etc.] makeup, not doing your friends' makeup, not doing half a face and teaching the other person to do the other half--I'm talking painting faces. You've got to paint a lot of faces to know makeup. There are these sweet spots on the face that come alive with the right color and brushstroke. There are colors that make the eye color pop. You can't get that information and experience without doing a lot of makeup. I am not a hairstylist, but the good ones can make not-so-pretty hair breathtaking.

Would you say it's common for those planning their own wedding to start up a wedding-related business?That's a very common story for wedding planners. It has not been nearly as common in the beauty industry, from my experience.

How much capital did it take to start your business?My website, LLC registration and supplies totaled about $3,000. I already had my makeup kit, along with my old Dell laptop and my 1998 minivan with 200,000 miles on it. I had to turn in my company car after leaving my account executive position. The best option was to buy my mom's old minivan. Even though we don't have children yet, I love my minivan! I've recently upgraded to a brand-new makeup kit that was $120 on eBay, and I'm not happy. I liked the bright yellow-and-black one from Stanley at Wal-Mart for $25, but it just didn't look "high end" enough. I've added new products to my kit, which totaled $250.

Two Fishes is about to get a makeover, and I think that is a part of my startup/growing costs. My web designer, Jocey Canrius from The Wedding Chicks, is going to upgrade the site to include a new spa party service we're about to unveil. Two Fishes will be offering an "in-cottage" spa party for brides and their 'maids, complete with a nail tech, massage therapist and esthetician; a specially designed lunch menu provided by the absolute best caterer on the Gulf Coast, Townsend Catering; fresh flowers; and yours truly as [the] personal spa party concierge. This team of professionals is about to take pampering to a whole new level. I should also mention, we've assembled some amazing packages for moms and grandmothers of the bride and groom, and packages for the guys, too. We're talking hot stone massages, spray tan, triple deluxe manicures and pedicures and facials--all in the comfort of [a] rented beach cottage. I'm on pins and needles waiting for this to unveil!

How did you establish your fees?I researched what other companies were charging and priced myself in the middle. I tried lowering my prices to see if I generated a larger booking response, and then tried them a little higher. I settled with what I felt was right for my market and target bride.

What were your fees at first and what are they now?At first, I was doing hair for $95 for the bride with a trial run and the same for makeup. Now it's $150 for hair and $150 for makeup, including the trial run. In November, our senior artists' prices will increase to $185 for the bride and $150 for junior artists.

What are your closing words of advice to would-be wedding makeup artists/beauty specialists?
If you aren't committed to this, don't touch it with a 10-foot pole. You need an insatiable thirst for all things wedding. I invite my clients to share the details of their wedding with me--I want to see what the newest, hottest, latest [trend] is--and I am invested in their wedding day. They matter to me--it's not just another white dress, ballerina bun and pink lips.

I didn't start my business offering hair services, but because there was a need, I jumped to fill it. React quickly if you see a need you can fill. Your clients will tell you what they want to pay for and what they don't. If you listen, you'll be successful. Socialize and interact with other industry professionals--don't alienate yourself. One time, I was so overwhelmed with all of the new bookings and I sent a tweet about how great it was, but that I couldn't seem to catch up. There were several private responses from industry leaders that encouraged me to keep moving forward--that it would all work out. And I carry a prayer in the top shelf of my makeup kit that a TV preacher sent out via e-mail. It's about how my path has been prepared for me. Thank goodness because . . . in these parts, GPS doesn't always work.

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