This week I was lucky enough to spend some time with speaking with Michelle Dubé, author of Makeup Artists Inc. speaking about her makeup career, business building and tips for new makeup artists.
When I read Makeup Artists Inc. I was blown away with how much information was packed into it. Michelle has a highly successful makeup career, with an impressive portfolio of clients and awards, so we are very lucky to have her as our first interview here on Makeup Freedom.
So tell me a little about your journey so far
I always loved makeup, but my parents suggested that I take a more traditional job I did a lot in production, so I was lucky to have spent a lot of time on sets. I took time off to have my twin boys, then a girl 16 months later and then when it was time to go back to work and I got a job in admin, but hated it.
So I really thought about what it was that I wanted to do and it was makeup. I've always loved it.
I was at the Bobbi Brown counter one day and asked them how I could get a job there, and they said that they had one going, so that's how I started. Working a counter is great - it meant that I was working on faces all day, improving my skills, and I got training and got given makeup (everyone loves that!). I did that for a few years, then left to really concentrate on building my freelance business, and I've never looked back.
Right now I do mostly commercial - film and print work, which I love, and some bridal work.
You've achieved so many things in your career so far. I'd love to hear about your entry in the “Brides through the Ages” Make Up Category at the International Beauty Expo that you won in 2010. Can you tell me about that?
The 'Brides through the Ages' was something that I entered and I did a 1930's bride. I really researched so much about the era, I did a lot of research and found out that Max Factor was the big makeup name back then, so I used their pancake on my model, and they used to brush Vaseline through the brows so I did that too. I really tried to keep it true to the times.
That must have been exciting.
Yes, being on stage and under that pressure was such an amazing experience. And the feedback that I got from such amazing artists and judges was fantastic.
I love the picture that you have on in your book of your entry to the 2016 Face to face awards. How did that come about?
That was fantastic. I contacted a photographer that I've worked with before and spoke to him about the concept. I paid a model - the model is so important in a concept like this.
Before I started I got a photo of the model from Facebook and printed 20 copies of it, and I mapped out every part of the makeup. I knew exactly where I needed to place everything, so when we got to the studio (which we only had for a half day) I was able to do everything perfectly to plan.
I knew exactly how high I needed to put the eyeshadow and the placement of everything.
Winning the FaceToFace Awards was such an amazing experience
Would you recommend that new artists enter into competitions like this?
Absolutely, without a doubt. It's such good experience.
How did your amazing book Makeup Artists Inc. The Business of Being a Makeup Artist come about?
I used to have assistants that worked for me and we'd get to the end of a job and they'd ask how they get paid. I'd ask for an invoice and they'd ask me how to do that! It started out as me writing about how to do all of that and it just grew into the book. There was nothing like this for the Australian market.
It's such a great resource for anyone who is starting their makeup business.
I wanted to write something that would help people. It covers most of the things that people have asked me over the years, from business questions to creating a great portfolio to how to behave on set.
Is there anything that you wanted to put in your book that you weren't able to cover?
Not really. I have had some people reach out to me asking for bridal specific information, but that's probably a whole other book
You've got a great post on your Facebook page talking about a fantastic artist that you are mentoring. Can you tell me a little about that?
Tamara had heard about my book, and was contacting me to talk about building her business. We ended up talking almost every day and I started coaching her in how to build her business in Jamaica, using the steps and techniques in my book.
After one month she had already started growing her business, building her list, and her gorgeous images have been published, along with an article that she has written for Adriana Weddings
I couldn't be more proud.
Tamara's work is fantastic - follow her on Instagram
What's your mentoring relationship with your mentees?
It's really informal. We speak and I'll give them suggestions on what they can do to build their businesses, and they'll do it. And we'll speak about and I'll give them more things to do. They don't need to have any mentoring or coaching about makeup - they already know how to do that - but building a business isn't something that they are taught at school.
You mentioned that Tamara is building her list. Why is that important?
Your list is everything. It's how you find work, and how people find you.
What tips can you give to build who are building their list?
Reach out to people. Really think about the area that you want to work in. For me, it's commercial, so I contact directors and producers, and photographers and let them know that I'd be interested in working with them. I reach out every so often just to update them "hey, just wanted to let you know that I've been working on this amazing thing/won this award/did this fantastic shoot". They'll often respond with how fantastic that is and you'll be in their mind then.
Reach out fairly regularly and update them with the new things that you are doing. One day (hopefully) a job will come up that you are perfect for and they'll remember you because you've built a relationship with them through your emails.
You spent a lot of years in the industry before you started makeup. You must have come in with a lot of great contacts already?
You'd think so, but I really didn't. When I started out I had to build it all from nothing.
How did you do that?
Look at industry magazines. They will credit the team and you'll be able to find them on social media, or through their websites.
Then you can email them. Something like "Hi Bob, I'm Michelle and I'm a makeup artist in Sydney. I saw your work on the Toyota commercial and it is fantastic. I'd love to do some work with you in future. I've worked on (all this amazing stuff) and won (all these amazing awards). When you are list building and reaching out you are creating relationships.
This works for any industry that you want to work in.
Social media has made it so easy - if you see something that you like follow them, comment and start to build a network.
There are studios that have lists of all the people that work there. Research and reach out to people. Let them know that you want to work with them. I've got about 120 people on my list right now and it's where I get the majority of my work.
How often do you test?
Did you know that Kevin Aucion tested every Friday? No matter how big you get, or how good you are you need to keep practising.
It depends on how much work that I have. I haven't done a test for a couple of weeks because I've been really busy, but I have some time on Monday and reached out to a photographer I've worked with before, and we are shooting on Monday.
Testing is so important to try new things and to help grow your network.
What tips can you give to new makeup artists?
Treat this like a full time business, and work on your business every day. If you are not working on clients, then test, and work on your marketing (list building, as well as social media).