B2B ID: Liz Washer, makeup artist – GazetteNET
COMPANY: Liz Washer Makeup Artist, based in Northampton and working throughout New England.
WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: 2009
WHAT YOU DO: I help models, actors, personalities and everyday women (and men) put their best faces forward. My specialty is high-definition, camera-ready makeup for all ages and complexions. And I love using my airbrush.
EXPERIENCE: I started out a decade ago doing makeup on my friends just for fun, then for their weddings, then for their friends’ weddings, and with time, training and practice, it gradually snowballed into a career. Since launching my business, I’ve worked on countless weddings as well as advertisements, catalogs, commercials, headshots, events, performances, fashion editorials, runway and independent film.
THE MARKET: My biggest sources of business are professional referrals from photographers, wedding venues and other makeup artists, and referrals from past clients, my representation (Ennis Inc. in Boston) and my websites.
HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: I blog, write a biweekly newsletter for an audience of 1,000-plus, participate in social media, network extensively and provide content to media outlets.
WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? I’ve never sought outside financing, so when I started out I had to pay for everything out of pocket. I merely broke even my first official year in business, which was okay since I still had a day job. But my income increased significantly every year, and by the end of my fourth year, I transitioned to full-time artistry.
KEY TO SUCCESS: Passion, persistence, business sense, marketing savvy, good taste, an eye for detail and a sufficiently thick skin to hear feedback openly (rather than defensively) and to grow as an artist. Also key is being simultaneously hardworking and easygoing, both on and off set. Divas need not apply!
CHALLENGES: Negotiating commercial rates (many makeup artists aren’t charging what they’re worth), communicating value and being willing to turn down jobs that aren’t a good fit is crucial for artists who wish to grow and make a sustainable living.
MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: Very little paid advertising that I’ve done has had a demonstrable return on investment; word of mouth and search engine optimization, which increases the number of potential Google hits, trump all.
WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: I like to think that I’m a good writer and have put that skill to work in promoting myself, so hopefully that’s an inspiration to other creatives to play to their strengths and keep the quality of their marketing in line with the quality of their work.
WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: I’ve had the incredible honor of assisting and learning from many amazing artists, including James Vincent, Viktorija Bowers and Orlando Santiago in New York City, and Kristen Strassel, Heidi Wells, Dianna Quagenti and Mariolga Pantazopolous in Boston.
TOP GOALS FOR 2014: I’m in the midst of a portfolio overhaul; I was so busy working last year that I didn’t take on as many creative projects as I would have liked. I’m also working on expanding my skill set and am taking some intensive workshops.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Assist, develop your skills and build a portfolio before you hang a shingle. Constantly hone your craft and learn new things. Be a pleasure to work with. Be open to feedback. Think in terms of colleagues, not competition (fellow artists are an amazing source of referrals).
PARTING THOUGHT: I’m incredibly blessed to do this for a living. It’s challenging, and it isn’t nearly as glamorous as people think, but there is nothing quite like making people feel beautiful.
The B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle of Beetle Press in Easthampton, a PR and communications firm. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at firstname.lastname@example.org.