Making Money from Makeup

Tara Salem, manager of makeup artistry in a salon in Oakland, California has the philosophy that makeup doesn’t create beauty but enhances it.

“Clients perceive their stylists as beauty experts and beauty includes the application of makeup,” explained Salem, a makeup artist for 14 years, licensed esthetician for 12 years and a hairstylist for two years. “Focusing on your clients’ overall beauty needs not only builds trust but increases retention. Your client is more likely to return to your chair for special event makeup for birthdays, proms or weddings.”

Salem says it’s necessary to know makeup fundamentals and have an understanding of the “world of cosmetics” prior to a salon investing in products as a retail opportunity and to ensure a good experience for clients while rewarding and profitable for the stylists and salon.

The right products and brands are essential. A salon needs to carry the basics, i.e. foundation, blush, powder, eye shadow and lipstick; and then add-on as necessary, i.e. brushes, primer, lashes, seasonal items, etc. Too much or the wrong products is costly for everyone yet running out of top-sellers is just as much a no-no.

Assess the clients that visit the salon. This includes age, lifestyle, economic bracket and ethnicity. This will quickly tell you how many trendy items vs. staple products are necessary to have in their line in order to make it a viable “retail outlet” for the salon, i.e. profitable!

Even if your staff is not at the level of the makeup director, everyone in the salon needs to know makeup, understand the products and be trained in application with confidence. It is also a must to train the stylists to be comfortable asking, “May I touch up your make-up?” or “Let me show you a new lipstick color that is perfect for you.” It is up to the director to continue to help the staff become proficient as makeup artists and as salespeople.

Help make your salon a “one-stop-shop” for your clients. Why have your client go to a department or drugstore for cosmetics when you can offer them product and a quick lesson in application? You are adding a great service and keeping the dollars in the salon.

The director taking classes is always helpful but more importantly, the success of carrying a makeup line is dependent on passion -- loving everything about makeup and keeping current in an industry that is ever changing. From the latest colors, to current looks to tricks of the trade, a director’s role is to assist and educate their associates so makeup is a stream of revenue and positive add-on service for your clients.

Calm, the salon where Salem works, private labels their line of cosmetics, which is helpful in building the salon identity but is not necessary for a salon to carry cosmetics. Salem stresses that adding a makeup line has to be a commitment by owner and every stylist to make it profitable and should be treated no differently than retailing hair products. “I feel my client’s service is not complete without a sweep of blush or a dab of lipstick giving her the total beauty experience,” exclaimed Salem.

Calm, A Salon, is owned by Eryn Harrison and is located in Oakland, CA. The salon has been open for 10 years and will be opening Harrison’s for Men later this year.