Thursday, October 23, 2014

Are you selling out on your dreams to pay the bills?

"Where's my next check coming from?"

If you are Freelance makeup artist, (or a freelancer period) that question is probably not only familiar, but brings a disdaining shudder to your whole body.

When we have it good we wouldn't trade our freelance career for the world. The freedom to make our own schedule, the luxury of saying no to work without penalties, the possibility to make in one day what you might make in a week elsewhere (that's the best), having a business that is your own... Doing what you love.

But when shit gets tight we often ask ourselves "If only I had that weekly paycheck, something I could rely on". In a moment of down times, there are days we'd give it all up to just feel secure and know we can pay the bills. Sometimes it gets really scary...if you can't make your rent or you have more than one mouth to feed.

So how do you not sell out on your dreams and your vision in order to be responsible and take care of yourself? 

Well there is no straight token answer that works for every scenario, but when you are caught up in those scary moments, in the middle of the storm, there are options to could consider that will keep you on the path to your dreams, rather than turning around or getting stuck.

Change your life? Change your mind.

First before anything we need to be aware of where we allow our mind to take us. It is the number one factor to getting to the other side of a challenge, any challenge, especially a financial one. Most will give up or resign their efforts because their mind tells them: it's too hard, it's not possible, maybe I wasn't meant for this, maybe I don't have what it takes, I'm not good enough/smart enough/young enough/experienced enough, I can't do it alone, my family comes before me, I'll never be rich, money doesn't grow on trees...etc. 

At the time these thoughts are very real and seem to be the truth. But the truth is, if we allow these thoughts to be what rules us, we could never have a fighting chance to break through our financial obstacles, or any other obstacle.. The mind is so powerful, we need to understand that what we think is all we will see.  Despite the evidence, we need to start focusing more on thoughts of prosperity and abundance in order to materialize it.  Most will say I need to experience abundance before I believe it, but it's actually the other way around. In order for it to manifest, put your thinking to the test.

I Will Persist until I Succeed

One of the most unfortunate things about working through a financial challenge is people are often easily defeated when the bank account is close to 0.  I myself have found that my stamina and energy and positive thinking is the hardest to push through when I'm stressed out about my bills and my financial commitments. Not only do I experience feelings of hopelessness, but also question my self worth. What did I do to get myself here?  It's at these critical times where giving up and deciding a freelance career is not for you and a full time job may be the safest route is common. But if in this moment you can see the situation as just a set back rather a sign of defeat, you get an opportunity to learn - the best lesson available, and you can use this vulnerable moment to propel you forward.

 When Sandy hit us in 2012, I lost about $7000 in revenue because Halloween was practically cancelled in NY. I was counting on that money for so many things, it was a devastating loss. To add salt to the wound work was unusually slow the following months. I found myself curled up in ball on the couch numbing out to Netflix movies with no energy, no inspiration, and fighting thoughts of taking a part time job. One day I decided I was sick of feeling this way and being a victim of Sandy or any other circumstance that seemed to hold a poverty cloud over my head. So I started to meditate. I practiced thoughts of believing the work was coming to me, not just menial work but work that was inspiring and lucrative. At the same time I started calling people. I called people or companies I owed money to and explained my situation and created agreements. You'd be surprised how understanding and compassionate people can be if you learn to ask in a powerful way.  I then started creating a workshop and called colleagues, letting them know I was available for things, even assisting. Then in January the flood gates opened, And I made more money in three months than I had a very long time.

This is because I stayed committed to my vision and would not give up. Commitment is all about seeing your destination and not being attached to how you get there. Riding through the storm and having faith that if you're careful you can make it all the way through. Not being ashamed of asking for support or doing whatever it takes to get you to the other side all the while keeping thoughts of positivity.

Stay Committed to Your Decisions, but Stay Flexible in your Approach

Now as I said before, I put down my ego in times of stress and really got connected to what are all the possibilities of creating money rather than the ones that I am most accustomed to. A lot of people who are in financial straits will be stuck on only making money in the way that they normally would: getting calls from clients who will hire you to do make up, or get a full part time job. For me it's not even a matter of pride to not take a full or part time job; sometimes it's about staying on track for what I'm currently building, and to take a job with another person may deter me from focusing on building my brand, my portfolio, my business plan etc. I often need to take a look at what I'm doing, ask myself if it's working, and what are other ways to approach both receiving income, spending income, and saving income.

Receiving income is what most people focus on, but how you handle the money once you have it is a huge factor in the fluidity of your funds. People assume that 100% of your check should go towards bills/food and then what's leftover goes to recreational activities or items. That is one approach. Have you ever attempted creating a budget? (I know, total "yuck". What do I look like, an accountant?). But being aware of the monthly ratio of what you take in versus what you spend could help you make informed decisions on what you can spend money on. Subtle cut backs can make a huge difference down the line. Also putting away money for a rainy day, may be the thing you thought anal people did, but if you put 20% or even 10% of every check you received away and didn't touch it... that could be your saving grace for those intense lull periods where panic takes over your rational brain.  People do it for taxes, when they want to go on a kick ass vacation...why not think longer term?

Oh What the Fuck, Do Whatever it Takes

This has been a mantra I have gone by and taught with for over 5 years, and has literally changed my life forever.  We think in a small box a large percent of the time, and it is in times of crisis where our brain pumps into overdrive based on the need for survival, the most amazing creative and intuitive ideas spring forth. You honestly would be surprised at the lengths someone could go, that you would go, if it meant everything.

Back in 2009 my hubby and I were confronted with a very serious and unexpected legal issue.  We had to come up with over $15,000 in less than two months to hire a lawyer who could help us sort it out.  Its the kind of news that grips you with the kind of fear and panic that paralyzes you. Both my husband and I had to hit the ground running to come up with some solutions to create money quick.  I went everywhere I knew with my usual approach: followed up with immediate clients, called some friends to see if they knew of any jobs...I kept hitting walls. I was at the precipice of going back to finding work at a makeup counter, which I hadn't done in over 5 years. Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with working at a counter, but it wasn't what I wanted to do. So I got some coaching from someone and they put me on a challenge.  They asked me to make a list of 50 things I could do to create money (that were legal of course).  I rolled my eyes at first but of course agreed to it.  At first I couldn't get past 21 things.  I ran through the obvious things...doing makeup, teaching classes for brands, teaching private clients, body painting for events, for campaigns, doing face painting for kids parties, for adult parties, do brows, give hair cuts...but when I tried to stop there my coach wouldn't let me.  He said keep going until I hit 50. So I forced myself to think outside of the box.  It wasn't easy but I came up with another 30. Some were silly, but the ones that counted were in that last 30.  Design, produce and facilitate your own workshops, Design Classes/programs for other companies, assist with product development, paint murals, create Halloween event...When I completed my list, my coach then challenged me to email the list to 20 people who I would inspire to hire me for one or more of the things on the list. I said "What?!". He simply answered " How important to you is it to make money right now?." I breathed deep, and got to work. These were not some sales emails... I got real, vulnerable, but connected with people powerfully who I knew could hire me or get things started.  In one month I made an extra $5,000, next month same, and the rest we borrowed from our 401K.  And thank goodness, because that lawyer did an amazing job and cleared us of a lot of unnecessary crap. Not to mention half of the things I created to make extra money ended up being permanent money making options that I still use today.  All because I was committed to getting to the other side, not giving up, not being stuck to one approach, and having the attitude of O.W.T.F.D.W.I.T.

 In a world where there is so much available to us, and where we can use our gifts of creativity to come up with unlimited options, there is almost nothing we can't conquer.  We all have our vulnerable moments, but in those powerful moments we can make choices that make us stronger or set us back.  Money is not a force that rules us, it is an energy, and a tool that we can make a partner, or a nemesis. Which would you choose? Which do you choose?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Insta-famous or Insta-fraud?

Over the past few years there has been a ongoing conversation between industry professionals about the rise of YouTube/Instagram make up stars and how it may be devaluing the craft of professional makeup artists. Some of my dearest colleagues who will openly rant about popular Youtube or Instagram stars not being "real" make up artists, or how simply using a web cam and filter to take selfies is insulting to those of us who have worked for years on our craft. We built our knowledge and expertise from the ground up, we shouldn't be fighting for notoriety next to people who have barely done the work.

I wanted to explore this more intricately because it's not just as black-and-white as it may seem. I wholeheartedly believe that internet stardom is not synonymous with technical skill. But it's also important to see what are these people doing right they were not giving them credit for.

The main gripe of hardworking industry professionals against social media celebrities may seem obvious to you but I definitely want to elaborate. I myself went to art school and learned everything there is to know about line, form, composition, light and dark color theory, etc. Make up artists who do not go to art school bust their ass to take workshops, seminars, and follow artists who know this backwards and forwards. These skills are make or break when you show up to a job and are hit with an unexpected problem: complete change in concept, different skin toned models than you were told,  severe skin issues. A legitimate education is going to support you in being creative while problem solving in real time. Someone who sits behind a computer all day with their freebie samples does not necessarily have the skills to do this. The expertise that they do have is to the ability to do stunning makeup on their own face, the same skin tone on the same shaped face, every single day.  

Let me illustrate this problem with a story I heard from a friend. A huge (MEGA!) YouTube sensation (whose name I will not mention) was doing a fashion show with Dick Page. As my friend sat next to her backstage, she noticed this individual having a lot of difficulty with the look and struggling to figure out darker skin tones. This YouTube sensation leaned over and asked my friend "would you mind helping me figure out what this girl's skin tone is?" My friend who is a seasoned make up artist was absolutely stunned but of course assisted this person. What's mind boggling for me is that this person is represented by a top agency, has pictures all over the subway and posters everywhere about her YouTube channel, yet could not figure out how to get a dark skin girls foundation to work with what she had in her kit.

A true make up artist becomes a "MacGyver" with whatever they've got in their kit. I'll never forget the story another dear professional friend told me about a situation where he had to do make up on one of the most famous dark skinned celebrity women we know today. Again, I will not name names because these things were told to me in confidence, and it would be inappropriate to blast their shit on my blog, but the story holds weight for the point I'm trying to make. So let me just say that this woman has an empire and if you get called to do her make up you better know what you're doing. My friend showed up early and realized he left all of his foundations and concealers at home! Before he went into total panic mode the first thing he needed to do was look in his kit and see what could he possibly do in the situation like this.  What he did have was an entire bag of every Shu Umera lipstick you could possibly think of. On the spot he premixed and cut up and mashed together lipsticks to create the color skin tone of this person's face. He applied lipstick to her face as though it were a foundation (as though nothing was amiss) and it looked gorgeous. So much so that the celebrity asked him what the foundation was and if she could get it. He told her that the product they were using was still in creative development and would definitely send it to her if it went to market. Lol! 

This is what a true make up artist can do. At a moments notice they can create something out of nothing with their skills and expertise. If you've only done make up on your own face and saturated it with'll be a very talented hobbyist, but not a make up artist by far.

So what can we learn from these people that seem to frustrate our industry to no end? The truth is is every time I hear someone rant about how awful it is that these people are getting notoriety I can't help but roll my eyes. The reason is because we are in an age that has absolutely been taken over by social media and Internet marketing. If you do not have an online presence then unfortunately you are way behind the times. Nowadays if you want to find out more about somebody you can easily find them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. As much as us purists would love to just do our work and not have to worry about social media, you need to look at what is going on around you. You do not need to be a YouTube sensation, but 90% of the world is on YouTube.  If someone Googled you and found a cool video with your work represented in it, point plain, more people can easily find out about you and your work. The more people are familiar with your work, the more "top of mind" you will be when it comes to jobs. Ditto with Instagram! People don't necessarily need to see what you're eating or how cute your cat looks today, but to see you pumping out work that is relevant and interesting also helps you build a following and be the topic of a conversation that creates relevancy in your industry.

Why waste your time being pissed off that someone is "better known", when you can put your energy into creating, expanding your own skills, and growing your business?! I for one am grateful for those people who piss me off. They push me to see between the lines and not resist the current system that makes them successful, but figure it out, and use it to MY advantage.

“Isn't it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?” 
― Sean Covey