Life Since "Closing Down"

Hello friends!

Welcome back to this little corner of the internet, my small expression over the years of things I’ve been enjoying in the beauty world, things I’ve been up to in life and in work, and other random tidbits that have kept me writing and checking in with myself. There are some gems in here from over the years, and it feels good to be back in this little space with an update!

Last July (2018), I made the announcement that, after finishing out my 2018 season, I would be closing down the doors of LULA. At that time, the decision was a year and a half in the making, with many iterations of what changes should take place to make LULA a thing I could keep loving and ministering through. Because of the volume of inquiries coming in daily, it was helpful for me to make such a strong and drastic boundary to give myself the real time & space to truly assess where I wanted to go from there! 

For a few years, I had been working most days of the week through LULA (think trials, engagement sessions, and a smattering of other photoshoots ranging from maternity to headshots to corporate shoots) and almost every weekend of the year for weddings. I was so thankful to have so many opportunities to work doing something so creative! After a while at this pace, however, I knew something had to change. Taking breaks seemed like a luxury that I wasn’t always able to sink into because of the amount of work on my plate. When I wouldn’t listen to my mind and heart, the stress starting showing up in my body in ways I couldn’t ignore. This shift had been taking shape since my first experience with anxiety and panic attacks in the beginning of 2017.

While there are many pointers out there on starting businesses, there aren't many on how to reduce business or close a business down, so I've just gone with the flow, checked in with myself many (many) times throughout the process, consulted many trusted friends and mentors, and have tried to be patient with myself. Thank you for journeying with me!


So what does life and LULA look like now?

I’ll admit, starting 2019 without any weddings scribbled on my weekends was a totally weird and somewhat disorienting experience, half distressing (what-have-I-done-and-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life!?!?) and half euphoric/blissful (THIS WAS THE BEST DECISION EVER!) John is at a point in his career that has allowed me space to take less work, which is a gift I am thankful for.

  1. During last fall, while I finished up my hair/makeup commitments, I started building another creative project, which focuses heavily on my writing, giving me a web home to continue sharing which isn’t directly related or limited to the beauty or wedding world. I’m excited to share that SO soon!! (If you’re a part of my Gazette community, you’ll have seen a little peek of it from that newsletter!)

  2. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to record a new song, which I am hoping will kickstart a full-length music project that I am so so pumped about. Music has been a major player in my life and passions and I’m just so excited to have the space to grow that and keep creating in that capacity! That little songlette will be out in just a few weeks! (Stay tuned on my personal insta for music updates!)

  3. I’ve been able to continue enjoying hair and makeup styling! I knew I wanted to keep my kit to do some select beauty gigs, but I have been surprised at the opportunities that have popped up that have kept me working at least once a week since the beginning of the year. I’ve been able to be there to bless friends who have gotten married this spring, have had several clients for maternity, newborn, and boudoir sessions, speaking engagements, and special events. This pace has been so encouraging and gives me plenty of space to continue with my other creative endeavors!

  4. And I’ve been able to dabble in a little creative direction for a couple of brand photoshoots! I hope I get to keep growing in this field, because I really enjoy casting a whole creative vision that involves space, wardrobe, posing, styling, models - the overall feel and story.

It’s a lot of avenues, but I’m excited to step into a season where I’m living a little more fully as who I am! I’ve pursued a business coach to have a wise voice speak into my career from a birds-eye view and help me make some goals (can’t wait to tell you more about that!) And I’ve been enjoying working “Theme Days,” a concept I picked up from Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing podcast (episode 73 if you wanna take a listen!)

Other than work, life since last July has been a whirlwind!

We purchased a small country cottage on an acre of land in Wake Forest, totally renovating the existing structure while keeping the same teensy footprint. We remained living in our downtown Raleigh apartment until moving into our new home just before Christmas, setting up a tree (we bought one of 4 last scraggly Christmas trees off the lot!) amidst all of our half-unpacked boxes.

Personally, the last few months have looked like settling in, a lot of Facebook marketplacing, a few trips (Beaufort, Mountain City TN, Greenville SC, and Millboro VA), enjoying a new pace of life and work, and figuring out what shape and rhythm my new work is going to take!

All that to say, I am happy that I will continue taking non-bridal clients for the foreseeable future!

So if you need hair and/or makeup for a photoshoot of any kind - maternity, family, newborn, headshots, a brand photoshoot - for PR or promotional media shoot, editorial work, for a special event (birthday party, gala, formal), or for a personal consultation, please contact me here!

I hope you’re having an amazing spring, and I’ll see you here and on the new web-home, too, I hope!




A special thank you to Lindsey Cash Photography for capturing these images in our new home! Linds, you are amazing at what you do!

Detox Your Beauty For the New Year

Whenever I clean up after Christmas, it usually spills over into a mini-house-cleanout.  The change to a new year provides the perfect opportunity to look through your cabinets, drawers, cosmetic bags, and shower (*gulp*) to do a little detox on your beauty!

  • Get rid of expired products

You've likely gotten some new goodies for Christmas, so even out the influx of stuff by getting rid of some things, too.  Almost-gone tubs of conditioner or lotion, or makeup products that you've kept because they're not quite done yet but you might want to use them later (but you haven't touched them in a year) - TIME TO TOSS!  Other culprits include old mascara (3 month shelf life), ancient eyeshadow, goopy nail polish, or items that have developed an odor like lipgloss or liquid foundation.  Anything that doesn't fit into the toss category but still doesn't need to be cluttering up your drawers, donate to friends who might enjoy trying those products.

  • Clean & organize what you have

Put loose bobby pins into a cute mini glass jar, clean out your hairbrush (because really, when was the last time you did that?), get a new toothbrush, and put like with like (all lip things together, all brushes together, etc). Any powder compacts or palettes that you have (blush, eyeshadow) - spritz with 70% Isopropyl alcohol to kill any bacteria that might be lingering around, and let dry. It'll put a little pep in your step to enjoy where you get ready, knowing that everything is clean and organized!

  • Winterize your routine

It's helpful to have a different skincare, makeup, and hair routine for the cold winter months!  The cold air outside and dry heat inside zaps our skin and hair of moisture, and our skin looks lighter!  I vary 1-2 shades in foundation from winter to summer, so I have a separate lighter foundation for winter.  Consider getting matched to your current skin tone for your winter shade. Avoid using a powder, since skin doesn't get as shiny in the winter, and the powder will pick up any dry flakes on your skin.  Use a nourishing, moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and air dry whenever possible to maintain moisture.  Use a rich body cream all over, including the tops of your feet and backs of your hands, and apply as soon as you towel off after a shower, and every day between showers.  My favorite body lotion for winter is Aveeno Positively Nourishing Calming.  Consider using a facial oil (my favorite is No. 3 Balancing Oil from Beautycounter - serious life changer) and a moisturizer for day (like Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion) and night (Beautycounter Rejuvenating Night Cream is my favorite right now.)  

  • Purchase items free of toxic chemicals, parabens, & sulfates

If you're purchasing any new items, please consider doing a little research about the toxic chemicals that are present in many of our beauty and body care products in the US!  In the EU, over 1400 ingredients are banned from cosmetics and skincare - in the US, only 11 are banned.  The last time our Congress passed a law to ban certain ingredients from cosmetics was 1938.  Not even joking.  I am super passionate about raising awareness of this very REAL issue as a professional in this industry, so you can make informed decisions for yourselves and your families!  Consider reading these two easy-to-follow posts from HuffPost: here and here, for more info!  I have decided to partner with Beauty Counter in particular, a line that has a list of over 1500 ingredients they refuse putting in their cosmetics, hair care, and skin care - and they are fighting to have Congress update their regulations on cosmetics and personal care products for our safety. Plus, their products work beautifully!! If you want any recommendations of Beauty Counter products that would be great for you, email me at or leave a comment below!

  • Go with less!

One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to up my skincare game, and do less everywhere else.  Airdry your hair, and avoid using heated tools.  You may also consider using a serum, such as Repair & Nourish Split End Serum.  Go as many days as you can without wearing any makeup (or at least no foundation) to let your skin breathe and rest - and just to reset on remembering what really makes you beautiful.  Let your nails get some time to breath (on your fingers and toes) without any polish on them for at least a week, focusing on filing, buffing, and oiling instead.  Try French Girl Organics cuticle oil for a luxurious treat for your nails!  

Image via Pint Sized Beauty

Here's to a happy, healthy, beautiful new year (and perpetually organized cabinets : )



What to Know before Hiring a HAMU artist

Having your hair and/or makeup professionally done isn't something most of us experience regularly - myself included!  The process can be a little unnerving if you don't know what to expect, and you probably have a few questions.  Having been on the side of providing those services to countless women, I wanted to make a quick list of things to know before you hire someone to do your hair and makeup to make it the best experience possible.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray, at the Trouvaille Workshop 

Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray, at the Trouvaille Workshop 

Do your research

You might have an artist in mind, whether they were recommended through a friend or someone you follow on Instagram.  Or you might just finally have a reason to get your hair and makeup done, and you can't wait to book your artist!  Either way, do a quick google search for a few options in your area, and compare websites.  Things to look for are the artist's Portfolio (do you like the majority of the looks?), up-to-date social media (are they active?), and pricing, of course!  Reach out to your number one first, and wait to hear back.  If you don't hear back in a timely fashion, go ahead and send out your inquiry to your backup choices and go from there!

You get what you pay for (...mostly!)

This is not a general law, but know that the less you pay, the more likely the artist is just starting out and learning as they go, and you might have some communication speed bumps as a result.  Of course, this is not always the case, and we all love a good deal!  More seasoned artists set their prices higher because they are busy with active clients regularly, they invest in great products, and they have learned to communicate what women need to know.  Their skills are sharpened, and this is likely their only job.

Trust and communication go a long way

Artists love nothing more than a client who tells us succinctly what they want (2-3 pinterest inspiration pictures, or a brief explanation) and what they don't (if there is a specific sensitive issue like to cover ears, or make their forehead look smaller)  From there, it really helps us to hear some form of "I trust you!"  We see a lot of faces, skin types, hair types, and shapes all the time, and we are able to make choices for you that maybe you wouldn't make for yourself - and that's a good thing! If you don't like something - please tell us.  We just met you, and while we strive to listen to what you do and don't want, we still might do something you're not totally in love with, and it's no problem for us to tweak.  It's better to tell us than to keep it to yourself, or worse, whisper something to someone nearby.  We are human and feel insecure, too.  The more comfortable and valued we feel, the better work we do for you!


Though most on-site stylists come with their entire kit, a chair, an extension cord, and sometimes a table-like situation, we still need a few things from you.  Access to an outlet, an additional table or counter, and natural light are super helpful for us!  It helps if you clear us a little table space by a window if possible to save us some time.  Our job is a little more difficult the more crammed a space is, so keep that in mind especially if you are hiring us for a wedding day where there are many individuals (and their belongings) involved!


How long is it going to take?  A seasoned artist should provide you with a timeline (especially where multiple services are involved, like a wedding day), and should let you know what time they will arrive, how long it will take them to set up, and how long each service should take.  Each artist works at a different pace, but somewhere between 30 minutes to 1 hour per service is normal.

To tip or not to tip?

Tip!  Think about it as a salon experience, but an added benefit of the salon coming to you! Anything up to 20% per stylist is SO appreciated!  If you have a lead stylist who brings along assistants, you can tip each stylist individually, or give all the tip to the lead and specify that the tip is for all the stylists.  The lead will split accordingly!  If your stylists show up late or ill-equipped to do their job well, or if their conversation or conduct is inappropriate, do NOT feel trapped into tipping!  Hopefully you should have a feel of whether your stylist is tip-worthy before meeting in-person.  If not, go ahead and find another stylist ASAP instead of getting a less than great experience! 

We cannot make you look like a Kardashian

...or Carrie Underwood or Blake Lively or Rachel McAdams.  And that's a good thing!  I love a good Pinterest inspiration, and that usually involves a few of the aforementioned celebs! Don't worry about including those if you really love an element of their look like their eyeshadow, lip color, or updo.  Pick specifics about their look, instead of a "make me look like her!" attitude.  In general, it is helpful to choose inspirations that have similar face shape, skin coloring, eye color, and hair type/color as you.

Do some prep on your own

Before meeting with your stylist, do a little skin and hair prep on your own!  We recommend a hydrating face mask the evening before or the morning of (such as Garnier SkinActiv Moisture Bomb), a soothing eye mask the morning of (such as Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Eye Lift Algae Mask), and a nice moisturizer both the night before and morning of (like Fresh Vitamin Nectar Moisture Glow Face Cream)  Prep your lips, too.  It's hard for us to work with chapped lips, so use Aquaphor on your lips nightly leading up to your day (and the morning of!)  We also like washed hair as opposed to the outdated "dirty hair is better" idea of the 90's!  Just make sure it's 100% dry dry dry before you sit in our chair!  We've got the products to get the hold we need.

Nancy Ray Photography for LULA

Nancy Ray Photography for LULA


Other artists, do you have anything to add to this list?  Comment below!  And ladies, what else do you have questions about for the best hair and makeup experience?  I'll be sure to answer you!

Happy styling!