Why I Chose To Sell Beautycounter

Before I get into the details, I want to clarify that the purpose of this post is not to get anyone to buy anything, nor am I trying to get anyone to sell anything.  The purpose is for me to share the reasons why I chose to sell Beautycounter, so it's out in the open!  I have always enjoyed a no-smoke-and-mirrors approach to my business, to makeup, and to hair. Honesty, vulnerability, and natural fits have always felt best for me in my work and art.

Beautycounter-safer-beauty-healthy-beauty-740-665x419.jpg

For many years, I made it part of my business practice to specifically not sell any products that I used on my clients.  I wanted to be a safe place where women could get their makeup and hair done, not feel pressured to purchase anything extra or listen to a sales pitch, and get real opinions about different products and lines.  I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable if they felt like I was trying to push a product (because I have been in that position, and I don't like it!)

People would ask me, "Why don't you sell ____ so when people ask you what to buy for themselves, you can get a little kickback!"  And though I knew that made sense financially, I just didn't want that personal temptation to make certain products sound better than they actually were just because I knew I could get a small commission off of them.  

Beautycounter-330.jpg

As I have grown in my business, I have learned a balance between maintaining that safety and honesty for my clients, and also generating income that fits naturally and organically from what I am already doing.  If I am pointing people in a certain direction because I really love a product/it fits what they're looking for, I am generating sales to those brands.  I've made Benefit, NARS, Stila, and Urban Decay so much money from using their products on hundreds of clients, and those clients loving those products and purchasing them for themselves!  I am a connector, knowledgable about products, and honest about my opinions.  If I could make commission from those natural, organic sales based on meeting peoples' needs and honesty, that works for me, my client, and the brand.

Like most women, I don't buy my skincare or makeup all from one brand.  I cherry pick, because different brands do certain things better than others, and rarely is every single product the best of its category all from one line.  That's still true for me personally and professionally!  I won't be all Beautycounter all the time, but I really do believe that they fulfill a need that few other lines have been able to successfully fill.

Screen+Shot+2017-08-10+at+11.17.54+AM.png.jpeg

In my personal life, I was searching for makeup that would be better for my skin and body.  I kept reading these facts and statistics about the regulations for personal care products in the US, how they hadn't been updated in decades (since 1938), and how the US has chemicals in their products that other countries have banned because of how dangerous they are.  I read that the skin is the body's most absorbent organ, and that the average women puts on 515 synthetic chemicals per day, exposure to which could be linked to cancer, reproductive harm (something close to my heart) and neurotoxicity.

a9303a508fc44e7fa6deb9ff3a8b584b--doing-something-beautycounter-makeup.jpg

In the world of bridal hair and makeup, performance is everything.  It has to work, stay put, and have enough pigment to not require a ton of swipes during application (for time's sake).  I know for a fact that there are toxic chemicals required for that kind of staying power.

BeautyCounterStats1.jpg

So I set out on a quest to find clean, non-toxic makeup (and skincare) that would actually perform well.  I've tried a ton of "natural" makeup from various sources, and though I feel good about their general healthiness, overwhelmingly they don't work very well!  It would run, or not show up, or show up for the first hour and then dissipate into nothingness.  Along the way, I have found a few individual products that perform well, but no more than 1 or 2 great products per "clean" line, if any.

 

I remember first hearing about Beautycounter about two years ago.  They had just hit the scene, and from their mission, the Never List (a list of all the chemicals and ingredients they don't allow into their products), the design of their brand and packaging, and the extensive amount/types of products they offered, I knew that they were doing something really right.  I looked into buying into the business, but it was just too expensive on the back end.

beauty-counter-2.jpg

Over time, friends of mine starting offering the products and buying into the business became more affordable.  I bought my first BC products and gave them a try.  I loved knowing that what I was putting on my skin was safe, looked beautiful, and stayed put.  For full disclosure, I am allergic to a certain oil that is present in the Tint Skin (their main foundation) to the tune of hives, so though it's not the best for me personally, it's one of my main recommendations for others looking to upgrade their makeup routine.  (As with any personal care product, it's best to track reactions after any application to decipher the root of the reaction so it won't happen again, and to choose the very best products for you!)

Beauty-Counter.jpg

As many of you know, I lessened my workload with LULA this year to regain some health, clarity, and love for my work.  This gave me space to follow natural loves and interests, and honestly, Beautycounter was one of those.  I wanted it for myself and for my business.  In 2018, I am attempting to stock my kit with as much non-toxic, clean, luxurious cosmetics as possible so my clients get the best possible experience for what they are paying, with BC at the helm (and other clean-green favorites as well!)

So it just made sense.  I stand with their mission, their products, and their flexibility in how I choose to sell (which I hope will be as not annoying as possible!)  They are clean beauty advocates, and are standing before US legislation RIGHT NOW to get our government to improve regulations for self-care products.  I don't love GMO foods, I don't eat McDonalds, I try to choose ethically sourced clothing, and I don't want a bunch of harmful chemicals getting absorbed into my body every day from my cosmetics and body products.

If you have any questions, thoughts, whatever, you know my inbox is always open!  Email me at sam (at) lulahairandmakeup (dot) com!

Thank you for your continued support, cheering on, and love kindred friends!

All my love,

Sam

On Life & Stopping Weddings (for now)

I finished my last wedding of 2017 on August 5th, and will be taking a sizable sabbatical from weddings until further notice.

Don't worry - it's more of a "yay!" for me!  I am looking back at a finish line that, at the beginning of this year, I didn't even know was coming!  I am filled with so much gratitude, love, settledness, and peace on this side of things!  I am really so excited for all that is to come in life and in LULA.

    Photo courtesy of Ally & Bobby

    Photo courtesy of Ally & Bobby

    Those close with me know that this year has been a really tough one for me, and if you've been reading some of my posts from the last 6 months, you may have an idea of what's been up.  You can read the progression in these posts -

    Just to answer a few FAQ's from the get-go:

    • Will you be taking weddings in 2018 & beyond?  Are you done with weddings forever?   I don't know yet.  I know that I need a sizable amount of time to rest and then figure out what will be best for me and my family, so I am currently saying no to all wedding inquiries to allow that.  Thanks for your patience during this transition!  If you are getting married January-June of 2018 and want to secure your HAMU artist as soon as possible, I recommend reaching out to other artists first!

    • Does this mean LULA is closed/over/finished?   No, I'm still here!  I will still be taking HAMU clients for headshot sessions, branding photo shoots, commercial and corporate work, inspirational photoshoots/styled shoots, maternity sessions, day-in-the-life sessions, parties, nights on the town, etc. : )   I will also continue blogging on the LULA journal and sending out the LULETTE GAZETTE, and hopefully contributing to other publications regarding true beauty, self care, and some good old fashioned hair and makeup tips.

    • How did you come to make this decision?  Is everything ok?  Everything is ok, but I definitely didn't have this planned!  For the full story, skip to the lengthier portion below!

    • Who do you recommend for my wedding day hair and makeup while you are unavailable?  Thankfully our industry is growing and getting more amazing all the time.  Please see this post of a list of other local women I trust immensely!

    The Backstory:

    Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray Photography

    Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray Photography

    In January, like many of us, I made a plan of what all I wanted this year to hold.  By the end of February, all of those plans got stuck in a blender and life hit PUREE.  It took me several months to even understand what all I was experiencing, so it was especially hard to vocalize to others what was going on.  I was experiencing scary physical symptoms I didn't understand, was taking a new medicine to help our chances of getting pregnant (we've been trying for three years with the scary diagnosis "unexplained infertility"), was constantly meeting with clients, and endlessly planning with new brides about their weddings through 2017 and into 2018.  I thought I should just sleep more, relax more, work out more, eat better, cut caffeine, get out of town for a minute, say "no" more, get a mani, read another .pdf about how to run a small business/automate/get your ideal client, make better goals, or pray better.  

    I remember going to a girl's night, what was supposed to be chill fun, food, and girl talk, and full-out ugly-crying in front of everyone.  I couldn't control what was happening.  I couldn't stop shaking or feeling panicked - even simple things like waking up, watching a movie, talking face-to-face even to a friend, or reading a book would cause feelings of immense fear.  In the middle of bridal trials (where I was supposed to be putting brides-to-be at ease) I would feel like I was going to pass out, throw up, or be unable to do their makeup or hair because I was shaking so badly.  I had never experienced panic attacks or anxiety on this level before, so I didn't know what it was, and I didn't have a language for it.

    If that paragraph was tough for you to read, it was tough for me to write and relive! 

    There is an unspoken lie that small businesses, #influencers, and #brands aren't supposed to show you the real ugly personal stuff, because if we're really doing things right we aren't supposed to have real ugly personal stuff.  We show a "real" that is mostly endearing and tied up nicely with the hashtag #reallife - a mound of unfolded laundry, a blouse with spilt coffee on it - not a breakdown.  I felt like a fraud, like I had to push through so business could carry on as usual.  

    Well, when pushing through didn't work (no surprise there),  I had to have a lot of hard convos with God, with my husband, with Nichole my admin assistant, and figure out what should happen with me and with LULA.  We reached out to a pastor at our church, and he connected me with a trusted source to provide healing and deliverance counseling.  Since I was feeling unable to provide the quality of services I promised for brides on their wedding days, I let several of my booked clients out of their contract and had to pay back deposits for the first time. So, freakin, humbling (humiliating? embarrassing? yep.  All the girls were so understanding - I am so thankful!)  My only business goal from then on was to complete the rest of my weddings with as much strength, joy, and professionalism as I could, enjoy the new margin time to heal, and make it to August 6th.  

    With that decision came so much relief!  I immediately felt space to heal, space to hear myself, and space to sort through everything that was happening.  And this summer has been wonderful, with great wedding experiences, healing friendships, and lots of rest! (I wrote a separate post recapping what I've been up to this summer - check that out here!)

    I just want to say, the following is not normal.  Another lie is that even though it's not exactly healthy, it's normal for success.  

    Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray Photography

    Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray Photography

    • Living your life in a constant inner conversation of "go go go," or "what's next," or "how can I be/do better" - a Busier-means-I'm-Better mentality
    • Looking at your life activities in terms of blog post/social media/business content
    • Living for efficiency, or defining success by the amount of things you cross of your goal list
    • Regularly feeling tense, behind, out of date, like you've missed something direly important, or disappointed in yourself
    • Heart racing
    • Regularly feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping
    • Exhaustion, or not being able to rest during allotted rest times or vacations
    • Feeling like you must account for all of your time to your people/tribe/sphere of influence, if you don't, you will disappoint people or hurt your reputation

     

    I really want to be a voice in this powerful world of blog personalities, "influencers," and boss ladies - give your self permission.  You have permission to be a human.  You don't have to hide your ugly for fear of being an untrustworthy business.  Take care of yourself before you take care of your business and your tribe.  Use the list above loosely as red flags to look out for.  Just because there are common prescribed ways to own a small business and do really well at it (I mean just search that in Pinterest and get ready for a black hole of overwhelming information), doesn't mean you have to do it all just like that.  Make things work for you, where you are.

    I'd love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment or email me at sam (at) lulahairandmakeup (dot) com.

    I love you and am so thankful for you!  Thank you all for your continued support during this season.  Thank you for celebrating with me and for encouraging me along the way.  Really hoping I can do the same for all of you, too.

    With love, joy, thankfulness, and an open hand from me to you,

    Sam

    Why I Don't Answer Emails Within the Hour

    Or within a few hours, or even a day or two, or three (sometimes!) if I'm being really honest. 

    "Wait... she said what??" 

    Yes,  that's right!  I would like to start out by stating emphatically and with many high-fives that I respect the way other business owners run their business, even if it's different than me.  I also respect the preferences and needs of my clients.  

    There are many reasons why my response time can vary between a few hours to a few days, and I want to tell you why.  There are no smoke and mirrors hiding anything, just some real talk!

    Gina Zeidler Photography

    Gina Zeidler Photography

    Gina Zeidler Photography

    Gina Zeidler Photography

    I am a one-woman show.  I do call out to other amazing stylists to assist me on wedding days, and I have a wonderful administrative assistant who helps me with office tasks.  Though there are some tasks I can delegate to Nichole, I still wear the majority of the hats of this business, and oversee and lead everything else.

     "But you're a hair and makeup artist, how many kinds of business tasks can you have that would make you really unavailable to answer an email within the day?  We are so connected these days anyway, couldn't you just send a quick response on your phone?," you might be thinking.  

    There are so many tasks I do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis that is not actually doing hair and makeup.  Everything from emailing clients (dozens of inquiries a day, plus ongoing conversations with any one of the 20-60 clients I may be engaging with at the time, booked or in the process of booking), to taxes, to buying new tools and products, to cleaning makeup brushes, combs, irons, palettes, surfaces, and chairs, to developing contracts, to adjusting my policies and my systems consistently, to ongoing business education, to keeping updated and relevant with social media (my main source of marketing), to writing content.  Then there's the whole actually seeing clients face-to-face thing, for sessions and weddings several times a week, with setup, cleanup, and drive-time if it's not at my home/studio.  And then all over again.  Again and again.  It's love, but it's a lot of work!

    Nancy Ray Photography

    Nancy Ray Photography

    These tasks take my business from being good (advertising that I provide a service, and providing said service) to being great.  Great businesses have a purpose, a vision, a voice, a cohesive personality/brand, and stand for something bigger than themselves.

    I like to have clear boundaries between my work life and my life life.  I am a very normal human, with many other facets to my life other than work.  Family, relationships, health, home management (meals, cleaning, finances, personal schedule), church and my spiritual life, and other hobbies (like music!)  All of these things, when nurtured and given their own sacred space, serve my craft and my business well - they don't take away from it.  

    I do own my own business, and I am my own boss - and every good boss draws very clear lines of what their worker is supposed to do, how they're supposed to do it, and when.  I knew from experience that answering emails at 10pm on my couch in a frenzy knowing I had a wedding at 7am the next morning was not how I wanted to be running my business.  I was constantly maximizing the small things (I have to answer this email right away and they just emailed 10 minutes ago and they seem stressed and I need to respond right away or they'll go to someone else!) and minimizing the really important things (The X-factor, quality over quantity, being Sam - who no one else can be, speaking into women's lives and encouraging their beauty, creating, having fun, and being a sweet addition to a woman's wedding day with all her best girls!)

    Nancy Ray Photography

    Nancy Ray Photography

    I quickly learned that having my work email in plan view on my cell phone, with notifications on, stressed me out all. the. time.  It would take my thoughts immediately away from the current task or person in front of me, into whatever the email was saying.  I was prioritizing the person in the email over the person or task right in front of me, within a minute of their sending the message.  I would stop listening and completely change gears.  It would be one thing if that happened once a day, but it was happening all the time.  Those minutes add up.  They add up on family vacations, on date nights, during coffee with friends I missed and hadn't seen in a while, during workouts - basically I was never allowing myself to truly have and shamelessly enjoy my me-time.  The kind of me-time that does not answer the text, the phone, or the email for a period of time.

    Me with my side of the family - nieces and nephews!

    Me with my side of the family - nieces and nephews!

    Hubs & me at Fort Macon - we try to travel 1x/quarter

    Hubs & me at Fort Macon - we try to travel 1x/quarter

    Always journalin'

    Always journalin'

    I am also a musician &   love writing music

    I am also a musician &  love writing music

    because baking therapy!

    because baking therapy!

    Sometimes world travels

    Sometimes world travels

    I am super visual & love making collages!

    I am super visual & love making collages!

    I love the Farmer's Market - fresh foods are gorgeous!

    I love the Farmer's Market - fresh foods are gorgeous!

    Me & my besties

    Me & my besties

    With the lack of that full enjoyment of my me time (and actually feeling guilty for it), my work suffered.  I was working for my work, but my work wasn't working for me.  I was letting my clients tell me what to do,  instead of clearly, concisely, and confidently telling them what I can do for them, when, and how.  In my case, I was not respecting myself, and in turn I was not respecting my clients to the fullest.  I was saying yes all the time and overbooking myself.  If there was a free fragment of time on my calendar, I considered myself available - even if I was doing something directly before and directly after and wouldn't factor in that, you know, I needed to eat and drink water and pee and be human.  It was affecting the actual quality of work I was doing on people, and why should they be paying a premium price for that??

    Respect for your clients does not mean full access.  It does not mean availability 24/7 - even when you run your own business out of your own home and technically could do things all the time, if you want.  I don't have kids, but we are praying them in, and I don't want to do a complete overhaul of my business when they get here.  I want to already have established systems and boundaries that will serve my present and my future well.  

    So I have very specific times I answer my emails, and very specific ways.

    I triage my emails according to clients with the closest wedding dates, and out from there.  I spend specific time answering new emails, and separate time sending out proactive emails confirming client appointments in the upcoming week, or following up with clients I haven't heard back from in a while to continue the conversation or clear my schedule for someone else.  I spend specific time creating and adjusting contracts and emailing them to clients.

    My weekly tasks

    My weekly tasks

    Nichole's weekly tasks

    Nichole's weekly tasks

    Last year I had 202 in-person sessions, 202 times actually putting make-up or doing hair on people, sometimes up to 7 or 8 people per session!  Weddings, trials, engagement sessions, proms, training sessions, editorials, styled shoots, whatever the reason - that's a lot!  With every meeting meant the extensive communication beforehand, the time to prepare, the time for the actual session, then clean-up afterwards.  That didn't leave me with a whole lot of time for my other work tasks, not even factoring in non-work-life.  This year I want to focus on the parts of my business that make my business great, and that's emails, but it is also so much more.

    I have always been a big believer in quality over quantity.  Last year, I was really trying to test my capacity, and the quantity I was able to book by myself surprised me!  I still said no to hundreds of potential clients last year.  I am still super proud of the work I did in 2016, but I let quantity take precedence over quality.  I was hygienic and did pretty hair and makeup,  yes, but I am talking about that intangible quality in someone's experience with me - asking quality questions and interacting meaningfully with brides-to-be, calming their nerves and reassuring them of their beauty, navigating them through difficult decisions with a mix of my expertise and their taste, and creating fresh looks vs. following Pinterest trends.  That's the stuff that feels most me, brings me the most joy, and gives me a sense of purpose.  I missed out on that X-factor a little too much last year, and I found myself going through stretches of weeks where I wondered if I even liked my job anymore.

     As it pertains to emails, going forward, I want to remember that I cannot say yes to everyone, I shouldn't say yes to everyone, and I'm not trying to book as many brides as possible this year, book more brides than last year, or book brides before they book with someone else.   I am trying to book the right brides, in a way that fits my life and needs for that season, so that I can provide THE highest quality service to them, while being 100% myself.  

    Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 1.53.44 PM.png

    Now, I do want to mention that there have been several times I have let emails fall through the cracks (read it, didn't respond because it wasn't a simple yes or no, I didn't mark it as "unread", lost forever until they emailed me back wondering if I ever got it in the first place.)  There have been whole seasons where I was not organizing my time well, but was just treading water and trying to just show up when I was supposed to with a clean kit.  My emails would pile up for days and I would be too intimidated to really crack into them.  I am not super-proud of those things, but they are also what make my business real - it was really me, I was really trying, life happened, I made mistakes, it happens to everyone, and I still have the stretch marks from the growing pains of a great business.  I am so thankful for those lessons.

    One thing you can be sure of now, as I have improved some of my policies, boundaries, and added an admin assistant - if you email me, I will get back to you.  I want to respond to you mindfully, not distracted, half addressing your particular needs and half somewhere else.  I want to give you my best yes or my most helpful no.  Remember, as you email your vendors, your colleagues, or your family or friends - extend grace to everyone and understand people may not be on the same timeframe as you.  If you don't hear back right away, don't assume why.  If you don't hear back in several days, extend a kind follow up.  We all need a little grace!

    Gina Zeidler Photography

    Gina Zeidler Photography

    My policy works for me.  It helps me fully enjoy my business so I can do my best possible work on each girl I serve, and really enjoy the process of helping women feel their most beautiful.  And I'm trying to get better all around, all the time, for me and for you.

    With blush and bobby pins, & lots of love & thankfulness for all my clients & LULA friends!!

    Sam