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How To Thrive As A Makeup Artist In The Bridal Industry

Mary Erickson
by Mary Erickson Posted on 30 August 2017

Let’s Talk Money

Weddings can provide a steady and very good income for makeup artists. Brides and bridal parties are very good clients. An artist can survive on this income alone, but the artist MUST be business savvy, so let’s talk business.

This is Part 1 of a four-part series on being successful as a makeup artist in the bridal industry. Bridal forms will be posted as part of this blog. Please subscribe to this blog below to see the continuing saga.

Let’s Keep It Legal

You want to make money, but you don’t want to lose that money in a lawsuit and you don’t want your business to shut down. When you're dealing with brides and bridal parties you are dealing with “civilians,” very emotional “civilians.” You MUST do everything by the book. God forbid someone get an eye infection right before their wedding and they blame you for it. The legal fees and damages could top 6 figures, so just don’t go there. 

Imagine if mom of the bride steps on a curling iron that your assistant left cooling on the floor. Now she can’t wear shoes at her own daughter’s wedding. You are going to pay for this

Imagine if your brush cleaner spilled and ate the top layer off a $2,000 antique table. OK, it was purchased at a garage sale for $50, but now that you’ve damaged it it’s an heirloom worth thousands. That’s going to cost you.

Imagine if the bride had an acne break out on her wedding day. It ruined her photos, her wedding and her life. She blames it on the makeup, just because she can. That's going to cost you.

Legal fees alone can cost you $60,000 so you'd better have liability insurance of at least $1,000,000. Let the insurance company fight for you.

You will need a business license. Why? So you can open a business checking account. You will need at least a business license to obtain liability insurance with many insurance companies. 

A business license is pretty cheap in most areas, and again Google is your friend. Just search “business license” in your state and follow the online instructions on your state's website.

You can do business without a license and without liability insurance but consider yourself warned. This could end very badly for you should you ever own anything worth taking (like property). 

Google the laws in your state. Look on the cosmetology website for your state. Generally it will spell out clearly what you can do without a license and what you cannot. In most (but not all) states you must have a license to do makeup in exchange for money. In California there is an exemption for the “entertainment industry.” As entertaining as brides are, they really aren’t considered part of the “entertainment industry.”

How will the license police catch you if you’re going to hotels and homes to do bridal makeup? They probably won’t, but if you’re sued you’ll be in trouble and lawsuits are very common everywhere in the USA. My advice is to keep it legal. 

Insurance

So you’re doing makeup legally in your state, or you’ve decided to gamble and do weddings anyway. As a business you will need liability insurance. Talk to an insurance agent!  Tell them exactly what you do, tell them what licensing you have, and pay the premium for the insurance.

In most cases liability insurance is affordable, but if you’re doing makeup illegally, chances are the insurance company will never pay in a lawsuit (even if you paid the monthly premiums). So again, you need to do this service legally. I know you’re thinking “I own nothing, sue me!” While it’s true that if you own "nothing" very few lawyers will go after you, but if you own anything at all you put those assets at risk in a lawsuit. Proceed with caution.

What about protecting yourself with an LLC? 

This isn’t a bad idea and it’s usually under $1,000.00 to set up an LLC. An LLC can help protect your personal assets from lawsuits, but it won’t protect you if you have injured someone while illegally working (without a license where required). So again, get the proper licensing and liability insurance. My advice is to also talk to a lawyer. I’m not a lawyer.

Now you’re working, legally right?  Ok, let’s move on… 

You Need A Domain Name

You will need a domain name for your website that tells the potential bride that you are serious about your business. Cute names may be ok for lower-end clientele, but higher-end clients generally prefer to hire a makeup artist with a name, a real name.

If your own given name is not too hard to type or remember, that’s really the best domain name for you (in my opinion and with my experience). JaneSmith.com is great if your name is Jane Smith. If your name is Gertrude Stephanopoulos I might consider shortening it to something like GertrudeS.com. 

You need the bride to remember your real name and your domain name. The name should be easy to say and type. If you’re targeting middle-income and lower-end brides then something like BridesbyJane.com or something similar is just fine.

Getting a good domain name is hard because most common names are taken. A good name is well worth owning for the name recognition and SEO. Stay away from anything too cute if you want high end clients to take you seriously. 

If someone has your domain name and isn’t using it, you can offer to buy it for a few hundred dollars. You have nothing to lose by offering. Do a “WHOIS” search and see if you can contact the owner to buy the domain name from them. It’s worth a shot! 

If your name is being used by someone and they have a website and/or won't sell it to you, just change up the name a bit and get something similar. I suggest staying away from .net, .co, and anything but a .com. You don’t want to send potential clients to a .com that you don’t own. Most people type .com as their first try.

Let’s say someone owns JaneSmith.com. Instead of buying JaneSmith.net and having those customers accidentally go to janesmith.com, I suggest you buy JSmith.com or jsmithmakeup.com. The point is that you don’t want to send any client to a competitor or other business. 

You Need A Website

You need your own website, not just a social media site. You need a site where you advertise your services and of course show your work. Without a website and a portfolio the chances are slim that you will work much in the bridal industry. I will elaborate on your website in Part 2 of this blog. 

To recap: I’ve given you most of the bad news. Once you have proper licensing, insurance, a domain name, and a website, you’re ready to move on. Part 2 is coming soon. Sign up below to get notified when it's posted.

To start (or to replenish) your bridal makeup kit, visit our website at CameraReadyCosmetics.com

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