1. Introduction: What's your story?
It’s amazing to be celebrating 25 years in the beauty industry this year! I have a skincare and wellness studio in the Grand Lake District of Oakland, California where I offer ways to feel good in the skin you’re in through clean beauty products, facial and waxing services and a variety of brow, lash and make up offerings to fit your needs.
I was a ‘baby’ when I started as a make up artist, working my ass off at the MAC (Cosmetics) store in downtown San Francisco, learning the tricks of the trade from some of the most incredible make up artists I have ever worked side by side with. It was fun, bursting with fresh energy and immensely inspiring!
From there I moved to the South and transitioned from working retail to working as resident make up artist the very first salon and day spa in Houston, Texas, where I really began to hone my specialty in bridal and event make up. I don’t think there could’ve been a better training ground for my bridal beauty skills than Houston! It was incredible! Texas was the place where women loved to wear gowns, go to lots of fancy events, wear that big hair and yes, it was a whole lot of make up! This is where I started to learn the value of the energy I bring to a space, especially as a make up artist for big events, especially one’s wedding.
After my time in the South, I slowly moved back west and stopped in Las Vegas for a few years where I had an opportunity to do countless make ups! Being in Vegas really sharpened my skills and my speed. I got licensed there as an esthetician and expanded myself beyond just make up into skincare. When I was working off The Strip, I was also teaching young make up artists and models, and had an opportunity to work in Los Angeles dabbling in some commercial make up artistry. After five years of experiencing different sub-cultures in the make up industry, I knew it was time for me to be in a place where I could anchor down to create nourishing and more long-term relationships in the work that I do.
I landed in Oakland in 2010, booked with California brides on weekends and found a place I could continue my skincare and waxing skills locally as I built my following. Then I spread my wings in the summer of 2015 and created my very own beauty and wellness studio- a little piece of heaven where people can come be themselves and feel good in the skin they are in!
2. What's your experience as a bridal hair & makeup artist? How many brides are in there in your portfolio?
Dare I say thousands? It’s possible. Looking back I wish I had started a counter of every full face I have done make up on. It would be fascinating to know the actual number. Getting my bridal make up start in Houston was a great way to hone my skills.The South has a serious bridal culture and a variety of subcultures within the city that celebrate grand events that require a lot of glamorous make up. From cotillions, debutant balls, weekend long Indian weddings, Bar-mitzvahs, Bat-mitzvahs, weddings of every kind… the Southern bride (I mean, Texas bride) is in a class of their own. In the South I would see a bride about 3 to 5 times over the course of their wedding season - from trial run, to engagement photos, to bridal portraits (this is a thing!) to rehearsal dinner, to day of wedding. It was a great way to connect with each of my brides that by the time their big day came, I was a true ‘soldier’ for them. I learned how to create the space and relaxing bubble they needed before stepping into their dress!
When I worked in Las Vegas, I touched hundreds of faces for events and weddings on a weekly basis. From celebrities, to wanna-be celebrities to women from all over the world who simply wanted to experience that “glamorous life”, make up in Vegas was non-stop fun! Doing make up and waxing there really honed my skills and speed like nothing I had previously known. There was something weird and awesome about having fleeting moments with people I was only going to see, know and make feel good for one moment in their lives. In my case, most of the time one of the biggest moments of their lives was their wedding. That impact mattered to me.
Now that I’m in a place I truly call Home, the California bride has definitely grown to be more my speed. There’s a down-to-earthiness and chill vibe compared to the brides from the other cities I’ve worked in. My brides now value high-quality work that will be classic and timeless in their ‘forever’ photos.
The bridal images I deliberately have chosen to feature in my portfolio range from 2000 to 2020. I still get notes and messages from past brides who tell me how much they love their wedding portraits and how classic and beautiful they looked. I like having that range so you can see the timelessness of these looks. That’s what I do best. That’s the joy of doing what I do!
3. What are the different packages that you offer and which one is your most popular package?
I have my in-studio package and my on-location packages which vary depending on the brides needs.
My most popular package is my ‘Bride + 2’ on-location package for the day of the wedding. That includes high definition make up for the bride plus two of her guests.
My pre-wedding packages vary, as it is more skin care oriented. The pre-wedding package includes a Signature Feel Good Facial, Make Up Design & Trial Run, Brow design (with options to add ‘below the waist’ waxing of choice.)
If the wedding is far enough away and my brides are looking to manage their skincare and work it into its optimal state coming up to the wedding day, we create a customized program for each person. My facials aren’t just there for firming, nourishing and exfoliating- it is a time to turn your mind off and exhale all your stress away- even but for an hour. An aromatic facial and upper body massage are included in this service. Perfect for the newly engaged!
4. Do you have a team of assistants or will you be the only artist that day? What will happen if you're sick or have an emergency on the wedding day?
I am most often the only artist on the day of the event. When I used to take larger groups, I would have a second make up artist working side by side with me.
These days, I like to keep it small so you get all of me. I have been blessed to be and stay well, and, in the two decades or so that I have been doing this have never had to call out sick. Should that incident ever happen, I do have a list of amazing make up artists that I know who would be up to the task. Should there not be someone available and a dire emergency occurs, I would hope that everyone has compassion enough to understand the reason for my absence. You would definitely get 100% of your booking back if that was ever the case.
5. Do you charge a travel fee? For what distance? What does that cover?
Yes. I charge a travel per mile fee beyond 50 miles of my studio. If I am requested to go to fly to a destination, I also charge for hotel and air travel plus a per diem allowance as well.
6. Can the bride book a wedding makeup trial appointment and will you also do a trial before the wedding?
I require all my potential brides to have a “Make Up Design and Trial Run” session with me. This is an opportunity for us to get to know one another and vibe one another out. I do not take my role as one of the last people a bride sees before they step into their dress lightly. It is a sacred time and my role is to not just execute a flawless and beautiful make up design, my role is also to ensure that you are as relaxed as possible during the hour you are with me getting your make up done.
The Make Up Design & Trial session also gives the bride a chance to see, feel and wear the make up I create and know what to expect come their big day.
7. What beauty products do you use and would you be open to the bride using her own make-up?
I believe that make up is an extension of your skin and I am a huge advocate for clean beauty. I use a make up line that doesn’t just correct but actually protects the skin. This is why I require a “MakeUp Design & Trial Run” session for brides as an opportunity to get clear on the details and iron out any issues so everyone can expect a flawless execution on your wedding day.
If a client insists on using their own products, I am not against it- but it is definitely something we would discuss and apply during the trial run session to see if it will work for the overall design for the day.
Remember that this make up look is not just for the bride to look great on the day of the wedding, but for her make up to project its best on camera as well.
8. How can you make the bride's wedding makeup last and look good in photos?
High definition make up is my specialty. For this, I use a silicone based, ultra lightweight airbrush foundation that feel like a second skin. It applies flawlessly and is water-resistant, meaning if water splashed on the face, the make up would not melt. It is also touch and transfer proof so not to have worries about passing make up on guests or the groom in hugging and kissing situations.
The lash adhesive we use is also water proof and I make sure that waterproof mascara is gently used as a lash base before strip lash application.
Just recently, I have found a 70% organic make up setting spray for outdoor events that would add more sun protection (SPF30) for brides and their guests who are getting married outdoors for that extra sun protection.
The goal for this look is to withstand a full day in front of the camera and to make your ‘forever photos” bring you joy every time you see them.
9. How long will makeup take on the day and how long will you be staying for on the day?
One hour for each face, and I always add an extra 20 minutes for the bride due to the highly emotional state one goes through during this time…. I like to have enough cushion for the bride to breathe, and relax throughout the process. I usually schedule every guest before the bride, refresh the station and have 80 minutes of focus for the bride’s make up session. You’d be surprised how many interruptions the bride receives at this very moment in time- my job is to assist in minimizing that and directing the energy to as much relaxation as possible. I teach everyone how to properly touch up during the event Andree bride leaves with the lip color for her to have in her bridal purse. I do not usually need to stay for touch ups for the rest of the event.
10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?
I require a 50% non-refundable deposit to hold the day of the event, and I run the card on file 24 hours before the event date. This way, by the time we are at your event, the bride doesn’t have to deal with any financial matters and can focus on the magic of their special day.
As I said in the earlier question, god forbid anything horrible happens to me and I am unable to make it, you would get 100% of your service back.