I first met Samantha when I was planning my wedding in 2013 and needed a makeup artist. She was recommended to me through a mutual friend and I remember when she showed up at my apartment for the trial session, it was like we had always been friends. She was easy to be around and very talented--qualities I always look for in new friends!
In the years since, I've gotten to know Sam very well. She is kind, generous, funny, and one of the most hard working women I know. Every day she's hustlin'. She built a very successful wedding and event makeup business here in Philadelphia, also working on commercials for Comcast (and some of my clients!). But Sam dreamt of having more. In 2016, she decided to move out to LA and reboot her business to focus on more commercial endeavors. And she's done it! It's been so incredible to watch Sam set goals and work towards them and then crush them. She's so talented and I can't wait to see what comes next for this ambitious lady boss.
Samantha Klein Makeup
What is the name of your company and what do you do?
Samantha Klein Makeup. I work in all areas of the beauty, fashion and entertainment industries as a professional makeup artist and hair stylist. Most of my work is in TV, commercials, and print, but I did weddings and events for years when I was trying to build the commercial side of the business.
How long have you been in business?
Over 15 years! Believe it or not, I have been working within the beauty industry since I was 18 years old.
How did you decide to launch your own business?
Being a creative individual, I had my own vision of the type of jobs I wanted to work on, so I plowed towards that. I buckled down and spent countless hours studying, researching and experimenting through trial and error. I took specialized makeup and hair courses and constantly networked with like-minded creatives.
In the beginning, I started out "testing" (trade for images, which is unpaid) with other professionals in order to build my portfolio and establish trust-worthy relationships. This created an opportunity to prove myself as a professional artist which later led to paid jobs. I was so busy chasing my passion for makeup artistry, one opportunity would create a lead for another and after a while my business started to develop on its own. As it unfolded, it gave me the confidence to keep pursuing makeup artistry as a full-time career.
What challenges did you face in the process of launching your business?
Honestly, I had no idea how to run a business and what it entailed when I was first starting out. The first vendor agreement, contract, negotiation, etc., all of that was a self-taught learning process. It forced to me to use my brain, dig deep and find answers. If I wanted to succeed, I had no choice but to figure it out.
There's also no guarantee for work when you're on your own. That being said, there is a ton of pressure as it's all on ME to be a strong business owner--to continually build momentum and grow new business. Running a business in makeup artistry is more than just performing makeup applications which many people don't realize. It includes juggling multiple tasks such as inventory control, negotiation, contracts, accounting, invoicing, collecting payments, email correspondence, marketing, sales, networking, traveling, meetings, education and keeping up to date on the latest advancements within the industry, etc. I didn't fully grasp what it meant to run a business at first. As my business grew I had to figure out how to keep up with curve balls I'd encounter. I'm much better at it now, but it keeps me on my toes for sure!
Did you feel as though there were resources available to you, specifically as a woman business owner?
When I started out, I wasn't aware of specific resources available for women in business. To me a business is a business and can be run by anyone, regardless of gender. Of course it was super overwhelming when I first started landing gigs and "business" started to happen, but it never came down to I can't do this because I'm a woman.
Do you have a mentor?
Yes, I had a few key people that made a major impact on my career. One is photographer, Joe Edelman, who helped me to develop my portfolio and to believe in my artistry and self at times when I didn't. I'm super hard on myself.
Also, an exceptional makeup artist, Karen Lewis, who I refer to as my "Makeup Mom" really took me under her wing and taught me the ropes of being a strong business woman. Joe and Karen helped me grow immensely, both personally and professionally. I'm eternally grateful for their support.
Are there any good business books you would recommend?
I've been reading the book "You are a Badass" and " You are a Badass at Making Money" by Jen Sincero. These motivational books can apply to anyone focusing to maximize their full potential and self-worth. If you don't believe in yourself or your business, why would others?
What do you love most about running your own business?
I love that I'm constantly learning and growing. Also, it pushes me out of my comfort zone in the best way possible. They don't call it risky business for nothing!
What is your least favorite aspect of running your own business?
Work/Life balance. My business means being on-call 24/7. It's EAT, SLEEP, MAKEUP. Even when I may have a day "off" there's always something else to do and it's hard to turn my business-mind off. I'm constantly working or networking in order to drum up future business because at times there are lulls. The business definitely ebbs and flows and that can be taxing.
What is your best piece of advice for other women who are thinking about launching a business?
Go for it and don't second guess yourself! Be 100% committed. No one can predict the roadblocks you may hit along the way, but you will be able to figure it out with persistence, resilience, and determination. You must learn from your failures in order to grow. Also, try not to take things personally when dealing with business relationships and, most important, ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!!
If you're thinking about a career in makeup know this: Learning business is similar to learning a new language. Every artist should be extremely well-rounded and have a deep knowledge for skin care, skin types, product knowledge, color theory, set-etiquette, professionalism and more. Over the years, I continually evolve in my craft and apply new skill sets to work as efficiently as possible. I strive to stay up to date and learn about new products, technology, and innovations in my industry. Business is all about being a sponge, being on top of your game and being able to apply the knowledge you gain as you go. Be patient, the more familiar you are with business terms and practices, the more confidence you will gain and the easier it becomes.