Australian MUA, Charlotte Ravet, is the proud owner of her very own hair and makeup business, A Date With Charlotte. From bridal, to editorial, to film and television, and everything in-between – Charlotte provides a wide variety of services that cater to all types of clientele!
Her extensive resume includes working for Prada, L’Oreal, and even the cast of the hit show, Glee! A developer of educational programs, Charlotte has even been awarded Best Makeup Educator of the Year by the Australian Industry Makeup Awards.
Here, she reveals how makeup artists USED to network, before the age of social media – as well as old-school tricks that STILL work today!
Before Social Media
In the last 10+ years, the creative industry has seen a big change. What’s the predominantly defining factor responsible for this change? Social media, of course!
When I started my career as a makeup artist, the industry had very little presence in the online world. Since there were limited resources to look into, I’ll admit that I barely knew what the profession was at first. I knew that makeup artists were in-demand for magazines and TV, but that was pretty much it. The concept of “influencers” didn’t exist back then. Makeup artists didn’t get anywhere near the amount of exposure they have now.
Rather, it was considered ‘backstage’ work. The requirements were always to do makeup on other people for a specific need: weddings, TV, fashion runways, films, etc. If the real world was like Harry Potter, then makeup artists would have been the ones always wearing the Invisibility Cloak. Before the dawn of social media, our work would be showcased, but those of us responsible for it were almost never seen.
I had wonderful training in Paris, which taught me everything I could ask for in terms of makeup techniques. But I didn’t know much about networking, or how to actually find work as a makeup artist. At the time, you had to trust that although you couldn’t physically see all the potential work opportunities for makeup artists out there, there was still very much a need for our services.
Through a mutual acquaintance, I was given the opportunity to do an internship with a TV channel. That word-of-mouth recommendation was how I started working in that part of the industry. Naturally, I became friends with the crew and TV presenters, and stayed on as a full-time employee for the TV channel for a year. After I resigned, I began freelancing.
As scary as it can seem now to enter the freelancing world, it felt even more daunting in the days before social media. But I knew I had created a solid network during my first year in the business, and from this, I was able to quickly become an in-demand MUA.
For fashion work, I likewise networked the old-fashioned way (excuse the pun). I researched photographers and contacted them through their websites, in order to do some test and editorial work. I selected photographers who, like me, were just starting out, but who were already working with agency models.
Even now, it’s important to connect with photographers who have a similar level of experience as you! This way, you can grow together.
Social Media Changes the Game
Then came the fateful day when someone asked for my Instagram. I had NO clue what that was! Mainstream social media platforms took a bit more time to arrive in France and gain popularity, so it took me a few years before I truly understood all the potential it had to offer.
Before social media, work opportunities came primarily from your inner industry circle, or by word-of-mouth. If you wanted to work as a studio makeup artist, you couldn’t afford to be shy or lazy. I remember contacting countless photographers, agencies, TV channels, etc., only to be met with radio silence. But even to this day, that’s just how it works!
The hardest part about starting a career as a makeup artist is getting that first opportunity to shine. But once you do, the next ones WILL follow. This was true back then, and still holds true today.
Old School Tricks that Still Work Today
It’s worth pointing out that some of the networking tricks we had before social media are still very useful and effective today. For instance, I still tend to follow the same old-school strategies when I want to extend my network. I’ll contact photographers or agencies, wait 2 to 3 days, and if I haven’t heard back by then, I’ll give them a call!
Yes, it can feel scary to do this – especially in this day and age. But you need to keep in mind that these photographers and agencies might receive 100+ emails per week from other makeup artists, stylists, and so on.
So many people are quick to make the initial contact, but then fail to follow-up on their efforts afterwards. This is the fatal flaw that can make you fall through the cracks. Follow-up is essential! It shows motivation, and trust me, other people will take notice.
So, I give them a call and ask for an opportunity to come by in-person to show my portfolio. You can also do this if you want to assist experienced makeup artists. In light of COVID-19, in-person appointments still may not be an option yet in your area. But virtual appointments may be an alternate option – at least, until physical meetings are allowed again!
My Personal Recommendation: LinkedIn
While there are many benefits of networking through popular social media platforms, like Instagram and Facebook, one of my personal recommendations is LinkedIn. In my opinion, LinkedIn is the BEST way to get in touch directly with the companies you want to work with.
You can interact with professionals working for a brand or TV channel, and send them a direct message. Since the purpose of LinkedIn is to provide a professional social platform, you’ll likewise need to conduct yourself in an extremely extremely professional way when messaging these people. Have your resume ready. Let them know:
- Who you are
- Why you want to work with them
- What role within their company you think would best suit you
- Whether you’re seeking an internship, a chance to assist experienced makeup artists, etc.
- How they can benefit from working with YOU
That last point is best approached with subtly and poise. You don’t want to come off as arrogant. Make sure you do your research on the company, as well as the person you’re contacting. If you’re clueless about who they are and what they do as a brand, believe me, they’ll be able to tell.
Whenever possible, try not to contact the actual CEO of the company. Even if it’s possible, keep in mind that they likely get hundreds of messages every day. This means that chances are, your message will get lost in a sea of countless requests, and won’t reach the person or service that could have actually helped you.
Maintain Your Network!
This is my last major piece of advice, because I can’t stress enough how important this is!
Save all the emails addresses and contact details from the people you’ve worked with, and create newsletters to share your latest projects. If you can, make contact here and there to acknowledge birthdays, holidays, and any special events for that individual (i.e. if they get married, are having a baby, etc.). This is ALWAYS a way to stay connected with your clients and remind them of you.
Personally, I wish I had been more active on Instagram when it first became a thing. But I didn’t grow my network with social media, and as I mentioned before, I didn’t fully understand its full potential at first. While it didn’t necessarily affect my own career, it can absolutely have a positive impact on yours!
Social media platforms can be a wonderful way for you to network, by allowing you the opportunity to:
- Set up private bookings
- Connect with brands
- Showcase your work on a larger scale
- Get noticed by a larger audience
- Interact directly with potential clients
- And so much more!
The thing about the internet, though, is that there’s very little privacy. Once something is put out there, chances are, it’ll live there forever (even if you try to delete it). So, I recommend always being careful with what you post, along with the message you’re sharing with the world.
Online, people like to know you personally, but I’m still very careful of not sharing any personal information, or details that I don’t want associated with my business’s brand. Rather, I carefully choose to only post content that:
- Best promotes the professional image of myself that I want to convey to others
- Helps build my brand
- Shows my followers what I like, and what inspires me
- Showcases the very best of my work
I focus on sharing images which represent me or the makeup I create, rather than sharing content that will do nothing more than get ‘likes’. I want people who look at my page to identify what I’m capable of doing, both as an educator and a makeup artist.
My Final Thoughts
If you want a career as a makeup artist, and wish to work in several different areas of the beauty industry, here’s what you should consider doing:
- Create more than one business website and/or social media channels. Make one strictly for private clients, and another for studio and advertising work. An Instagram profile is not enough to showcase your work for clients or companies. You will also need a resume, contact details for your business, your list of available services, rates, etc. This is where an actual website is necessary. You have to have online visibility which looks professional, and showcases your work from the best angle.
- Have business cards, as well as a business page on both Facebook and Instagram. Keep another account to share your private life with your friends and family. Mixing your business content with your personal, private social media account can make you seem unprofessional.
- Always remember that social media is a wonderful way to get noticed, but the work doesn’t stop there! You’ll still need other marketing tools and solid business training, in order to create a strong industry network. Set your expectations, and focus your energy on getting noticed by the people you WANT to work with!