Header image for article From Operations Analyst to Permanent Makeup Artist

From Operations Analyst to Permanent Makeup Artist

December 09, 2019 by Sally Pau

The beauty industry has an estimated value of $532 billion and counting, making it one of the fastest growing industries. If we look directly at the spa and beauty salons market, it’s expected to reach $190.81 billion in 2024. Fueling this growth is the rising demand to adhere to trends and beauty standards. As new beauty trends are emerging, so are the opportunities to enter the industry as a service provider.

Trends such as eyelash extensions and semi-permanent ombré eyebrows have surfaced and are now dominating the beauty industry. Individuals looking to sharpen up their skills or become a technician now have access to thousands of resources and training courses in these services.

For Permanent Makeup Artist, Jessica Vuong, she entered the booming industry at the right time. In 2017, she made the leap by flying across the country to train with one of the top permanent makeup academies in micropigmentation. With a passion for self-care and confidence, Jessica aims to help women feel more confident and beautiful with ombré eyebrows.

Finding Her Way into the Beauty Industry

Jessica worked in retail throughout high school and university, working at popular retailers such as Aritzia, Club Monaco, and Burberry. During her undergraduate studies, she was a top-tiered salesperson at Aritzia where she found her love for customer interaction. She had a lot of regular customers who knew her on a first-name basis and would request private shopping appointments with her.

“I would pick out outfits in advance for them and open the stores before mall hours to cater to them one-on-one,” Jessica says. “Regular clients liked the fact that I was able to cater to their body and work with existing pieces in their wardrobe, while still being mindful of their budget.” She looked beyond treating it as a sales transaction to focus on what knowledgeable tips and feedback her customers were able to take away.

Soon enough, it became very difficult for Jessica to balance between her undergraduate studies in finance. Her days would be consumed by 10-hour shifts and the time spent getting ready, commuting, and trying to find parking. She realized that she didn’t want to continue this routine, though she didn’t know what else she would do to offer the fulfillment that Aritzia did. To focus on her studies, she eventually made the decision to quit.

In the meantime, Jessica jumped between several part-time job ideas until she discovered an opportunity in eyebrows. She loved how eyebrows are customized to each individual to enhance their facial features. Who wouldn’t feel a boost of confidence with perfectly shaped eyebrows?

Picture of Jessica winning an award

Jessica is four times certified in permanent makeup and saline removals. Image credit: @jessvuongartistry

With becoming a permanent makeup artist and having the ability to work from your own home, it provided the flexibility and income that Jessica wanted. At first, she was scared and worried about entering the beauty industry. “I was so scared! It was expensive and I didn’t know if I would like it. I worried about not being good enough, the competition, and the upcoming struggles,” she says.

She managed to put the thoughts behind her and pursue her passion. It took her 6 months to set up, practice on latex skin, and getting the hang of the motion before attempting her first human model. She did ombré eyebrows during the last year of her undergraduate studies.

Balancing Day Job and Side Hustle

Jessica had plans to travel, relax, and do eyebrows after graduation. However, a job opportunity came up and she took it in hopes of balancing it with her side hustle as a beauty professional.

A typical day for Jessica consisted of a 40-minute commute to the office, work 9-5, then another 50 minutes to commute home to prepare for her appointments. “For the past year, I worked 9-5 while doing new appointments and touch-ups weekday evenings and all day on weekends,” she says. “My weekends were appointments as early as 10 am to late as 10 pm.”

The demands at Jessica’s day job started growing as she was brought onto major projects at Loblaws Ltd. as an Operations Analyst. At times she was required to work until 11 pm and to be somewhere the next morning for 7 am. “I was working 7 days straight, for 10-12 hour days between both jobs. I came to a point where both my careers required more and I was at a crossroads,” she says.

Jessica’s permanent makeup clients would ask how she manages to juggle between a day job and her side hustle. What kept her going was the chance to engage with clients that instilled their trust in her. Many of them have also traveled from across the province so having the opportunity to work her craft for appreciative people, it never felt like a job.

For months, Jessica contemplated and calculated the opportunity cost of the potential income, security, fulfillment, growth, health, and longevity of the career she chose at Loblaws Ltd. Sticking with the corporate career would be safer, allow her to be a part of an amazing team and larger success, however, the regret of never pursuing her passions would haunt her.

“I would rather take the risk to grow something on my own, of my own and take the chance of failure now than later.”

Leaving the Corporate Life

Jessica made the ultimate decision to resign from her corporate career earlier this year. Now she is a sole operator of a permanent makeup business with a home-based studio. Being a business owner comes a new set of challenges to overcome.

As a business owner, you will have the responsibility of doing everything from administration to marketing and customer service. Unless you hire and delegate the tasks, you will have to do everything yourself. To simplify and optimize her schedule, Jessica uses a scheduling software to allow clients to easily book appointments for her and effectively manage her time. This allows her to prioritize her clients, promote productive workflow, and reduce overlaps or miscommunications. This is especially important when she is running the entire business on her own.

Picture of eyebrows done by Jessica

Image credit: @jessvuongartistry

Jessica also pointed out the mental aspect of becoming a business owner. “You will have to be your own cheerleader and pick yourself up on low days. You will also need to set your own structures by keeping work and your personal life separate,” she says. If you don’t set a structure, you lose the boundary between your work and personal life. You could end up working way more hours than necessary, thus extending your workweek. Overworking yourself can lead to burnouts, which will affect your health. Burnout is the state of physical or emotional exhaustion that is often caused by work-life imbalance and lack of control.

Running your own beauty business will be an on-going learning process. “You don’t just learn the technique to perfect it so you can perform it mindlessly,” says Jessica. “You learn how to better each and every time, how to respond to different results, different types of people and even your own mental hurdles.”

Moving Past the Fear of Change

For Jessica, it’s not about how she moves past the fear—more so what type of fear she could live with. “Is it the fear of not being good enough and failing miserably? Or the fear of never knowing if you never try?” she says. “If I fail miserably, then at least I tried.”

“Slow growth is better than no growth.”

In Jessica’s Words: 

Anything is achievable with grit, dedication, and discipline. The worst becomes better. With time, dedication, practice and never being complacent, skills can be mastered.

You’re never going to grow if you’re always in your comfort zone. If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, uncertainty, the constant feeling of needing to improve, and feeling like you’re not where you want to be, you’re on the right path of growth. Be mindful that it is okay to have a goal, but there is never an end goal. You will drive yourself miserable thinking about that never-reaching end goal because it’s all about the journey and what you can improve better day by day. It is the accumulation of small wins that in the long run, you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come.

Staying Motivated as a Business Owner

Jessica believes that motivation is fleeting. Discipline and doing the things you must do in order to get the results you want isn’t easy. “It will require a lot of self patience, love, and focus, but

will take you farther than motivation,” she says.

To help others in their journey to becoming a beauty business owner, Jessica shared some habits and tips that have helped her battle feelings of discouragement and lack of creativity.

In Jessica’s Words: 

“Setting a routine with which days to work, which days to have off. Some colleagues in my industry work for 3 weeks and take the last week of the month off. Some work all weekdays and have the weekends off. For me, I work weekdays and weekends, then take two consecutive weekdays off. Keep in mind the nature of your business and what works best for your clients as well.

Wake up to the same time every day, even on your days off. Have a list of 1-2 tasks to accomplish on those days off. I usually leave one day off to catch up on administrative tasks and one day off to catch up on house chores and personal errands.

Get outside air, stay active, and feed your soul. Make sure you squeeze in some sweaty gym time, add yoga classes to your routine, read a funny novel, listen to some entrepreneurship audiobooks or throw on a podcast. Often times, the stories and experiences from the experiences of others either make me realize I don’t have it so bad or makes me feel like I’m not alone. I like “Art of charm” and “Goal Digger” for podcasts, “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek, or “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight for reads.

Lastly, surround yourself and spend time every now and then with great friends and family. It’s awesome to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, but sometimes it’s so reassuring to hear that those words of affirmation. My friends and family sometimes are my own little cheerleaders!”

Advice for Aspiring Beauty Professionals

Picture of Permanent Makeup Artist, Jessica Vuong

Permanent Makeup Artist, Jessica Vuong

We asked Jessica what advice she has to those looking to break into the beauty industry:

In Jessica’s Words:

“My advice is to make sure you go into it because of your willingness, interest, and passion for the details, aesthetics, and the people. If the purpose is just monetary potential then you might lose the beauty of it.

I would suggest reaching out to those who are already in the industry to get their experience on it⁠—their advice, tips, and their struggles and their takeaways. If you have already decided to pursue the journey but don’t know who or where to train, I would suggest training with the artist whose style resonates with you.

Every artist as their own style, but some things I would suggest to look out for when enrolling is to ensure:

  • There is a good amount of students to instructor ratio to guarantee support and attention available during class
  • There are hands-on models
  • There is support following class
  • Colour theory, shaping, technique, and healed results are discussed

Make sure you’ve done your research and have questions to ask during class. Take notes, network and keep in contact with colleagues to exchange feedback, bounce ideas, and support one another.

There are a lot of in-depth beginner courses, but I find the real difficulty is utilizing what you’ve learned into practice without any additional support. There is observational learning during the course and the actual hands-on learning. The toughest for me was the latter, however, with the right support, teacher, and education, your practice will make improvements.”

Jessica has only been running her business for a couple of years, however, she is growing at such a fast pace. To learn more about her beauty business, you can check out Jess Vuong Artistry.

If you are a beauty professional and would like to be featured in future blog posts, let’s connect!

Picture of Sally Pau

Sally Pau

Sally is a Product Marketer at Jupiter. She enjoys the art of storytelling through content creation to build relationships within the online community.