Posted in: Personal
(c) Alicia Swedenborg

Photo: Alicia Swedenborg | Hair & Makeup: Liz

This year flew by so quickly…I have a hard time believing it’s Dec 30th today.  Chances are you will not read this whole thing…!!  And that’s okay!  I have A LOT to say because I have not blogged in a very very long time.  If you are reading, thanks for reading!  I’m sort of cheating because the image above of my work was from a wedding in Sonoma in 2014! I was obsessed with the side-pony textured up-do that I did for my bride Litsa above! Litsa & Jonas – what a gorgeous wedding :)  Why I picked this image, and how I would describe my style…Loose & Romantic! Are you surprised?  This is not to say we as stylists only like to do one style and don’t like other styles!  It would be like saying Chocolate or Ice Cream or Cookies and you can only have one category for the rest of your life!  But for me, if I were to pick one of these categories that describes my aesthetic, then it is that classic/timeless look for the makeup, and for the hair, I like it organic, whimsical, soft and touchable!  My criteria for picking images for this “2015 in review” post is that it’s a ‘fresh’ image I haven’t blogged before :) To all my beautiful brides from 2013-2015: If I haven’t posted your photos before, it’s not because I don’t love your photos or had a bride-gasm (my word for going to “Bridal Heaven” from feeling the sheer bliss and happiness your client is exuding in their photos) when I looked through the gallery!  Opening a dropbox or zip file, or any viewing gallery sent by the photographer feels like Christmas Morning.  It seriously does – when I have a challenging day – you know, the days when you feel like you are moving mountains, (believe me, all freelancers/small business owners have those days…) I go through the galleries and remember why I chose my profession, and I read the love notes that were sent to me by our clients and I’m instantly rejuvenated.  When I request the photos from the client/the photographer, I have every intention of blogging / posting / using it in a gallery / social media etc, but the reality is that I had to make decisions prioritizing what is I value the most as the business owner / creative director of Skyla Arts:

  1. Customer Service – Responding to client’s questions and concerns, coordinating with fellow vendors, making sure the bridal party feels prepared comes first.  The administrative things, I honestly do it to the best of my ability.  All Artists – no matter what kind, will enjoy doing the Art the most, versus the Business.  No contest there I think :)  But without proper admin/backend realities of running a business, it would just be chaos!  Chaos!  And here at Skyla Arts that’s not what we do here…we like to be organized, for clients and stylists alike to know what to expect, and do our best in each client situation – which, as you know, is unique!  No two weddings are alike nor identical – it is not a one-size-fits-all clientele!
  2. The Artistry – Everyone who has ever worked with me in any context will know that I have High Standards with the quality of the work.  I joke with my stylists “That’s why it’s ‘The Standard'” – hand gestures and all! :P It’s really hard to be me sometimes (Oh boohoo Liz..boohoo , I joke, I joke!) because having such high standards means having to work so much harder in order to maintain it or strive for it, and making sure everyone on the team, whether they are the core team or the auxiliary team, are on the same page.  Sometimes during a consultation, I’ll be explaining to my client how I’ll be making adjustments on their wedding day.  It’s not out of insecurity or fear that if I don’t explain it that I fear the client will not hire me. I am secure enough to say these thoughts out loud because on the client’s wedding day or special occasion, my priority is my client’s best interest. It’s not about me, my ego, or my artistry – it’s all about whether the artistry helps the client look and feel their best.  This translates into … if I have a free morning, I will be scheduling a #SkillsLab where my stylist come in and we work on specific skills in order to do it better.  We gotta bring it every time, every job.

Speaking of my Dream Team… I never had the pleasure of officially introducing them on my blog!  Click the link and head over there if you haven’t checked out their Bios and specialties!  Jerilyn’s gallery will be coming up soon, but, this year I’ve added the Artist Portfolio Tab in the gallery so you can search their portfolios highlights.  This means that on any given Saturday, we could handle 4 weddings at the same time.  I started growing my team in 2012 officially, but dream teams are not built in a day.  It takes trial & error, and then discovering what works for me and other people and what simply doesn’t work.  When I discuss with my makeup & hair colleagues in Seattle, Bay Area and LA, the general consensus is that they tell me I pay my associates a lot – and I respond with: “But I expect a lot.”  I expect you to quote me on this haha…in my opinion, Standards can be bought, but Loyality cannot be bought!  Which ties into my priorities above #1 and #2!  I can be flexible on other things, as long as it doesn’t affect Customer Service & The Quality of Artistry.  That is what Skyla Arts is all about! :)

If I had any ‘pearls of wisdom’ about being a small business owner is that as your business grows, changes and evolves, it’s inevitable that one must accept and embrace these changes.  For example…I used to celebrate/share wedding or stylized shoots publications on the blog, and really enjoy writing about it, but now I do my best to post the links on our Facebook Page and our Instagram and try my best to tag all the vendors.  I just learnt how to use Periscope today.  I don’t have time to catch-up on maximizing traffic from Pinterest.  And one thing I really enjoyed in the past is the blogging and sharing of my client’s photos of their special day.  If there’s one thing I wish I could trade, it would be that.  The other part that I had less opportunities to do is regularly meet and connect with fellow wedding vendors and other makeup & hair colleagues.  Or attend networking events.  I used to attempt a couple events a year, but honestly, this year I’ve managed 2 events.  I feel most terrible about the personal invitations to private gatherings – or simply staying in touch. Sorry :( If I missed saying Happy Birthday or didn’t RSVP to such a gathering…:( I really didn’t mean to!!!!

Now on to a few highlights from my stylists in 2015!  The order is based on when they joined my team :)

(c) Katch Silva

Photo: Katch Silva | Hair & Makeup: Camille

If I classified Camille’s bridal style, it would be the Classic & Elegant, with a touch of Loose & Romantic.   This was Camille’s last wedding of the 2015 season!  Sarah & Chris, and it was featured on Grey Likes Weddings, and I chose this as the highlight because of it is so much Camille’s style. What I/Skyla Arts work really hard on is making sure the makeup & hair artist and the client is a great match.  That is important to me – because – the client’s best interest is our priority, and, as a Bridal Makeup & Hair Agency, I want my team to love and be inspired by the clients they service as well.  In my humble opinion, the nature of our service is not like going in for an eyebrow wax, or a routine hair coloring.  Sure – that match in relationship is also very important, but the difference is we get our hair colored and eyebrow waxed periodically…! This is your wedding day, or you come see us for your special occasion – to celebrate your new born, your anniversary, your family for the holidays – it would be a special treat, and not as routine as an eyebrow wax!  When the match is great, it really is our pleasure and our honor to be a part of your special day, to be a part of celebrating the bride as a woman – that sounds cheesy, but so many times I feel, and I hear my stylists tell me: “What an inspiring person she [the bride] is – Wow.”  and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

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Photo: The Weaver House | Hair & Makeup: Treja

There’s no question – Treja’s style is a blend of Classic & Elegant and Glamorous & Modern.  I was torn about which photo to select from this wedding, Ellie & Mark that was featured on Once Wed!  The inspiration was a slight nod to the Old Hollywood glamorous hair, but updated – a very classy and classic style – and when I shared with Treja Ellie’s inspiration, Treja was like: “Right on!” There were photos from this wedding that showcased the hair & makeup better {You can find more on Once Wed and also on The Weaver House’s blog!} but I loved the ones where the wind was blowing all crazy.  You see – what I feel is so charming about weddings and wedding photos is that it’s a snapshot – and it has that California / Marin / Coastal vibe that we love!  The reality is it’s windy – it can potentially mess up your hair – but – it’s A Moment!!!  And I am a sucker for these kinds of moments. Backlit, windblown, romance!  :) It was also a special memory because I had broken my toe earlier that week, and on the same day, I was servicing another lovely bride, and the bridal party I was at mentioned that Ellie is also getting married today – It turns out they all went to high school together – what a small world!  That’s certainly a first!

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Photo: Pat Furey | Hair & Makeup: Angela

I would describe Angela‘s style as Glamorous & Modern.  Angela has been on most Skyla Arts events the last 2 years, and have been taking on Special Occasion clients as lead; starting 2016 season, Angela will be taking on her own weddings! Woohoo! :)  This one is from a stylized shoot shot by Pat Furey from Pennsylvania, and it was featured on Green Wedding Shoes!  You may recognize Jill & Alex from a previous “engagement inspiration” shoot, or other workshops – they are Stars Models, a real couple, and a joy to work with!  This shoot was in SF/Marin area – I wanted to showcase a bit of Angela’s style, which has a hint of glamour!  Angela also has a specialty with African American hair – just as an FYI!!!  What I appreciate about my team is that we have different strengths and interests.  Unity in Diversity – so to speak!  You can call it my anthem – pretty much.

jillian gorman

Photo: Jillian Gorman | Makeup-only: Jerilyn

A very interesting coincidence that Jerilyn has been doing makeup-only for the stylized editorial shoots! The teams had already found a hair stylist, but Jerilyn is actually pretty amazing at hair as well :) This was a shoot that happened in very recently, and I picked it to showcase how I feel Jerilyn’s style is in between Glamorous & Modern, and Classic & Elegant.  Jerilyn is the newest member of Team Skyla Arts (Her gallery is to come shortly!!) and will also begin taking leads in 2016!   Hurray!  To see more from this GORGEOUS unconventional bridal shoot, please head to Jillian Gorman’s Blog!

So that time I broke my toe in April 2015?  Yeah…that was a freak accident and it was probably the worst time for me to break a toe.  Thankfully, I had my dream team and was able to lean on both Jerilyn & Angela.  For that wedding, I was already booked for Friday, the rehearsal dinner makeup & hair, and then Saturday I had the bride’s makeup & hair, and another lovely bride on Sunday.  The thing I couldn’t have known about breaking a toe is my whole balance is off, and it was hard to stand on my feet for prolonged periods of time, and I would get joyful leg cramps (haha not joyful!), especially hard to balance if I’m pulling and using both hands for a blow-out. The broken toe happened the previous Saturday…I was like Oh Man.  What to do.  After working in LA, I assessed the situation and luckily I had my team available cover for me.  I chose not to tell my brides that weekend that I broke my toe because I didn’t want them to worry/panic; I was 100% confident that I could count on my team to step-up and step-in.  Jerilyn filled in and did 2 amazing blow-outs for the bride on my behalf while I did the bride’s makeup.  It was that weekend that I became certain that Angela & Jerilyn will both grow into great leads.

Stella & Dot Holiday Loobook

Manicures by Rosy | Makeup & Hair for left and center by Liz for Stella & Dot

Don’t think I forgot about Rosy (the nail artist)!  While we did not have any gigs via Skyla Arts as having on-location nail services has not *yet* been high in demand (hey! Just wanted to share with you that is a great unique service we also provide!), I had introduced her to my commercial/print agency and she was with me on set for Stella & Dot, and later she’s gone on to do nails for Old Navy.  She has also been on my editorial sets doing nails.  Rosy would often would share with me her days when she worked as a nail technician and esthetician at a very high-end salon/spa in Seattle.  The pearls of wisdom that was crucial to help me get to this dream team is that with our industry (The Beauty Industry), some people have it in them…and others just don’t – according to Rosy’s first manager.  At the time when Rosy was fresh out of Nail Tech school, she didn’t know what her manager saw in her.  It turns out that in the beauty industry, there’s an instinct to know what to do – and it’s not something that can be easily taught.  I used to think anyone can be successful in this industry if they put their heart to it, but experience proved me wrong.  The passion for being of service to others and to want to go above and beyond, and the desire to strive for excellence might just be, as Rosy’s manager said, Innate.  It’s already not about the makeup, or hair, or nails.

To wrap up, I am most humbled by the fact that I’m surrounded by these amazing, strong women on Team Skyla Arts.  I’m doing things differently as now we have each other to lean onto – together we are more!  My goal for Skyla Arts in 2016?  We don’t have goals as to how many weddings we should do, how many weddings we ought to do – we are happy to be there if you would like us to be there!  I know my team would agree that we’d like to continue giving our clients our absolute best service & artistry – and keeping our Standards up there!

We would like to send a BIG thank you to all of our clients and vendors…! And wish everyone an amazing 2016!!!

Starting tomorrow March 4th-March 8th, I will be out of the country to attend my friend’s wedding in Antígua, Guatemala!  All emails, inquiries and phone calls will be returned during the week of March 9th.  I will have no phone access and limited email access, as I want to spend quality time with my long-lost dear friends. Thanks for your understanding :)

It’s been way over a decade since I’ve been back to Central America, where I’ve spent a total of 9 years of my life….!   We would visit Antígua around 4 times a year for events or relaxation.  Cobble stones, Spanish/Morrocan remnants, mixed with Mayan flavors, and not to mention 925 Silvers and Jade…Oh the Jade.  Hey, what girl doesn’t like to shop or window shop for bling!

porta antigua

I’m staying at Porta Hotel Angitua, also the venue of the wedding :) So excited to chillax with my friend, the VIP & bride in the afternoon over a margarita.  We met in middle school, and her mom happened to be my Spanish teacher in school!  This is the weather forecast in Celsius! Yes, I still use Celsius as that’s what I grew up with, and F just doesn’t ‘register’ the same in temperature for my mind.  I can ‘guesstimate’ but if you tell me 24 C, I know exactly what to expect.  I’m not gonna lie, Guatemala and Costa Rica weather basically helped me decide that The Bay Area/NorCal should be my forever home.  How can you not look forward to this perfect temperate weather?  It does get cool indoors as there’s no need for heaters, so what do we do?  As teens, we would eat lunch outdoors.  Like a reptile, we would come out and soak up the rays…!  I was so tanned not trying to tan.  It was just our thing – skipping the indoor cafeteria, and sitting on the grass – and rolling down the hills when no one else was around.

Below photos are taken from Globotrek.com per a google search!  I’m excited to return to my ‘family’ there!  I’ll try to take my own iphone-tography photos!  Until then, hásta luego! And hope I remember some of my Spanish :) :) :)
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Brides.com publication

Given the heat wave lately, I thought it was a great opportunity to share a beautiful wedding that happened in record heat!  :)  I was so thrilled when Wayling, the beautiful mother of the bride and the general of the wedding planning process, emailed me that Angela & Jacob’s wedding has been published by the new Brides.com online edition featuring Real Weddings!  Click here to check out their write-up and to see more photos captured by Annie Tao from the event!  We got ready at a cool air-conditioned hotel about 20 minutes away from the venue.  I started early with the sister of the bride and Wayling (MOB) and then got to work on the beautiful Angela.  We knew it was going to be a warm June day, and after relaying the touch-up instructions again, Angela assured me that fortunately she does not sweat much in general.  After I made sure Angela was happy with her look, I packed my kit so I’m not in their way, and walked out to the parking lot – and…the heat that hit me made me think: Oh Boy!!!  I hope it’s going to be OK!  And then I go home and discovered that at 110 F, it was, at the time, the hottest recorded day in Livermore!!   Of course I was feeling worried!  I tell all of my brides the same (I would say…irrefutable truth about cosmetic ingredients!) that makeup is waterproof, but not oil-proof or smudge proof.  If you think about the properties and take any oil or cleansing oil, pretty much everything gets dissolved.  Heat tends to stimulate both the sweat (sudoriferous) and oil (sebaceous) glands.  The most mattifying primers can help the longevity, but natural elements are always a concern!  The same with hair – with more sweat/humidity and contact to the skin (on your neck and back!) the more likely it is to lose the curl despite hair products.

When I saw the photos shared by Annie, I thought: It’s a miracle!  A combination of genetic advantage, and good products! :)  Be sure to check out the post on Brides.com and Annie’s Blog to see all the lovely DIY details made by Wayling and her aunt, who had a lot of fun (and some stress!) putting it all together!  During the consultation appointment, I saw Wayling & Angela’s pinterest boards, and knew they were prepared for a thoughtful & elegant affair!  Below are my favorite picks – of course they feature more the hair & makeup because I’m the hair & makeup person!  :) You can watch the lovely highlight video by De Novo Films as well to see their event.

jacob + angela // highlight edit from de novo studio on Vimeo.

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Ceremony & Reception :  Martinelli Event Center
Chinese Cheongsam Dress :  Ling Ling Chinese Dresses
Reception Dress :  Sue Wong
Ceremony Shoes :  Jimmy Choo
Makeup & Hair :  Liz at Skyla Arts
Bridesmaid's Dresses :  Amsale
Groom's Tuxedo :  Hugo Boss
Groomsmen's Tuxedo :  Vera Wang at ridal Galleria
Floral's & Rentals :  Delford West Flowers
Reception Music :  Amos Productions
Catering :  Garre Winery
Favors :  Sugarie
Videography :  De Novo Studio
Photography :  Annie Tao Photography

Amanda

Amanda

Woa! Where did 2013 go and half of January???!!!  First and foremost, I want to thank all of my clients & vendors for making 2013 wonderful!  At the end of the day, it’s the great folks & clients that I’ve had the pleasure to work with that made me feel immense amounts of gratitude!

From being a Snippet & Ink Select vendor, to Style Me Pretty publications, and the quantity of publications of fashion & beauty stories, I am truly thankful to the great teams I’ve had the pleasure to work with!!!

2013 was a year of dramatic transitions for me and my business.  I’ve re-done & rebranded both my bridal & my commercial website…that was intense – not going to lie!  It was a big investment of both my time & money (I had saved up for it since 2011), but!! It finally looks the way I want it to!  I feel like finally I have something that represents me and my work the way I see it!  It’s like a huge stone has lifted!  There is still a lot of updating to do, and it’s challenging because my clients always comes first.  Whatever it is I’m doing, I drop everything when I have a client call or a client email.  To me, since the beginning of my business, I’ve aimed to be a ‘high-end service provider’ – and by that I don’t mean just a price tag; being high-end means a) providing high-end customer service b) treating ALL your clients as if they are your V.I.Ps.  If you are my client, you get the best from me.  Whether you are a performing artist, actor, bride or bridal party, or a clothing company – it’s really a service attitude.

I am not going to fluff it any other way…because I strive to provide my best for my clients, I do have fairly high standards for myself and my teammates who I bring with me on jobs. They know this – and they also know that I compensate them most generously because if they also do their best and provide the high-end customer service that I expect, they also deserve to get paid the most!  It makes so much sense to me, and I am grateful that my past clients also understand this.  If I take good care of my team, they will also take great care of my clients. A freelancer who works full-time in the industry cannot afford to make $25-$35 per service for a bridal party hair or makeup in the SF/Bay Area.  People who had this discussion with me will know that I make sure to let them know that an artist who charges $25-$35 vs. someone who charges $125-$150 per 1 service is simply not the same type of service provider.  They are all fruit, but it’s simply…apples to oranges!  It’s kind of like this – if you were apartment hunting, and all of the studio apartments are priced at $1500 in the area you are looking at, but suddenly you see a listing for a studio for $800 – what do you expect to see when you tour the $800 studio apartment? What inspired me to start this paragraph is that yesterday I had a 1-on-1 training session with one of my team members, and as I’m going through the step by step, watching her techniques like a hawk and identifying a few technical things I’d like her to work on, it occurred to me that when it comes to the quality of work and providing the clients the best, I really do have high standards!  I make sure my team is on the same page as I am – as people say, you are only as strong as the weakest link in your team.  Please don’t read this as I perceive my teammate as the weakest link, but rather if we are not all on the same page as a team, rocking all of the services, and god forbid, she makes a mistake, it will certainly reflect in the overall quality of our work as a team.  It’s simple – the buck stops at me – and it is ultimately my responsibility. And how I learned to lead, is by assisting great leads!

I have to continue growing, of course, but I can finally say I feel pretty good about my progress! Being an Asian Woman, 1st generation American (among many other things…) in this country has its set of challenges, as the intersectionality of identities can really challenge me in my workplace. I often feel misunderstood. Honestly, it’s really hard, growing up in a culture where dismissing a compliment is expected of you to show humility, and accepting one means you are being vain, and prideful. I often gets misinterpreted as having low confidence or low self-esteem! The thing is, I don’t have low self-esteem – I just cannot accept a compliment.  It also doesn’t mean I can’t be firm in communication, I am just not as assertive, when compared to others. Both those situations are 2 different things, again, another apples to oranges situation, and it can be often misinterpreted to my disadvantage.  But I have to remember and feel grateful to all the great folks I met and worked with, who tell me that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, who are there to encourage me when I feel doubts about whether or not I belong in this industry, and tell me I should pat myself on the shoulder!!

Now I’m going to discuss a special bridal client in 2013 & her cool mama (the names have been omitted to protect the innocent)  It was a very special wedding to me in many different ways – but I was so pleasantly surprised how similar our parents were while raising us despite our cultural and geographical differences. The take home message I got from having an enlightening conversation with my client is that both of us had parents with extremely high standards, and we worked really hard to obtain their approval.  As children, we worked extra extra hard to be the best in everything, but after being the best, our parents may not pay us a single compliment and say that’s something we ‘should’ do and is part of our responsibility of being children, but may pay compliments freely to others.  It’s tough – but our parents really wanted the best for us and push us to the max. We know they love us deeply, but it’s still hard to be pushed!!  At the end of the day, I feel we’ve learnt to accept ourselves, as our own seal of approval ultimately matters the most in life – that we do things with integrity, with passion, with good intentions.   The most interesting thing to me was that her mama asked me how I developed such great hand-eye-coordination and dexterity with my hands, and I shared that my own mama wanted me to be a concert harpist, so she pressured me to practice (even though I really had zero intention of becoming a concert harpist or concert pianist) – in hindsight, I should really thank my mother for pushing me to obtain a skill at a young age, that could be applied to work that I DO enjoy doing.  It’s a shift in perspective, really!  I told my big sister about that lately, and she was very puzzled as to why our mom wanted me to be a concert harpist.  I think it’s because my mama sees that as a very elegant job and high paying job…although both my sister and I know otherwise.  We discussed the realities of being a concert harpist, lugging an expensive and bulky instrument around for performances, hustling to be the best harpist in the area in order to be a part of the most prestigious symphony in the area (think about it – each symphony only has 1 harpist.  How competitive is THAT!), and then hustling to obtain the most dedicated students who take harp practicing very seriously!  Does that sound like a stress-free job to you? Certainly not to my sister and I!  Hahaha I just have to laugh because I can’t imagine that life being any easier!  I know what my mom means is that maybe if I were a harpist I wouldn’t have to ‘work so hard.’  Oh the irony!

In conclusion…! I’d love to share a set of beauty images I am very proud of that I worked on with Jenna Alcala!  Amanda from Wilhelmina LA was a great pleasure to work with! “Beauty” means close-up.  Way close.  You see everything!  Every pore, every lash.  If you make a single mistake, there is no hiding.  There is no soft focus for this type of work. If you ask me, I think Beauty is the hardest and most precise work to do, and you are always racing with the clock!  I did hair makeup & nails.  In hind sight, I probably should have brought on an assistant or a 2nd artist to keep the day rolling more smoothly, but I am giving myself my own seal of approval here!  :)  Bridal is basically beauty work, except I make sure to give myself the time I need to execute it in the flawless way.  About the photos – I am so pleased with the 2 lipsticks I picked up at the Duty Free store in Sao Paolo, en route back to SFO – Shiseido!  It was a great eye-opening and learning experience in Brazil + Argentina, and I’m so happy that I was able to custom blend the lipsticks to work with this Holiday-Themed beauty story!  I love the images, and the most important thing I really want to say in this blog post is that without the awesome team & clients that I work with who creates a safe and productive environment for me to do my best work, there is no way I could do any of it without it!!!  I am beyond excited to start 2014!!!

Because I worked throughout the holidays, I am taking my personal time from Jan 22-Jan 30th, traveling to the Makeup Mecca of the world – TOKYO.  Trust me, I’ll be back with a lot of cutting edge goodies.  The next post will be an out-of-town notice!  ;)

Until next time! :) :) :)

amanda

Amanda

Greetings from Los Angeles! I am down here briefly for The Makeup Show LA that happened last weekend for education/kit investment, for work (and hustling!), and two bridal consultations! I have consultations and meetings lined up when I return home and  I cannot wait to meet my potential brides of 2013 (& 2014!)!
This morning, I am feeling particularly grateful to have great clients & great potential clients!  To potential future clients & vendors alike, I urge you to read this blog by Preston Bailey: “My Five Top Tips for (Most) Clients”!

Just in case you did not click through to the link, I will highlight – in quotes the 3/5 that stood out to me (even though ALL 5 are important!)

I. We are artists who have gone into business to make a profit. Please refrain from placing us in a position where we feel you are trying to get us to give away our services. It is disrespectful, and leads to resentment of both the client and the job itself.
 
II. Our main goal is to make you happy. We have the utmost respect for you and your budget, which is why we are willing to be honest about what you can and cannot afford. Please remain flexible with your budget, if you want “more” than what your budget allows.
 
V. Last but not least, know that we value and respect you. Without you, we do not have a chance to design, and we do not have a business. It is for this reason that we are always willing to go the extra mile, and further. Please be generous and responsive with your feedback, as it is the only way we can learn and grow.”
These are great advice, and written so concisely and nicely! I couldn’t have said it any better than Preston!  I have some thoughts that came to mind when I read them and here it goes:  Regarding #I, we are artists and service providers, but we are people too – we need to make a living doing what we do! #II. We would not be in this industry if we did not have any desire to make you happy – in fact, that is our main goal! But please understand that our rates are a reflection of our services and unique artistry, something that can’t be interchanged with another artist based on pricing, and if you like what we offer and are interested in hiring us, then please don’t forget to think about us when you are designating where to spend your budget!  #V. If you don’t provide any feedback (positive or constructive), it would be difficult for us to meet your needs. We are artists with our own vision, tastes, and personalities.  We are eager to please you (the client!) and make you happy but we cannot do that if we don’t know what you are looking for!
To end this seemingly random blog post, here is a random photo from Monday’s photo shoot! :P  You know backstage in fashion week where the photographers come in and snaps away of the makeup in progress? This was one of those images! I was in the middle of finishing up her makeup, lashes are not done, and obviously her lips are still missing! :) :) No worries, with the right products, you can reduce the appearance of dryness!
It was an absolute pleasure to work with an amazing team – this gorgeous model (Sacha from Wilhelmina LA), photographer Alvin Nguyen, and celebrity hair stylist Daven Mayeda on this shoot.  I was definitely excited and inspired again with everyone’s creative energies coursing around! Most importantly, I challenged myself with trying to do eyebrows a different way than what I’m used to (based on the class/demo taught by Sam Fine last Saturday at the Makeup Show LA)!  I’m just happy to be pushing myself harder to get to the next level!!!
Until next time! Have a happy Thursday/Friday and Weekend ahead! v^o^v

 

I hope everyone is having a great January so far! I thought long and hard about what to blog about as the first post of the year! I think blogging is like exercising; once you’ve stopped for a while, it is so much harder to get started again! I took an entire week off work over the Holidays, and that was really lovely! Last October, my husband and I FINALLY made it to our honeymoon (it only took us 3-4 years of marriage to finally go on vacation/honeymoon!).  I figured if I worked majority of the year, I should take Christmas and New Years off!  For a week, I felt like a normal person – going to the grocery store, cooking, spending a lot of time with friends and family, regular exercise, de-cluttering my home, spending time with my husband.  It sounds terribly mundane, but these moments are precious to me because strangely, it doesn’t always happen, and definitely not in such a peaceful manner!  You could say because of work-aholicism (admittedly, my partner and I are both workaholics) or…a more neutral yet accurate way to say it is “I’m a small business owner.” I prioritize my work over a lot of things and I’ve been gradually working towards having a more balanced lifestyle!  Reflecting back on 2012 and how it buzzed by, I am determined to work on that balanced lifestyle in 2013!
I shared with my close friend outside of my industry that I have March-Dec 2012 weddings to catch-up on my blog, and he said: “Liz, you better get to it!! Do it now!!!” I’ll be trying my best to put those up, but I’m not making any promises!  I thought about it over the holidays – my purpose of having a blog is to give the reader (or potential client) a glimpse to who I am/who I am as an artist (they are not mutually exclusive!), who I am as a business owner, and a sample of my personal aesthetic. I find that while I do want to showcase my work (Look what I’ve done!! yipee!!!), I think that it’s more important for my future clients to know that my personal aesthetic is actually not as important as my clients’ personal aesthetic!
I really just want to make my client happy.
On occasion I would get into deep conversations about beauty with people I encounter, about the visceral impact it has on us.  People outside of the fashion/beauty industry and don’t care much for it would be surprised to learn how up-close and personal a hair and makeup service can get.  It’s visceral, emotional – it can trigger something that affects them in a way they never thought a simple makeup/hair service could!  It can be anything…I compliment the client’s lips while doing lipstick, and she says: “they are just like my grandmother…I miss her…” I enjoy meeting different types of people, but what’s even more enjoyable, is if I can help them reach their goal with their hair and makeup!
I sometimes ask myself: Who am I to decide what you “should” look like?  What gives me the right to be a “taste maker” with your makeup & hair? When I was little, art teachers would say: “You really have an artistic eye” and I knew it was meant to be a compliment and felt joy hearing it – thanked them politely, but I never felt like what I saw was necessarily unique or “better” than my classmate next to me – my vision and interpretation is divine, and sacred – to me! The same way my classmates’ interpretation is sacred to them.  However, I understand when my clients come to me, they generally do want my input and opinion, which I do share, but I end up either following the clients’ preference, or meeting in the middle!  Why? Because my goal is not  to impose my aesthetic; my goal is really that the client looks in the mirror and loves what s/he sees, feels beautiful, and their day is “uplifted” in some way! Sometimes my clients’ preference follows my personal aesthetic to the dot!  When that happens, I feel like: “Wow! you really ‘see’ like me!!” and that’s a lot of fun!  But not my primary objective!  When I see how fabulous they feel, I cannot help but “see” them as simply “Beautiful” – even if the up-do or the shade of lipstick is not one I would normally choose. I see beauty as being beyond a person’s subjective interpretation of their reflection.
Earlier today, my client from last fall used g-chat to let me know that she had written a review on yelp for me! I immediately went to read it, and it really made my day! Immediately I was reminded of an inspirational book, “Life of a Daymaker” by David Wagner, owner of the Juut Aveda Salons.   I loaned that book to my mother-in-law who brought it with her to Seoul {who also is still holding onto my copy of “The Philisophy of Andy Warhol“! Hey Omeoni! I want my books back! ;P} but if I still had my copy, I would be opening up a passage randomly, and find a paragraph to inspire me. After reading Life of a Daymaker, I love my job even more! I want to be my client’s Daymaker, and that’s my goal – but when my clients tell me I made their day, they actually become MY daymaker! ♥ I highly recommend reading the story that changed his life, and the rest of the book! I loved the part where described how he got into his career, one that his family did not support, and that he started humbly as a valet car parker for the clients who went to the Aveda salon. He made sure he was the BEST car parker and worked his way up and was determined to become a hair dresser!  If my goal in life was to make a lot of money, I probably would have opted for a career in finance – but alas, that is not my goal for my life!  I love being of service to someone who needs my service, and I love making someone’s day.  As makeup/hair artists, we don’t have the easiest job nor the hardest job. There are parts of it that I am sure we all do not LOVE doing – just like any other job in the world. For us, we feel like we have the best job! I truly feel grateful to have worked another year in this industry, doing what I love – Hopefully many more years to come!! But as my friend says, cross the bridge when you get there! Take it one year at a time!
If you managed to read all of this rambling…then…! In conclusion, I am very excited for 2013! I’m looking forward to all the new people I will be meeting, seeing their vision of beauty with the “inspiration” images they will be bringing me, and just doing lots of makeup/hair!!! Yay!!!A blog always looks better looking with a photo! I’ll have to do a full credit later, but for now, Makeup, hair, men’s grooming by me in June 2011! Photo by Christine Le. Florals by Indelisa @ Royal Bloom Boutique, hair piece by Bonnie @ One World Design, Jewelry by Yael Designs, gown by David Tutera @ BoLee Bridal Boutique!

 

A brief update! Not too long ago I just returned from The Makeup Show Los Angeles to pick-up some essential makeup and hair tools, take some inspirational classes by seasoned & famous makeup artists, receive priceless portfolio reviews and critiques from industry experts, and finally I got to work with film fashion photographer Matt Edge whom I’ve hoped to work with for a while now!  The whole trip was filled with lots of inspirations! From the classes, to reconnecting with familiar faces (it’s like a mini-pro artist family reunion!!), meeting for the first time artist I’ve been in touch with for a while and recognizing/spotting them, and chasing them down to say hello!!!  :P And now I am getting ready for my lovely brides this weekend!
I started 2012 just hitting the ground and just work work work…and I was starting to feel a little burnt out already. And it’s March! Even though my LA trip was a bit exhausting (“Only” 19 hours of driving in a 5 day span!), and not to mention driving in LA lol…  –  I do feel that my “creative” batteries have been recharged.  I also got to visit my family in LA – which was great. It was also cool to see that the building that burnt down across my old apartment in LA (Yes, the one where my sweet, beautiful bridal client Jeah was getting her makeup trial done, and suddenly we saw heavy smoke heading our way!!!) being rebuilt and re-inhabited, and that a new and DELICIOUS Korean BBQ place has opened around the corner where I used to live.  
I am just filled with gratitude that The Makeup Show and The Powder Group are around to continuously provide education, support, and also, building our community.  I can’t even tell you how nice it feels to be with people who know and understand support you.  In the creative industries or any other industry actually, unfortunately there are always going to be unprofessional people who treat you badly.  Even if you think you are in the “right,” there’s no referee or anything like that, and there’s no point to argue with unprofessional people.  It just gives you perspective on how to avoid working with them in the future, or how to handle it graciously, and move on from negativity.  Fortunately, we have positive energies – like our local makeup artist community to support each other, and events like The Makeup Show to meet true professionals, and of course – there are people who are not only professional, but inspirational!!! Those are going to be the people we should focus our energies on!!!
And I shall end this personal reflection post with some behind the scenes images with my shoot with Matt, and Ford Model Thais (from Brazil!), and Alison who styled the shoot! :) It was a great pleasure to work with everyone, and I’m really excited to continue my 2012 year!!!!  :D Have a great weekend everyone!!!!

How did a month just slip away, just like that? *snaps finger* I think this may be the busiest January since I moved to the Bay – which is a good thing – but not so much for my little blog! Which is why this is like 3 posts in one post, blogging about *new* work for 2012 and previous work from 2011 that never made an appearance on my blog because I have a bad habit of not blogging chronologically.  I guess that could be a goal for 2012?  Ok! Onward!

Scouted season 1 had its finale last Monday on E!  The show documents scouts from smaller markets and small towns, and submitting them to a scouting company in NYC where the experts put the model to the test on a photo/video test shoot, and then showing the images & presenting the model to Scott Lipps/Owner of One Management. Scott then announces his decision to sign the model.  Each episode features 2 models, and their home town and their lives is also documented on the episode.  We here in the San Francisco Bay Area were very excited for the show because one of the highlighted scouts is Kristen Kotik from Stars Model Management!! It also highlights San Francisco, and as Kristen said: “It puts us on the map!!!” I think it’s really great~ considering the recent events of Ford SF closing their office.  Many artists/photographers/models are moving to LA or NYC – it’s a bit disheartening BUT I believe that sooner or later San Francisco will return to its former glorious position in the fashion/commercial industry!  How can it not…We have silicon valley – we are the leaders of technology and such a high concentration of creative people! That’s my opinion anyways~ =P

If you’ve been following my blog, then you might know that I love working with Stars & their models!  The models have great hair, great skin, and a great attitude. Oh and they are punctual! :) I first had the pleasure to work with a Star model Mackenzie Drazan back in Jan of 2010 with photographer Laura Tillinghast, who told me all about Stars! But the next Star model would be Jan of 2011, exactly a year later, when I worked with Kris Jung! So Jan of 2012, I was invited by Calvin Ma to do a shoot with Amber Robertson from Utah, who was on the show and now part of the Stars roster!  It was a cool morning, but surprisingly sunny upstairs!  My classroom of 3 months, Cinta Aveda Institute, is one floor down from Stars, so I was very familiar with the building, but it was my first time on the roof top!!! I think Amber has that girl next door appeal/bombshell combo, and maybe she can go as far as a VS angel! She definitely has the looks for it! 

Here is a behind the scenes shot of me fluffing up her hair! I’m into fluffy hair textures these days haha

Photo: Calvin Ma

The one below is my favorite shot of the day!!  I really love the colors! And the two following were my picks! :) There’s a few more but I thought I would just post my favorite ones! 
Photo: Calvin Ma
Photo: Calvin Ma
Photo: Calvin Ma
OK! This is PART II – Lindsey was also featured on Scouted.  The previews of that episode really did magnify her morality/ethical contract and portrayed her as a Christian but when you watch it, I think they are great guidelines for a model under 18 to follow – like, no negative influences such as drugs/alcohol, no sheer clothing.  Watching her on Scouted, I was like…what was I like when I was 18?  Thinking about it…Ya know..when I was 18 until my 20s, I was much more outspoken, sometimes a bit too outspoken for my own good because it got me in trouble, and actually didn’t benefit me – so I went the complete opposite and became too quiet/reserved/withdrawn; over time, unsure of myself, losing confidence. My goal for 2012 is to really tap into my inner confidence again – find my inner-18 year old, who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind!   In regard to the confidence thing, I think I’m making giant strides and it’s still only January 24th! I remember last year I’d feel hesitant about walking into a room full of strangers to network with them and feel the need to bring someone along – don’t get me wrong, it HELPS when there are familiar faces, but I think I’m getting used to it, and as I find small successes, I will slowly regain the lost confidence back! :D
These are two shots from the 60s inspired fashion story, shot by Calvin Ma & styled by Cindy Tran
Photo: Calvin Ma
Photo: Calvin Ma

Last but not least, CONGRATULATIONS to Alwyn for being signed to One Management in the finale of Scouted! I had a lot of fun with my new Ben Nye color palette that day.  Sometimes, you just feel like playing and doing something new! I was really pleased with the dewy skin, and dewy nose and cupid’s bow here!

Photo: Rummy Makmur

OK! The end of a really long post!!! Happy year of the Dragon!!  I hope you enjoyed some of the photos! I’ll be sure to blog soon! ;) 

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
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Happy Holidays everyone! ;)
I remembered a fun tool to make cards, and while I reviewing the smilebox (the only thing that’s annoying is the ad, but it won’t go away unless you pay their membership fee!!), a cute little tool to make online digital cards to send to friends/family/etc! Of course I couldn’t fit every event in, but it’s still fun to plug it in and take a moment to remember, and be grateful for all the opportunities I was given with wonderful clients, whether it be fashion editorials/video/film/news/catalogue/bridal/special events/makeup lessons!! 
I saw that they had a scrapbook and I thought to myself…why not!!! I’ve never done it before, but then again, 2011 has been a year of a lot of firsts!  Some notable ones for me..
– First time in NYC/NY Fashion Week!
– First time being published on StyleMePretty – California
– First time filming a ‘real’ makeup tutorial
– First time producing a bridal editorial (this one is not released yet!) 
– First time published for makeup/hair/photography in the Siren’s editorial!
– First time getting props for a shoot, and buying the wardrobe (the picnic kids shoot in the park!)
– First time having/training assistant(s)! 
– First time doing 2 wedding gigs in a day (Even though I get multiple inquiries on the same date, usually the times end up conflicting and I am unable to accommodate 2 parties)
– First time winning the staff-voted RAW (un-photoshopped) Facebook photo contest! or any contest, really~ ;)
– First time having a public portfolio review (ohh nerve-racking! but worth it for the experience!)
– First time doing a full-on 80s makeup on my husband for his company’s Xmas party!  
And here’s the iPhone photo again for laughs~ ;) I could barely contain my laughter~ my husband, however, was fully in character for every photo.  He showed me an image of Rob Smith from The Cure, and demanded lipstick/powder and everything! He went through my jewelry box and found a random earring, and he asked me if I had any chunky necklaces to complete the outfit! Some of his colleagues barely recognized him but were 100% entertained and pleased with his look! It was a lot of fun! Bringing laughter/joy to people with makeup lol~!  I made my hair as big as I could tolerate it – I’m usually not a big hair person but it was fun to tease it out and have frizzy hair with lots of hair spray!!!
I want to take an opportunity to thank everyone for their support for my blog and commenting! I really appreciate the interaction! Have a safe & wonderful Holiday season everyone!!!
May 2012 be even better than 2011!!!  <3 <3 <3

Makeup & Hair: Elizabeth Chang
Photography: Rummy Makmur

Model: Lauren Loveless @ Stars Model Management SF


If you follow my pages on Facebook, this is probably old news for ya! ;) Recently Camera Ready Cosmetics or CRC, one of my favorite online stores and also where I purchased my FIRST Yaby palette (oh memories…!) hosted a photo contest on facebook – the premise was to submit un-photoshopped photos (Raw Image) and ask people to vote for their favorite image as the first prize, and the 2nd prize is that the staff of CRC will vote for their favorite – and my submission above had the highest votes!  I am really honored to receive this prize – it means a lot to me, to receive votes and support from the artist community!  I was excited and delighted to receive the 2 Embroylisse products: Embroylisse 365 Body Firming Treatment Cream and Embroylisse Essential Dry Skin Balm!

I posted the edited photo during a blog post in August [Click here!]  I am particularly proud of this image, not just because it won some great prizes, but I pushed through in some of the techniques I’ve been working on, and that it was on trend!

Honestly October and November has been a constant roller coaster – the good is really good, and the bad can be really bad!  The constant change and unpredictability of what your day is like going into a job is exciting and appealing, but the flip side is it comes with these highs and lows.  Which is why when I received the message from Mary (owner of CRC) that I had won, I was just really happy and excited! Brought me from a low to a high and I’m doing my best to stay at the highs – or at least a steady middle ground! ;D  Lol I just re-read this paragraph and it looks like my job is some drug! I have to say though – that’s just part of being a part of the creative/beauty industry and the cultural economy. It really helps just to see it like it is – and just go with the flow.

That being said, I am looking forward to my appointments this week, and a marathon of makeup & hair this Saturday for my clients! :)