Career advice: how to make it as a celebrity therapist
Having worked backstage at Strictly Come Dancing and the MTV Awards, skincare and tanning expert Michaella Bolder shares her tips on working with famous clients.
1. Develop a USP
“During my training, I was always a little bit naughty. When I was learning how to massage, I would put my elbows into people’s shoulders. The teacher would come over and say, ‘You’re not allowed to do that’, but I always wanted to add more. When I went to work in a salon, again I was pushing the boundaries because I was always mixing products together. I would put paraffin wax on top of serums on clients’ faces because I knew how good the skin would feel afterwards.
“I never knew I wanted to be a facialist, specifically, but I knew I wanted to do things differently. After a few years, I cut out the other treatments and focused solely on the face and body because they’re what I had a passion for.”
2. Network with industry leaders
“You have to put yourself out there and contact big brands, perhaps through an agency. It’s always good to have a relationship with those companies because they often have celebrities on their books or work red-carpet events. At first, you could say, ‘I would really love to get into celebrity work and I’d be happy to work with this person or this event free of charge.'
“I remember when I first started in the industry, people would say, ‘You’re going to have to be here for a long time. It takes at least 10 years to make it’. And they weren’t wrong. The hard work, long hours and low pay aren’t always easy, but that’s what gets your name out there.”
3. Follow influencers
“Find a therapist you love and do your research on them. There are so many great names out there: Renée Rouleau, Sarah Chapman, Nichola Joss, for example. What is it that they do that inspires you? From there, you could reach out to them through Instagram or email and ask if you can shadow them. I learned in that way for around five to six years before focusing on facials.
“However, don’t expect to always hear back. They’re not always going to be taking people on; I’m not at the moment. It takes a long time to get there, so don’t think that just one email to one person will do it. Try a few different options.”
4. Secure repeat bookings
“I always say there’s no such thing as advertising in this industry, just word of mouth. You have one client, they tell their friends about you, then it keeps spreading out like branches on a tree. If you do your job the best you can, then it happens naturally.
“After an initial treatment with a client, you have to be confident about saying, ‘Next time, we should really try this treatment. Can I book you in now?'
“If they seem unsure, say you have a discount coming up you can offer them there and then. If the client feels like they get good results for what they pay for, then it’s likely they’ll come back.”
5. Don’t treat celebrities any differently
“When working with high-profile clients, it’s important you don’t acknowledge who they are. You often don’t even know whose house you’re going to, and it’ll usually be at silly o’clock in the morning or at night.
“They’ll probably be in their pyjamas or a tracksuit. You can walk into anything. There could be a team of 20 people there and you just have to be the person that blends into the background.
“Regardless, go there, do your job and then leave. You’re not there to be a counsellor, so don’t dig for information. You have to let the client give you that opportunity. Just nurture them with your treatment and do your best job, because that’s what you’re there for.”