How to make it as a semi-permanent make-up artist

1. Commit to your art 
“I moved from South Africa to the UK in 2005. I was running a salon and tattooing when I could. Then I met Dawn Forshaw [chief executive of Finishing Touches Group (FTG)] and she invited me to teach because she didn’t have many trainers at that stage – there was no training programme, just equipment. I gave up doing beauty treatments and committed to teaching for FTG part-time while doing semi-permanent make-up (SPMU) for myself, travelling the country from clinic to clinic and trying to drum up business.” 

2. Get an in-depth education 
“I developed the training programmes for FTG, writing the backbone of what the training is, even now. I thought about all the bad training I’d had initially in South Africa, the things that I didn’t get taught and the questions I had. I used all the things I hadn’t learned as a basis for designing the training programme, and thought about ways to communicate better with students. I then taught some of the first courses we ran in Worthing, then on to Harley Street and our current branch in Haywards Heath.” 

3. Be persistent 
“At the same time, I was trying to set up my own business and get myself known, which was a case of visiting clinics, writing letters, cold calling, and using my portfolio to introduce people to SPMU. I had the double challenge of trying to get work for myself but also educating people about the procedure because it wasn’t well known at all back then. I had no car so I’d be up and down the country on the train all the time. I arranged open evenings every night of the week at different clinics to get existing clients in and educate them on SPMU. They worked really well and my persistence paid off.” 

4. Keep up with market changes 
“Around four years ago, the company changed quite drastically and we rebranded. The market had developed a lot and we needed to be more pioneering and forward-thinking. I started doing lots of research into pigments and needles and worked closely with our manufacturers in Germany to develop a new line of pigments and better techniques. I’m always trying to find new and interesting ways of doing things, so moving into the R&D side was a natural progression; I’m very curious and scientific with my research. And I’m always going on courses – to be a good technician you have to constantly update your learning.” 

5. Self-promotion is crucial 
“The industry is very competitive now for SPMUs. The bulk of my work still comes from referrals; that’s how I’ve built my reputation. I also focus a lot on the review section of my website, keeping it updated and sharing these on social media. A lot of clients say they’ve read reviews and that they find them really helpful, but you’ve got to be good with the SEO [search engine optimisation] of your website to make them stand out. Where you work from is very important – a room in your house doesn’t always set the right tone with this kind of procedure. Linking up with reputable clinics or a company, like I did, really raises your profile.” 

Read more from our Career Path series, which promotes the many exciting careers open to beauty therapists: