With a degree in English Literature, Dee Blackett’s passion for the subject resonated whenever she could write. However, that passion dwindled as she realised after only two weeks of teaching it, the profession was not for her. There, the multitalented creative came to understand her true calling in her passions for makeup. Once certified as a makeup artist, Dee took the final step and opened her company in 2011 – Beauty by Dee Blackett. Today, she decided to give advice to anyone who wanted to begin the journey of cultivating their hobbies into a business.
Was it expensive starting Beauty by Dee Blackett?
If you want to have a solid kit, it is expensive but you’re just starting so be practical. When you are moving into a house, it’s not going to look like somebody else’s who’s owned it for 10 years. Buy your products strategically and keep adding.
What are some of the greatest accomplishment you have achieved for your business?
In 2015, I self-published my book called ‘The Caribbean Woman’s Cosmetic Culture’. It’s a collection of interviews about the perception of the heavily made-up woman and how it’s changed. Definitely though, I’m proud we’re creating this authentic community through the Pure Beauty Tour.
How did the Pure Beauty Tour come about?
My clients were always like “Dee, can you help us shop for makeup?” so I thought of doing a personal shopping service but then I thought to make it a big event. At different stores, my team guides you through what you need to buy for your complexion and skin type. We have a coach, gift bags at the end and lunch is included at a nice restaurant.
What’s coming up for the business?
It hit us that we needed to do a lifestyle subscription bag. It’s called the Pure Beauty Bag. We launched our first official summer edition bag on July 1st. We had a nice pink moscato, Maybelline makeup products, coupons for nail services, and other things. The next one is our Holiday bag and we’re looking forward to it.
What do you believe is your role in the community?
It’s about the average woman who might think, “I shouldn’t be wearing red lipstick.” It’s about making that woman feel happy and comfortable and teaching what’s best for her while finding that sisterhood. That’s definitely my role.
How do you keep up with the latest trends in the industry?
I go to the Makeup Show in New York to meet professionals and learn new techniques. I made contacts there and I’ve always kept up with them. The founder of the Powder Group, artists who have a lot of weight in the global industry contacted me and was like “This Pure Beauty Tour is awesome. We want to be sponsors.” So for people who think Barbados is small – This is worldwide. You have no idea how far you can go once you focus.
How do you think business will be affected by the declining economy in Barbados?
My advice is to have a deposit system. Somebody might book you and then cancel last minute so you have to safeguard your business. What is also important is business ethics. Being polite and professional really gives you a push.
How do you see the makeup industry developing in Barbados?
Right now it is very saturated so you have to focus on yourself. Focus on creating a niche. You can’t do 250,000 faces, so why are you worrying about how many artists there are? Be creative.
How impactful is social media on this business?
You have to be in touch with what’s going on and your followers. You also have to brand yourself. Some people like to have a persona and some people are authentic. But definitely self-branding is very important.
What’s the day to day life like?
It’s scary. I would suggest having another job until your business gets to a certain level. Even now I have a part-time job. I have a friend who is an entrepreneur too. I always tell her when there’s seemingly nothing to do, this is the time where you plan. The hustle doesn’t stop.
People make the makeup artist life look glamourous- it isn’t. I’m used to hauling stuff – makeup, chairs, tables, bags – it’s long hours.
How do you find the balance between your personal life and your business?
If you don’t take care of yourself, it can eat you alive. It got to a point where I would just work and not eat. You have to learn how to unplug and say no. It can be rough but you have to make a considerable effort.
Any other advice you would like to share to other entrepreneurs?
It’s important to do a business plan and to budget. Don’t look at things from an aspect of “this person is offering this so I’ll offer that.” You need to have tunnel vision to think about what you want to do and once you find that rhythm, ideas and opportunities start coming.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I want my Pure Beauty Bag running as one of the biggest lifestyle bags in the region. I want to be the go-to for makeup education and support entrepreneurs in the beauty industry. What I’m most focused on is helping women to come into their own makeup lives and just have a community of beauty lovers.
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