Interview with Ariella Beamon
Looks Skin Studio Pro Ariella Beamon is an Esthetician in Texas. Her makeup and skincare knowledge makes her a great asset to our PocketSuite Pro community. Ariella talks to CEO Chinwe Onyeagoro about the importance of being honesty with clients and work-life-balance.
I have so many questions for you. You are one of the top performing estheticians in the PocketSuite community. You are a mom. You teach other estheticians. There is nothing you don’t do. I want to go deep today to share with the community your evolution as a master esthetician. I’d love to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s start with how you got started in this business.
So, I just wanted to be Beyonce’s makeup artist. I tell people all the time. Some people have very long and intricate stories on why they joined the community. That’s not my story. I literally fell in love with makeup and I said, you know what, this is going to get me close to Beyonce. I want to be Beyonce’s makeup artist. That ultimately led me to becoming the “Beyonce of Skin”. So I call myself “Skinyonce”. That’s it. That’s essentially what brought me into aesthetics. I quickly learned that there was a need for natural corrective care professionals that look like me and that specialize in all things skin. So that’s my story – the short version.
I love it! We have to get you to do Beyonce’s skin and then it will come full circle. Was it super easy because you loved it? So no matter what you encountered this is what you were going to do or were there challenges along the way to becoming who you are today?
There were a lot of challenges. There were a lot of things that happened that, of course, I wish didn’t happen. I learned a lot of things the hard way in the industry. I came from a corporate background and had the comfortability of clocking in and clocking out. I had someone who provided a 401K, insurance benefits, sick time, paid time off, FMLA, and all of those great things. I went from having a corporate position to being responsible for everything. It was a learning experience. I am always a student and I am forever learning new things. It wasn’t necessarily hard, but it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. That’s why I am so passionate about helping other professionals, guiding and helping them on the business side because I didn’t have that.
Since you were in corporate America for a period of time, was there a moment when you decided, “All right. I’m going full-time to do makeup”? If so, what was that moment? What was that trigger?
In the beginning, I was doing freelance makeup artistry. I decided that I wanted to do aesthetics. I went to aesthetics school and I quickly learned that there were other things that I can do, like lashes, waxing. In school, I was like, “I’m going to learn how to do all these things so if something happens, I have it in my back pocket.” But as I started doing freelance makeup artistry, it was really hard. My family had just relocated to Dallas Fort Worth. I didn’t have many contacts here. I didn’t know people, so it was really hard to break into the scene. I got to the point where I was like, “You know what? I’ve got to do something. I have to do something.”
Actually, a couple of my makeup clients, they would ask me for skincare tips. They were like, “You have such great skin.” I would tell them about different products, different things, and did their facials. A lot of them would say, “Well, I don’t know where to go.” I would say, “Well, I’ll do your facial.” That’s kind of how it started. I just started doing my makeup clients. Most skincare professionals know that for your makeup to look flawless, your skincare is key. It’s a key component.
That’s essentially what led me to aesthetics – the need in my clients. When it comes to being a professional, the majority of my clientele are women and men of color, ethnic, all different ethnic backgrounds, but primarily brown and black. We don’t have a lot of the same options as other people that are non-black people. I tell my clients all the time. I have the same philosophy with skin as our hair. We can’t walk into any hair salon and get our hair done. We have to do research on the salon and find out what they’re offering, what products they’re using, and see reviews, et cetera. It should be the same with your skin. That’s my philosophy. I feel like that’s the reason that my clientele has grown the way that it’s grown. It is because I try to do as much as possible to show men and women of color that they can take care of their skin.
I’m very honest. I think my honesty and my integrity are the things that so many people value in a person. They value what I offer the industry.
That makes a lot of sense. I definitely know that I’ve walked into the wrong salon on many occasions when it comes to facials. I got hyperpigmentation and all sorts of craziness because my skin reacted to ingredients that just weren’t for me.
Texas is really hot. The Dallas area, Plano area, is really hot for makeup, for aesthetics. We see so many really talented professionals. What’s going on in your area that makes it such a hotspot?
I think it’s just because it’s such a large metroplex. Honestly, I think that’s exactly what it is. Texas is huge. I mean, you know the history. It used to be its own country, so Texas is literally huge. I think that it’s just the amount of people that are in the metroplex. You have Dallas, you have Plano. I live in McKinney, Texas. There’s Allen, Texas. There’s Frisco, Texas. There’s The Colony, Little Elm, Frisco. I mean, there are so many cities, and I’m just naming North Dallas. There’s the South Dallas area. I don’t know those cities because I don’t live in that area and I’m not from here. The metroplex is huge. It is huge.
I follow you on Instagram and you’re always on point with your messaging. You sent something out earlier this year, or it was late last year, where you said, “I’m not counting followers and likes, I’m counting payments and invoices.”
What is your superpower? Because you always seem to be on point in terms of what you focus on; how you communicate; how you set expectations with clients; and then how you deliver.
I think my superpower is this thing right here. My mouth. Coming from the Midwest, from Chicago, South Side, I am very bold. I’m not one to hide how I feel. I’m very honest and upfront. I think that having that attribute is a key characteristic of me being who I am and my clients appreciate me. I don’t take advantage of people. I don’t have them purchase things or do things – services they don’t need. I’m very honest. I think my honesty and my integrity are the things that so many people value in a person. They value what I offer the industry. I get that all the time. They’ll say, “You’re just so down to earth, so real. I love you for that.” So many people show the good side of the industry, but I do both. I’m going to show you the good. I’m going to show the bad. I’m going to show you everything in between. I give you everything.
It’s funny. I lived in Chicago for 10 years. I did work in Bronzeville, the Hyde Park area, so I totally know the South Side. On that note, I do want to keep it real. There are a lot of beauty professionals out there. When I look at you, when I look at your volume and calendar, you’re just overbooked! You’re the only one I hear saying, “Nope, not accepting any more clients.” Everyone else is trying to fill up their calendar.
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You’re like, “Hey, we blocked time. We’re fully booked.” How did you get to the point where you’re oversubscribed? That’s what everybody’s trying to get to. We don’t know what you’re doing, but clearly, there’s some secret sauce – some super power.
Everybody wants to be booked and busy. In the beginning, my PocketSuite career would definitely show that. In the beginning, I constantly worked myself 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. I would take a couple of hours break – four to five days a week. That’s how I worked. I learned very early on in my career that that’s not healthy. That you have a set schedule and you have to abide by that. That is it. I love my clients, but I have a family. I have children. I don’t offer myself to them 40 hours a week, physically. I’m not going to do that. I did it at the beginning. It ended up affecting my health. For me, the key to being booked and busy is to have a set schedule. My team lead at Looks Skin Studio, Isis, just said to me yesterday, “Ms. Ari, I’m trying to rebook my clients. I used to be able to do four weeks out. Now, I’m having to push six weeks out. Six weeks out.”
It’s happening. It’s happening.
That’s called being booked. Like, you’re booked. We can’t accommodate them. If you’re booked, you’re booked. She’s like, oh, she’s used to being able to put people in the next few weeks, the next month, but that’s not what’s happening anymore. I mean, my thing is you have to have a set schedule, stick to that schedule. Don’t overextend yourself. You have to have a life outside of the salon. You have to have a life outside of the spa. There has to be some sort of balance. If not, you’ll find yourself falling out of love with what you do and that’s a place I never want to be. I love what I do. I overly enjoy aesthetics. I overly enjoy being an educator. I never want to work myself to the point where I don’t enjoy walking through those doors.
I never want to get to that point in my career. I learned early on that you have to say no. You have to say no. That’s the secret sauce. It is having a schedule and sticking to it. You can’t book yourself out if your schedule is showing availability seven days a week, 12 hours a day. How are you going to book yourself out? That’s not going to create a solid client base, either, because they’re going to feel like, “You know what? I can come to her whenever. She’s going to have a 9:00 AM, I know. She’s going to have a 10:00 AM.” If they value what you offer, then they need to pre-book. We don’t operate as a walk-in facility. We are by appointment only.
People are sending questions in because they’re like, “We know she’s speaking truth.” One person just asked, “What do you do from a marketing perspective to get that volume? To get so many people coming in, wanting to book you in the first place?”
Well, I don’t use any social media management. I don’t use anything other than my platform on Instagram. I tell people all the time that I’m active. I just posted a few days ago on my Instagram, “You have to work like you just started.” That’s my work ethic. No matter how booked I am, I’m always constantly working and posting new services, posting new treatments, posting a before and after, posting my clients’ results. I’m not comfortable. I’m not comfortable, because to me, I’m at the point where yes, I’m booked and busy, but now I want my team to be booked and busy, too.
It’s constant utilization. Social media is a free platform. Why are you not using it? Why are you not using this free platform? There’s TikTok. There’s Snapchat. There’s Facebook. There’s Twitter. I primarily use Instagram. Instagram, that’s it. I don’t have any other platforms, because I’m old. I don’t try to Snappychat. I don’t try to TikTok.
Right. I’m with you. I’m right there with you. I’m like, “I don’t TikTok.” Ariella, what would you say to folks who are just building their social following? Like, “Hey, I only have 50 people following me. That’s not going to be enough for me to make a living. Even if I’m posting, it’s just a limited number of folks who are seeing it.” What do you say to those people?
There were a couple of things that I did in the beginning of my career. I’m very transparent. I hit the ground. I’ve passed out pluggers. I plastered out flyers. If you drive somewhere every day, that’s a form of advertisement. I had magnets on my car.
When I went through a drive-through and I was purchasing something, I was giving them a business card – everywhere that I went. I say this all the time to professionals. You have to be your number one fan. You have to be your number one recruiter. If you’re not doing work, you can’t expect it to just fall in your lap – especially as a woman of color in a city that I’m not from. I have no family here. Well, I had no family here. I’m not from here. I was 26, 27 years old. I had to do the work. Literally, I would drive around plastering up Walmart parking lots. Put pluggers on people’s cars. That’s the part that people don’t know.
Ariella, most people don’t believe that works. Most people think, “Oh, that’s going to be a waste of time. No one’s going to call me.” “People aren’t going to just come to me off the street. They have to be referred.”
I disagree. This is the thing. You have to have the correct resources, like PocketSuite, like a booking site. You can’t just expect someone to call you and want to book a service. It’s 2021. We’re in a new day and age. But you have to have a resource for them to be able to contact you. Another thing, you have to have a portfolio. You have to have something to show on your platforms and put your platforms on those contacts, on those forms. For me, when I had those pluggers I put my Instagram on them. It’s always been Instagram for me. From day one, I’ve been extremely active on my social media platform because I didn’t have the means. I couldn’t pay a social media marketer. I couldn’t pay for advertising.
Those are things that cost, so I had to do what I could do. You can literally go on VistaPrint and you can get digital printers to print out. I mean, it’s been awhile. I think I paid maybe $50. For my car magnet, I know I spent maybe around a hundred dollars. Right there, I spent less than $200. I invested, excuse me, not spent. I invested less than $200 and I got my returns. You have to hit the ground. Along with doing things like that another thing that I did, that I had a lot of success with, is vendor events. Go out to these events. For me, I’m a mom, so I went to mom events.
Neighborhood events, garage sale events, events that actually will allow you to connect to people. I’m an introvert. People are always shocked when they meet me in person, because I’m like, “Oh, don’t touch me, please. Please, please.” On social media, I’m like this, but in person, I’m like, “Oh”, that was very hard for me quite honestly, going to those events, but I knew that it was necessary. I knew that it was necessary. I knew that it was a way for me to build and to also connect to people, because again, I’m not from here. I didn’t have the means that a lot of people had.
In some ways, that was an advantage. Not being from there, so you couldn’t rest on people you knew. You had to get out there. Brass tacks, how many hours a week did you spend out there marketing versus in the salon? And what kinds of things should people be posting on their Instagram to grab people’s attention and really sell them?
I personally had a goal of at least four hours a week doing some type of footwork, which includes attending events. That includes passing out flyers. That includes just driving through drive-throughs, Walmart. When it comes to social media, to me, it’s definitely going to be showing what you’re doing. I’m not going to go to someone for lashes if I’ve never seen a set of lashes that they’ve done. For me, anytime that I was in my treatment room, I was recording. If you have people that you can utilize, like for me, when I wanted to do back facials, I don’t do them anymore, I’m retired from those. But when I was doing back facials, I used my husband’s back.
No way, that’s the best husband in the world! What?
Yeah, he let me record him. I would solicit people. “Hey, do you mind coming in for a facial service and let me record it?” You have to be willing to invest your time and sometimes your resources. I get a lot of people who will tell me, “Ari, I don’t want to do stuff for free. I don’t want to give up that for free.” I understand. However, are you doing anything right now? If you have no clients on your book, you should not have an issue doing a couple of services.
So you give it away in exchange for being able to record.
Yeah, in exchange.
I know you teach others. How did you get into that and how does someone get the benefit of learning from you?
It started this time last year. I would have people constantly in my inbox asking me the same kind of questions that we’re discussing now, but a little bit more intense. They wanted to know more about the business side of it. They wanted to know how I built the foundation to run a seamless business. My business runs seamlessly and I’m proud of that. I found myself saying, “Well, you know what? If I create information for professionals, would they want to take a class with me?” I did my first class. It did well, then I did the second class. Then after the second class, actually, COVID happened. The shutdown happened, so I was kind of like, “Oh, well. You know what, professionals probably are not going to want to invest their money with me. I know there’s a lot going on.” But it was actually the opposite.
People were literally hitting me up left and right, adding me on all websites. Anytime somebody asked about someone mentoring or offering a business course, they would send them my way. Actually, last year, I had to mentor upwards of almost 100 people, which, to me, I’m very grateful for that, because they didn’t have to trust me, but they did. That’s what led me to offering the service. What I tell people is with me as your mentor, I’m going to give it to you raw. I’m not going to sugar coat it. I’m not going to be cute about it. I’m going to tell you, “Look, you have to have a plan A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V. S, T, U, V. You have to have a plan, day in and day out, as an entrepreneur. That’s what I tell my mentees.
They weren’t struggling because of the resources and the teachings that I shared with them. They knew what it took to come up with income. They knew how to create plan A, B, C. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to help so many and show them how to have a solid foundation. How to bring in other people. How to employ a professional. That’s a big thing. There’s others things. Another thing, for me, it’s very important for people to be able to engage with me. I do take classes live weekly. There’s a five-week course. I give them the opportunity to ask me questions. They have homework, so they’re not just listening to me.
With the homework, we engage that way. I ask them questions about their coursework. How did their work make them feel? Areas that they feel they could improve with their business, et cetera. I invest a lot of myself into my mentees because I hear a lot of other professionals spend XYZ dollars on a class. They don’t get what they felt they should have got. I get the opposite. People say all the time, “Ms. Ari, this class should be double what it is.” It is not the price point that it should be. I understand. I tell people, “I know. I know, guys. I know, I know. I know. It goes up little by little. Every couple of months, I raise it.” But my biggest thing is I don’t want it to be too much of a struggle, financially. I am an empathetic person. I know how it is. I mean, when I was in my first couple of years, if somebody told me a class was $1,000, I would have to save. Save for a couple of months, sometimes six months, to get that. I am very conscious of beauty professionals at that point. Now, as life happens, and it gets to a different space, things could change, but as of now, I tell everybody, “Hey, you better take advantage of me now. Take advantage of this now.”
Totally! I hope everyone’s listening. Reach out. Ariella, can you share a bit about your PocketSuite experience for folks who are just getting started and thinking about which systems to use to run their business?
I love PocketSuite. I love the fact that my business is 100% paperless. I do not have to utilize papers. We do everything with the app. I love the fact that my clients are able to book via the app. I love the fact that they’re able to see my schedule because sometimes they think that it’s an exaggeration, but they see the grays and that there’s nothing there. I love the fact that they can see pricing. Even with COVID, I’m able to send them a COVID questionnaire and a COVID contract before they come into the salon. I love the fact that we can do notes, especially as a spa owner, specifically, and dealing with corrective skincare, it’s important for my team to be able to create client notes every time that we see a client. We can create notes, and we can input a picture.
I love the fact that we can upload a picture to the app because that does make our job and the way that we work here so much easier. If something happens, if I’m not available, we can tell her. Ms. Isis is out and I’m taking one of her clients, I know I can refer to her client notes. It makes our client management so much easier. One of my other things that I love about PocketSuite that I’m always raving about is the analytics of the app. I can literally see what’s booking and what’s not. A lot of times when I’m looking to make changes with my service menu, the first thing that I do is look at the app to see where we are, what’s doing well, and what’s not. If something is not doing well, then I can make changes with my menu. It also, of course, gives us a full view of the financial side of the business, too. I can see who’s making what when it comes to my team. I love that I can see my number one producing client and the clients who come in the most.
That makes a difference, too. Like the holidays, I know professionals always ask me if I give my clients Christmas gifts. I’ll say, “My top clients.” I don’t have to search for that. It’s literally in the app. I really enjoy the app. I love the fact that we have phone numbers. Literally, after I get off this call with you and I’m off for the next couple of days, I’m logging out of the app. I love that it allows me to disconnect from my booking system versus always constantly being attached to it. I love that I can text someone and say, “Hey.” I’ll ask them a question and then I may not ask another question for days. I love the fact that there is someone always available.
Humans. Humans. That human interaction makes a big difference. When stuff was going on, when there was a technical issue with the app I reached out. I was just like, “Me?” And Linda was like, “Yeah, you’re one of our top pros. We value you. We want to talk to you.” I was just like, “Okay. Well, that’s fine. Let me just tell you everything.” But that does make a difference. Every time that I look into other booking systems because you have to know what’s out there, you have to window shop. Every time that I look into other systems, I end up comparing them to PocketSuite, and I’m like, “Wait, I can’t create texts with this system? I can’t have discounts run through the system? I can’t do forms? I can’t do contracts? They don’t have a client app?” No, I overly appreciate what you guys have offered small business owners like myself. I started off with the free version then I went into the paid version and now I have the salon owner version. I have nothing, but good things to say. I’m always telling people.
You have grown. You have grown so phenomenally. We’re so, so inspired by everything that you’re doing. What can we look forward to celebrating as you look ahead? What should we be expecting next from you?
Expansion. Expansion. My business will be expanding. Definitely more on the education side. I’m really passionate about the education that I’m actually doing. A hybrid education class tomorrow, online learning as well as in-person learning. I’m also dropping a product line. That’s something else that people can expect from me.
You’re going to get even busier.
I’m living proof that it’s never too late to chase your dreams. Or your dreams lead to something else, like a passion, because my dream to be Beyonce’s makeup artist is what has essentially led me to aesthetics. I’m so grateful for the industry. I’m grateful for PocketSuite. Even my employees being able to use the app and being able to log out, too. I’m grateful for you as a CEO ringing little old me. I never take opportunities or things like this for granted, regardless of where I am with my career. My goal is to be a big CEO, too. I appreciate you for allowing me this opportunity. I’m very grateful.