Freelancers take on the beauty industry

Georgia Burns works on a client. Photo Breanna Taylor.
Social media is having a significant impact on the beauty industry with freelancers gaining more work and exposure than ever before. Breanna Taylor reports.

Walking into Tia Bernardes’ bedroom it’s clear where her passions lie. A huge Hollywood style mirror illuminates the space. Her desk is littered with a technicolour arsenal of every lipstick shade imaginable and countless bottles of foundation sit perched on plastic shelves in a uniform fashion.

Just like any 18-year-old with a love for all things beauty, Tia never imagined her passion for makeup would one day lead to a job that she could do from the comfort of her own bedroom.

Working as a freelance makeup artist, Tia says that if it wasn’t for social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, her hobby would never have taken her to where it has today.

“Makeup just started out as something I did for fun and I used to learn watching videos on YouTube and practising on my friends,” she says. “When I realised how popular freelancing was becoming I decided to start my own business, but I didn’t really have much expectation.”

The beauty industry has experienced a major shift with the age of Instagram with many freelancers receiving the same, if not more work than qualified artists who are employed through cosmetic franchise stores like Sephora and Mac.

For Tia, makeup has and always will be the dream. Currently studying a diploma of beauty at Tafe, she says that it was watching beauty gurus at age 15-16, that really sparked her passions and paved the way for a potential career.

“Even though I study, I have found that most of my skills are self-taught through watching tutorial videos on platforms like YouTube. Honestly, social media itself has just made the whole makeup industry explode and I think if we weren’t so lucky with being able to network and connect with each other online, freelancing probably wouldn’t be what it is today.”

Companies like Benefit, Mac and Napoleon who are all major entities within the beauty industry are now in fierce competition with freelancers and are feeling the brunt of social media’s influence on their trade.

Lorina Deguine, who has worked both as an employed artist and freelancer says that while working independently gives makeup artists unlimited freedom, allowing them to choose their own styles and work on their own schedule, the issue of an irregular and unpredictable income can be a problem.

Lorina, who works full time at a makeup store says she loves talking about beauty with customers all day. Pacing around the brightly lit counters offering product assistance and skin care advice, she says she feels comfortable knowing her income isn’t completely reliant on the number of appointments she might receive weekly.

“It’s so hard to compare working at a store and working from home,” she says. “At a store there is always something going on and the work is unlimited but on the other hand your creative freedom can be restricted and you need to work under time constraints.”

Having been a freelancer “many moons ago,” Lorina says social media’s influence was nowhere near as prevalent as it is today and admits things might be very different now if she was able to promote her makeup services online now.

Lorina’s qualifications may not be framed on the wall, but they become apparent when she speaks about makeup. The language of beauty comes fluently to her and her experience in cosmetics has equipped her with a painterly skill.

The makeup industry is one of the world’s oldest industries and has only grown more significantly with the power of online communication. According to Statistica, in 2016, nearly all major beauty brands are promoting themselves on social media, leaving the industry with an inflated revenue of nearly $63 billion.

As well as Instagram, Youtube is predominantly responsible for the sharing of beauty related content with 95 per cent of users using the platform as their primary channel to source makeup tutorials and hauls. Youtube has opened the door for experienced artists and amateur gurus to learn and grow and for cosmetic brands to receive hefty exposure.

For Georgia Burns, a year of freelancing work would not have been possible if it wasn’t for her Instagram business or her easy access to beauty videos online. Working independently, she says while the makeup industry is “a tough egg to crack,” she feels that the use of social media is a “push in the right direction”.

Working from home, Georgia’s studio is a haven of all things makeup. The room is alight with a natural glow and her style of interior decorating is niche and modern. An appointment book sits next to a collection of liquids and powders in a multitude of shades and finishes. Green plants around the room give the studio a breath of fresh air and life as a vanilla candle burns fragrantly.

Makeup artist lorina deguine has also worked freelance. Photo Breanna Taylor.

Like Lorina, Georgia agrees that she struggles with a regular income and staying in competition with the hundreds of other freelancers all within a 5-kilometre radius of her. Having a speciality in creating on-trend ‘glam’ looks, Georgia says her products and overall style will cater to consumers who are seeking glittery and smoky eyeshadow with defined contour.

“People come in that want natural looks and I find it difficult because these days ‘natural’ is such a niche market and it isn’t what I practice daily. Being a freelancer, I love the freedom to exercise my own style and I’ve catered that to what is popular in the industry today and what is seen all over YouTube which has taught me almost everything.”

With the initial costs of six palettes and six shades of Inglot foundation coming out of her own pocket, Georgia says the early days of her own freelancing business were stressful, but it’s starting to pay off now with appointments and clients mainly sourced over Instagram.

Though her love of makeup is enjoyable, Georgia says she knows that freelancing will never be enough and needs a weekly income from her position at Woolworths to help pay the bills.

“It’s a hobby of mine but it isn’t attainable,” she says. “I don’t have long- term goals for being a makeup artist because with rapid changing trends it’s inevitable that your technique is going to die and you will need to quickly learn and master the next popular style.”

Tia disagrees and is welcoming a continuing future as a freelancer. “I think given the tools like social media, I can make it work. I hope to work from home and widen my skills to cater for more areas like spray tans and eyelash extensions, not just makeup.”

“I know my Saturdays are going to be completely full days of work,” she says. “My weekends are usually fully booked which doesn’t leave much time for yourself, but at the end of the day if you have a passion you make it work.”

The global cosmetic industry is set to reach an all-time high by 2023, averaging an estimated sum of $US 803 billion. With our online world and social sites always advancing it is guaranteed that makeup will still have a significant influence, providing jobs for freelancers and qualified artists well into the future.