Failure. Oh sure, take a look at any experienced professional’s portfolio and you see 5 star work followed by 5 star work — right? It’s easy to look at this and feel hopeless, and feel like you’ll never get there, and you’re never going to be good enough, and your potential clients will just keep scrolling past your IG onto the BBD (bigger, better deal). To this, i say: SHUT YOUR MOUTH.
Here’s a true story: I was first trained on microblading in May of 2016. In June, i took a month solid of booking in clients and doing brows all day every day. Keep in mind, at that point i had been in business for 7 years, and i had a slew of clients that trusted me to let me tattoo their faces. This won’t necessarily be you, but that’s not the point. So at the end of that first month of practice, i started getting a few referrals from clients that were happy enough with their brows. Generally they’d book a consultation before they booked the full service, and it would give me the opportunity to map their brows, discuss the procedure, and give them a rundown of my experience so they had a fairly good idea of my service level.
One day, i had a booking for a microblading with a client who i’d never met before. Not even as a wax client…. so we called and confirmed she wanted the full service done sans-consult. Like triple checked. She was a word-of-mouth referral from a trusted esthetician in town, so she had confidence that i’d be able to nail it. On the phone, my gut told me to push harder for a consult, or cancel altogether… but i ignored that gut feeling (mistake #1). She came in and showed me these beautiful, wispy brows microbladed on relatively full natural brows and asked for this style. I had never done this style, and the artists she was referencing were pro, experienced artists who i was personally following and admiring. I knew i couldn’t do it, and i should have turned her away at that point — but i didn’t (mistake #2).
I finished the service while concurrently crapping my proverbial pants. 3 hours later, after sweating through both of my shirts, i showed the client her new brows and held my breath… she actually liked them. I swear, I was extremely shocked. I was on cloud nine!!!! I slept well that night.
Fast-foward to 6 weeks later, the client comes in for her touch-up. She barely makes eye contact as I greet her, doesn’t say much when i make small talk as i’m taking her down the hall to my room… she takes a seat on the chair in my room, and says, “We’re not doing anything today.” And then continues to tell me everything she hates about her brows. Colour, shape, symmetry, she’s had to buy special makeup to cover, on and on. I sat there, listened, kept everything in, and said, “What can i do to make this better?” She asked for a refund. I happily complied, and let her know that this meant we’re basically washing our hands of each other. She agreed, and left.
I closed my door after she left, and cried for ten minutes. I used to be a crybaby as a child, but I’d like to consider myself a pretty strong individual… I cry at sappy movies, or something related to my kids, but i don’t get anxious or worked up over anything work related. I had a hard time sleeping that whole week, and i was gutted over ruining this woman’s face. I still look back and shake my head at how bad those brows turned out. Every service after that one, i had to give myself a 10 minute pep talk, and i dreaded it the entire time. I almost threw in the towel. ME. I ALMOST GAVE UP. But people still booked in — i really don’t know why. I always say i wasn’t that good at microblading, and my friends/staff/family always said i was. I chalked it up to them just being my people, and kept plugging along.
I kept practicing on latex, pencil and paper, actual clients… i took more courses, followed artists better than me to see how they worked… i kept pushing myself. I could have just stopped, and quit. I did consider it, i pulled back from posting on social and i went down to just a few appointments a week. That would have been the perfect opportunity to just not take any more clients. Maybe i was just too busy with waxing and product development to notice, or to do anything drastic. Maybe deep down i knew that if i just kept practicing, it would eventually get better.
That client wasn’t my first failure, and it wasn’t my last. I still have moments where clients look at the finished result and i’m seeing all of the flaws, but they’re loving it.. The difference is, now i’ve acquired the skill and mental fortitude to solve the problem.
I didn’t write this post to just tell you that i’ve had failures too — i wrote this post to remind you that in order to get better at anything in life, you have to fail. Don’t look at anyone’s portfolio of work and marvel at how amazing they are, without realizing that they failed too. They just picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and started all over again (cue Diana Krall. Anyone?)
New artists? Keep going. Keep failing, keep practicing, keep trying new things. Ask questions. Investigate. Take notes before you try something new. Watch what your industry leaders are doing, and learn whatever you can. Invest in new courses.
If you’re reading this, and you’re looking at taking a training course (whether you’re brand new, or just looking to brush up on your skills) — Hit me up! I’m looking at finding a few students to take my beta course on Microblading.