HOW GLAMSQUAD IS KILLING THE MAKEUP INDUSTRY
I have a small Facebook group, Glossible, where makeup artists and beauty enthusiasts gather and talk about beauty industry. Back in March, we started a whole conversation on Glamsquad... and let me tell you, a shit storm ensued.
Artists from all over the US were shaking their heads and crying off their perfectly placed eyeliner once the see how Glamsquad is taking over the freelance makeup industry.
After many conversations and cries for help, I decided to write this blog post. This post is for those of you who may have the same feeling about how Glamsquad will affect your careers as freelance artists. I hope what I write here is the voice for those of you who feel you have no voice.
Please share this post if you agree. Together we are mighty, but alone we have no chance in hell as a freelance industry.
If you are a beauty professional considering working for Glamsquad, let me help you decide if this is the best fit for you. What you learn may surprise you.
WHO IS GLAMSQUAD?
Glamsquad is an on demand beauty biz that has an app and online website where clients can book luxury beauty services like hair and makeup in their homes or hotels. The company is headed up by former Gilt Group co-founder and Harvard graduate Alexandra Wilkis Wilson. (The Gilt group purchases vendor inventory at an extreme discount, and then adds a margin on top of the discounted price in order to make a profit and sell items at a discount. Think of it as a high end Groupon.)
Glamsquad, founded in January of 2014, is growing like crazy. Wilkie-Wilson wants to take the app national and now, she has raised over $7 million dollars to do so. They are touting it as the “Uber” of beauty services. $7 Million? Well bollocks. How can we small time makeup artists compete with that? Oh yea. We can't.
According to an article in Upstart, Glamsquad is completing about 1,000 services per week between NY and LA. They are about to launch in Miami, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Washington DC, London and Boston.
HOW GLAMSQUAD WORKS
Glamsquad claims they hire the best of the best and train them for 40 hours on how to interact in the client's home to give them an overall luxury experience.
Let me ask you dear makeup artist friend, if you are the best of the best, are you going to work for these rates? Maybe you're new in town and you need work!? Competition is fierce! Glamsquad seems like the golden ticket... But is it great for your freelance beauty biz?
Glamsquad's lure is to charge the following rates to come to a client's home or office location. The app makes it super convenient for users to push a button and have a beauty pro at their door.
You, as an artist or stylist, are allowed to take as many or as few services as you would like within your geographic location.
Some members of our Facebook group have worked for Glamsquad and report that Glamsquad takes 40% of services. (Which is an average of what most salons and other on location companies do.) They take care of all the booking, advertising and other business headaches. You just show up and powder noses. Easy right? That's the plus side. There are many days I wish I could just show up and do a job and go home. Running a biz is exhausting most days. This is where Glamsquad could be a good fit for someone. But before you decide, keep reading.
WHY GLAMSQUAD DOESN'T WORK
As someone who has run a successful on location business for 15 years I can tell you that these rates are jaw dropping and can't really work in your favor as a freelance makeup artist or hairstylist.
I recently did a webinar on How to Set Your Bridal Rates and makeup artist Margina Dennis did one on How to Set Your Commercial Rates. In our webinars, we teach you how to figure out what to charge for your freelance beauty business. And honey, this isn't it.
Once the artists took the How to Set Your Rates webinars they knew right away that Glamsquad is killing the freelance makeup industry. And if you think it's not going to affect you, think again.
BREAKING DOWN THE GLAMSQUAD RATES
I had my trusty accountant make a "Setting Your Rates Worksheet" for our webinar. In this worksheet you just plug in your numbers and expenses and it tells you how many services you need to do to each month break even. In this worksheet, we factor in
- Costs per Application
- Monthly Overhead
- Taxes & Profit
- Depreciation of supplies
We made it so easy for you to have that eye opening experience and to get serious about your business. It's a must have tool for any freelance beauty artist.
I decided to use this worksheet to breakdown the Glamsquad prices. I asked my Facebook friend to help me understand her time as a freelancer with Glamsquad so I could fully understand their process. Trust me, it wasn't pretty.
During this exercise, keep in mind that there may be times you could have more than one client per job while working at Glamsquad. Since I was working with the former freelancer for Glamsquad, she reports it was rare to have more than one client per location. So let's break it down, shall we?
*Glamsquad tells artists that they are entitled to the full 20% tip but this artist informs me that the math never added up. So the jury is still out on if they actually keep a % of your tip. But for the exercise, let's assume you get to keep it all.
Now let's talk about your overhead or in other words, your living expenses. Only you can determine what that is. Some living expenses may be higher and some may be lower depending on your lifestyle.
While I didn't get too nitty gritty for this exercise, you need to complete 33 Glamsquad services per month to break even. We haven't even talked about profit or fun money. For those of you who live in big cities where Glamsquad is like NY & LA, we all know that the cost of living is much higher.
But let's break it down even easier...for those of you who don't want to factor in what it actually costs to DO your job...
Your hourly rate is roughly $24.50 per hour. Last I heard you can freelance for a makeup counter and make $25 an hour without having to run all over the city to get your $49.00.
Working at a counter you are working roughly 4-6 hours which means you actually earn more because you are working more hours. With Glamsquad you can only fit so many makeup applications in during a day to get that same rate. Why? Because you actually have to travel by car, bus or train to get where you're going...in other words, travel time eats away at profit.
I thought you wanted to freelance full time so you didn't have to work at a counter? Right? That was the goal wasn't it?
NO ROOM FOR ADVANCING YOUR CAREER
As a freelance makeup artist, we do jobs from time to time to hopefully one day get to the "big time". When I mean the "big time" I mean doing the higher paying jobs that we hope to land one day. Fashion week, ad campaigns, weddings, etc. The jobs that will allow you to actually pay your bills, make a profit and earn a living....
Guess what? Glamsquad is going after those too....and getting them.
The artists on our Facebook group that worked for Glamsquad is reporting that "Event Pay" is $28 per hour. Not much more than working at a cosmetic counter there either. After you take out your taxes and product costs, your more than likely getting cosmetic counter rates too.
Reports were also coming in from some of my makeup artists friends saying they were cut from their high paying day rates for Fashion Week because Glamsquad offered the show clients "deals" to be a part of their fashion week. Brilliant marketing on Glamsquad's part but a lot of freelancers who depended on fashion week each season were out of work. Now the shit is getting serious.
If you think working for Glamsquad will be great until the bigger jobs come, think again....In other words, there will be no where left for us to go for the bigger paying jobs. Glamsquad are getting those too.
Words From Pros
Here are some of things being said on our social media about Glamsquad and companies like them:
You're going to tell me now after all these years of sacrifice and busting my hump, paying for school, getting a license, paying insurance, continuing my education, constantly editing and improving my kit and skills, building a focused business and service model...now I need fucking VC to be able to be a hairstylist/makeup artist?
Otherwise I'm going to get marketed out of a proper wage in my own field by some twats with start up capital and an app? THIS IS GROSS. A $50 face does NOT cover my expenses to even walk out the door to go down the dang street. Mac and cheese and ramen noodles for dinner? I thought those days were over?
I'm in a saturated market of Los Angles and there is a makeup artist on every corner. I'm working at Glamsquad to pay bills, but I'm barely paying them. I recently moved to LA and this is the only work I can get. But the longer I am with them I realize there will be no where for me to grow. This is a "up" as its seems I can get. Maybe it's time to leave the industry and just do this as a side hustle. This is depressing.
I thought I was the only one who gets infuriated by Glamsquad! What makes it even worse..the owner of the company has no makeup/beauty/industry background whatsoever. She was in marketing, married rich, needed a hobby! ARE YOU KIDDING? Your hobby is undercutting? Ugh
What frustrates me about Glamsquad is that the owner didn't have to put years of blood, sweat & tears into the industry to build her business. I can't argue that the business model isn't brilliant but the reason they can charge the low rates they do is because they have the capital in the company and don't need to rely on their sales to stay in business right now.
Pricing is always going to be a hot button in our industry and is something I'm always looking at in terms of what the consumer will spend, what the artists talents allow & how I as a business owner make money.
The money numbers simply do not add up in favor of the artist. We have done this math. But the big business behind it will make millions while turning makeup artist into low wage earners. Once again big business wins on the sweat, blood and tears of the creative professionals.
10 REASONS GLAMSQUAD IS BAD FOR FREELANCERS
- Prices. Not realistic for supporting oneself.
- Artists are turned into technicians and not artists
- They don't understand the true meaning of value for a luxury experience
- There is no retainer in place for cancelations. So you could end up with $0 for the day.
- They promote "looks" on the website instead of catering to each individual client.
- They don't charge minimums so you hustle for $25 per hour.
- No room for moving up in any category except in volume.
- No opportunities for new artists to build a loyal clientele
- No freedom to set your own rates based upon local market, experience.
- You have no idea where you are showing up to? Buffalo Bill's house? Safety Concerns
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
As a business person myself, it's hard to write this because I know that the hungry consumer market wants these types of cheap beauty services. Glamsquad is just filling a need and a demand...and all we are doing here is bitching, pissing and moaning. Myself included.
I know a lot of people could be homeless if it weren't for places like Glamsquad giving them jobs.. there are a lot of people who rely on them to earn a living. Glamsquad preys on uneducated artists to be successful and take advantage of makeup artists and hairstylists that are flooding the industry. But in reality, the more that apps like this flood the market, the more this industry will leave us all homeless..or leaving the industry all together. But guess what? We can't win. Consumers want it fast and they want it cheap.
When it comes to running a successful on location beauty business, there are so many factors that go come into play.... and my experience tells me this business model is only good for one person, and one person only. Glamsquad.
Maybe I'm just not greedy enough as a business owner. I didn't go to Harvard....I only have street smarts and actual experience of being IN the beauty industry. Maybe I'm wrong in everything I wrote here but damn it, it sure ain't right...and I care too much about this industry and all of you to see it die to the likes of Glamsquad and companies like them.
At the end of the day however, you have to do what is best for you and your business. But as a seasoned pro with over 20 years of experience, this isn't looking good for any of us. It's up to us to be like Madonna and always reinvent ourselves to stay relevant and stay profitable. And the best advice is to be the best we can be to our existing clients and customers and hope they love us enough or more than Glamsquad so they stay with us.
If you're a freelance makeup artist, what do you think of Glamsquad? Leave a comment below!