Posts Tagged ‘ask the expert’

Nathan's tips to keep your skin looking great this summer

With the freezing weather finally behind us, more than just sweaters and snow blowers can be tucked away. As you pull on your thinner summer clothes, be sure to lighten up on your makeup and skincare as well.

In the warmer months, thick cleansers and creams can feel just as heavy as a winter coat would. For better feeling skin, try switching to something light and gentle like Cetaphil. This little powerhouse will cleanse, soften, and gently remove all the excess debris from your skin without stripping all the natural emollients. There is a fine balance between removing the excess and removing too much. You want the skin to retain a healthy amount of oil so you will look young and beautiful without looking oily. It will help keep the skin hydrated, and even and free of pesky breakouts.

In the summer months the skin is naturally oilier. Not only do we produce more oil, but the humidity in the air can seal it into the skin. Your choice of a summer moisturizer is even more important than the cleanser. Unless you are have very dry skin, dense, oil-based moisturizers in the warmer months will lead to clogged pores and excessive oiliness. Active Moist by Dermalogica is one of my all time favorites. The formulation is sheer but very effective. With a combination of silk amino acids and botanical extracts, this super hydrator will keep the skin supple while smoothing the skin’s surface.

When you open your medicine cabinet and put away the thicker moisturizer, store away the heavy foundation as well. Choosing tinted moisturizer in the summer keeps the skin fresh, dewy, and light while evening out the tone and cutting the red. I adore SkinTint FX by Cover FX. The base is a super-lightweight silicone and it is packed with the perfect amount of color and bronzer to make the skin glow with summer illumination. As if that wasn’t good enough, this mulit-tasker tossed in SPF as well as vitamins F, A, C and E to soothe, calm and hydrate the skin.

There is a big difference between dewy glow and slick shine. To keep excess oil at bay, tap De-Slick Mattifying Powder by Urban Decay onto all of your hot spots. This lightweight, oil-absorbing rice powder works equally well over foundation or bare skin. It’s a lifesaver.

A few simple changes in your daily routine will ensure that your face stays cool regardless of the temperature. Don’t worry about storing away your heavier products over the summer, they’ll hold up just fine until the fall.

Put the heavier products away, but don’t worry, they will hold up just fine until the fall.

 

nathan johnsonWritten by Nathan Johnson

Nathan Johnson is a film, television, celebrity, and real women’s makeup artist with 18 years experience in the industry. Nathan believes in education and empowerment – his personal mission is to make America more beautiful one woman at a time. He brings product reviews, makeup tips, and personal experience to the QC blog.

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Today, I want to share with you something that has changed my business. But before I do that, let me give you some background that led to this big change. About a year ago, I was finding myself at a turning point. With five years under my belt as a business owner I was proud of what I had achieved and the reputation for which I had worked so hard. I really felt that my clients were receiving the highest level of support that I could give and the feedback I got from my couples was amazing and very gratifying. But it was also at this five year mark that I was experiencing feelings of burnout. I had been in the business for 10 years, and working 12-14 hour days had clearly paid its toll. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and would never change careers. But I couldn’t continue focusing on making everyone else’s lives perfect at the expense of my own. Something had to give!

This feeling of frustration didn’t come over me all of a sudden. It had been brewing for some time, and in talking to other planners I found I was not alone. It was time to stop whining about our lost lives and do something to fix them. I had already re-branded a year back and eliminated day-of management services in an attempt to reduce the number of weddings I had each year. By committing myself solely to full planning contracts, it meant less weddings but greater earnings: more bang for your buck, as some might say! This decision made a huge difference since the workload associated with 10 full planning contracts each year was more manageable than planning and coordinating 30. But even with that, I was still working longer hours than I should have been. It was time to find a way to work smarter than I had been, and this has remained my focus over the past several months.

I began investigating options. I had conversations with other professionals and planners to learn what could help. One of my efforts was to hire a successful planner to mentor me. This mentor helped me outline my personal and professional goals and guided me toward achieving them. I also wanted to learn from my mentor’s experience so I could benefit from the systems that she had already put into place to help with her own business. It was within this relationship that I discovered a tool she had been using as a possible solution for some of my efficiency problems. This tool had revolutionized the way she did things and was something that I needed to consider for Weddings Unveiled. The tool is a project management software called Basecamp.

Basecamp is just one of many project management programs available. It enables groups of people (teams) to work collectively on a given project to see it through to completion. Although not specifically designed for event planning, it certainly lends itself very well. In researching, I found several planners were touting its benefits to their own clients. Here’s how it works.

Prior to Basecamp, the majority of my correspondence with clients was via email. Consequently, I received tons of emails every day regarding the most minute details. Something as simple as choosing a table linen evolved into a solid string of emails back and forth debating texture, color, and size. Each email had to be saved to file so I could keep a record of our discussion. Every time I needed to refer to that discussion, I had to go back to that folder of emails to review what had been discussed to date. My clients had to do the same, which I’m sure was just as daunting to them, if not more so! Add to that all the saved documents that accumulated during the planning process, everything from contracts to inspiration pictures to vendor receipts. I had them all on file, and although my files and folders were pretty meticulously kept, it was I who possessed the records. I don’t think my clients ever felt completely in the loop since all those documents were not as readily available on their end. That is, unless they also kept the level of records that I did.

Basecamp solves these issues by providing each client with a workroom. Everything pertaining to their event happens within that workroom. I’ve included a few screen shots of one of my client’s workrooms here so you can see how it’s structured. In the example to the below, you’ll see our event planning critical path. Each “to do” has a date assigned and the person to whom it’s assigned. We have it set up so that the assigned person receives an email reminder when their task comes due, so nothing falls between the cracks. The critical path can be edited at any time with tasks added, deleted, and modified. At any given moment, any member of our team (both planner and client) can see where we stand in the planning process. I am no longer the sole monitor of the project; it has become a team effort, which is a very good thing!Time management tips

This screen shot shows another part of the client workroom: files. Here we are able to keep all the files associated with the event/wedding. You’ll see a contract, quote, and spreadsheet listed. You’ll also see our storyboard and inspiration picture. Basecamp just added a new feature a few months ago where the team can categorize each file with a label. This allows us to use the search tool on the right hand side of the screen to find a certain file. It comes in handy when the number of files uploaded gets pretty big!Time management 2

Here is a shot of my Basecamp calendar. This complete calendar is only viewable by me while clients only have access to their own. Each project is color coded so I can look at any date and see that anything in blue, for example, belongs to Ashleigh & Mark’s wedding. I also input client/vendor meetings here and a handy-dandy email reminder lets us know a half hour prior that our meeting is shortly ahead. I still use my Outlook calendar to track my own appointments and to dos, but this calendar is an excellent complement!Time management 3

I can go into Basecamp and view the status of all my projects with one click of the mouse. This is great if you’ve been on vacation, or maybe in meetings all day, and you want to see what all of your clients have been up to while you’ve been absent. Instead of having to go into each separate workroom, you can just view this page to see all of the recent activity.Time management 4

As I’m sure you can imagine, these screen shots only zero in on some of the features offered by Basecamp. You can also live chat with your clients through their “discussion” feature. Any team member can create text documents where thoughts, reminders, strategies, you-name-it can be logged so they aren’t forgotten. It allows the entire team to access all of the information pertaining to their event in one place so everyone is in the loop and be active participants. No more searching through files for discussions and records. Everything is together and visible, making for a much more efficient planning process for your clients and for the team leader – you!

Basecamp is not perfect. There are things I wish it could do that it doesn’t. But they seem to be open to suggestions from their clients and are constantly adding features and making improvements. Seven months in, I’m very impressed, and most of my clients love it. Working through Basecamp has definitely improved my efficiency. I’m now taking fewer steps to complete a given task than I had previously. It’s still a work in progress while I continue to teach myself ways to effectively juggle professional and personal life, and I’m constantly learning new tricks and shortcuts within the software program. But a year later, I feel refreshed and refocused and that is in large part due to Basecamp. I encourage you to check it out!

Till next time, happy planning!

Wedding planner Lynn LeeWritten by Lynn Lee
www.weddingsunveiled.ca

Lynn Lee has over 10 years experience in the event and wedding planning industry. These days, she’s focusing her attention on her growing wedding planning business, Weddings Unveiled. Her weekly blog posts include business tips, wedding trends, and expert advice.

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March 28, 2013 3:40 pm

Office Space vs. Home Office

When you first launch your wedding or event planning business, you will be faced with the decision of where to build your office. This is a question you’ll revisit several times throughout your business’ life, as your company grows and changes over the years. In this post, I’m weighing the pros and cons of these two career paths: office space vs home office.

As do many small businesses, most wedding and event planners launch their businesses from a home-based office. It’s a natural choice since it helps reduce the start-up costs of a new business, as well as the risks associated with establishing ourselves. Within my own market, all but three wedding planners continue to run their businesses out of their home, myself included! I have seen more than one planner move into formal office space without fully considering the costs versus benefits in doing so, just to have to up and move back home months later. I’m hoping by discussing this today, I might prevent you from finding yourself in the same situation!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating one option over the other. There is no doubt in my mind that I will never rent office space. It’s just not the right fit for me, both personally and professionally. But for many, getting in the car and driving to an office every morning is a necessary component of being a productive business owner. Being surrounded by personal things just doesn’t work for them, and I totally respect that. There are pros and cons of both situations and only you will be able to decide which suits you best. Here are just a few pros of setting up an office outside of your home environment:

  1. Getting away from temptations that can distract us from getting work done (e.g. refrigerator, TV, gardens, housework)
  2. Respect for our professional time. I can’t tell you how many “work” hours I lose each week dealing with questions from my children, or picking them up and driving them places,  just because I’m home and available. If I worked off-site, the respect for my work schedule would increase hugely
  3. Having a storefront can often increase your credibility as a business. It’s not viewed as a “side gig” all of a sudden
  4. Meeting clients is simplified with an office since they come to you, instead of your having to either travel to them or try to conduct business in a coffee shop. Plus the ability to host meetings within an office can increase your professionalism and credibility in your clients’ eyes
  5. You can take advantage of tax deductions associated with the costs involved in running an office
  6. When you leave your office at the end of the day, you are more likely to leave your stress there much more easily than if you were working from your home

Alternatively, there are also pros to working from a home-based office. Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. It can be a great situation for women in particular, as they are able to remain available to their children and family better than they would be able if they were to work offsite
  2. You’re already paying your rent/mortgage anyway, so you don’t have to rent a separate space for your office, thereby reducing your costs
  3. A percentage of your lease/mortgage and home expenses can be used for tax deductions for your business
  4. Your productivity may be greater since more time is spent actually accomplishing work tasks and less time spent commuting to an office situation every day
  5. Some people love the flexibility in schedule. You can work sporadically through various periods of the day instead of having to maintain a more rigid 9-5 routine
  6. With less overhead, you are able to test out new ideas, change business direction, or scale down more easily since you don’t carry the same long-term commitments that you would leasing an office
  7. Many proponents for this style of office swear that it is less stressful and wonderfully free from office politics

There is no right or wrong option, just right or wrong for you! It’s important to consider all of the pros and cons before making your choice so that you can evaluate which is the best direction for your business. I do caution, however, that in addition to deciding which scenario is best, it’s as important to consider the timing of your decision. Here’s where the experience of my colleagues comes in.

During the evaluation process, you may decide that leasing is the way to go, as some of my colleagues have. But is it the right time to make this decision? When your business is just starting out, do you really want to obligate yourself to a long term financial commitment if you can avoid it? Maybe you don’t have the funds available to make it work. Or maybe you are wary of your newbie status and want to establish yourself prior to carrying unnecessary overhead costs. These are all good reasons to be cautious.

On the other hand, what if you’ve got a year or two under your belt? Maybe you’ve seen some success very quickly and are encouraged that your business will continue to thrive. That deserves some congratulations, and I can certainly understand the temptation to now grow into a formal space. Even I have considered it. This is exactly what happened to two of my colleagues.

Their first couple of years in business were very encouraging as they worked hard to establish their brands within the marketplace. Neither planner enjoyed working out of a home environment. They found it isolating and had difficulty staying motivated. So both women signed up for office space. They loved the new-found professional digs where they could meet clients and network with fellow professionals, all in very hip districts within our city. The move was probably viewed with envy by many other planners; I know I envied them. How wonderful would it be to enjoy increased visibility and gained credibility just by hanging your sign over a cobblestone walkway! But as I quietly envied, I also worried for these two women, wondering if they would be able to sustain such high overhead costs. I knew how hard I worked for my own income and how disappointing my earnings were given the hours of output. Were they really in that much better shape than I that they could spend thousands of dollars a year on formal space?

As it turns out, I’m not sure either were in much better shape than I was. That is my story of caution. The one planner in my market that is able to sustain office space and lofty financial commitments is also the planner who leads the market in sales. She has been in business for eight years and has a staff of four. Her ability to do multiple events each day is key. Her years of branding and networking allow her to enjoy a track record that helps predict future sales and growth, something a new planner wouldn’t have access to. Both of these colleagues saw a steady increase in the demand for their services. But I fear that both jumped the gun a bit and obligated themselves to office space before they had enough “earned” revenue to be able to pull it off.

The growth gave them hope that the next year was going to bring wild things, but when next year came, it was less than disappointing. All of a sudden, both realized that their growth had reached a bit of a plateau. Granted, the economy also played a role in decreased spending by their clients. The money they were shelling out to keep a roof over their business was so weighty that it prevented them from earning what they needed, and from allocating funds to marketing efforts that would have helped increase business. The jury is still out on my colleagues and whether or not they will be forced to move back “home” after the year’s commitment is up. Regardless of what they decide, I do know that each regrets jumping on the opportunity so quickly. If they had to do it again, they would take a more conservative approach.

I know what it’s like having your kids yelling at you when you’re trying to write an email. Having to schedule work appointments around picking up your kids from school. Trying to keep your focus when all you really want to do is sit out on the deck in the sun! But remember, it took great effort and discipline to build your business and that same effort and discipline can enable you to successfully work from home. Take a hard look at your business prior to committing yourself to any long-term commitments and take out your calculator while you’re doing it. You may be surprised at what you come up with.

Till next time, happy planning!

Wedding planner Lynn LeeWritten by Lynn Lee
www.weddingsunveiled.ca

Lynn Lee has over 10 years experience in the event and wedding planning industry. These days, she’s focusing her attention on her growing wedding planning business, Weddings Unveiled. Her weekly blog posts include business tips, wedding trends, and expert advice.

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March 14, 2013 4:30 pm

Have You Found Your Perfect Primer?

Any artist who has used primer already knows the drastic difference it makes in the application and longevity of foundation. Since this hidden gem works such wonders on the skin, I found it only fitting to do some investigation into whether other spot-specific primers might garner just as favorable results. Low and behold, I found some amazing products that really can maximize the eyes, lips and lashes. Here are my recommendations for some alternative primers that will definitely make the most of the whole face…but don’t be afraid to experiment and find a favorite of your own.

Eyelids

Disappearing and creasing shadows seem to be a major complaint for most women and makeup artists. A well-formulated primer will lock shadow in place for the entire day. Urban Decay Primer Potion is my go to. This powerhouse makes three promises: 1. Eye shadow that lasts. 2. More vibrant color 3. No creasing. And miracle of miracles, it delivers on all three.

If the smokey eye is a look for you, try Pixi Smoky Eye Primer. The base is dark gray, so when you lay the darker shadows over it, they will blend well and disappear seamlessly into the shaded primer. When lightly laid on the lid, it actually does half of the work for you. It can also be used on its own as a sultry cream shadow.

Under eyes

Concealer loves two things, to look obvious and to crease. The Sue Devitt Microquatic Prime Target Intensive Eye Treatment Primer will prevent both of those unsightly under-eye catastrophes. This multipurpose product is a clear gel that hydrates, reduces puffiness and most importantly, gives concealer something to flawlessly bond to.

Lips

If you intend to eat, drink, or even lick your lips, you might as well not even wear lipstick without a primer. The Senna Totally Transforming Lip Primer is perfect for keeping the color on. In addition, it uses peptides to plump and promote health and silicone to fill lines. I sure do love a product that improves the skin while making make up look better!

As a makeup lover and artist, I am always on the hunt for products that will improve wear-ability and make application smoother and more flawless. These products certainly fit the bill.

nathan johnsonWritten by Nathan Johnson
www.nathansbeauty.com

Nathan Johnson is a film, television, celebrity, and real women’s makeup artist with 18 years experience in the industry. Nathan believes in education and empowerment – his personal mission is to make America more beautiful one woman at a time. He brings product reviews, makeup tips, and personal experience to the QC blog.

 

Image 1 via www.urbandecay.com
Image 2 via www.sennacosmetics.co

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