Every industry has felt the pressure put on us by the pandemic, the beauty industry being one of them. With salons and spas being closed over lockdown and many people facing unemployment, these are uncertain times for everyone. But what about beauty training? How have trainee stylists, make-up artists and nail technicians coped with lockdown?
We spoke to Jenny Gray, a make-up artist who teaches Aberdeen Academy of Beauty Therapy masterclasses, about how the pandemic has affected her beauty training program.
What’s your role in the Aberdeen Academy of Beauty Therapy?
Jenny: I’m a resident tutor for makeup. That’s for professionals, people wanting to become a professional makeup artist, those that just want to upskill and learn about how to do their own makeup.
How long have you been in the industry for?
Jenny: It’ll be coming up to 4 years soon.
When did you discover your passion for beauty?
Jenny: Ironically, I was actually wanting to do beauty when I left school but at the time people thought that if I went to college to study that it wouldn’t get me a well-paid job so people kind of put me off doing it. So, instead, I went onto do Art & Design to follow that career path and I ended up in oil and gas for 10 years. I had always been passionate about makeup, I had always been the one to sort somebodies makeup on a night out and I was always asked if I did it professionally because of my own makeup. My friends kept telling me “You need to it! You need to do it!” but by that time I was in full-time employment so to start again felt really daunting. It wasn’t until years down the line that I was sitting in my office job and I thought ‘Is this it? Is this all I’m ever going to be doing?’. I decided that I wasn’t going to lose anything by doing something different so I decided to just go for it- never expecting it to become my full-time employment, I thought it was just going to be my weekend job but it’s developed into a bit more than that.
How has beauty training been affected by lockdown?
Jenny: It’s majorly affected it. We were just launching our professional course, that was meant to be last year in October and we obviously couldn’t do that. We’ve also had to change our way of thinking about the courses- now we’re having to do it all online. But we’re still not where we’d like to be with all our courses going ahead because of the situation lockdown has put us in in terms of restrictions. It’s quite difficult to teach online because usually, you’d have students doing practical work on each other, which we can’t do when we’re on Zoom. So a lot of our courses just now have been prerecorded so people can watch at their leisure, which I think is working quite well because it means that people are able to dip in and out, rewind or refresh their memory- especially if they are busy with work or children.
Do you think the pandemic has changed the industry forever in some ways?
Jenny: I think in some ways it probably has changed it to some extent. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever work without a mask again in my own studio when I’m doing treatments. A lot of treatments require close contact, especially with brows, lashes and even makeup. A lot of the time, I have to be quite close to the client’s face so I think I’ll feel a lot more secure wearing a mask from now on. I think a lot of little things would change. I think it’ll be a long time until salons return to “normal”. I can’t see us being able to wait in the salon for our appointment or anything like that for a while at least.
I really hope it does return to normal, I really do. I love beauty being a special occasion or a treat for yourself. I used to makeup parties where all the girls would have a glass of prosecco while I was doing there makeup. All of that environment has vanished, which is such a shame cause I think getting ready for a night out with your friends is like a pre-party. I just hope that part of beauty still exists after all this.
But I hope it does return to normal because it takes a lot of the enjoyment out of going to you hairdressers, beautician or makeup artist- especially for weddings. That’s part of my job that I absolutely love. Being in that environment and atmosphere on the morning of the wedding- everyone’s so excited and having drinks. It’s just such a shame if we’ve got to keep going the way we are.
How do services like BeautyBooker help training providers during the pandemic?
Jenny: They help immensely because BeautyBooker might be tapping into audiences that we might not necessarily have. It covers a wide range of ages as well, from young people just out of school through to people almost retirement age who are wanting to switch up their career. For Jenny Gray Studios, I might be marketing to only one age group whereas BeautyBooker is covering all ages and all areas. I’m in Ellon but BeautyBooker is nationwide. Especially with online stuff, it can reach a wider audience and get the word out there. And the booking side of BeautyBooker is a huge help too. Managing that by yourself is quite difficult but services like BeautyBooker give you support and it’s nice to know that someone else is taking care of that side of things for you.
Why has training been such an import option for people during lockdown?
Jenny: From my personal experience, before the pandemic, I specialised in makeup- mostly bridal- and brows. And those were the only two treatments I ever had on my treatment list. But the whole pandemic has made people rethink what they’re doing, whether they’re already in beauty or they’ve been made redundant and thinking “now’s my chance to do something that I’m really passionate about”. Managing it online means that you’re already getting that head start before things go back to “normal” because you’re already getting the qualifications you need by doing it online. When lockdown starts to ease you can hit the ground running. I think it’s important for people to realise that the option is there for them if they are fed up of their job, been made redundant or even just looking for a career change and haven’t really had the time to do anything about but now we do. If you do have a busy life, the courses are online and prerecorded so you don’t have to take two or three full days out of your week to complete the course. There’s a bit more flexibility for you as well.
Jenny was a joy to speak to and had a lot of valuable things to say. It’s great to hear that beauty training is an option for anyone considering it. You can book her upcoming AABT masterclasses on the BeautyBooker training website below.
Written by: Kirstin Brown