Representing Yourself Effectively: A Teachable Moment

Jun 16, 2018

Celebrity clients are rarely easy. There are many reasons for that. Celebrities have many handlers, so an artist is never quite sure what is really going on when the handler of the celebrity says, “We just don’t have the money,” or “Well, can’t you help us out this time, it’s coming out of his/her pocket”. The thing is, they––the poor celebrity, usually has really deep pockets.

While it’s rare that anyone is going to use those excuses with a superstar makeup artist like Billy B or Pat McGrath or a high fashion hair guru like Frederick Fekkai or Neeko, you on the other hand, with the one or two up-and-coming celebrities on your resume could run head-long into that sob story more often that you like.

PYP Grad Saleemah Staten had an incident that produced an insight that may help you to become a better negotiator. The celebrities name has been removed to protect the innocent. 

Hi fellow artists, I just want to share a few key lessons I learned from Crystal Wright's Packaging Your Portfolio & Marketing Workshop but did not appreciate until I had to put them into practice.

I was contacted by a celebrity client's agent to work as a hair stylist on one of her upcoming projects. I was overly excited about the opportunity. Since I am not represented by an agency and realize that negotiation is not my strong suit, I cautiously attempted to cover all the bases in representing myself effectively. However, I still encountered some issues that caused me to reach out to Crystal for more help. I wanted to share a few things I had to re-learn and practice until I was confident:

1. Listen, listen, and listen some more to your potential client's concerns and requests so you'll be able to do more than provide a service. You will also be able to offer suggestions that can help make the entire project run more smoothly.

2. Ask more questions than you answer. While I was being asked if I could handle a plethora of tasks, I was given limited information about the assignment, and didn’t feel confident enough to ask the tough questions.

Asking lots of questions with regard to your responsibilities, details of the project, etc. will help you [realistically] assess the logistics of the assignment and make informed decisions on the most effective way to make the project work for everyone.

3. Be firm and confident when giving out your rates and making your expectations known. People sense when you are not confident and may use it to their advantage.

4. Take copious notes prior to submitting your deal memo. Verbal negotiations are great as long as you follow-up all conversations with details, understandings and agreements in an email.

5. Although every experience can be utilized as a stepping-stone never be afraid to turn down a gig if you feel in your heart that you are the only one compromising.

Remember some clients have agents and/or managers negotiating in their best interest. If you are not in a position to have someone speaking up for you, it is important that you represent yourself effectively so that you can do your best work in the most creative environment possible. In that environment, you will be able to leave your mark, and the door wide open for future business!

Saleemah is a successful hair stylist and salon owner in New Jersey.

 

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