Freelancing Females: Emily Giddens


Anything you’d like to share about yourself?

My name is Emily Giddens and I am 23 years old. I have always followed the “rules of life” as I like to call them. Meaning, I started working when I was old enough to (here in Georgia its 16); I graduated high school and then proceeded to college. I decided to pursue Rehabilitation Sciences; which is basically a degree geared towards a Physical Therapy Doctorate. I did really well in school for a while and I really enjoyed getting to shadow other Therapists at our local hospital but deep down I knew it wasn’t the right path for me.  I am a big “believe in your gut” kind of person and so far it hasn’t steered me wrong so I decided to take some time off.

During this time I worked part time at a Bobbi Brown counter as a Beauty Advisor. I absolutely loved this job. I had an amazing support system from my coworkers and managers, my clients always brightened my day and I got to play in makeup each and every day—fun right?! I thought so! I have always had an interest in makeup, but working at Bobbi really pulled back the layers and exposed something that I wasn’t quite expecting: a desire to make a career out of my skills as an artist. After months of back and forth with myself I decided to leave the counter in December 2015 to pursue a career as a freelance artist.

Tell us about your business:

I created EmilyG-Artistry back in January because I really wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I knew what I wanted to do so I decided to take a chance on myself. I felt confident in my artistry skills and I was ready to take what I had learned over the years and share it with others.

I started my company with the ambition to work in the Bridal industry.

I have a huge passion for makeup and helping clients feel as beautiful as they look. I pride myself on making Brides feel happy and comfortable. Once they sit in my chair, my focus in on them. If we haven’t met at a trial before the wedding, I make sure to ask a lot of questions about her style so that I can create a custom look just for her. Pictures help to gauge how soft or intense a client wants their makeup but I always make sure to personalize the look on an individual basis.

It amazes me to think that something that was once just a hobby has turned into an amazing new business.  Creating my company has allowed me to continue doing what I love while also getting to meet and work with other local freelancers on a regular basis. Although I didn’t plan on finding my calling at such a young age, I am very grateful that I did.

How did you start freelancing?

While working at Bobbi Brown, I met a lot of amazing artists and I was fortunate enough to work alongside some of the best. Two women stand out to me when I think back to why I decided to start freelancing: Lindsey Wirht and Alex Lee. Anytime I ever saw these women, they always encouraged me to pursue my own business and even offered to help get me started time and time again.

In the beginning, I didn't think much of it; mainly because I didn't believe in myself, but after genuinely getting to know them, I started to see what they saw in me and gave me hope.

Lindsey had a large bridal party on Saturday morning and asked if I would tag along to be her second artist. Boy was I nervous! I didn't have a lot of products at the time and was worried I might not do a good job. After arriving and seeing how she worked, I followed suit and those nerves quickly vanished. Her application style, the way in which she made her clients feel and how genuinely happy she was in her profession was something that I wanted to strive towards.

Months went by and I desperately wanted to do another wedding but I wasn't sure where to look or how to even advertise for myself. After a few nights of feeling discouraged I received a call from Alex. She asked if I was free to take a wedding for her (a whole wedding... by myself; for the first time. Eek!) A bride called her upset because her original artist canceled on her just days before. Luckily enough I had the day off so I contacted the bride to confirm times and set up a trial. After meeting her I knew this wedding was meant to be.

On the day of, there was whirlwind of emotions and although I had never experience this- something just told me to keep the bride happy and distracted from everything going on in the busy room. I did her makeup, helped her into her dress and even helped fan her tears away before she walked down the aisle. The Bride and I are still friends to this day. The wedding really gave me the confidence that I needed to follow my dreams.

With the support and encouragement from these lovely ladies, my sweet family and my wonderful boyfriend: Emily G Artistry was created.

Do you freelance full-time or is it a side gig?

Freelancing started as a side gig. My previous job required that I work most weekends so I didn't get the opportunity to work a lot of weddings. In December 2015 I quit my part time job and I took a break from college to pursue my company full-time.

What are some struggles you face being a freelancer? What has been your greatest struggle?

I find that I struggle with branding myself. It is hard when you first start out to say, "Hey, I want to do it all," especially since I don't have the experience for certain markets; mainly film, TV and editorial work. I would eventually like to offer my services to any and all things makeup.

What is your favorite thing about freelancing? What's your most memorable accomplishment?

I love knowing that no two work days are going to be alike. There will always be new clients, new locations and new styles of makeup to try. The versatility is my favorite part.

I have a lot of amazing “ah-ha!” moments, lovely client stories and edgy and fun looks that I accomplished my first time trying them; but my most memorable accomplishment was for a bride this past year. I met the Bride and her family in May 2016 and they were all so amazing. The Bride had problematic skin and she voiced that it was a concern. I assured her that I wouldn’t leave that day until we found the best products and application style for her skin.

After achieving this and making notes of everything used I still felt like there was more that I could do. After leaving, I called my mom who’s an esthetician to discuss a skincare regime best suited for her. About a month before the wedding we mailed the Bride a skincare set that we both agreed might help her skin. Within 2 weeks I received a message from her mom saying that her skin had drastically cleared and that she was already feeling more confident for her wedding day.

When it came time to do her makeup on the day of the ceremony, I was blown away. This girl was literally glowing. Her confidence was beaming so much brighter than when I met her months before.  This wedding will always remind me to go above and beyond for clients whenever I can because you never know how much a gesture; small or large, might mean to someone.  

When talking to other freelancers, they find setting their prices very challenging, who did you determine your prices?

When I first started, I was charging significantly less than I do now.  Since then, I have not only upgraded the products I use but I have also invested in more education for my profession so that I can always deliver the latest industry leading techniques to my clients. After getting to know more local artists and establishing myself more as a lady boss, I have kept my prices fairly similar to others in my area. This is great because if I am already booked and a client inquires about the same day, I can pass the wedding along to a friend and vice versa.

Do you work from home? Do you like it or do you find yourself getting distracted? What tips do you have about working from home?

I am an on location artist so the only thing I do at home is sanitize my kit, wash my brushes and respond to emails. I set aside a time after each wedding to do this to ensure that my case is clean, packed and ready to go for my next job. I save my emails for the weekdays because there is usually a lot of questions to be answered and I like to make sure I have a fast response time.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I arrive to the getting ready location 15 minutes prior to my scheduled time to set up and meet everyone before I get started. I spend anywhere from 30-45 minutes with each client and then an hour with the Bride. Towards the end I will usually get to see the Photographer and Videographer work their magic as I am finishing up and it’s amazing to see how we all work together in unison without even saying a word.

Once I am finished I will check everyone for touchups, grab a few pictures of my work and give a few quick hugs before I’m on my way.

Work life balance... does it exist? What are your thoughts or tips?

I definitely think work life balance should be a necessity. When I first started my company, I felt that I should always be available; always reply right away to calls/texts and emails and focus on makeup all the time. After a few months I realized that I just needed to give myself permission to take a step back and recharge before diving back into my work. This not only gave me time to restore my physical and creative energy, but it also made me appreciate and enjoy my work so much more.

Here are some tips that I have learned from other creative:

·       Set business hours for checking your email. This ensures that clients know when to expect a response and it also gives you the time you need to reply. Especially if you mainly work on specific days.

·       Choose select days to work on your social media platforms. I feel like trying to post everyday can be stressful. Sit down one day and plan out your posts for the week (if you already have your content of course) and set them up to be published at specific times. This frees your mind and energy for personal time and other creative tasks that help you to recharge.

·       If for some reason you ever feel intimidated by another creative, don’t. Yes, they might post more than you, or have a larger following- but honestly, we all start somewhere. Engage with them if you enjoy their work and do your best to be supportive, I promise it will be greatly appreciated and possibly even reciprocated. 

What are your favorite freelancing resources?? (programs, apps, book recommendations, etc...)

I really love the Bridal Beauty Pro App. This is perfect for Hair and Makeup Artists. Sometimes I meet a Bride several months before her wedding for a trial so this is a great way to store the details from the look. I like to show the Bride so that she can see that I am documenting any and all products used. I will then snap a few photos of the finished result and store it with the product list.

On the day of the wedding I will do a run-down of my notes, show her the photos and ask her if there’s anything that she would like changed or tweaked. It’s a great way to add to your professionalism and stay organized.

There is also a section for sensitivities/allergies which is great for Makeup Artists because it can help you plan your products and application techniques accordingly.

I have learned from experience that setting boundaries is essential when running your own business. You need to set boundaries with yourself regarding work hours and leisure time, but you also need to set boundaries with your friends and families requesting your services. How have you dealt with setting boundaries?

I definitely think boundaries should be set when it comes to family and friends and business. When I first started, I would offer close to nothing rates and although I enjoyed doing the work, I just felt like I was undermining my own value. Luckily enough, I was never taken advantage of when it came to working with friends and family. The discounted rate was always greatly appreciated and they were usually very thankful.

With that being said, my prices are across the board now unless there is a special situation that I need to take into consideration.

Do you freelance on your own? Do you find it hard sometimes or lonely? How do you combat feeling discourage?

If I am every feeling discouraged with a particular situation or skill that I have yet to master, I will reach out to other artists for advice or words of encouragement. Sometimes just knowing that someone understands your struggles and have maybe been in the same position at some point is reassuring in itself.

 I am lucky enough to work around amazing creatives on a regular basis. For my field in particular, I work with other freelance artists in my area and I also am an Independent Contractor for Royal Makeup & Hair and Eye Do Makeup & Hair. That title is just a fancy way of saying that these companies will contract me out through their business to provide makeup services. Working for these companies as well as with other local freelance artist has been great because there is an automatic support system and a plethora of resources and information useful for any artist in the cosmetic industry.  

What would be your advice to collaborate with other creatives?

I have never done a collaboration but the advice I give myself is just be open to the opportunity, make connections wherever you go and be grateful if you are selected because that means someone trusted you to help make their vision a reality.

How do you handle burnout? How do you creatively recharge?

Oh let me count the ways!

1.      I love getting a hot cup of tea, cuddling up with my 70lb Siberian Husky-Aura and binge watching Netflix. Depending on the show I can do a whole season in a day or two #skills.

2.     I get dressed and go out by myself, even If it’s just for a few hours. I might stop by Ulta or Sephora to see if they have anything new and if I had a really accomplishing weekend, I will buy myself something to celebrate. Retail therapy is a real thing you know.

3.     I love going out on dates with my boyfriend. He is only in town a few times a year from England so whenever he is we like to try new restaurants and go and see the newest movies in theatre.

4.     Getting to have quality time with my older sisters; Krystal and Myra, is great. We go out to lunch once or twice a month and we always call them our therapy sessions. We get to vent about anything going on in our lives, share our successes and build each other up in a way that no one else can.

Any other advice you would have for someone looking to start freelancing?

There will most likely be a pivotal moment where you will realize that you are not fully happy where you are. It is important to take that feeling and run with it. Don’t try to push it down and silence it because you might be afraid of the unknown. Anyone can freelance. My job started out as a hobby for me and I honestly never knew that it would lead me to where it has but it has been one of the best years of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I challenge anyone looking to start freelancing to follow your dream and never give up on that inner voice inside telling you that you are destined for something greater.

Have any questions or comments for Emily? Leave them below!!

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