WORK EXPERIENCE: Sophie Brownson tries her hand as a beauty consultant
6:02pm Friday 11th October 2013 in News
ARMED with a variety of brushes and a ton of knowledge - being a beauty consultant is harder than it looks, as SOPHIE BROWNSON discovered when she entered a world of beauty at Newport department store Wildings.
COMING out of the rain and into Newport department store Wildings, I was confronted with bright lights, sharp colours, and beautiful assistants.
Leaving college barely knowing what a foundation was, it is fair to say that I was left feeling a little out of my depth in my role as beauty assistant for a day.
Overwhelmed faced with hundreds of beauty products, I was put at ease by the accredited beauty consultant Becky Fouweather, who immediately launched in to a lecture on the various products and offers that Clinique offer their customers to get me to grips with what I have to sell.
Showing me around the counter I began to understand with what is required of the role-to inform and advise customers on the right products for them and this all stems from good product knowledge.
“Clinique offers customers ‘Clinique Bonus Time’ where customers can buy two or more products-one to be skin care and they will get a free gift of travel size products worth £45,” Miss Fouweather explains to me.
Knowing each of the brands products and promotions inside out is essential in the world of beauty consultants, I learn as I desperately try to remember everything I am told about Clinique’s approach to skin care.
“Some customers come in and know straight away what they want but we also offer customers a consultation service,” Miss Fouweather explained.
Taking me to the consultation area, behind the main concession stand, I am shown the stores filing card system called a customer register, where beauty consultants take down customer’s details during consultation and write comments about their type of skin and the products that suit them.
From this I learn that part of the role is knowing your customers and ensuring they stay loyal to the brand and the store by offering rewards from regular purchases.
I am then shown how beauty consultants provide a high level of customer service for their clients with customers being rewarded for their loyalty through ‘star cards;’ where the card is stamped for every £10 the customer spends with ten stars earning you a £5 gift voucher.
“The customer register is really good at Christmas time when husbands come in and want to buy a gift for their wife,” Miss Fouweather added.
“Most blokes are clueless they don’t know what products their wife uses they just know is Clinique, so the cards mean that we have a record of the products they use so we can recommend them what to buy.”
Christmastime is a big deal in the beauty industry and part of the role at Wilding’s is to gift wrap products, with consultants undergoing gift wrap training sessions and learning about Christmas gifts.
Not being close enough to Christmas to try this, I ask what other training I would need to undergo to become a professional beauty consultant
The 31 year-old of Newport, who has been a counter assistant at the store for nine years, started out as beauty consultant but worked her way up the three stages to become accredited beauty consultant by attending four training sessions a year in Bristol to learn all about new beauty products and how to sell it to the customers.
Miss Fouweather underwent her exams as part of a new Clinique STRATS programme.
“We have all been on a training course and so everyone should be at a level two out of the three stages,” she said.
“On the course you train by acting out role play scenarios, learn about how to interact with clients and learn the different skills needed to apply make up.
“You then have to do a written multiple choice exam.”
While we chat I learn that skin is a big thing to Clinique and that beauty assistants regard skin as being the most important thing in make-up acting as a “blank canvas” for all make up artistry.
“If you don’t have good skin make up isn’t going to look as good,” I am told.
Miss Fouweather then talks me through how to give a customer a consultation to find the right products to suit them.
Sitting on the consultants chair I am shown how to use a diagnostic tool to ask customers eight questions about their skin to find the right skin care products for them.
Running through the questions I am to ask the clients about skin factors including dullness, and ageing.
I am then run through Clinique’s ‘Quick Guide to Skincare’ which explains to customers the science behind their skin type after the initial consultation diagnosed what type of skin they have.
Practising the three steps of a consultation-what type of skin they have, what it does and what products can be used to treat it I am ready to put my skills in to practice by giving a customer a consultation.
“It’s all about building a relationship with the customer,” Miss Fouweather said.
“Being able to explain the science behind the product and how their skin works gives the clients confidence in the products and enables the customer to know why it is happening.”
Settling in to my role, I learn that knowing the history behind the brand important to selling the products.
Miss Fouweather explains to me how Clinique first started their skin care range with three essential skin care products aiming to cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate the skin-acknowledging the “everybody’s skin is different.”
Moving on to work at the Estee Lauder counter, under the mentoring of Catherine Howell, who has been in the beauty industry for years, I also learn that every brand is different- with Clinique focusing more on skin care where as Estee Lauder is more about the makeup side of beauty.
Taking me through the history of the family owned brand, I discover that it was started by Mrs Lauder in the 1950’s with six products including their signature fragrance Youth Dew which was launched in American department store Saks after Mrs Lauder deliberately dropped a bottle of the fragrance in the store causing customers to want to buy it.
With this in mind I am shown around the counter and explained what each f the products are –paying particular attention to the new products such as the new fragrance ‘Modern Muse’ which In my role as a beauty consultant I am to push to sell by using a variety of selling tools such as a question sheet to ask customers what inspires them to engage them in the product, and spraying perfume on to spills for the customer to smell.
I am also expected to remember the properties of brands signature products such as Advance Night Repair in order to sell to customers.
Like Clinique, Estee Lauder also does consultations with clients and uses a 'beautiful skincare solutions' combination of skin care categories to diagnose the right products for customers.
I am then told to ask customers set questions such as ‘What skin care products are you currently using?’ during such consultation's.
Throughout the day my key tasks include testing products on customers, stocking and consultation's.
I am also shown how to do threading by Darshana Tailor of D's Beauty, as many beauty counters now offer this service as a way of removing hair.
This I soon learn is extremely difficult – requiring lots of training and expertise, I struggle to remove even one hair-frequently spitting to string out on the very patient clients head.
Deciding it’s not for me, I move on to the next task –bookings.
“This is our bible,” Mrs Howell said showing me the black appointments book.
“We try to get as many ladies booked in as possible.”
Finding this side of it significantly easier than the threading, I have time to reflect on the day.
Being a beauty consultant isn’t as easy as it looks – it requires good sales skills, make up artistry and science all in a day’s work but the response from customers when you make them over is well worth it.
Mrs Howell agrees it is a job like no other: “I just love it.
“I love the customers and I love selling.
“You get to meet some lovely people.”
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