We had the good fortune of connecting with Tamara Bickley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tamara, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
As a previous newspaper journalist, I worked for both large and small media outlets, and was no stranger to meetings, co-workers, teams, and reporting to management. Though many people thrive in such a work environment, I, as a creative and independent thinker, occasionally felt limited and held back. I enjoyed what I was doing, but I wanted to explore my artistic and business ideas without seeking approval from a boss. I dreamed of having flexibility in my schedule because at the time, I was in the midst of growing my family. I also hoped to change careers. I had long wanted to become a makeup artist. Since I had a journalism degree and had worked at a major metropolitan newspaper, I felt inhibited and scared to make that change. People told me I’d be throwing something great away, as I had promising opportunities back then. I knew I could always do makeup as a hobby, but that didn’t feel like enough for me. I wanted to re-invent myself and be an artist full-time. I envisioned being my own boss with my own clientele, determining my own schedule. I imagined having a personal logo and company name that was my mine. I have all of that now, and it’s both freeing and empowering.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a professional makeup artist and owner of my own vegan, custom, skin-care makeup line called Tami B. Custom Makeup. What likely sets me apart from others in my field is that I have a background in communications that was not a prelude to any career in the beauty industry. That said, communication is important in this industry. Before I proceed with applying makeup on anyone, I quickly get to know the person seated in my makeup chair. We discuss his/her skin care, makeup routine, what the expectations are for that day, etc. Applying makeup is a very personal process, and what’s more personal than one’s own face? How I see you may not be how you see yourself. I professionally guide my clients by explaining how we can achieve a look that will be positive for their own self esteem, as well as for photos, film, the stage, or how they appear at a special occasion.
Though I’m proud of forming Makeup Artistry by Tamara, LLC, I’m most proud of creating my own vegan, custom, skin-care makeup line. My line is Tami B. Custom Makeup, which I started in 2014, after a challenging time recommending healthful, chemical-free makeup to my clients. I began with zero customers of my makeup line, and now have some 400 people who have purchased my individually made-to-match, skin-care foundation, among my other products available.
I’ve always looked ahead and to continuous improvement. That includes exploring who I am as an artist. I’ve veered off in different artistic directions over the years in order to discover which area of makeup best fit me. Now I know that wedding/special occasion work, special effects, commercial work, photo shoots, film, and providing makeup lessons are where I feel most comfortable. At first, I took all jobs as they came. Yet I’ve grown as an artist and as a person, so I realize which people I will or will not work with, and what job opportunities will highlight and appreciate what I have to offer, vs. what jobs would be better suited for a different type of makeup artist.
When you work in the service business, one of the biggest challenges is people. With experience comes the realization that you will (hopefully) satisfy most of your clients/customers, but you should be prepared because in due course, you’ll disappoint others. Not everyone is going to love you, your work, or your rates. Those instances should be few and far between. The key to success for me has been personal growth and communication. I look at every negative business experience as a learning tool and opportunity to become better and wiser. Because I’m middle-aged and have a teenaged daughter, I’m fortunate to have a vast demographic reach. I know what pre-teen and teenaged girls like when it comes to makeup, and I know how to communicate with their mothers. I was once a bride, so I understand the importance of that momentous occasion and the chaos that may ensue. I remain calm with brides, communicating effectively with them, so that they will be confident and look their best. I’m a woman who knows what it means to see a few wrinkles, so I can empathize with any issues relating to aging skin, and how to address that with proper skin care and makeup. I love every bit of what I do, and I think it shows in my demeanor and my work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I was entertaining out-of-town friends, I’d surprise them by taking them to Roosevelt Row. I say “surprise” because most out-of-town visitors expect to be taken on a tour of the Wild West. They think it’s all desert and stables here. Much of it is! However, the art and culture of central Phoenix is phenomenal and booming. My family’s favorite places to eat and hang out are Angel’s Trumpet and Jobot (for coffee). My daughter and I love to shop at Antique Sugar for cool vintage clothing. We make the 45-minute drive almost weekly for our Phoenix fix. Scottsdale is lovely, but we appreciate urban life, and that may be a nostalgic result of my Chicago roots.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family is the foundation of my support. They know and applaud that makeup is my passion. They’ve also continuously praised my artistry and work ethic. My three children have dealt with incredible embarrassment when I’ve shown up at their schools in special effects Halloween makeup, or whatever creepy looks I’ve tried out over the years. But after they act mortified, they secretly tell me, “Mom, we actually think it’s cool.” Most notably, I don’t think I’d have ever taken the first steps to become a makeup artist without the support of my husband, Dan Bickley. He believed in me from Day 1. When I was getting started in this business, he’d watch over our then-young children during crazy hours as I ran off to every photo shoot that came my way. He was by my side as I morphed from a complacent, calm writer and mom into this unpredictable, exuberant artist and entrepreneur. The laundry and cooking took a backseat to my ambitions, and he never complained. My family fully embraced the new me!
Other: Wedding Wire https://www.weddingwire.com/biz/makeup-artistry-by-tamara-scottsdale/3380c507aad2eef2.html
Main profile photo: Alex Huggan Second grouping of photos: Unicorn Photo: Cedric Jones Black and white photo: Inês Piquet