"My name is Ashley Readings. I do hair and makeup in Toronto where I grew up. I studied art in university (which is where I met Rachel!). It was towards the end of my degree that I realized I wasn’t gong to pursue a career in fine arts and started exploring my love of makeup. I enrolled in a part time class after I finished university and by the third class I knew that I was on to something. I started assisting right away and fell so in love with this new way of working creatively. Today I have an agent that books my jobs and I work primarily in commercial/fashion with a healthy bit of bridal on the weekends."
Ashley Readings is a long time friend from our college days and soon to be sister-in-law! She is an incredibly talented hair and makeup artist and I'm always in awe of her hustlin' ways!
What is your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
There have been so many. The saddest thing is that once you have a really proud moment, you’re generally working on the next one before you truly appreciate the moment you’re in. And what is pride one year is embarrassing the next. 2018 was particularly big for me. From hitting an income milestone to working with really cool people. But A MOMENT was when I saw my name on a Conde Nast call sheet. I’m still appreciating that one.
What habits do you practice to keep yourself organized?
I buy products before I need them and keep my back stock very organized. I spent too many early mornings at Wal Mart or Shoppers Drug Mart trying to grab hair spray or false at the last minute because I didn’t realize I had run out. Now I know roughly the lowest I expect to pay for my regular supplies and when I see them on sale, I stock up.
I clean my kit as soon as I’m done working, generally while still on set. You never know when a last minute opportunity is going to come up and knowing my kit is clean and ready to go means I don’t have to turn down an opportunity because I’m not prepared.
Still trying to figure out a system for email, paperwork and finances because I’m notoriously terrible at that side of things. My advice: don’t be me.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I’ve always wanted a lot out of life and I knew it was up to me to get those things. I was raised with a really strong work ethic and expecting to put that to use to get what I want makes motivation something between unnecessary and totally natural. It’s not something I think about very often to be honest.
When I’ve got an arduous task I’m not looking forward too (see emails, paperwork and finances) I create a reward and remove distractions. I don’t stream Netflix when I’ve got something to focus on and the reward is related to the size of the task. Sometimes it’s a walk to get a coffee in the afternoon. A manicure is great motivation because I otherwise don’t make time / spend the money on them.
Are there any brands/people you look up to? If so who are they and what do you admire about them?
Fiona Stiles is a makeup artist in LA who’s attitude and outlook on Instagram (because I don’t actually know her) I find so admirable. She just seems logical and kind and informed and her work is so beautiful.
I’m really into NudeStix because I think in a sea of makeup brands attaching themselves to a growing fad they approached a market providing the exact opposite of that.
Fenty Beauty! Ugh. All Hail Riri. The research, the branding, the launch, THE ACTUAL PRODUCT. I just cannot say enough. Her comprehensive vision for what a new make up line looks like is incredible.
I get to work around some really interesting people. My job exists because there are people who are too focused on their own jobs to be able to do their hair and makeup. So I have a ton of clients that I am just in total awe of. People with extraordinary work ethic and interesting ideas who are kind and stylish to boot. I am so lucky to have all the incredible conversations with people I just meet and I’m constantly inspired by the people I meet.
What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?
Stay organized and be frugal in the beginning. It’s so easy to start justifying big purchases or workshops and trying to keep up, thinking new gear or better product are going to change everything. But as you’re growing your business you won’t have enough time under your belt to predict the ebbs and flows of the year and sitting on toys collecting interest on your credit card during a slow point will only lead to stress. I have a minimum amount I need to earn each month before I can put money back into my business. While you’re at it, build an emergency fund for when things inevitably get slow.
Make friends in your field and don’t call them competitors. You’ll be shocked how many referrals you’ll get from someone you’ve befriended doing the same thing as you. And it’s easier to bitch about clients to someone who gets it (JK JK JK. I never do that though I love everyone).
Create the best product or service you possibly can. Be proud in knowing that you are providing the best of whatever you’re selling.
And most importantly CHARGE ACCORDINGLY. You are supporting yourself now; you have taxes, supplies, vacation, health care and pensions to take care of ON YOUR OWN. Undercutting your peers only sets you up for burn out when you can’t properly take care of yourself because you’re not earning enough. And it’ll piss off those friends I told you to go make. If you can’t earn a proper salary than you don’t have a job, you have a hobby and you’re watering down the opportunity for those of us who are here to earn a living.