Empowering Every Woman to be Beautiful

Pro Series Part 1 - Work Alternate Markets

My best friend, Melody, is a director of a modeling agency in New York City. Now that I no longer live in the Big Apple, I call her when I want a dose of "fabulous."

Fashion Week soirees, International travel, model discoveries - our conversations keep me connected to my old life and friends I haven't seen in a while.

But lately, Melody's calls are more about trying to keep her girls (and guys) working in a sluggish economy. "Maybe I should send my new male model to Japan for work," she said on Friday as we discussed the impact of the recession on our industry.

A popular male model recently told me he's had to take on a part time job tending bar to fill in some financial holes. To save money, even a few New York ad agencies are shooting in out-of-the-way markets; hiring talent and crew from places like North Carolina and Virginia where the rates are sometimes half of what they are in New York.

I heard through the grapevine that Target recently shot their new ad campaign in Florida, using local models. My Pennsylvania agent has seen a spike in calls from Madison Avenue. "Do you have wardrobe and makeup people down there who can work at a professional level?"

While I was on a job last week a female model told me she's working steadily - about a day or two a week - despite the crack down on ad dollars. She's a commercial model - meaning you'd more likely see her in a Campbell's Soup ad than a Victoria Secrets Catalog.

But think of how many commercial jobs are out there compared to the few high profile, sexed up model jobs. This girl is smart. She shared her secret. She's registered with more than 30 agents around the country! Diversifying her markets and paying her own airfare to jobs (tax deduction) has kept her in the black.

This is where many artists (makeup, hair, wardrobe, etc.) get stuck. They want things to be as they always have been. "I work for fashion magazines. I don't DO weddings." Really? Maybe you ought to rethink that.

When I was in the city working with Elle, Harper's Bazaar, O - I made it clear to my agent that I still wanted to do weddings. Other artists would tease me. An agency repped makeup artist in NYC can earn $1,000 to do a bride - for one hour. What's the problem with doing brides?

Lately East Coast and West Coast makeup artists have sent me emails with Help! in the subject line. They want to know how to keep their heads above water without *gasp* working in an office until the tide is high again.

When I say seek out an agent in Maryland, or advertise for corporate videos, I can feel the resistance, even through email. It's hard to change course when you're used to doing things one way. I understand.

But do you want to think outside of the box or do you want to roll up your sleeve and head for a temp agency? I'd shoot myself in the head if I had to go work in a traditional office. I'd rather put makeup on a poodle for an Alpo ad, but that's just me. I don't do well confined.

Over the next few days, I'm going to explore practical ways for makeup artists to work in alternate markets and how to diversify what you do in order to stay ahead of the financial crunch.

If you'd like to contribute to the conversation, or you have a question, feel free to comment.