Sunday, 25 June 2017

Why I'm Quitting My Beauty Job

You may or may not know that aside from my blog and channel, I'm normally self employed as a Designer and Writer, though I also work for several Beauty Agencies covering makeup and skincare counters as well as Fragrance launches.

Over the last 3 years of doing this job, it's gotten me in with the likes of Dior, Urban Decay, L'Occitane, Estée Lauder, Versace, Burberry, Liz Earle, Givenchy and most recently Guerlain where I have been promoting the new fragrance Mon Guerlain. I have worked in a total of 11 different stores dotted across England and Northern Ireland, and have enjoyed every aspect of helping customers with beauty related queries, and have even developed my perfume whispering technique down to a tee. My specialty being the husband looking for a new perfume for his wife with no idea what she likes and me having never even met her before, oh and by the way he's in a rush and he's on the phone.

Though during this last weekend something changed. After doing 4am wakeup calls and 6 hours commuting everyday not giving it a second thought because I love my job, being spoken to like absolute dirt by the management once again has made me not only want to quit, but lift the lid on some of the appalling treatment I and those similar to me have been subjected to when we are just trying to do our job.

It has to be said that as an agency worker you're already bottom of the pile seen as you don't work for the store or the brand. You are just covering the counter or a new product launch, and you will come and go often as the bookings are always temporary.

I was working in a branch of Debenhams over the weekend that I have been working in on and off for the last six months. I have a good circle of colleagues in that store and even customers who follow me from store to store to support me, as I'm lucky to have in most of the stores I've worked in.

During the end of my shift, I was approached by the store manager who walked up to me smiling so I smiled back and thought nothing of it. She then followed me around the corner of my perfume section in full view of customers and staff and said the following:

"Do you know you've done absolutely nothing today. I have been watching you and I saw a customer walk past without offering them a sample. You have been such a disappointment, Guerlain and your agency would be so disappointed in you and your performance. We will be feeding this back to them. How many bottles have you even sold today?"

The attack continued and it was very personal not to mention humiliating as we were stood on the shop floor in full view and earshot of customers and other staff who were looking over at us. It wasn't constructive feedback or something I could do differently, just someone in so many words telling me I'm crap, based on her opinion so it must be true even though it couldn't be further from the truth. All whilst smiling at me in what was a very strange exchange with the words "But I'm store Manager, this is my job" being repeated several times over.

I was exhausted at being up almost a full day at this point with my commute, which irritatingly meant I couldn't fight my corner as I normally would. Though I did point out I had been spraying customers, helping across all brands and counters as there were several absences that day, and I had just sold a 50ml bottle which was the first one to be sold of this fragrance, as like many new perfume launches it has been a slow start. After explaining my long commute as to why I'm not doing cartwheels in customers faces she suddenly tried to backpeddle ending in telling me how shocked she was and I was clearly very dedicated to the job blah blah blah. I'm sorry love - the damage has been done and I'm done too.

It doesn't help I am a depression sufferer and having someone tell me I'm a disappointment made me hyperventilate and get teary (the tiredness didn't help). So embarrassing but at the same time so very irritating and unnecessary to be put in that position in the first place in such a public arena. Whatever you think about me as an employee, launching a completely random attack on me was not the way to go about it.

Had this been the first time this had happened to me, I would have brushed it off. Previously in a House of Fraser branch I was summoned to a Clarins treatment room and shouted at for 20 minutes for spraying a perfume and discussing it with another colleague when all 5 floors of the store were completely empty (constant traffic stopping attempts only brought back tumbleweed, not customers because there weren't any!) It was apparently my fault the store was slow and people were not rushing to buy the newest perfume no one had even heard of at £100 a pop.

Not to mention another HOF store who booked me for Dior and after my 2 hours hair and makeup to adhere to Dior standards followed by the 3 hour commute on a freezing cold bus in December was told "I don't care if we booked you or not. We don't take agency staff. Go home. This is non negotiable". I'd spent the previous day revising all the Dior prices as HOF require a price scan to find this information out, which agency staff can't do as we aren't permitted to use the till or even breathe near it. God forbid.

And don't get me started on the Manager of Boots who held up a sign to me saying "Can you go away please" as I knocked on her office door to get a timesheet signed as other members of staff had refused and I was about to miss my bus home.

Or the Beauty Manager in the same store who said "Well should you even be here then?" loudly infront of customers because I'm not fit to do warehouse work with my arm issues (which I'm also not insured for and it's also NOT in my contract to do so). I was there to demonstrate Cleanse and Polish for Liz Earle and promote the brand in a Customer. Facing. Role.

After 3 years on the job, this latest experience is literally is the tip of the iceberg and it's such a shame because remove these rude somewhat unhinged individuals who could do with several days in the fresh air, and I quite enjoy my job.

If I may say so myself, I'm kind and patient with my customers and frequently help customers after the counter staff have gone on a two hour lunch, and emerge with a completely different hair style. Oh, you wouldn't believe it.

This includes helping customers with visual impairments as one woman was once nearly on the verge of tears telling me "I'm so glad I met you" because I'd been so kind and patient telling her what each smell was on each card, not judging or mocking her like she'd experienced previously. I also guided a man around the store to the top floor of Boots in Belfast to find the chemist as he had no sight at all and needed medication. This was whilst I was actually on my way for my break after a busy shift.

No, I don't jump in people's faces to force them to take notice of me and the product I'm selling. Why? Because it's bloody annoying and a complete intrusion of personal space. I hate it when it's done to me even if it's a product I like.

There have been times when I have been on the verge of closing a sale, I've left the customer to think about it as they requested, but Management insist I go over and push the product to get the sale through because they need to hit their store target. Low and behold every time I've done this the customer has walked away in a huff and I don't blame them either.

I've seen it all in these last 3 years but worst of all the way I have been spoken to time and time again by various companies I have made thousands for is completely unacceptable. Therefore, I feel I have no other choice than to make my feelings known and hand in my notice and shed light on the mistreatment of workers in an industry definitely not beautiful like the products we are selling to you.

Good luck finding my replacement who is as passionate and dedicated as me, who knows every brand inside and out and travels in all weathers and conditions just to promote your new scent or keep the counter running, filling out paperwork and sorting out the mess that's been left behind because they've been off sick for weeks, or have quit and you can't find a replacement.

Whilst not every store for every company I've mentioned is the same (for every horrible experience you always get 10 nice ones) it is the overall attitude to temporary workers that has to change, rather than the stores themselves. This also includes better support from the agencies too, who book us in the first place, who then often don't return calls or emails when you've raised issues or faced a difficult situation and needed backup to sort it out.

Unfortunately not everything that glitters is gold and this could not be more true of the beauty industry. The insane targets, uniform policies which require all women of certain brands to wear heels when they are on their feet all day or they face a disciplinary, then there is the plain rudeness of management especially if they know you are agency so only here for a few days. They know they can get away with speaking to you like crap and they genuinely don't care. Then they will see you again and be all "HIYA!" in your face. What's all that about?!

I for one don't want to be a part of it anymore. My Blog and Channel are where I will be containing my love for all things beauty from now on. Yes, I will continue to shop in these stores but I certainly won't be working in them anymore.

Let me know your experiences of working on a counter especially if you are agency too. Should I continue with the book I was 10,000 words into writing because it was cheaper than therapy? Let me know that too...

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate for Night

If you saw my recent May Favourites over on my channel, you will see I mentioned the Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate for Night (though, hopefully you got that far into the video... I do tend to waffle on a bit!!)

I'm a massive fan of facial oils as part of my everyday skincare routine, though I know many people are scared of oils as a whole. There is a massive different between synthetic mineral oils which clog pores and cause breakouts, and the natural plant based oils, which are actually incredibly beneficial to the skin.

I love a good facial oil either as a tiny drop mixed into my moisturiser for day or massaged intensely over my skin at night, incorporating deep lymphatic drainage whilst I'm at it.

The Liz Earle Superskin is the latest oil I have tried and I purchased the 10ml rollerball on a recent trip to Meadowhall.

With wonderful ingredients such as Rosehip Oil, Argan Oil, Neroli and Vitamin E it's one of the most plant-packed oils you can find, especially in somewhere such as Boots.

Over the last few weeks not only have I been surprised by how much a little goes a long way (I joked with the woman on the counter it would only last me a week!), but I've noticed my skin has felt softer and stubborn scarring has even started to fade.

I also like the fact that unlike brands such as Vintner's Daughter, Liz Earle give you a choice of 3 sizes to suit all budgets and even purposes such as travel. It can be daunting paying over the odds for an oil you haven't tried before, so being able to start small is a winner for me.

I'd recommend this product for anyone with dry skin, or equally those looking to brighten up their complexion. It hasn't caused any breakouts and can be used with a light moisturiser if you so wish, though is equally rich on it's own.

Top tip: For super dry skin, buff thick cucumber slices into the skin, let it dry and follow with hydraluron. Follow up with the Superskin oil mixed in with Embryolisse. Add in your eye and neck cream and feel the difference!