Happy Anniversary Authentic Beauty

It was four years ago today that I opened the doors of Authentic Beauty.

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Five years ago I decided I wanted it and was willing to do something about the dream I had been living with most of my adult life. It’s funny that the original blog about the day I said goodbye to my former life still lives and will forever live on this site. (Say Goodbye to Olde Towne). You will hear inspirational speakers and business cheerleaders state that in starting a business you have to row away from the shore and be willing to lose site of it with only the vision of where you want to go in mind. That’s exactly how it’s done. You have to have faith in yourself, in making decisions when it’s scary to do so, you have to inspire others, you have to ask for help, you have to REALLY want it and you have to get up day after day in the face of the possibility of failure and keep taking action. But the really important part: You let go completely of what you know.

It’s funny that the first blog post was written on November 2, 2007. Many of you know the extended version of the story. The short of it: We signed a lease (in 2007) on a building that didn’t get building permitted until 10 months after the lease was signed. And once it was approved the building required too much work for it to be financially feasible and I had to walk away. In doing so I had no home-no place to work. I was lucky enough to have had three amazing salon owners to allow me to see clients and regroup; Richie Arpino, Jeff South from Intrigue and Todd Suttles. I rotated between three locations trying my best to keep the dream alive.  Meanwhile my original team who helped me create the vision walked away and I was even sued by people I trusted with my life. It was a desperate time. I just kept moving forward and took one step at a time.

In September of 2008 Todd Suttles asked me if I would be interested in renting the front area of his salon. It had been his reception area and he decided he was going to downsize. As scary as it was committing to a fixed expense I knew this was a good offer. The location was perfect. There was natural lighting and enough space to grow. I signed the lease and painted the walls.

Now here it is four years later. I own the entire business at 4674 Roswell rd. Todd Suttles moved on and left me with the entire space. We have 7 incredible artists, a lash technician, a director of operations, 2 estheticians, a spray tan room, 6 hairstylists, a graphic designer and a LOT of other people who help to bring this vision to life. Today I am in awe. I didn’t want a party. We are having a staff training and learning how to custom blend lipsticks. I want to sit and reflect and drink champagne with my team.

Today also happens to be the day we are expecting the compact for our makeup line to arrive. I have been working on developing this line for 2 years. The packaging will be environmentally friendly. I REFUSE to make something that can’t be recycled or biodegrade. The prototype is bringing my future, The launch of Authentic Beauty Cosmetics. This line will be non-toxic AND of the highest quality possible. There have been so many people that have been instrumental to our success. I am afraid to start naming names because I will forget someone I am sure. When I look to the future I am clear. I believe this year will be the best one yet. Makeup Lounges and beauty Bars are gaining momentum. We will have our 3 in 1 Magic Foundation ready for sale, our signature looks will be happening, we will renovate the salon and we will be ready to expand to location number 2. I want to thank EVERYONE who is a part of this. I cannot transform the way the beauty industry does business on my own.

The events and accolades over the past 4 years:

Makeup Artist for Eve Ensler, playwright Vagina Monologues and momma to V-day #onebillionrising

Most Eligible Shoot Jezebel Magazine  Makeup Team 2008

Featured Beauty Shopper Jezebel Magazine 2008

Q100 Shout out from Jessica Dauler as the Brow Guru of Atlanta

Makeup and Brows for Jenn Hobby of Q100

Personal Makeup Artist for Laura Turner Seydel

Personal Makeup for Beth Weitzman editor of Jezebel Magazine/Modern Luxury

Best of What’s New Jezebel Magazine 2009

Beauty Writer for Piedmont Review

Best Makeup Artist by Jezebel Magazine 2010

Best of Beauty Brows/Atlanta Allure Magazine 2010,2011, 2012

Most Creative Atlantan voted by Common Creativ ( Top 20 I think)

Over 40 & Fabulous Best Self Magazine

Woman of Power & Influence Atlantan Magazine

Featured Speaker at Survivor’s Day SEGO (South Eastern Gynecological Oncology)

Speaker for Tory Johnson’s Spark and Hustle and personal makeup for when she’s in town (she also was the fire under my butt to make the makeup!)

Educator for Elaine Sterling Institute of Esthetics

Panel Member for the Makeup Forever Pro Tour

Pure Fashion Presenters ( Four Years)

Celebrity Dance Challenge Participant EDIN

Featured on Jean Chatzky’s Blog

Featured in the AJC

Sponsor for the Get the Lead Out Event to benefit the Environmental Working Group

There are just so many many opportunities I have had and I can barely name them all.

The mentors I have had WOW

Means Davis

T Harv Eker (without Millionaire Mind none of this would be possible)

Landmark Education (specifically Janet Malzahn who yelled at me when I was 22 and changed my life-Becky Robins and David Fisher and Sheryl Jeter)

Christine Comaford

Keith Cunningham

Wendy Watkins

Kurt Bonatz

Stacey Anderson

Robyn Spizman

Laura Seydel
Meg Reggie
Kathleen Plate

There are just too many to name. Thank you if you are not on this list

And to my family. My children who have had to endure all that we have been through to get where we are. To my brother, sister, mother, stepfather, stepmother and father who have supported me in every way and to my husband Charlton who told me I could do it and held my hand even when it was really really bad.

To all you Authentic Beauties: Thank you for following the call! You have made your way in the studio because you are an Authentic Beauty. It is because of you I work so hard. You are all beautiful inside and out. I am privileged to be a part of your life. There are over two thousand of you now and the number keeps growing. Thank you for being a part of this journey, for spending your money with us and for telling your friends. When this is all said and done you will be able to say that you helped transform the way the beauty industry does business.

 

 

 

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Conclusion: Celebrity Dance Challenge

I want to thank EVERYONE for all your support and encouragement. From the moment I agreed to do EDIN’s Celebrity Dance Challenge you all made sure to ask how training was going and tell me how great I would do.When it came time to vote you all came out in droves! And on performance day many of you emailed, texted, posted on my facebook wall and even SHOWED UP at the theater to cheer me on.

Being a celebrity on a dance challenge is everything you think it is. I watched Dancing With the Stars this season asn I have a profound respect for both the dancers and the celebrities. I only had to do ONE dance that I had 2 months to train for. I can’t imagine having to do a new dance EVERY week. Wow.

What I did get the opportunity to experience was being paired with an AMAZING dance partner who will be my friend for life. Jeffrey Scott Bailey held my hand and me together. Every week he pushed me and empowered me. It was so so so much fun to dance with him every week. And to be honest, I never read his bio until after the event. This guy’s bio reads like a who’s who. He made it fun and it showed on stage. We were in synch and laughed through the whole thing.

When we finally got the the final dress rehearsal on the Friday evening before the event I was sooo nervous I couldn’t stand it. I was really scared! Thank you to Bubba Carr for talking me through it and calming me down. It is one thing to do it in a studio laughing and another thing on a STAGE looking at to seats knowing an audience will be watching.

In the final moments we also decided to pull a costume change. We had planned all along for me to dress like Judy Garland in “Get Happy”. She wore a double breasted jacket with short heels and fishnet stockings. For whatever reason I just couldn’t find the right jacket and the heels just didn’t look or feel right. Jeffrey tells me the night before, ” I put on my version of the outfit and I looked like a choir boy. Let’s do 80′s punk”. We were dancing to One Night in Bangkok from the play Chess. He informed me he was wearing his boots. “Well, if you are wearing your boots, then I am wearing mine”, I told him. I own platform boots from my heavy metal concert days. Now, keep in mind that I had not practiced in these. These boots make me over 6 feet 2 inches.

I went home that night and practiced in my garage. I felt better in the boots than I did in the small heels! Now if I could just land the cartwheel. I got to the theater early on Saturday and practiced over and over. I didn’t miss once. What the hell!

Jeffrey and I were first on. I don’t know how we managed to get that honor but I guess it was better to get it over with.

I wasn’t really nervous. I just wanted to be done. I went for it and I felt good about it. I gave it my all. I worked REALLY hard to prepare for this. I am NOT a dancer but I tell you, I will be taking classes next year because hands down this was one of the most fun experiences I have had. I got to breakthrough in ways I never imagined.

I didn’t win but for me I was happy I got to participate. Ginair McKerrow was the winner. She did a beautiful contemporary piece. I was thrilled for her. She is a friend and an Authentic Beauty Client so we had weeks of cheering each other on! All the other “celebrities” who competed danced their hearts out. I especially loved Samantha Mohr, of the Weather Channel‘s performance.

Hands down it was one of the best experiences I have had. In addition I used it as an opportunity to get myself fit again. I am in the gym 4-5 days a week and have dropped a size or 2. I feel really good.

Thank you again for all your encouragement!  Here is the video. (this video was taken by my daughter. There was no professional videographer). ENJOY!

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Celebrity Dance Challenge Part 3: My former life as a personal trainer.

My Fitness Personal Training Dec 2003

I have two children, Zach who is about to turn 18 and Quinn who just turned 16. Zach was born in 1993 and weighed 10.6 pounds. I gained 75 pounds. I remember spotting a scale after I delivered on my way to my hospital room and despite the fact I could barely move, I walked myself to that scale only to discover I had only lost 15 pounds post delivery. NOT GOOD.

I had Quinn 23 months later. I gained 85 pounds with her. Here’s the thing, I was sick BOTH pregnancies with a nausea that is beyond anything I have ever experienced up to this point in my life. The only thing that made me feel better was bread and depending on the day it was a baguette or crackers. I was tested for diabetes and other issues but my body was doing what it needed to do.

Post pregnancy #1 I went to the gym and took classes. I felt pretty good about where I was at by the time I was pregnant with #2 I was within 10 pounds of where I started. However, post delivery with #2 I could tell my body had changed. Everyone said I looked good but when I saw pictures of myself I had flabby arms. Never in my life! I was an athlete! That was how I pictured myself and that was not how I was looking. And to top it off I couldn’t get out of the house. The 2 kids 23 months apart rendered me useless. I found managing an infant and a 2 year old the hardest thing I have ever had to do. At one point my friends did an intervention. I hadn’t gotten out of my red robe for weeks. They made me get dressed.

I decided the gym would be a good idea. It would get me out of the house. The hour for working out and the SHOWER! The uninterrupted time in the SHOWER while the kids were in the childcare room. Ahhh. I made the gym a regular occurrence, and slowly I became more fit. It was 1996 and personal training was becoming more popular.

I had never weight trained before. As a cyclist it was discouraged to add extra muscle weight (STUPID) so I only trained my legs in the winter for 3 months.  I had no idea any of the principals or understanding of physiology. However, I watched the trainers at the gym and decided I would use someone to help me get back in shape since my body was not bouncing back.

Allen was my trainer. Within 4 months of training I had a better body then I did when I was in college. I felt strong and fit and saw amazing definition. I watched the trainers work and I thought I could do that! I had a sports  background, I was a great motivator, I was comfortable being a person’s personal space AND my kids could stay in the childcare room while I worked!!!!  I asked Allen how you became a trainer… Answer: you take a nationally certified test. I became certified and was hired to work at Ladies Workout Express in East Cobb (Marietta).

I spent 10 years in East Cobb as a personal trainer. I learned so much about my own personal fitness, how to build a clientele, how to motivate others and hold them accountable. I worked my way up to nearly 30 clients and many of those I had over 8-10 years. I miss training today.

When I left personal training I was 12-15% body fat. I weighed 155 pounds. What that means: I had 18.6-23.25 pounds of fat on my body and the rest was lean mass. No one ever believed I weighed that much. I was a size 6….or as I like to say a size 6 with a size 8 butt. :) That was my genetic potential. Meaning there was no dieting or exercising myself any thinner. That was it.

I never anticipated I would stop training all together. When I started Authentic Beauty I was working out in the gym at least 6 hours a week plus on the bike time. It varied when I stopped racing but I was still on it 4 times a week an hour or two or three at a time.

Launching Authentic Beauty was like having a child that needed full time attention 24 hours a day. I found myself for the first time EVER sedentary. I was in front of the computer or in front of the chair doing brows 24-7, I ate bad food…actually, I ate NO food all day and then ate event food and drank more alcohol than I ever did in college.

What I learned while I was training. DON’T GET ON THE SCALE. It does not tell the whole picture. You must test your body fat and do measurements. Feel your clothes.

I truly believe we are, as Americans, body image obsessed. After working with Alison Cross, the co-founder of Project Authentic Beauty and founder of the Body Beauty and Bravery Project and being made aware of how disordered we all are by buying into this STUPID unrealistic standard of beauty and in my case the unhealthy obsession with being thin for my sport; I used to measure EVERY morsel that went into my mouth…..this was normal. I  realized  how NOT normal this was. Alison is an EXPERT eating disorder specialist and LPC. She was telling me I had a LOT of warning signs. How could this be? I was a health advocate.

I observed my obsession with my food. It took a while but I definitely had a break through.

However, I used launching this business as an excuse to eat poorly and ignore my well being. Yes, it did require my full attention as a child would. But the child just turned 4. How many women have you heard they never lost the baby weight? And the baby is 10? It is NOT healthy to have a large percentage of body fat in proportion to your lean mass.

When I was asked to participate in the Dance Challenge I promised myself I would not become obsessed. This event is to benefit EDIN- the Eating Disorders Information Network.An organization that is COMMITTED to healthy body image and self-esteem in girls. They provide a much needed perspective on food and eating among other important things.

How I have reframed my position on losing weight: BECOME HEALTHY. BECOME FIT. It is not about the scale. However, I knew I needed a baseline to begin this training. I got on the scale. I gained 25 pounds since I stopped training!!!!  I took a deep breath. My measurements: I gained a few inches on my hips and waist but the biggest surprise: 4 inches in my chest and let’s be clear that is not in my boobs. WOW.

So how do you get fit and healthy and not obsess? You go back to basics. What I know? You weight train 2-3 times a week and do the same for cardiovascular activity. You make sure you eat every 2-3 hours healthy foods that nourish your body.

So far I am down over 10 pounds and an entire dress size.

In the next entry I am going to share what I am doing. I have a LOT of wonderful resources that were not around when I was a trainer. I discovered so many cool things.

What I love most about training again: FEELING STRONG AND BALANCED and energized. Looking good isn’t a bad thing either.

TO PURCHASE FOR THE TICKETS FOR DECEMBER THE 3RD CELEBRITY DANCE CHALLENGE  CLICK HERE

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Celebrity Dance Challenge Part 2/ Cycling My Passion!!!!!

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Once upon a time I was an athlete. From the time I can remember I was riding my big wheel, climbing trees and jungle gyms. I started gymnastics when I was five,  raced track, played tennis on the boy’s team in High School and then I found cycling.

I had a guy friend who rode his bike from Albany, NY to Cape Cod. Everyone thought he was crazy. However, since I lived in the middle of nowhere (for a few years I lived on the Vermont border in New York) in order to see my friends, and since my Dad couldn’t drive me, I got on the bike and rode. I thought, “If Chris can ride to Cape Cod, I can ride down the street”-even if down the street meant a 2 mile climb straight uphill on the way back.

I began riding my bike everywhere. It didn’t matter how far or how long it took me. I kept breaking frames and my Dad kept buying me bikes. At 16 I was riding 100 miles one way to volunteer for the 6 Day Advanced Course ( A week long ropes course focusing on breaking through where you stop in life). I think about it now and I don’t think it was a good idea with the fact I had a bad bike, no extra tubes or knew how to change a flat,  just in case I got a flat, no cell phone etc. But I did it anyway and those were some of the happiest moments of my life. I never felt freer, more alive and accomplished.

It was the summer of 1984 and it was Olympic year. I LOVE the Olympics. I love what it stands for. I love to watch athletes from all over the world come together and give it their all after preparing every minute of every day for their sport. I was watching one day and the announcer said, “Stay tuned for Women’s Cycling, an inaugural event”. WHAT? A sport???  CYCLING IS A SPORT??  I had no idea that it was. I didn’t know people raced their bikes or that the Tour de France existed.  I began investigating this “sport”.

That’s when I wrote Bicycling Magazine and asked them “how do you break into this sport????”.  My question was published in their magazine. Pre- internet you had to go to your local bike store and they were the ones that passed on where the races were. I found a great store, bought a new bike (thanks Dad) and found a race.

I raced my first race. I had no idea what I was doing and I crashed. I was strong enough to hang in but had no idea what to do when turning a corner at 25mph. LOL. I hit a hay bale in front of a fire hydrant. Ouch!

I rode my bike over 250 miles a week for several years and throughout my college experience. I looked for people who rode and any races I could go to. I still had no idea what I was doing but I absolutely LOVED riding my bike. My senior year however, I still hadn’t figured out how to get into the sport (this was 1988) and I quit. I sold all my gear and I was bitter.

I didn’t get on a bike again until 1996.

The summer of 1996 the Olympics were coming to Atlanta. I was mad! I had an almost 1 and 3 year old and the last thing I needed to be reminded of was riding. Olympic fever almost alluded me until the torch was just outside of Atlanta. I couldn’t stand it! I called up Randstad, the staffing company and said put me in the middle of all of it. I worked a beer cart at Underground. SOOOO MUCH FUN!  The magic and aliveness of the Olympics will be embedded in my memory forever.

The Women’s Road Race was on a Sunday. I didn’t have to be to work until after noon so I thought, “I’ll just go watch a lap”. Well, I stood near Christ the King Church on Peachtree and as the riders turned the corner from Peachtree Battle with the helicopters overhead, I lost it. I remembered how much I loved this sport. I called in sick and I watched the whole race and made my way to the finish to watch a 38 year old woman win the gold. I was inspired and decided right then and there I was going to ride again.

Somehow I managed to find the right bike at the time, the right bike shop and joined the Leukemia Society’s Team in Training. I signed up to ride 111 miles for the Tour de Tucson the following November (which I did my first race in 5 hours and 55 min) and in the meantime I received my certification to become a personal trainer.

I wanted to be in the Olympics more than anything. I raced for over 8 years. I trained at 5 am when I had to. I would train all morning, sometimes riding 75 miles and then do makeup all afternoon.  I had to lie to my ex husband. I begged everyone I knew to watch my kids for just a few hours so I could train. I made some of the most lasting friendships (love you Tricia O’Brien-it was at her wedding I met my husband Charlton who was an AMAZING cyclist). And in the end when I finally made a team that could have helped me become the best I was capable of they didn’t ask me to return for a second year because they didn’t want to “ask me to take time away from my family”. I was devastated.

I also realized that I was NEVER going to be in the Olympics. I was sad and I needed to figure out for me what life was like not figuring out how to get a workout in every day.

I will tell you….when I hear someone say I don’t have enough time…I hear… I am not willing to do what it takes; I will not choose….. I had 2 children who were little. I still made it home to make dinner. I read stories and gave them baths. They saw their mom compete and work hard. They went to my races. One vivid memory I have is of my son sticking his head out the car window and yelling, “Get your butt up the hill MOM!!!”  I still think about that and I smile.

I created my life to support my cycling. If you are committed, anything is possible. Maybe not the Olympics but close. :)

Next entry: Personal Training, 11 years dedicated to others fitness compared to the last four years launching Authentic Beauty and not working out for the first time in my adult life…STAY TUNED

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Celebrity Dance Challenge Part 1

Recurring memory:  I am 13 years old in theater classes at the prestigious Empire State Youth Theater Institute.  I LOVED  this program. (I always thought I was going to be an actress when I grew up). I took the city bus to downtown Albany, NY and went to class in the theater on the capital concourse known as the “Egg” every Saturday morning.  We were required to take dance in the morning. It didn’t matter that I was told for most of my life that Grace was not my middle name.  Our dance instructor is Ka-ren, not Karen. She was from England, spoke with a British accent and was a fierce ballerina.

Karen, although beautiful could be extremely cruel. When at the barre, if my stomach was sticking out, should would flick it, never explaining that if I held my core (or taking the time to explain to me what my core was) my posture would be better. I was already conscious about my “pooch” as I was a sensitive teen. But the most vivid memory I have is of practicing a routine. I loved to be in the front row (can you imagine?). I was never any good at memorizing the dance numbers we did but if I could follow someone, I was great! A new girl had been in the class a few weeks. She had a dance background and I LOVED following her. She was talented at dance the way I was at theater. Then one day in the middle of a routine, Ka-ren singled me out in front of the entire class and made me do it by myself. I couldn’t do it.  I was humiliated and I never wanted to be in the front row again and then I never wanted to dance in a class again. I dropped out of the Institute and I don’t think I ever took a group dance class again.

I found out a few years after that Karen had killed herself. I wasn’t happy to hear that although she caused me so much pain and humiliation.

My younger sister took dance most of her youth and I think she even takes adult classes to this day. I found my physical self-expression in gymnastics and later in cycling and in personal training. Bottom line, I became an athlete and saved my dancing for the dance floor at a club.

Every year Authentic Beauty helps EDIN (Eating Disorders Information Network) with their Celebrity Dance Challenge, a fundraising event for their important organization very much like Dancing With the Stars. It is awesome to watch all the local celebrities give it their all and become dancers. Some better than others, but ALL having fun and dancing passionately. I thought “good for them”. I will NEVER do that. I enjoy my support roll doing makeup BACKSTAGE.

I attended a luncheon with Lisbeth Rhine, Edin’s administrator in January who looked at me and said, “You should dance this year”. I laughed at her and DID NOT take her seriously. A few months later again, “Be a dancer” and then finally one last request this summer. I guess they really are serious.

FIRST….I am NOT celebrity enough to do this.

TWO I have not danced (formally) since I was 13.

THREE, even though I WAS an athlete (another blog) I am NOT now

FOUR, how can I find the time……

And then I found myself saying yes. I will give you the reasons why:

ONE: Do you remember the quote about doing something once a year that scares you? This SCARES me. I can jump out of planes, go over 55mph on a bicycle downhill, open a business in a BAD economy, attend a course called Enlightened Warrior, but ask me to dance on stage….FORGET IT!  So I thought about really understanding and knowing the power that comes from breaking through personal and physical limitations this has both for me.

TWO: EDIN is my sister non-profit. I visited them when I first launched Authentic Beauty and the administrator at the time listened to what I had to say and said, “Just wanted to make sure you aren’t LIPSTICK EMPOWERMENT”. I think I am to a certain degree lol. EDIN informs girls about the danger of obsessing over their bodies and give strategies and information to our girls so that they can make healthy choices, in addition to giving all kinds of support and information to anyone who is dealing with an eating disorder.  Project Authentic Beauty’s Director ( AB’s non-profit initiative), Alison Cross has over 15 years of experience with Eating Disorders. She designed our Body, Beauty and Bravery seminar and PAB to empower girls and women to feel beautiful from the inside out. EDIN is our sister organization in having that mission become a reality.

THREE: I needed a PERSONAL goal. I have business goals up the wazoo. If you all didn’t know I was a personal trainer for over 10 years, I was a competitive cyclist for 8. I have the Olympic Motto tattooed on my ankle (citius, altius, fortius). I was/am out of shape. I know myself that in having a goal I will transform myself…..

FOUR: I wanted to inspire those of you out there who know how busy I am with the business, my clients, the events, my family (two teens and a husband) that you can do something like this if you commit. It is all about the commitment and taking action.

I will talk in the next blog about what my history was as an athlete, a personal trainer, AFTER delivering a 10 pound baby and weighing 210 pounds at the time of delivery. AND now current state of CEO and business owner and not having the time to exercise consistently…….and having gained 25 POUNDS since giving up personal training and starting AB 5 years ago!!!!!

I will show you pictures and tell the story! STAY TUNED…. I will also tell you how I am getting in shape and becoming fit at 43 in preparation for this dance. I will share about my rehearsals with my amazing partner Jeffrey Scott Bailey.

I have already discovered MANY MANY MANY resources in this journey already.

Looking forward to sharing this with you all.

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My Talk “Define Your Business and Develop An Authentic Brand” from Tory Johnson’s National Spark and Hustle Conference

I was asked to speak at Tory Johnson’s Spark and Hustle Conference which is taking place here in Atlanta NOW (read my blog about it HERE). I spoke this morning. It was my FIRST time publicly speaking about Authentic Beauty as a business and not specifically talking about makeup. I was really nervous. But once I got going I spoke from my heart and thank you to everyone for the great feedback!

I wanted to share with you all my talk. I wrote it out before I went up there and read it out loud and wrote and rewrote it several times so I would remember my key points. It is not verbatim what I shared on stage. I told a lot more little personal details about the history of how I got to where I am but the main message I wanted communicate is expressed below. If you want the Power Point Email me at alyson.hoag@authenticbeautyllc.com if you would like me to send it to you.

Thank you again and thank you to Tory for asking me to be a part of Spark and Hustle. (To see Tory’s interview on Good Day Atlanta click here)

Aly

DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS
& DEVELOP AN AUTHENTIC BRAND

I have been a professional artist for over 20 years (actually 25 but who’s counting?) I started off my career by getting kicked out of my 3rd grade class for making them over while the teacher was out of the classroom. I built my career by working for major cosmetic companies until I was forced to work for myself. I spent 7 years working for myself servicing one person at a time as a technician.

As I built a successful business for myself I sat ALONE dreaming of a company that could do it better. I had a vision for a company that honored makeup artists, which honored women for the beauty that they ARE-instead of trying to sell you on the fact there are a gazillion things wrong with you, that didn’t use ingredients that were toxic. I dreamt about being able to transform the way the cosmetic industry does business.

I woke up one day after doing a lot of soul searching and knew that if I did not create Authentic Beauty my Authentic Self would be left unfulfilled.

The jump I had to make from being a great makeup artist to a great business owner came from a single important lesson- BUSINESS IS A LEARNABLE SKILL.

I threw myself into learning and doing what it would take to make my dream and turn it into reality.

One of the first recommendations

YOU NEED A BRAND

What did that mean?

How did I want my company perceived in the world?

I embarked on an evolving journey to unfold what was necessary to communicate and have my message be heard.

At first I thought branding meant visuals-my logo, my colors, my tagline, my advertising.

All this does mean your brand. It is the means by which you are recognized in the world

But that’s only the external part

At Authentic Beauty we offer a service known as the Image journey. It is a self-discovery makeup lesson. What I believe is that your personal image needs to be a reflection of your authentic self. My clients have homework before they come see me to help them figure out what that is for them.

If 90% of what people believe about you is determined by your appearance than you better responsibly manage it so it communicates who you really are.

In this homework we ask clients to reflect upon images that they are drawn to and inspired by. They create image boards and bring them to their session.

When I embarked on developing my brand I spent countless hours taking the same approach. What images reflected my brand?

I picked through and continue to –thousands of colors, and images of ways that messages communicate that inspire me.

I actually went thru 6000 fonts before I found the one I use for Authentic Beauty!

Some people myself included, recommend hiring a brand manager….HOWEVER….YOU MUST DO YOUR HOMEWORK

THIS IS YOUR BUSINESS.YOUR MESSAGE AND YOU MUST OWN IT

Why I created the image journey process was because I had so many women throughout the years sit in my chair and ask me to do their makeup.. I would look at them, use my expertise and get to work on creating a look for them based on MY PERCEPTION as to what I think they should look like.

In the end if I listened well I would nail it most of the time and give them what they wanted but what I discovered in my many years as a successful artist was that client could articulate her vision for her image there was still this slight incompletion-something was missing even though she looked great.

I was telling her what to do. She became my paperdoll that I was dressing.

It’s the same I found with my brand. You have to know who you are as a company.

What do you stand for?

What are your core values?

What do you want to be known for?

Otherwise your brand is a shell.

Developing an Authentic Brand is like developing an Authentic Image.

It is a Journey.

There is no substance behind an image that is not authored and designed

We all know examples of people we see that look great on the outside and not so great on the inside AND not so great on the outside but GREAT on the inside.

Don’t make people work so hard to discover who you are

BE TRANSPARENT

BE AUTHENTIC

The good news is that it is simple. Not easy but simple. You have to do the work.

People hire me to see what they can’t. They buy my expertise to see into their Authentic Self and give them what they have always wanted on the outside.

Your brand manager should be someone who pulls out of you what your vision is for your company.

They should make recommendations but NEVER tell you what your brand “should be”

You need to be courageous to say NO when you look at your brand and it doesn’t feel right to you-the same way you would run to the bathroom and take off a lipstick you couldn’t stand.

You also have to say yes. Recently I was given recommendations to change my colors and design for Authentic Beauty.

I so completely trust my brand manager I allowed her to put some new colors “on me” I had to be open…sometimes it takes trying on something new and wearing it for a while before you adjust and I hate to say it the older you get the harder it is to change…..

Think of it like a coat. You can take it out of the closet wear it for a while to see if it fits…but you can take it off and put it back

THE #1 PIECE OF ADVICE I CAN GIVE YOU WHEN CHOOSING AN EXPERT:

MAKE SURE YOU 100% GET THAT THEY BELIEVE IN YOUR COMPANY AND IN YOU.

If you don’t get that they do-no one else will either.

The goal is to constantly evolve by unfolding. That takes constant critical attention to your Authentic Self who speaks to you in your quietest moments. Find the time to listen.

Balancing this for both your business and personal image takes practice.

But you wouldn‘t be here if you weren’t already in training. This is coaching for being in the game.

Grow yourself to make it possible.

Having a life you love is about authenticity and being true to yourself.

I believe true beauty comes from expressing your Authentic Self.

You ARE AN AUTHENTIC BEAUTY when you are projecting your Authentic Self.

Your brand is no different. Expressing your passion in the world is communicating your Authentic Voice and when it’s coming from that place deep within your soul and the world hears it your rand has hit its mark.

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There is a Season Turn, Turn, Turn

It’s 2:14 am and in order for me to complete my day or start my day-however you want to look at it I need to mark today with a special reflection. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

I am now fully responsible for the entire salon location at 4674 Roswell rd.

It is amazing that after three years of daunting challenges and hurdling roadblocks I am getting to FINALLY fully begin to realize the dream.

It has been a journey to get here and I know that I have just begun. I might have used this analogy before but when I was racing bicycles, it took a full year of training every day to get me to the point where I could even think about showing up at a race. It took 3 more years before I could keep up in a race that was still considered intermediate level. That’s how I feel about launching Authentic Beauty.  Everything until now has been training.

Personally I have evolved in ways that I couldn’t keep track of. I have had to move beyond massive amounts of fear which is incredibly difficult. I have had to live with the sadness of disappointments of people not keeping their word. It has been a daily practice of acknowledging what there is to be grateful for and letting go of all the rest….in able to focus on the magical future I am creating not only for myself and my family but for women, for makeup artists and for my industry. I have had to find the reserve stores of passion that I only thought existed in my soul.

I have had to hang onto and recite daily the mantras that my mentors have given me to remember. I have had to focus only on the positive but be fully prepared for the negative. As Keith Cunningham said,” You are successful only to the degree you can have multiple conflicting thoughts” (that might not be verbatim but it’s close). Thank you to Christine Comaford for all your encouragement and belief in me.

What has kept me going, is not only my passion and perseverance and commitment to have my life be an undaunted reflection of what my best Self has to give the world but all of you who have become fans, sent me love notes, told my what an inspiration I am for you but who have also been moved by what Authentic Beauty provides which is access to an image that is a reflection of your Authentic Self.

I have watched so many of you go through the Image Journey process and emerge confident and joyful!  What a gift to me to watch those of you who heeded the call truly step into your own Authentic Beauty. I want to inspire and give the rest of the women in the world that gift.

I was fortunate enough to go through a brilliant exercise of what if Authentic Beauty was a global concept. I was allowed for 6 weeks to fully entertain what it would look like and take to bring this concept worldwide.

Many of you know I had been “chatting” with a potential investor for several weeks. This successful entrepreneur was able to conceptualize far beyond what I could imagine because he himself had no limits. He could think outside the box because he was not limited by his financial condition. Imagine if you really were that prosperous and you could create ANYTHING. Bring ANYTHING to market. What would you do? I got think that way. I got to slip into a world and really believe that anything is possible.

I will NEVER be able to go back. Now life got bigger, brighter and in some ways easier. All the little minutia that was keeping me frustrated is easily being handled. The magic of taking over the entire location just happened……I didn’t have to force anything to happen.

I truly know that life gets created because of your thinking. My thinking was challenged and I am soooo much better because of it. I am urging you to spend a day in no limitation…..you will be transformed.

Even though I don’t think he is going to invest (you never know) I am better., my business is better, I have clearer thoughts, a clearer plan and the confidence to go up to anyone.  I have become the CEO of Authentic Beauty.

In less than 2 weeks I have job descriptions for all the people who need to come into existence to make us profitable. One person has already showed up-Lynn Ostean, she is our new studio manager.

And part of the process of stepping into this role is having my own image be a reflection of my Authentic Self.  For the past 10 years I have been evolving my image. In 1998 I cut off 7 inches of long curly RED hair to go short and blonde reminiscent of Meg Ryan from the movie City of Angels (you can read the story published in Piedmont Review here). I then was embracing my Divine Feminine when I remarried and grew my hair long-inspired by Seane Corn (yoga diva) and Kate Hudson. Today I am embracing my Authentic Self as I yet again cut off my hair and go PLATINUM blond.

I got hooked on the tv series Battlestar Galactica and watched the show on DVD over the past few months. One of the Ceylon Characters Caprica 6 was a deadly combination of brains, strength and drop dead beauty. She is my new bad ass hero.

I noticed that I have gotten edgier and stronger in my own nature but still maintain a softer side. I am embracing being over 40 and sexy. I feel good about who I am…and that is no longer with longer locks. Not that I don’t think Kate Hudson is beautiful anymore-I absolutely do. I just am not inspired by her anymore.

Daniel Jones of Muse Salon is coloring and cutting  my hair off. I am absolutely growing today and stepping into the next phase of my soul expansion: My CEO VIXEN AUTHENTIC SELF.

stay tuned….

Alyson's Authentic CEO VIXEN SELF

BEFORE
AFTER

AFTER

Reflections

Today I am sitting on my couch in my robe playing on Facebook looking up random people/friends seeing what everyone has been up to.

This week has been the busiest week of my career.

Last month (or was it the month before ;)) when I came home from Rosemary Beach completely rejuvenated I had a meltdown. I walked in the studio my first day back and broke down in tears. Day 2  I broke down sobbing. I hadn’t realized how hard I was working. I gained perspective and what I saw when I stepped back was a never ending treadmill of intensity.

I knew when I started Authentic Beauty it was going to be hard. I knew that there would be unforeseen sacrifices and that I would have to be willing to work harder than I ever have. I know how to suffer. I was a competitive road cyclist for nearly 8 years while having two small children.  That pales in comparison to the amount of focus and drive I have needed to get this company on its feet.

I was crying for my simple life. I really knew that that was gone forever and that the truth about the situation is that it will be another few YEARS before I can truly relax the way I did at the beach.

Ok, so I have been given tools. I breathe, I work out, I do Pilates, I have my “Big Rocks” on my calendar. The point is they have to be put on my calendar. I could say they are on the calendar and everything else revolves around that but I would be lying.

I have had to grow my world and myself to be able to be the leader of Authentic Beauty. People ask all the time “How do you do it?”  I just do. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. What are you doing with yours.

A funny thing happened I want to share.

The week that I opened the studio last year Jenn Hobby of Q100′s the Bert Show gave me a beautiful orchid. It bloomed 8 blooms consistently all year. Everyone commented about how amazing this plant was. The week I came back from Rosemary Beach it suddenly died. It shriveled up, all the flowers fell off and the roots were turning black.

My assessment was that I killed it. The roots were growing over the pot. I thought for sure the reason for its death was my fear of putting it in a bigger pot. I thought it reflected perfectly my state of mind. “How could I possibly grow anymore”. I like the current state of blooming I am in…..

Well….this weekend my friend Meri was in my office. I hadn’t gotten around to putting the plant in the trash. She looked at the plant, pulled the dried out stuff off and voila IT HAD BRAND NEW BUDS ON IT! Just in time for the studio’s one year anniversary. She said that once a year these orchids shut down….maybe that’s what happened to me.

Since loosing all my blooms after my vacation, I have come back to the playing field with a new sense of purpose and living my path knowing it is my choice. Me, The studio along with my orchid plant have new buds and I for one am looking forward to the new blooms.Orchid

A Prayer for Rejuvenation

It is Day 3 of my vacation in Rosemary Beach. I can feel the stress and fogginess of the stress floating away from my soul. I feel a clarity and peace of mind coming over me. Ahhhh…….

The sun is shining today and I am looking forward to sitting on the beach with our kids. Charlton and I walked on the beach this morning with Lola (our rescue Golden Retriever) who ran after birds and exhibited the characteristics of a puppy! She is healed! No more seizures for this dog. It was so much fun to watch the little kids at play on the beach before 8am and their parents who cannot believe they are up this early. One guy was watching 6 kids under the age of 8. LOL I am definitely DONE having kids. I loved being up at 6am with a 2 and a 4 year old when my kids were little-not kidding about that BUT I like the thought of getting up to do yoga at 6am instead.

Charlton, Lola and the kids running the beach

Charlton, Lola and the kids running the beach

SO…..I am thinking we need to have a girls’ retreat here in January. To purpose would be to sooth our souls post holiday and set our intentions for the year.

If that sounds like something you would like to do let me know. First come, first serve. The house sleeps twelve. Not sure how much it would be to cover our costs but I will figure it out.

Today the theme is REJUVENATION!!!!

What I know is that there is a divine energy called spirit that runs through all of us and connects us to GOD/all there is.

I know that this energy is radiant and peaceful and abundant and nurturing of my soul. I am filled with divinity today and feel love pouring out as a result of remembering my connection. This connection is ALWAYS there.

I release any tension, any blocks that prevent the light from filling my soul.

I am grateful for all that I have and all that is flowing to me.

I release this prayer knowing that it is so and so it is.

Renee and Sean's Rosemary Beach Home

Renee and Sean's Rosemary Beach Home

Vacation at Rosemary Beach

It has been three years since I have taken a vacation. Actually that vacation was my honeymoon. We are less than 50 miles until we arrive. I have spent the entire trip relearning how to navigate wordpress. An entrepreneurs best friend is an air card. I am sooo productive! I have had four hours of solid play time on facebook, the blog and just random emailing and searching. This is definitely vacation when I can spend four hours of computer play time.  I have promised to put down the computer the second I get to Rosemary. Ok y’all, how long do you think I can go without checking my email or text messaging? LOL

As an entrepreneur there are many sacrifices. What makes it ok is knowing that it won’t be long before I can take regular vacation like most people. I feel like I have been in the woods on a camping diet and the second you are on the road to civilization to start to smell food like never before!!!!

#1 rule

Think long term and reject “nearly” all immediate gratification.

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