A week ago I had the opportunity to interview local entrepreneur Amy Regal. Amy Regal is, among other things, a makeup artist and owner of Glamour Puss Beauty Bar and Boutique as well as Party Girl Boutique (located at 32751 Franklin Rd., Franklin, MI). Here’s what Amy Regal had to say about her life as an entrepreneur:
You own two boutiques, Glamour Puss Beauty Bar and Boutique and Party Girls. Tell me a little bit about each:
“ We’re a full service makeup studio as well as a clothing and accessory boutique. Recently, at the beginning of this year I expanded and opened a special occasion dress store to complement the rest of our boutique and makeup salon. It’s a nice growing business. I’ve been there now almost eight years in this particular location. I’m located in the village of Franklin (Michigan). We do regular makeup applications for special occasions, we teach lessons, we furnish many, many lines of custom blended foundation, I manufacture three different lines. We actually change people’s makeup seasonally – as they add texture to their clothing, we add texture to their makeup. I’ve been a makeup artist – I’m on my 45th year, I am a lucky girl in that I am doing three and four generations.”
You’ve been in the fashion/beauty industry for quite a while – what have been the keys to your longevity?
“I think it’s a combination. Number one, for me and makeup, it’s not so much makeup application, it’s building and sustaining relationships with people. So what I show them to do, they trust me explicitly. And accomidating them; when I was young and building my business I worked seven days a week and made myself available at any hour on any day. I would fly all over the country to do people’s special events and I would really bend over backwards. I was a stay home mom and I wanted to be successful in this industry and there are not a lot of people who are as a real, full time makeup artist.
I also sold accessories. I, myself, am a jewelry designer and I became quite popular for many years. My designs were shown all over the country. I even moved away to Florida for ten years and still worked my business in Michigan. I would fly in every other week so I could work in my art studio and I worked around people’s special events, I pre-booked my appointments, and for me it’s all about being a sustaining resource for these people. Then they had children and those children became my clients and then they got married and I did their weddings and I did their bat mitzvahs and their sweet sixteens and then they had kids and now I’m doing their kids, and in some cases their children’s children. I’m very fortunate. I think I’m a very young old lady. I also have nine grandchildren from teens down to little ones. I think I have a way of being able to communicate with the kids as well as making older women feel beautiful and feel empowered.”
What’s been the hardest part about being an entrepreneur?
“I’m an artist. For me, after 45 years, I still get up every morning and look forward to going to work. My clients became my friends, I meet new ones and make them my friends every day. Being somebody that advises and implements technique and show women how to look their best, help them to feel their best. I don’t know what’s hard about it. I love what I do, so it’s not a job to me. I have a passion for it so it’s never like I’m going to work. I guess finding a balance has been hard; when you’re building a business as an entrepreneur, and especially when I added the boutique now, I think the biggest challenge is finding that balance – time for my husband, time for my family, time for myself.”
The most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
“The beauty of all of it is I have an appeal to both young and old. The satisfaction of being a part of everyone’s events – it’s loving and it’s exciting, it’s very personal. In my job I touch people physically so I have very intimate relationships with my customers. It’s different than just having a clothing store.”
What advice would you give for any entrepreneur looking to start a fashion or beauty business?
“Follow your gut, number one. We all are attracted to certain things and you have to trust yourself, even if you don’t think your customers are ready for something, take a chance, be unusual, be different, be consistent, taking chances, risks, but smart risks, baby steps. People make huge plans for themselves; I started out very small in my boutique. As I saw I was getting successful in one area, I continued on in that area.
Pay attention to the industry; things change quickly, people are fickle, and yet they need to be and they want to be led. People do not know what looks good on them, they don’t know how to dress themselves; they want that advice. As stylist, which is what we are in our store, we dress people from their face all the way to…the only thing I don’t sell there are shoes and once in a while I do. Putting a look together, reading your customer correctly so that you’re not putting them in something that doesn’t suit them. Paying attention to the customer and their style; everybody has some style – they may not know what it is. You’re not going to take a conservative woman and put her in a skin tight dress that’s completely cut out or someone you can tell doesn’t have a good body image.”
You actively give back to the community by donating your time, services and resources to charitable organizations. How did you become involved in such charity work and how to you stay motivated to continue to give back to your community?
“There are a number of answers to that question. One, I have a son who is a young adult and he’s a developmentally disabled young adult. My whole life has been dedicated to finding services for him to help him become an independent young man. I guess through the course of that there are many, many people who have assisted me in finding those services and finding resources in order for me to be able to help my child. And in the course of that, I’ve always wanted to give back, on some level, to all of them. I began doing things like that at nursing homes. My son is in a particular nursing home, and I appreciate that they give him an opportunity to have a job there, so I try and donate my services to the geriatric patients there who so badly need to be touched.
And things just mushroomed – from there, there’s an organization in our community called The Friendship Circle that was designed for children that are high functioning to help children that are low functioning. It’s a wonderful volunteer only organization. And they’ve grown over the years. And my son would also help mentor kids who were more developmentally disabled than him. And so I would give to them every year.
I choose different synagogues because those are the customers that support me; I choose different women’s groups because those are all different parts of my customers’ peeps. I give back – they support me and I give back to them. It’s great for business, it’s great for exposure. Like this year when I opened my special occasion dress store, I was able to donate seven prom dresses to an organization that furnished free dresses to girls that couldn’t otherwise afford to buy a dress. I find worthy causes that are about who I am, which I think reflects the kind of business person that I am, and it always comes back to me in a really good and positive way.”
~Jessica R. Simmons