10 Business Lessons We Learned From Julia Anne Milin,
Founder of Brow Design International
Julia Anne Milin is an opera singer who left the stage to start a successful microblading career. Today’s post is the first of a new monthly series here on the blog: Interviews of successful professionals in the Microblading and Permanent Makeup industry. We’re calling it “Spotlight Success.”
Julia is the founder, lead artist, and master trainer of Brow Design International, a permanent makeup studio and training school.
She has been named “New York’s Microblading Guru” by ABC’s Good Morning America and Marie Claire Magazine.
Julia Anne Milin’s story is unusual, to the say the least. It’s not every day you hear of an opera signer turned microblader, but that is exactly what she did.
We had a great time talking to Julia. Her passion for her work is evident listening to her discuss her art and watching her in her studio.
Check out the interview below and keep an eye out for lessons we learned from this “microblading guru”.
How did you get started in Microblading?
Julia Anne Milin: I’m an opera singer, a graphic artist and a web designer. I went down to Houston to hang out with my mom for a bit, she had just started microblading and I was curious about the process and what she was doing.
I found that I really loved it, it was such a challenge. I became wholly obsessed with it from the very first day. For me it was about creating this perfect eyebrow, I was just obsessed with it.
My mother was heavily entrenched in the beauty industry in Houston, so I was able to talk a lot of hair stylists. People didn’t even know what microblading was.
We went from salon to salon explaining the process with videos and talking to people, writing articles and stuff. I did a bunch of free models, people who were beauty stylists, so they got the word around and that’s how I started.
Lesson #1: Make it your obsession.
Lesson #2: Visit related business and spread the word. Work on your portfolio by doing free or reduced price services.
Why do you love what you do?
I love the autonomy. It feeds my creative side. It’s very challenging and I need to be challenged.
Every woman is a challenge, every eyebrow is a challenge. I love coming up with new ideas and being original. I’m so against putting cookie cutter or stenciled eyebrows on somebody.
I book out my clients for three hour segments and I still do, even though it takes me an hour to 90 minutes to do it, but I like to have that cushion time so I don’t feel rushed.
I can look at the woman’s face and I can imagine what eyebrows are going to go on her and work with her facial features and her natural hair stroke pattern. For me, every single client is a new challenge and that’s why all my work looks different. That’s what I love about it.
Lesson #3: Give every client the time and patience they deserve.
Why are eyebrows important?
Eyebrows frame the face and they also frame the expressions of the face. You have to be very careful how you shape the eyebrow because you can’t give the wrong expression to a woman permanently.
You have to understand how the muscles of the face work and how the expressions of the face work. So, it could really open up the face, make a woman look 20 years younger, or it could completely destroy her look and her confidence.
Nothing makes me happier than when they walk out of my studio and they feel beautiful and they have a lisp in their step and they’re really excited. It makes my day.
What is the hardest part about sitting down with a client?
Julia Anne Milin: When they don’t trust me and they try to micromanage. It messes up my flow, my creative part.
I’ve learned how to get around that in this way I actually allow the client to have more space so if they feel that they have control over the situation, all I have to do is sit back and be quiet and listen.
It enables us to calm down quicker. It’s a very psychological thing. They want to feel that you care about what they have to say and that you’re there for them.
How did you start training?
I became really high in demand and people started asking me to train them. I said no at first, lots of times because I wasn’t thinking of having a company or a training company.
So then finally, one girl asked me to train her. I said give me two weeks, I’ll put something together and we’ll do it. So I called her up and she said, “I already got my training.” I said ok, great, who did you train with and she told me and I looked at the work and it was terrible. It was totally wrong, and I was like wow – let me start a training program.
I started with one student, then graduated to two and then eventually came up with my 8 person class – 3 day format. And then I started hiring trainers, people who really wanted to work with me and were intrigued and excited about the prospect of where this company was going.
I can’t believe how it’s grown.
It happened really quickly. My mother was a marketing person for 18 years so she was kind of the front face of my company. She actually left the beauty industry and went back to marketing for Brow Design.
Lesson #4: If you are good at what you do and you love it, people will see it and come to you for guidance.
Lesson #5: If you don’t like what’s out there, fix it.
Lesson #6: Moms rock.
What has been the hardest part about starting your own business?
Administration has been the hardest thing. At the beginning it was just me and my business partner. We were just completely overwhelmed keeping stock of product, keeping track of students. I’m good at it, but I’m an artist and a creator so I wanted to get out of it and get back into the creative side.
Now I have people working for me who are trained in our specific way of customer service and administration. And also getting good products that give good results because nothing is made in America, you have to get it all overseas.
Lesson #7: Whenever possible, hire help. No one can do it all.
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What is the top concern from your students when they start training with you?
They think it’s going to be fast. They all think they’re going to get it right away and they don’t. It’s extremely hard. And I’m a tough teacher because if you don’t do it correctly, you’re not going to get the right results. It’s my duty to teach them the right way to do it. If I’m too easy on them, they won’t learn.
They have to put the work in. It’s just not possible to become good at microblading without putting in the practice. It won’t look natural, the healed result won’t look good, if you cross strokes the healed result will be muddy and it will also be gray. If you go too deep you could damage the skin and cause scarring.
The hardest thing is the stroke pattern and the angle of the needle. We’re not working on a flat surface, we’re working on a round surface.
Lesson #8: Practice makes perfect.
What are your tips for success in this industry?
Marketing wise, just practice and do free work. If you want to charge them a little bit here and there that’s fine. Build your portfolio. Get practice. Practice working on people.
Do free people who are in the industry who can give you referrals. You could give a bonus for a hairdresser that referred you clients. Give the hairdresser a card to give to the client. When the client comes to you and gives you that card, you know that you could give that hairdresser a bonus for that referral.
Social media is great. Instagram and Facebook are really important. Networking, talking to people. Educating people, the more you can network the better, especially at the beginning.
Lesson #9: Get your social media game on point.
What sets successful artists apart from the rest?
Their photos!! The quality of their photos. I cannot stress it enough.
You have to have a good camera and good lighting and good taste in how you angle your photos. That’s so important.
You can do mediocre work and have a great photo but people will respond to it better. Or you could have perfect work, with an okay photo and okay lighting and people just won’t respond to it.
I have photography lighting and good cameras, I do a lot of video recording. And it’s not expensive.
Lesson #10: Invest in good photography equipment and education.
That’s all folks!
We hope you enjoyed our interview with Julia Anne Milin. We sure did.
Be sure to follow her on Instagram at @browdesigninternation.
We love to hear from you all. How did you start out? Drop us a line in the comments below.
If you’d like to be featured on Success Spotlight, please contact us!
Until next time. =)
Julia Anne Milin
Microblading hub article