Tag Archives: retail

[Glossed Over] Plus Size Women Are Shaped Funny.

Photo of scary clothing mannequins

Or so concludes the fashion industry, according to Plus Size Wars by Ginia Bellafante in Sunday’s Times Magazine. I give you Exhibit A:

The most formidable obstacle lies in creating a prototype. If you already have a line of clothing and a set system of sizing, you cannot simply make bigger sizes. You need whole new systems of pattern-making. “The proportions of the body change as you gain weight, but for women within a certain range of size, there is a predictability to how much, born out by research dating to the 1560s,” explained Kathleen Fasanella, who has made patterns for women’s coats and jackets for three decades. “We know pretty well what a size 6 woman will look like if she edges up to a 10; her bustline might increase an inch,” Fasanella said. “But if a woman goes from a size 16 to a 20, you just can’t say with any certainty how her dimensions will change.”

A paragraph later, Fasanella follows that up with this:

“You’ll have some people who gain weight entirely in their trunk, some people who will gain it in their hips,” Fasanella continued. “As someone getting into plus-size, you can either make clothing that is shapeless and avoid the question altogether or target a segment of the market that, let’s say, favors a woman who gets larger in the hip. You really have to narrow down your customer.” A designer must then find a fit model who represents that type and develop a pattern around her. But even within the subcategories, there are levels of differentiation. “Armholes are an issue,” Fasanella told me, by way of example. “If you have decided to go after the woman who is top-heavy, well, some gain weight in their upper arms and some do not. There are so many variables; you never win. It’s like making computers and then deciding you want to make monitors; a monitor is still a computer product, but it’s a whole new kind of engineering.”

All of which leads Bellafante to surmise: “Thin people are more like one another; heavier people are less like one another. With more weight comes more variation.”

Well, I call bullsh*t. Continue reading

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Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Glossed Over., week 36

Selling On Up. And Making It Up as You Go.

Here’s the secret to have a successful salon or spa in one word:

Upselling.

Our goal, as soon as you walk in the door, is to convince you that hey, actually, a more expensive facial would be more beneficial for your skin than the bog-standard European facial you signed up for, or that in fact, you’ll extend the benefits of the facial much longer if you buy a bunch of products for home use, too. And by the by, did you know we also do hair and nails here?

At Beauty U, we’re getting ready to work on real, live clients soon, and learning to fill out a form for every customer where we have to write which treatments we suggest as an upsale, whether they decided to go for it, and which home products we recommend. The part that creeps me out is that we’re then supposed to hand this form to the client at the end of the service. They bring up to the receptionist so she knows what to charge them — which means the client can idly flip it over and see the back where the word “upsell” is printed right there in black and white.

Now I don’t know about you, but if I were the customer and I saw that word on my receipt, it would pretty much make me want to down-sell and never buy anything from that salon ever again.

I first learned about upselling when I worked in retail during high school and college, so it’s not like the beauty industry invented this term. (I worked at a book store and we were encouraged to persuade customers to add on a cute bookmark at the cash register, or maybe consider grabbing a favorite author’s latest in paperback along with the hardcover.) But while I get the bottom-line-business of it, I still feel like it’s nice to protect the customer, just a little bit, from the dollar signs in our eyes. Especially because we’re taught over and over at Beauty U that selling products and services is our responsibility as estheticians — our moral imperative, in fact, because customers need our help. They’re presenting us with “problems” (frizzy hair, acne, age spots) and asking us for “solutions.” And that means giving “tips” on how to take better care of their skin and hair. Every good tip should include a piece of advice about “what to do,” and a piece of advice about “what to use.”

“I hate the idea of upselling because I feel like it makes customers uncomfortable,” says Meg, as we read aloud from tonight’s PowerPoint lecture on making sales. “What if they can’t afford to buy a bunch of products?”

The PowerPoint has an answer for that: “Customers thinking they can’t afford it is the number one reason they’ll give you to avoid buying something,” it explains confidently.

And then: “Customers who think that are delirious.”

This is because customers don’t understand that salon products really cost them less, because the ingredients are more concentrated, meaning you can use less and the bottle will last longer than the drugstore crap you usually buy. (Anyone who has ever bought a salon bottle of hair conditioner knows this is a tremendous lie.)

But whether that’s actually true is irrelevant, as we learn on the next slide, which explains that if we’re not sure what a product really does, we should feel free to follow the MSU rule.

MSU stands for “Make Stuff Up.”

As the PowerPoint explains, “If [the customer] wants softness, your product gives them softness.” Personal testimonies are also strong selling tools, so we’re encouraged to tell customers that any given product we’d like to sell is what we use ourselves. (Again, what we actually use being fully beside the point.)

Now, before you all get in a lather, let me state for the record that Miss Jenny is horrified as I read off this slide. It’s her first time teaching this Business Skills unit, and she wasn’t expecting this kind of advice. “Are they kidding me?” she asks, flipping back and forth through the PowerPoint lecture to see if the MSU rule is some kind of Beauty U practical joke. “You can try that tactic maybe once, but if you make a sale that way, it will be the last time you ever sell to that customer.”

But there it is, in black and white on the screen in front of us. So much for the customer cult I was worrying about last month. Apparently at Beauty U, the customer is always right — but also, as far as we’re concerned, kind of a moron.

[Photo: “Stylist Chair So Chic Salon Dream Dazzlers Play Set,” $74.98 via Amazon. Because “now you’re the stylist with your own stylist chair!”]

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Filed under Beauty Schooled, Career Opportunities, Customer Cult, In Class, week 14

The Lesson is a Sales Pitch, Too.

My 600 hour adventure in esthetics school. Learn more about the project or catch up with Week 1 and the rest of Week 2.

 

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From pages 404-405 of Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians:

There is a difference between high-quality (usually more expensive) and less expensive generic brands. The quality of the products and brushes makes a big difference in how makeup application will go [sic] for you, the artist, or for your client — smoothly or not so smoothly.

Explain to clients why they should buy quality makeup and brushes. Why are they better? Is quality going to make a difference on their skin? Will quality products glide on easier and not tug on the delicate eye tissue? Clients will be more satisfied with products that are easier to work with and will discover that quality is worth the extra money.

From page 437:

Good lighting makes a client look good, and clients who look good are more likely to purchase the products you recommend.

From page 447:

In a [makeup] lesson, clients are shown step by step how to apply makeup. These services are more time-consuming and expensive because you are sharing your knowledge. Lessons are a good opportunity to retail products so clients can reproduce the look you create at home.

bobbi-brown-makeup-lesson

Just in case anyone is confused about why we’re all here.

[Photo Credits: Makeup Lesson Chart and Bobbi Brown 2008 holiday offer via Daily Moxie]

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Filed under In Class, Makeup, milady's, Muddling Through Milady's, week 2