Building a brand is everything: an art, a science and the origin that gives birth to all of your other business decisions. It is the very first project you do as a business owner. The catch? No one can tell you how it is done and there is no one right way to do it. Nonetheless, entrepreneurs crave guidance on brand building. Erin Skipley, owner of Contour + Ink in Los Angeles and Seattle shares her experience with us.
Tell us about yourself! Your background, history & the nitty gritty of all things you!
For the last 22 years I’ve worked as a celebrity makeup artist. I’m based in LA but my hometown is Seattle. I spent the last 5 years transitioning to working in a studio and working on set less. I needed to have more control over my time. It’s more fulfilling helping women feel more comfortable in a lasting way. I saw the need to create more beauty-based programs to help people learn to balance features before tattooing and making it permanent. Creating natural techniques is how I spend most of my days.
How did you first get into the beauty industry? The PMU Industry?
I always heard this stigma about PMU - green brows, really bad tattoos. I had seen other artists go to PMU and thought What are they doing? Then I saw microblading videos on IG and thought they looked natural and minimalist -- my approach to makeup. I can make people look beautiful without seeing a lot of makeup on their faces. What an amazing gift to give to somebody who has no brows. To restore that part of their face and that is so structural.
I found a school and went, but didn’t feel prepared to do anything. The only responsible thing is to go to another school, where I learned machine techniques for brows and lips. I poured myself into webinars and went to conferences. I didn’t have a mentor. Now, for my business, I realized I want to be that person that someone can go to. I didn’t understand why training is so simplistic when what we do is so complex.
What does brand mean to you?
Brand to me is my unique signature on what I do, what my business provides, how my clients feel. The message I put out there is my brand. For me, I want my brand to show my connection to the beauty industry, making it feel more like a luxury, spa-like service that leans medical rather than tattoo.
What was the process like when you were designing your brand?
My name came first. I wanted my brand to be a reflection of me: classic and a little nod to modern, but I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on palettes. My taste has always been minimalist. The design aspects seemed to fall into place on their own. I went with things I was excited about and loved. I think more in terms of what things feel like: does it feel medical, does it feel like a spa, does it look clean?
How do you set your brand aside from other brands?
I try to identify all the things that make me different and communicate that on Instagram. I want it to look like a beauty brand. All the shops are aspirational and speaking to a feeling you get. I throw in SoCal culture and connect with other people in my area that are interested in beauty. I throw in other products I love. Align yourself with similar or complementary brands. People go to your page and see what your taste is, which is more important than the work itself. They’re inspired by that vision.