Michael Brown Q&A

December 18, 2016

Michael Brown Q&A

esprit Magazine sits down with Michael Brown; celebrity make-up artist, industry educator and brand ambassador to find out all his tips & tricks.

How long have you been in the industry and where did you get your start?

I started in the industry professionally in 2001. All through high school I was a dancer. Make-up application was something that interested me, with the dancing, stage shows and the productions I was in. And the girls used to love me doing their make-up. So after high school, thinking in my head I was always going to be a dancer as a career, I thought: “I’ll just go and do a make-up course, just in case something happens later on in life.” Turns out, in the end, the make-up kind of outweighed the dancing and I got my first job in a department store, entering the cosmetics industry in 2001.
In Perth, where I’m from, there wasn’t enough work to just be a freelance make-up artist all the time. That’s why I started in department stores, working in more of a sales role. I wasn’t really a good salesperson, to be honest, in the beginning, but then I started loving the drive for a sale; that feeling you get when you make a great sale - you feel really good. So then I became competitive and was offered many different roles in Perth, and then more when I moved to Sydney. It’s that drive of gaining knowledge and experience of make-up application first of all, then it was sales. From there I was offered a training role across major luxe brands and now I am a beauty and grooming expert, writer and presenter.

Why are you in this industry and what do you love about it?

Originally, it was all about literally just applying make-up. I love transforming the face, I love seeing women’s beauty come out, and seeing the differences you can make in someone’s confidence. Just a little concealer trick, little brow filling or contour can make someone look so different.

Do you believe retail cosmetics can be a career?

I would never have thought, if you’d said to me ten years ago, you’re working on the floor now, but in ten years, you’re going to be one of the country’s most recognised beauty and make-up experts. I always knew I wanted to do more of a training role but never knew how to get it. My sales were so good on the floor, and just being a bit of a team leader at the time, it just kinda happened, it came into play. So, things can happen if you really want it.

From then to now. What is Michael Brown up to these days?

I’m doing a lot of make-up and hair work, and most of those are fashion related and a lot of red carpet or A-list clients. Most of my clients are either an ambassador for a brand, or they’re attending an event, media day or photo shoot. I’m also the ambassador for Australia and New Zealand for St. Tropez, the skin finishing expert. I have been working with Channel Nine now for four years. Mornings, for three of those years, and then from this year it’s called Today Extra, and that’s with Sonia and David. My role is really to educate the general consumer. I am a contributor for rescu.com.au and I’m also the grooming expert for thetailoredman.com.au, which is more men’s focused.

What’s the perks of your industry?

Endless products! I can say that for years, I’ve never been short of cosmetic products ever since I started. Even back on the floor in my make-up artist role I would get all the colour collections before anyone else to try and test them. You get fragrances, skincare…being in media, I actually can’t believe how many products I get. It’s an amazing way to really learn and try what’s out there. If someone looks at my make-up kit, they know that I’ve chosen that product to be in my kit and therefore, it must work!  

How do you cut through the cosmetic clutter?

When I started my department store, cosmetic career, fifteen years ago, we were pretty much trained that the more you show a customer, the more they’ll buy. Ten years later, that is something that I do not agree with at all. I think the more you show, the more confused the customer gets. They’re thinking in price tags and how much time this routine will take every morning. Today’s customer is very well-informed. They research, blogs, YouTube, Instagram. Now, they already pretty much know 50% of what they need to know. It’s up to us to show make-up technique, application and shades.
So, for me, it’s actually trying to find things that stand out and solve key concerns. If I was still selling on the floor today, there is no way that I would show a customer ten thousand products, It’s more like: “Tell me what you’re missing in your routine?” “What’s your main concerns?” “What are you currently using?”
This reveals what they’re not using and I can show those type of things. And I’m the same with my make-up kit. Obviously, things run out, and you think: “Okay. I’ve been using that highlighter now for two years. Maybe I should try something else.” And you touch and play, and you know what you like from trying new products - you put it in your kit and within, sometimes, a week, it’s become your favourite product.

What are your 5 top tips for working in store?

1. Am I on Brand?
Does my make-up and hair resemble the brand, and also attract the type of customers that come to the brand?

2. It’s all about the customer.
It really is all about the customer, finding out their needs, what they’re wanting, what they’re looking for, what they use, what they don’t use, how they use brands that they like, they don’t like…finding out information, because then, you can really get them the best tailored solutions.

3. The power of education.
Use the tools the brands give you. If there’s face charts, use them. If you’re not good at doing face charts in terms of make-up and drawing it beautifully, you can just write on it and do arrows. If your brand has got lip shade finders or skin tone finders, I think it’s really good to use them. Even though in your head, you might look at someone and know instinctively. Does she know you know it? Maybe not!

4. Closing the sale.
This is one of the things consultants find the hardest. They’re amazing at their skincare knowledge, or they’re amazing at putting on make-up. And then they kind of back away, just waiting for the customer to go: “Oh, I’ll just take everything”. It doesn’t happen like that. Sometimes you have to put a bit of a feeler out and say something, like: “From these make-up products, what would look good in your make-up kit? What would complete your make-up kit at home?” You’ve got to make them start thinking about using it at home and then you’re closing the sale to get that result.

5. Rebook or open dialog for a next visit.
Book them for an appointment if they can, or create a conversation that will entice them back to store, or to you. Mention that there may be a new release or special offer you would love to share with them. This creates rapport and a loyal following to you and the brand.

What celebrity secret product/trick should we all use?

The product that I use on celebrities is some form of a highlight product. People know about highlighting but are they actually using it every day? Probably not. I don’t necessarily mean the metallic, shimmery ones that you put over your foundation at night to make you look really glowy; it could be just a brightening kind of cream like MAC’s Strobe Cream. It’s so good to put on underneath foundation as well as over the top…it then becomes more transparent. I think one of the biggest mistakes Australian women, especially, make, is their foundation looks heavy because they’re putting it on just skin that’s bare. Most wake up and go: “Oh god, look at my face!” and plaster on foundation, whereas if they spent two extra minutes putting on a hydrating product and then highlighter first then their foundation sits better. It looks more transparent. So, highlighting, for me, is my number one thing I use on a celebrity to get their skin looking real.

Who are some of the most recognisable faces that have had the Michael Brown touch?

Probably the most recognisable names that I’ve worked on are Gisele Bündchen, Miranda Kerr, Jennifer Hawkins, and Margherita Missoni. I’ve also done Jesinta Campbell, Jodi Gordon, a lot of Australian personalities. Nikki Phillips is one of my favourite go-to regulars at the moment, which you will see a lot of on my instagram @mbrown_beauty.


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