Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Working for Estee Lauder - parting is such sweet sorrow

Last month I hung up my brush belt and colour matching tools and said goodbye to Estee Lauder, one week after my 3 year Lauder-versary. I’d worked on counter while studying at uni, so I was only employed part-time. Ultimately I didn’t have the same stresses and responsibilities as you would if you were a counter manager (or business manager for larger stores), although being the stress-head that I am, it didn’t stop me getting myself wound up about targets and the likes. As a little girl, I was always fascinated by the woman working at cosmetics counters, their job just seemed so glamorous, and getting to play with make-up all day – yes please! Now, I don’t mean to burst any bubbles, but it isn’t all standing about pouting and fluttering eyelashes. In fact, it can be hard work, especially if you have a big monthly target, or it’s quiet in store.

The Good
Estee Lauder companies (which includes Mac, Bobbi Brown, Clinque and Jo Malone to name but a few), as a whole, are good with their staff. They have some of the best perks out of all the large cosmetics conglomerates (e.g. L’Oreal – Lancome, YSL, Kiehl’s, Shu Uemura; LVMH – Benefit, Dior, Guerlain). As a cosmetics junkie, one of my favourite parts of the job was the discount. Not only do they get 60% off products from their own website but there are also staff shops dotted about the country which offer even bigger discounts. There used to be one in Glasgow, it was magical. They send cute texts thanking you for your hard work, wishing you Merry Chistmas etc too, which I always thought was a nice touch. I think working for a big company there is always the risk of you ending up feeling like just another employee number.
People seem genuinely interested in your job when you tell them what you do. Let’s be honest, it is pretty interesting, and it’s certainly a conversation starter. Normally when you mention you work on a cosmetics counter they start looking for a consultation and asking your opinion about other products.
The Estee Lauder Head Office/Consultant Services offers great advice about pensions, any employment/pay/holiday queries. Commission is always a plus too, although it is a small margin compared to other counters.
You work with some lovely people who love cosmetics just as much as you. Which is great for picking up tips and tricks, especially if you don’t come from a trained make-up artist background like myself.
From the business side of things, if you’re competitive you do get a bit of a thrill from making targets. Even if you only work part-time you are still driving your own side of the business and making your own target as well as working as part of a larger team on counter. There are lots of opportunities to learn more about the business side of things, in my experience, counter managers are happy to work on your own development.

The Bad
Ultimately working in a retail environment isn’t always pleasant. There are the usual nippy customers; there are some store managers that think they’re above their position. Also it isn’t as flexible with regards to holidays. Not only are holidays in the Christmas period not allowed (normally this is mid-November to early January), but on counter you also can’t take holidays when Gift with Purchase is on, so another 2 months of the year ruled out. As well as this, if there is a particularly big launch, holiday requests won’t be approved. And everything needs to be organised 4 weeks before hand, so getting a last minute deal might not be an option.

The Beautiful
There is something very satisfying about giving popping a product on a customer who is delighted when they look in the mirror. Working on a cosmetics counter does give you the ability to help people feel better about themselves. Now this person might not have the best skin, but showing them a few products which could brighten their complexion or something that might smooth lines could make all the difference. Or this person might not be very confident in applying eyeshadow, but a few tips could help boost their confidence to try new things. With Estee Lauder, you’re taught so much about the products and how to use them, helping these woman feel beautiful is easy.

I’ve been very fortunate with my experience with Estee Lauder because I did genuinely enjoy my job. For me, I enjoyed working for Lauder because I enjoy the products. I use Advanced Night Repair 6 nights out of 7 (the other night is my Alpha-H Liquid Gold night), I wouldn’t wear Double Wear every day but if my skin isn’t looking too happy it’s the first makeup product I go for to hide anything and everything. You don’t always need to be a trained make-up artist to work on counter, although it is necessary for Mac and Bobbi Brown.

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