For Christina “Tina” Gaudy, being a success story didn’t come in the form of a step-by-step ladder to the top. In fact, all she had was freshly-signed divorce papers, two kids under the age of 6, a useless college degree (with student loans to match), and a boatload of passion.
At one time, Tina thought she was going to be an elementary school teacher. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Azusa Pacific University, she had to pause her schooling and find work. What started as a holiday job at Nordstrom eventually sparked an entire career. Tina learned that she had an affinity for sales and customer service and navigating the whole hustle and bustle of retail.
She began selling fashion jewelry but after months of hard work and 2 interviews later, she earned her way into cosmetics as a counter manager. “It was a small counter for an unknown brand, but I was in! I had no experience and learned makeup artistry on the sales floor as I went along,” she explained. “I learned from each company I worked for. I learned from every artist I ever worked with. The more makeovers I got to do, the more I developed and honed my skills. During down-time, I was over the shoulder of any artist I could watch … asking questions, learning and practicing on whoever I could get in my chair. I loved it.”
Tina eventually became a freelance artist for bigger makeup brands such as Christian Dior and Chanel, and worked events all over Southern California at stores like Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Macy’s.
During this time, Tina was inspired to someday start her own small business. As a traveling artist and not assigned to a particular location she was unlikely to see her customers again. “So many times, women would say ‘I love it! I want it all!’ Then, they would hang their heads a bit and reluctantly say ‘But, I’m not going to be able to do the same thing you did when I get home, am I?’ I would jokingly reply, ‘Probably not.’ We would chuckle a bit and I would quickly give them as many tips as I could before the next customer hopped into my chair,” explained Tina.
She observed that the stores were not set up for that extra one-on-one instructional consultation her clients craved and she knew then she had to close that gap. “I began to dream of having my own studio someday and even my own makeup line. And then of course life happened … I got married and had kiddos. So, I tucked the idea away. Being Mom was my full-time job and I absolutely loved it.”
Fast forward to 2006, Tina suddenly found herself heartbroken, a single mother of 2, and in need of work. She considered other career paths and even worked a bit in other fields, feeling sometimes like being an artist wasn’t a “real job.” But when it came to it, she couldn’t escape the pull toward makeup artistry … and turns out there was an entrepreneur hiding in her, too.
So, she stopped fighting it and became a full time makeup artist. While working as much as possible on photoshoots and some film and tv gigs, she began the crazy journey of simultaneously launching her own makeup brand. Years of hard work payed off and a small but loyal following of the product line grew, but it was still online only.
In 2015, remarried and determined as ever that idea of opening a makeup studio finally came to fruition with the opening of her “bespoke beauty” store and makeup studio — Tina G Cosmetics. Located in the heart of the Claremont Village in Southern California, on the upper floor of a historical building called Harvard Square, you will find Tina mixing up all kinds of fun — custom foundations made to order, hand-poured lip glosses, and custom lipsticks mixed and packaged while you wait. You can choose your lip base, create a custom color, and even add a flavor.
Today, Tina has created that makeup studio she only dreamed of. “My business story has had a lot of twists and turns, to say the least. But I finally do have my own makeup line. And, I do have that space where people hang out and play with makeup and freely ask any makeup related questions they have. People sit and practice what they have learned. They meet their friends here. They giggle while trying (and sometimes failing) at the latest eyeliner techniques. Mothers and daughters come for lessons together. Teens come for lip gloss making birthday parties. Everyone plays with color. It still amazes me that I get to do this for a living.”
Like many other small business owners, Tina has big dreams on a small budget. To help build her brand and business, Tina has relied on the help of freelance professionals but finding people willing to take on small jobs and/or sporadic projects has not been easy.
Tina discovered Moonlighting through a friend and has been exactly what she needed to discover and hire talented freelancers. “Within a week of posting a job for a freelance graphic artist to help me with a new label design, I confidently hired my first ‘moonlighter’. So far, so good. I am glad I gave it a try! If this goes well, I have many more small projects waiting in the wings,” she said.
Tina has also added advertising on Moonlighting to her marketing plan. In addition to relying on personal referrals, social media and email marketing, she has begun utilizing Moonlighting to make more people aware of her brand, products, and store and hopes to increase her online sales.
From the start of her entrepreneurial journey, Tina has had big dreams about where she wants it to take her. Her long-term goal is to expand her custom options. “I would like to someday open multiple locations so that more women in more areas can benefit from what we do here. They all say once they find my shop they will never use anything else (I have not checked their makeup bags to verify this, but the sentiment is what counts),” she says. “I would like to take that feeling and multiply it. To see a tiny brand and company like mine provide something that is truly missing in the cosmetics experience…that would be a dream for me.”
Tina’s advice to other freelancers and small business owners:
- Have patience. This cannot be stressed enough. For me, it has been what I call a “slow burn” to get where I am.
- Celebrate the small victories. I’m still trying to remind myself of this. I always have these lists of all I want to do: A, B, C, D… At times I didn’t celebrate accomplishing A & B enough, because C & D were staring me in the face.
Are you ready to start your own freelance business or try out a few side gigs to get the feel of freelancing? No matter what path you choose, kick-start your freelance business by joining the amazing community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and gig workers on Moonlighting. Sign up or download the app today – Free!
This article was originally featured by USA Today.