Solo Artist

Connection Perfection

Victoria Wurdinger | October 23, 2015 | 8:42 AM
Make-up artist Karina Pozo

To make the most of her connections with clients, make-up artist Karina Pozo brings suite partners, local charities, estheticians and client’s friends into the mix.

Building a business doing make-up demands ingenuity, flexibility, a broad repertoire of skills and most of all, the ability to instantly connect with a wide variety of clients. None are a problem for make-up artist and skin care pro Karina Pozo, whose natural warmth and intuitive sense of what women want keep her busy at Studio K18, her suite within Salons by JC in Charlotte, North Carolina.

An Ecuadorian native, Pozo says she learned early on that doing hair was not for her: “I always loved makeup the most and began by doing it at home,” she says. “After I got my cosmetology license, I discovered that for great make-up you need great skin, so I continued to take classes in skin care.”

For 10 years, Pozo worked in her native country as a freelance make-up artist. When she moved to the U.S. 13 years ago, she continued to take advanced classes and learned how to build personal relationships at Merle Norman Cosmetics (she still works there 2 days a week). A year ago, she decided she needed a private space to work with her many bridal and special-event clients, and chose Salons by JC, in part because as soon as she walked in the location, she felt at home.

“I was acknowledged immediately, so I knew that my clients would be, too,” she says of the suite’s front desk set-up. “They offered immediate support with my business, such as joint advertising and a web presence.”

Pozo began building her own brand with a variety of networking tactics, but also threw in a little luck. “I got the name K18 from my name and the fact that all good things happen to me on the 18th of the month,” she says. “I met my husband on the 18th, got married on the 18th and won a cruise for two on the 18th.”

Winning Ways

Because Pozo wanted to focus on make-up alone, one of the first connections she made was with other suite renters who were hairstylists. She thoroughly familiarized herself with their work, so now she can cross-refer her bridal and prom clients to those who do classic or edgy work, depending on her client’s personal style. Naturally, the stylists refer her in return. She also created monthly special events in conjunction with an esthetician.

Explains Pozo, “To offer my clients something special and build my relationship with them, I explore what they want most and create a day for express facials, anti-aging facials, waxing or a seasonal event, such as prepping the skin for fall with exfoliation. I invite and book those I know will be interested, and after their skin care treatment, I do a makeover, changing their foundation by season or introducing new color trends. When you run a small business, you have to take advantage of every cross-referral and partnership opportunity.”

Other ways she works her connections:

  1. Pozo treats clients who want makeovers or makeup lessons the same way she treats friends who visit her home. They are offered refreshments and engaged in a personalized consultation that determines all their needs. She doesn’t “sell,” she says, “I share my beauty secrets with clients, and products that I believe in. I let them know how great they look and how happy I am that a particular product works for them. It’s all about telling the truth.”
  2. Those who mention having daughters, friends with birthdays or bachelorette events are told they can gift someone with a makeover party for four at the studio. The cost is $55 per person, and Pozo says nearly all eventually book a party.
  3. For a highly personalized referral program, Pozo spends downtime contacting clients with special reminders or offers. If a client makes a referral or responds to a text message to pre-book her autumn makeover, she is rewarded with what Pozo knows she wants most, like free RevitaLash primer that she can pick up at her next appointment. (Pozo also runs refer-a-friend specials on her Facebook page.)
  4. To boost business and local community connections, at least once a month, Pozo sponsors charity fundraisers with a donation of products and services. This has brought her many new clients, she says.

Pozo now sees four to five studio clients a day, Wednesday through Friday, and for efficiency, clusters bookings during either mornings or afternoons. She saves Saturdays for special events like weddings. While her clients range in age from teens to women in their sixties, she finds working with women who have just turned 40 is most rewarding.

“I just love when I can help a woman who is concerned with aging re-discover her own beauty and feel good about herself.”



Must Attend: Bridal Expos! I recently went to one in Latin America—women love when I come back and share what’s new.

Extra online education: Scott Barnes’ website. He does makeup for J. Lo, Christina Aguilera and other celebrities. I pay monthly to take his online tutorials.

Other Advanced Education:  I took a week-long class at Award Studio in California in media makeup. Both seasonal colors and technology continually change.

Weekly Rent: $288

Best-Money Saver: I use high-quality products and shop CosmoProf stores for all my supplies like waxes, towels and dispensary products.

Favorite Tool: Temptu airbrush system and Japonesque cosmetic brushes

Most Common Client Question: How can I get a natural look? Everyone wants to know what foundation will cover flaws but won’t be noticeable. 


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