Gone are the days of thin, early 2000s brows (thank goodness)! Today, having a good brow artist on speed dial is basically a necessity. Clients are requesting a variety of trends (from full, high-arched Instagram brows to feathered brows or a more simple look), which means brow artists need to have a wide variety of skills and knowledge to stay on top.
With more than 3,000 followers on Instagram and more than 800 five-star reviews, Crystal Swinder (@browtender) is well on her way to mastering the brow game. Swinder is an educator with Satin Smooth and opened her studio, Browtender LLC, in 2017. MODERN spoke with Swinder about her journey and tips for success.
How long have you been a brow artist?
I'll be an esthetician for four years this September, and I've been specializing in brows since before I graduated. In school, I was the first one to volunteer when it came to waxing. Before esthetician school, I attended a satellite campus of Penn State University, Penn State Berks. While in school, I worked at Ulta as a cashier, and I fell in love with Benefit Cosmetics, specifically the brow bar.
I fell in love with Ulta and makeup so much that it distracted me from school, to the point of questioning myself about what I really wanted to do with my life. I took some time off of school and started bartending at a local bar back home while working again at an Ulta. This time I was a makeup prestige consultant, and I took a Benefit training course.
My journey was fun. It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. I'm just a babe with a passion for waxin'. My technique is like wine; it gets better with age·
How did you become the Browtender?
My Benefit boss wanted me to apply to be a “Glambassador.” It's a Benefit Cosmetics Award (one out of 35 in the world get picked and one out of seven in North America). You had to be a Arch Expert for one year, and at that point in time I was only six months in, but she thought we should try anyway. I was mixing up some products in a martini shaker; I was a bartender who also waxed brows, so a co-worker shouted “Browtender,” and it just stuck. They didn't accept my video that year, however the following year I applied again and won The Glambassadors 2016.
I just celebrated my one year open. Within that first year, I not only bought my LLC, but I also became officially trademarked. I have more than 400 clients. I have a wax pot tattoo on my right arm, accompanied by a pair of spoolies, tweezers and trimming scissors. The ironic part about my tattoo is that the wax that is in my wax pot is actually Satin Smooth's Zinc Oxide wax.
How has social media changed your business?
Social media has impacted my business tremendously. I had a pretty great following when I started my own business, but Instagram is free advertisement, so how can someone pass that up?
I cannot tell you how many people say they found me on Instagram and think my story is hilarious or interesting and that in return lead to a new client because what they saw was me doing what I do best. It's creative, it's individual, and it's unique! If you use the proper hashtags and location, you can have hundreds of potential clients looking at your profile by a click of a button. We now live in a society where everyone wants instant gratification. You have that now with Instagram and social media; the internet makes it simple. Hundreds of people may look at your profile, but it only takes one person to click a button, make an appointment and start a trend!·
What social media tips do you have for others looking to grow their brow business?
The best tip I can give to someone looking to grow their own business would be to be proud of their work. Post all of your photos; not every brow you post needs to be an “Instagram Brow.”
A lot of clients are everyday average males and females who prefer to see real, everyday eyebrows on real, everyday people.Cater to everyone—every age group and ethnicity.
What are some tips you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?
I feel like the most important thing I would have followed starting out, would be that you’re not going to satisfy everyone. You could do everything 110%, but sometimes you're going to have someone dislike or criticize your work. As brow artists, we are a dime a dozen, but what sets all of us apart can be our style and personality. Do not get discouraged by losing a client or be offended when they go to someone else. That just means there is room for someone new who will love your work and pass that news on to others.·
How did you get connected with Satin Smooth and become an educator?
I had seen some Instagram posts of other brow artists promoting their products, and I'd been thinking about reaching out to them for a while. One day, I was discussing with a client whether I should take a leap of faith [and contact Satin Smooth]. She told me I would be amazing and asked what I had to lose.
Just like that, I had sent an email stating that I was a huge Satin Smooth fan and that I just started my own business and would be honored if I could promote their products on my Instagram. I woke up the next morning to a few dozen likes and immediately checked my email. They responded with "Wow great profile," and that they would love to send out products for me to advertise. They also asked “would you be interested in education?” They had recently just started to prepare a new Brow Pro Program, and I was afraid that it would take away from my business, so I hesitated and said no. I instantly regretted my answer and went back online and filled out an educator form. It's been the best decision I've ever made.
What has working with Satin Smooth been like?
Honestly, It’s been one of the best things to ever happen to me. We are a huge family, we're a team, and I've never felt so comfortable around a huge group of unique and inspiring people. Every single one of Satin Smooth's educators can show you things you wouldn't think to incorporate into your business. Having the opportunity to just listen to these women and take full advantage of their advice is worth it.
Satin Smooth has given me the skills to grow my business, to better myself and my techniques. When you own your own business and you work by yourself, you sometimes tend to become a little selfish, but what I've learned from working for Satin Smooth is that they teach you to broaden your horizons by learning from others, watching their talents and listening to their perspectives and analyzing their skills. That is probably the best gift anyone could give you.
What are the biggest trends in eyebrows right now, and how do you think that will shift or evolve moving forward?
Right now the biggest trends in 2018 hands down are microblading, full brows, the feathered, textured look and shifting and leaving the high arches behind and replacing them with soft rounded edges. I think microblading will slowly fade away or gain new ground with different techniques, making them less lined and more subtle. Services such as micropowdering will take over. The natural brow is coming back, and it’s going to be as popular as ever. Eyebrows and eyebrow techniques are not going anywhere, but that’s the beauty of the industry. They will keep evolving, and that gives me an opportunity to keep learning.
What products should every brow artist have in his or her arsenal?
Hands down the best products that every brow artist should have are good pre and post depilatory products. Being an esthetician, I strive on good skin care and to achieve the best possible outcome for my clients. You need to have a clean and sanitary canvas to work on. Satin Smooth's Satin Cleanse and Satin Azulene are life changing.
Secondly, I would say a white pencil. I prefer white among other colors because it looks great on every skin tone. The pencil helps me outline the brow, and most importantly it reassures my client that their shape will be as shown. It eliminates the guessing game and gives your clients the best possible results. Last but not least, every brow artist needs a good pair of tweezers and scissors.
What tips and tricks do you see being the most helpful to students as an educator?
One word: CONSULTATION! Consultation is key; it's the Holy Grail of information. This process is the most important step. The time allows you to get to know your client, and it also gives you time to decipher your client's hair/skin type.
Ask questions such as what they do for a living. Are they married? Do they have/want kids? This step is crucial because you're not going to give your full-time working client with four kids an Instagram brow they cannot maintain. You would suggest maybe a brow wax and tint for the “wake-up-with-makeup look.” This time also allows you to ask about your client's skin care regimen and if they are currently taking any medications. My favorite question to ask is: "Which is your favorite brow and why?" That simple question can determine what action you should take to start training their brows to be identical. I also suggest my opinion on brow shaping, but at the end of the day, they are the client's brows, and the client has the final say. ·
Is there a secret to the perfect brow?
In my opinion, the perfect brow doesn't exist. How does just one specific shape get defined as the “perfect brow”? My idea of the perfect brow shape may be different from others. I do believe that if there is a secret to the perfect brow, it would be simply just symmetry. What looks best on me probably wouldn’t look best on everyone else. We are all individual, and we should be treating our brows that way.
How do you cater to different client wishes/desires for their brows?
Brows are just as unique as the people who wear them. It's very important to understand my clients' wishes and feelings, but it's my job as brow artist to explain to them what is considered realistic and what is not. Eliminating all the possible surprises can be crucial in getting your clients to trust you. That's why you need to be open and honest from day one.
Let your clients know that you're listening to their concerns, and repeat what they are saying back to them in your own words while giving suggestions. Be open to their feedback. When it comes to their expectations and what is realistic, they need to understand the ultimate end goal and what will be the journey to better brows.
Crystal will be getting married October. Until then her name on social media is Crystal Stevens.
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