How to get a job at MAC Cosmetics
I have worked as a makeup artist since 2005 and worked at MAC for almost 10 years so I get asked this question a lot. I worked in two stores as a retail artist, first in Jollys Bath then I moved to Kensington London (which has now sadly shut down as it was one of the original MAC stores in London and where I bought my first MAC blue eyeshadow as an awkward shy tomboy of teenager. You will learn I digress a lot 🤭) I worked my way up through the company and got promoted to Resident Trainer and moved back to the South West. This meant I was heavily involved in the recruitment process during a time where the company were vastly expanding.
Let's go back to the beginning. I enjoyed doing makeup, was studying Illustration at Bath Spa University and lived with many girls, which meant eagerly making them up before we went out-out 💃
Previous to MAC I had worked at pubs, clubs and then landed at Benefit Cosmetics, it was a part-time job whilst I studied at University. This gave me some basic knowledge as a makeup artist as well as a hunger to work for MAC, the counters were positioned next to each other. I remember being on my own on the first day at Benefit not knowing a thing then having to do a foundation match without ever having done one before 😳 The beauty of working on a counter is it pushes you out of your comfort zone ( we had to traffic stop, me being super shy this was hard, finding customers from around the store to invite them back to counter to show them products) and you get to work with all types of people and skin tones. I have always loved working with people so this seemed like the perfect thing to pursue, amalgamating my love of art and creativity with people. I practised lots of makeup looks on myself, tore out images of beautiful makeup and recreated it.
The dreaded application!
Nowadays you submit applications online, back in my day you went in face to face and gave in a CV which thinking back is a million times worse and scary, whilst giving you the opportunity to chat to the manager, team which is invaluable really! If you feel nervous (are you human if you don't?) about the process go into your local MAC, go shopping and talk to the team about what it’s like there. What experience is required to apply? The following points are an advantage and not all are essential:
* Any form of retail and customer service roles
* Experience in applying makeup not only on yourself. I am sure your freinds and family would be more than happy to be your canvas
* Passionate about makeup, people and learning
* Having a makeup qualification
Congratulations your application has been received
The hard part of filling in the form, redoing your CV and pressing send is complete. You will twitch and flinch every time you get an email or when you get an unknown caller ID not knowing whether to answer or not!! If successful you will be asked to complete a digital interview with the following sorts of questions:
*How does your personal style reflect the image and culture of the brand?
*How would you describe the brand?
*How do you adapt your customer service skills to different clients?
*Give an example of how you turned a good experience into a great one
*Provide an example about a time you struggled to reach a sales target and how you overcame it
OMG, it's MAC calling, YOU got the call the interview date and time is set. Shit has just got really real, help. Do your homework! This isn't like school where you can wing it, this is real life and more to the point your life, so own it. Ensure you know the following about the brand as you may get asked about these things:
*MAC history, the founders, the country, how it got so popular
* Viva Glam/MAC AIDS Fund
* Collaborations with people and new collections
* Fashion week, the industry and current trends. Think about what you like about them?
* What M.A.C stands for, it's an acronym
It's totally worth going in for a service in store so you get to have the MAC experience if you haven't before and a great opportunity to play with products, discover your favourites and get some samples. I remember doing this shopping for a blusher in Soho before my interview where Sam Chapman from Pixiwoos served me and we went for a really bold blush, this was before youtube and any broad use of social media.
I was so nervous I could barely remember my own name! As long as you have prepared you will be ok, do not forget that.
Make sure you wear 100% black, I wore tailored shorts with a fitted top and waistcoat ( they were really in at the time) teamed with my favourite lipstick at the time which made me feel so good, Impassioned and a soft matte smoky eye. Try to wear as much MAC makeup as possible, you can always ask for samples of things prior to your visit if you cannot afford to buy it all, its certainly not worth getting into debt for an interview. You may be asked about the products and shade names of the makeup you are wearing, as they may ask " What is your favourite MAC product? What lipstick are you wearing? " The interview is fairly fluid. A good question to ask yourself is "what are you made of?" and to think about how working at MAC you can bring your skills to the brand as well as learn from them. This is a great opportunity to show a portfolio of your work, at least 5 strong images.
Trade test interview
A trade test is where you show your makeup skill to the interviewer. These have evolved a fair bit since I did mine as well as conducting them. Wear a different makeup look to your previous interview, I wore a heavier smokey eye with lashes and a nude lip. If you are stuck with what makeup to wear research red carpet and catwalk looks. You will be given a brief or asked to find out what the model acting as a customer wants for their look. This could be anything from glowing skin, smokey eyes, red lip to eyeliner. There will be a manager or trainer present to guide you with products and hygiene practices, do not be afraid to ask questions you may have (don't expect to be handheld, own your time with the client. Make them feel beautiful) and bring options over whilst keeping it simple for yourself. Try to lay the products out neatly so you can locate them easily, nerves do funny things to you and things under your nose can disappear. It can be overwhelming when you aren't familiar with over 2000 products and every colour possible.
Communication is key... talk to your customer:
* What is the makeup for? Every day, occasion?
*What do they normally do?
*What colours/textures do they like or skin type do they have?
* What don't they like?
Treat it like a fluid conversation with a friend on a professional level. Be conscious of time. So focus on practising the simple beauty elements of makeup and completing them in 20 or so minutes. It's an ‘instaglam’ myth that an eye look should take 1 hour, real people do not have that time.
The call back...again
It's that time again, waiting for another callback. “Lisa, we are delighted to offer you a part-time position at MAC!” I was elated, I totally squealed with joy as soon as Susan the manager at the time hung up. I got my job at MAC back in 2007. At this point full-time was what I wanted and needed to live off as I had just graduated from University, however, I had my foot in the door, happy to take on overtime, work hard until more hours came available. Note, if you apply for a department store, you will require store approval meeting the beauty department manager.
My career at MAC
Getting a job at MAC isn’t glamorous, it’s hard work and well worth it for the phenomenal training you receive. It is a fast-paced environment with a high volume of customers, you will mostly produce quick bespoke looks on a variety of customers. Working as a team is essential. I had the best time working at MAC, it's a hell of a lot of hard work but my god I LOVED my MAC family and still do. I was 21 when I joined, a baby, it was a place where I fit in, the brand "got me", allowed me to have an abundance of piercings and tattoos on display. I had lots of nurturing when I joined with a new starter induction and shipped off to London for a week of basic training and got my silver MAC badge of honour and wore it with such pride. At basic training, I learnt the ropes (foundation matching, colour theory, product knowledge and customer service) with 2 fantastic trainers Robyn and Nadine. This training was so inspiring and made me aspire to be a trainer. There are so many roles within a retail artist, product specialist, visual merchandiser, a variety of skill certifications... then there's the events team.
To be on the MAC pro and body painting team were both dreams of mine and within a year I was on it, working at London Fashion Week, photo shoots, BATFAs and tv work. I won a global competition with a fellow workmate and dear friend Naomi and we went to Bejing, China saw masterclasses from the master Gordon Espinet and a variety of senior artists. A lot of the other winners also went on to amazing roles at MAC and freelance careers. Nicole Thompson and Amber Dreadon are a few names that come to mind be sure to check their work out!
I relocated with MAC to London, where I was from to further my career. This was another round of hard interviews, rejection and a determination which lead to me working with the best and most inspiring manager ever- Victoria. Victoria helped me focus my creativity, hold workshops, help with basic training and apply for Resident Trainer. You guessed it, more interviews which included creating strategies and facilitating a workshop. After 9 months at Kensington, I landed that role. WOW. I spent the next 7 or so years travelling within the South West UK looking after up to 200 artists, and Miami, Florida, Dublin, Ibiza, Budapest, Lisbon and Toronto, (I feel so lucky and I worked extremely hard)training new and current MAC artists and holding masterclasses for the public. I worked closely with trainers and store managers to ultimately deliver the best MAC experience to the customers. I realised my dream was to become a Senior Artist for the brand which I applied for twice. The interview consisted of a verbal and makeup for the by the legendary Terry Barber twice. Not getting this was hard-hitting, eventually, I realised it was time to leave MAC to carve my own way in the freelance makeup world. This decision scared me SO much, it was the best decision for me. I am so grateful for the amazing career I had at MAC, the wonderful people I met ( there's too many to name individually) and the opportunity it gave me.
Thank you to Hannah for inspiring me to write this, Hannah has also got some great advice on the interview process and her journey with MAC.
I hope you found this useful! Please reach out or comment below if you have any questions. Good luck with your application to MAC and your makeup journey.