• Mikayla Nogueira

It's not just a "retail" job...

I feel like I talk about working at Ulta all the time. No one will really ever understand what it means to me. After all, it is just a "retail" job in the eyes of most. But to me, it is so much more. I want to share a few stories with you.

Saying makeup is powerful is an understatement. Being able to pursue my passion at Ulta beauty is one thing, but helping others feel beautiful is my main objective. Some of the moments I have had at Ulta are truly memorable and life-changing for me.

Let's begin...

I remember a time when an elderly woman came into Ulta. When I approached her at the front of the store, she appeared somewhat sad. Nearing tears in her eyes, I asked her what was wrong. She said, "Look at me. I look horrible. I have lost so much weight and I feel so ill. I am so old now and it is hard to take care of myself." In this moment I knew I had a great responsibility to take care of this woman. I felt awful for her. She was clearly very weak and in pain. She was so thin and it appeared she was not taking proper care of herself; most likely because she was unable to due to her deteriorating health. Regardless, she was beautiful. And it was my job to make her see that. I decided it would be best to show her some tips & tricks of quick and easy makeup, skincare, and haircare. I spent a decent amount of time with her and gave her a mini-makeover. I wanted her to leave the store with a smile. When I finished the mini-makeover, I handed her a mirror and I saw exactly what I needed to see. A smile. She then put the mirror down and started to cry. She said, "I have not felt this way in years. Thank you." I not only was able to send her home feeling happy, but I gave her all of the tools she needed to feel that way everyday when she looked in the mirror. I knew she was struggling with her health, but just a little makeup can really change the course of someone's day. I did my job, and I felt really good about it.

Another instance occurred when I met a young girl who is blind. When she walked into the store, I could immediately tell her sight was impaired. I approached her and asked her how I could help her. She told me she had never worn makeup in her life, particularly because she is blind and cannot see what she is doing in the mirror. I asked her what she was interested in, and she said she simply just wanted to look beautiful, even if she could not see it. She told me that she wanted to try mascara, lipstick, and foundation. I grabbed products that I felt could be easy to use and apply. I grabbed an easy to use mascara, bb cream, and lipstick. I first put the product on one half of her face, explaining how she could apply the products without seeing. I then allowed her to try for herself on the other half of the face. By the end of the quick lesson, she was applying makeup like a pro. I consistently reassured her that she was doing a great job, and by the end, she was ecstatic. She had never been able to wear makeup because she was afraid she would mess up it up due to her vision. However, I gave her the confidence she needed and she walked out of the store with new products and techniques.

One time, a woman came into the store who was a burn victim. The majority of her face was severely burned from when she was in a house fire as a child. She was beautiful, but lacked confidence because she felt she looked so different from everyone else. She did not like how people would stare at her. I made it a mission to pay special attention to her needs and show her products that could make it appear as though she was never burned at all. I used full coverage, hydrating products. It was amazing to see the before and after. Either way she was stunning, but just seeing her reaction when the makeup was finished was priceless.

I was working one evening when a mother and her son came into the store. He was probably 8 or 9 years old. He was doing a play production where he needed to wear makeup with his costume. Although he was young, there was an absolute spark in him when he put makeup on. I could just tell he loved the creative freedom it allowed him to have. When he came into the store, he knew exactly what he wanted: black lipstick, black eyeliner, and yellow eyeshadow. I handed him the products and allowed him to put the makeup on himself. He was so happy. Like a child in a candy store. Makeup is a one size fits all in my eyes. No matter who you are or how old you are, makeup is for you if you want it to be. His mother was incredibly supportive of his choice to wear makeup. I definitely let her know that she was a really cool mom. I received backlash from customers and co-workers on my choice to put makeup on a young boy who can't "make decisions for himself" because he is "not fully developed yet." It did not stop me. I made someone smile, that is what is worth my time.

One final story. I had a client come in who was celebrating her birthday and made an appointment to have her makeup done. When she came in, she seemed nervous. I always ask a ton of questions about what my client is looking for in an effort to make sure they are happy with the outcome. I asked her how I could make her time with me a good experience, and she told me something very sad. She mentioned that on a few occasions she had been turned away because of her race. She was African-American. Makeup artists had told her they did not feel comfortable doing her makeup because of her dark skin. The artists were unsure they could suit her needs because they did not have the same skin color. This truly disheartened me. No one should ever be turned away because of race, sexuality, religion, etc. Unfortunately, I have seen it happen far too many times. I spent extra time on this client and reassured her that I could make her look flawless. By the end of the appointment, she felt unbelievably beautiful. She just could not stop taking photos of herself and continuously complimented my work. I definitely made sure she would have an amazing birthday. It is moments like these that matter so much.

So, like I said, it is not just retail. It is helping a blind woman feel confident enough to use makeup regardless of her sight impairment. It is showing a burn victim that makeup can be transformative and powerful. It is ensuring a little boy that his choices to wear makeup are not "wrong" and that makeup is a creative, one size fits all art form. It is helping older men and women to take care of themselves and show them how they can look youthful and beautiful with easy steps. It is showing all races, genders, sexualities, etc. that makeup is for them and that they can be a part of something so special. It is not just retail. It is not just a billion dollar industry. It is so much more, and that is my mission everyday: to show people, all people, that retail is not "easy," retail is not "for deadbeats with no degree," retail is not "meaningless work for a paycheck." Retail is my whole heart and my passion. Specifically, the beauty industry.

Thanks for reading...

Mikayla Jane