As a teenager, I often found myself lusting after the expensive makeup in shiny, pristine packaging showcased on the shelves of Sephora. At 19, I got a chance to join the fun as I got hired on board for the upcoming holiday season. Working behind the magic doors was like a whole new world, and I learned far more on what it takes to work retail at the most popular cosmetic store than I had ever anticipated.
I rounded up some things I learned while working there. Though these facts are all fun, just a note that this was indicative of the location I worked at and all stores are different.
Everyone needs to work the register.
This seems like redundant information, but working the cash register is like the initiation into the Sephora family. It doesn’t matter if you’re in color (the term used for the section of the store that was home to all of the makeup), skin care, fragrance or anywhere else — everyone starts at the register.
If you don’t know how to operate the cash register system, you can easily find yourself in a pickle during rush hours if other cast members are tied up with clients and can’t lend you a hand. Knowing the basics is essential.
Makeup artists go through extensive training.
So do the cast members that operate the other sections of the store. Contrary to what one might think, not just “anyone” can be a makeup artist at Sephora. There’s a lot of teaching that goes into grooming someone to take on client services.
Luckily, Sephora is great at providing constant education for their employees so that they’re always in-the-know and can attentively tailor each consultation to the client’s needs. They even go as far as sending their employees to Sephora University to train management and certified artists.
Doing someone’s makeup can be stressful.
Oftentimes, clients come ready with an idea of the kind of makeup look they’d like recreated on their face. Sometimes they don’t, and trust their color artist to intuitively create a work of art. It’s fun to have the opportunity to let your creativity shine, but it can be stressful to live up to the expectations of the client. Sometimes they don’t like the way you’ve done their eyeliner, or think the foundation isn’t the right finish for their skin, and you have to start over. You want to work with the client and make sure that they’re happy, but it can be hard work to get it right.
You should sanitize everything.
People put their hands and mouths on everything, and a lot of them don’t take a second or two to sanitize any of the products they’re applying. There are alcohol and cotton pads all over the store. Find one and give that lipstick a quick swipe before you put it on.
Employees do get to try free products.
One of the perks of working at Sephora is the free products that you get to try. There’s a system in place to make sure that the gratis is not being taken advantage of, but everyone on the cast team gets a chance to test out many fan-faves, sometimes even before they hit the shelves.
You meet a lot of amazing people.
There is a moment, unlike any other, that you share with a client when you teach them how to shape their eyebrow or transform their look with a new lip color they’ve never tried before, and that experience is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
The kind of people that Sephora attracts are from all walks of life, but we all share a common love for cosmetics, and that creates an automatic connection with everyone you meet. Most clients are wonderful and thrilled to get your advice on their next purchase, and those are the people that make the long hours and makeup mishaps worth it.
The company treats their employees well.
Unlike a lot of retail work, Sephora values their employees’ well-being. Work/life balance is an important component of their ethics, and management cares about their employees’ overall health (mental and physical) before all else. They understand that you’re a human being first, and will work with you at all times to make sure that you’re happy working with the Sephora family. They make retail feel more like fun and less like work.
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