If ever there was a no-thanks-college professional, it’s Meghan Ranville. From the time she was a teen in her hometown of Fowlerville, Michigan, she has known she wanted to work in a salon. At first, she considered being a hairstylist, which is why she shadowed her hair stylist Aunt Morgan one day for an 8th grade project.
But by high school, Meghan says, “I also had started to lean more toward makeup. I just liked the artistry of it.” Since she was a good art student in school as well, it seemed a natural path. That path was reinforced when aptitude tests—any and all she took—revealed “makeup artist” as her career destination.
Meghan knew without those tests she was a makeup specialist, because, she says, “My friends were paying me to do their makeup for prom.”
But her high school teachers discouraged Meghan, who was one of the top students in her class. “They told me, ‘You can’t make money doing that,’” Meghan recalls—and then grins.
“I showed them.”
Off to Cosmetology School
She sure did. After attending community college for one term after high school to satisfy the “go-to-college” crowd, she left, telling her parents that she didn’t want to do college—and she didn’t want to leave her home town. This is a strong feeling she retains today at age 26.
She promptly enrolled in the Douglas J. Aveda Institute in East Lansing, Michigan, a cosmetology school located less than an hour’s drive northwest of Fowlerville.
“I liked it right away,” she says. “We had a relatively small class. We did some textbook study, and then the practical stuff. My eyebrows hurt from all the amateurs working on my eyebrows.” The class studied facials, makeup, and waxing.
Though only 400 hours are required to get a license, Meghan finished 600 hours in esthetics, graduating in 2011 with honors. Her school experience produced one surprise: She became most passionate about waxing.
On-the-Job Cosmetology Training
But even that wasn’t the end of Meghan’s education. She earned her license as a nail technician at the Brighton Institute of Cosmetology in Brighton, Michigan, in 2013. It was yet another outlet for her artistic nature—and also expanded her potential pool of clients, not to mention the size of her income.
She launched into her career, working several years at Simplicity Salon in Howell, Michigan, right down the road from Fowlerville. When that salon closed, Meghan took up residence, so to speak, at her current location, K Bella Hair Studio and Salon in Brighton, located—yes—a few miles from home.
She began at K Bella on commission, getting a percentage of clients’ fees. After about a year, she began renting her space there. A specialist now in Brazilian waxing (which pertains to, as she delicately describes it, “the lady regions”), she is essentially self-employed and has her own LLC (limited liability corporation), MM Nails and Esthetics.
Like any good career worth pursuing, it isn’t a walk in the park, Meghan, cautions those considering this route. She had to build clientele and continues to do so.
“You can’t give up. You have to work at it. People won’t just come to you, and you have to spend money to make money. You have to invest in yourself, your products. So, you have to stick with it.”
If she comes into the salon and sees no clients booked yet, she’ll immediately hit Facebook, offering special deals for the day, among other strategies. That’s what it takes to run a business.
And that’s what she loves just as much today as she thought she would years ago, says Meghan.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Find out first hand what life as a makeup artist is like: Career Talk: Makeup Artist.
Learn about the different careers in beauty.