When I was in college I remember wishing, every time I walked into the makeup-mecca that is Sephora, that I worked there part-time. At the time, I was working at the Gap, which in itself was not horrible (oh the cross-brand discount!) but compared to the lure of the colorful beauty products Sephora had to offer, the Gap seemed to pale in comparison. Years later, I found myself looking for part-time work over the holidays in 2011 and found myself sucked into the beauty black hole that will forever change my outlook on makeup.
Starting as a holiday cast member, I was plopped right into the swing of things and loved every minute of it. Compared to the full time office-type work surrounded by guys I was used to, it was a refreshing change to be in such a girly environment where makeup and nail polish was actually required. To be sure, they definitely weren't letting me slap makeup on anyone on day 1, but they definitely make their employees feel valued. I was lucky enough to fall into a store that had a great energy and didn't have that snobby quality some stores can exude...we took pride in our customer service and our sampling, which can be tough to do during the holiday rush. There are 3 main "worlds" in Sephora - Color, Fragrance, and Skincare - but I was more attracted to the actual planning and daily tasking necessary to keep the store running smoothly. Just call it the planner/manager in me coming out! :)
There were so many "best" parts of working there that makes me want to recommend working there to anyone who loves beauty and either is looking for part-time work or wanting to start a makeup career.
1. Gratis. Oh, the gratis. There is always some contest or another available to the cast members to earn gratis, and even working part time I was able to earn soooooooo much. For those who don't know, gratis means "free, or complimentary" and is provided by the company or a brand. In the case of Sephora's gratis, it was usually stock or testers they don't carry anymore, products that were sampled by cast-only, new or almost new products specifically put aside for gratis, or provided by the brand reps. The BEST gratis I earned (definitely earned, not just given) was the Nars Danmari blush palette, brand new. Amazeballs, rare, and it saved me $60+ since I was going to buy it anyway.
Also, if you are a holiday hire, gaining gratis also means you are showing your worth, so not only did I get lots of makeup goodies, they also kept me on after the holiday were over...one of 3 girls kept on out of over a dozen. Win-win!
2. Discounts! In general, you get a hefty discount on Sephora brand or Sephora-exclusive brands, and a minimal discount on all other brands. Over the holidays, there's a period where the discount was bumped up another 10%, making it the perfect time to buy that pricey Clarisonic! In my case, the gratis I received kept me from buying too much, but it was nice to know I could get a discount on what I did have to buy.
3. Training. Sephora definitely tries to take the time to put some training into the people they want to keep. Brand reps come in a conduct training sessions to get the cast members acquainted with their products, and that almost always goes hand in hand with gratis, too. :) They figure if you like the product, you are more likely to sell it to a customer. So everyone wins again!
Training also helps you if you want to move between the different worlds (color, fragrance, skincare) so its great that they provide on the clock training.
4. Samples. Even if you don't get the gratis of what you might want exactly, working at Sephora means plenty of opportunities to sample products you're interested in. Clients always want to know what you're using on your face, so it helps to keep up with the newer and more popular products. I managed to not buy foundation for a few months and just lived on sample jars of different products, haha.
5. Opportunities for growth. While I wasn't really there long enough or with any real long term goals while working there (which they are totally fine with), I know of several people who started as holiday cast members and worked their way up to higher management-type positions. Sephora likes to promote from within, whether from a management or world-expert standpoint, which is fantastic. Anyone interested in becoming a makeup artist can also gain valuable experience and even clientele via Sephora, as well!
6. Learning to make yourself pretty! Sephora doesn't really expect you to come in with any prior makeup knowledge (just enough to pull yourself together) but working with makeup artists means you get to learn lots of tips and tricks to use on yourself! At the very least, you can get help figuring out what products are best for you, which is so helpful when it comes to skincare or picking a good foundation. The hardest part is adjusting your makeup for regular everyday once you're out of the Sephora world...cuz' glitter don't fly here in a corporate setting! Luckily, pink lips do. :)
If I ever find myself with free time and a hankering for more pretty-making things, I would be tempted to work there again. :)
Images: 1 Sephora, 2 my own