In the heart of Falmouth, there is a quaint little beauty salon that goes by the name of Orchard Makeup. The owner, Sally Orchard, who was a part-time makeup artist for almost 23 years, decided to make beauty her full time job, and six years ago she created her brand – Orchard Makeup. Now doing beauty procedures, makeup trials, makeup for weddings, editorials, proms and parties, Sally and her artists are quickly establishing themselves as an acclaimed Cornwall brand.
The first impression I got from Orchard was that it was intricate. The decorations were sophisticated and delicate, and it seemed like everything had a certain theme that it was following which somehow fit really well with the name of the salon.
When I quietly invaded the room with my curiosity, wide eyes and recording device, as long as a photographer friend in tow, I was welcomed with smiles. Introductions were quick, and Sally had kindly invited me over with plenty of time to talk before she had a makeup trial with a soon-to-be bride.
Sally originally started off in Birmingham, which is also where she is from. After doing an unsatisfactory beauty course, she went on to teach herself, and was part-timing in makeup since then.
“I originally moved to Cornwall at 19 to run a beauty salon with my brother,” Sally told me when I asked her about how she decided to move here, “I did like Cornwall, but it was very quiet in those days.”
Her path to a career in beauty forked into many different directions throughout the years.
“I got offered a job in London with Clarins in Selfidges and worked up there for 4 years. They did makeup but that wasn’t their main focus. I then worked for Espa in Liberty’s. It was there that I got into the more holistic things. I ended up running spas and doing treatments, I sort of went off to another path, but I was still doing makeup on the side. I moved back to Cornwall and met my husband and felt more settled down here,” Sally recalled, “I never stopped doing makeup, but its only the last 6 years makeup has grown in popularity.”
Five years ago, she rented a room in the Core on the Falmouth Moor and took the step to create her dream business, and that’s where Orchard Makeup was started.
“I believe I was in the right place at the right time,” Sally enthused about the progression of her brand, “I was good at Facebook, I liked social media and that made a massive difference because people were able to see my work.”
That was certainly true, as there are much fewer beauty salons in Cornwall than I thought there would be. There is definitely a market for makeup and beauty studios in Cornwall, and Sally fits right in.
Due to her previous experience in the beauty industry, she was able to offer beauty services as well as makeup. It wasn’t smooth sailing, especially not in the beginning.
“Being self-employed is hard, because you are trying to do everything. I’m trying to run a salon here, I’m trying to market it, trying to get people motivated, and manage people as well,” Sally explained, “all of that you have to try and do so it’s tricky. I do get days when I think I’d just like to work in a place and go over there and not worry, I get those days. And I’m still in the middle of it really so I’m trying to find the balance in life – trying not to do work all of the time because you can wear yourself out.”
Chatting with Sally, I immediately got the impression that she was doing a very good job at that. Her passion shined through every word, the little salon was beautifully put together and the other makeup artist that she worked with there was someone who was equally as pleasant to talk to. Orchard really had a magnificent atmosphere.
Sally main income comes from bridal makeup, which got me thinking – what is the demand in Cornwall?
“Weddings is massive because the wedding industry is huge, especially down here. There’s around three and a half thousand weddings here every year and it’s not just people who live here, it’s also people who come from out of county because it’s such a lovely place,” Sally tells, “weddings are our main bread and butter. Prom makeup is becoming more popular now, it’s definitely happening more. Makeovers are still a sort of luxury thing, but we find we also get a lot of bookings during Christmas for parties.”
Sally also dwelled into the editorial world with her skills. She had worked with magazines such as the Cornish Brides, Vintage Life, Turn, Pure Weddings and has even had work featured in Italian Vogue.
“With editorial and fashion makeup, it shows what you can do but it’s not necessarily what people want. There’s not really money down here for that but it’s a way of advertising yourself and showcasing your skills.”
Being a hopeful future makeup artist, I did want to ask about the recruitment process, which Sally was more than pleased to answer.
“I teach students who are interested in makeup. They can go on one of my courses and if I see that they’ve got a bit of a skill there, I’ll ask if they want to come on the books and be assessed so they need to go and practice, come back and then do an assessment. If they pass that, then they can come on the books. Sometimes on the first year I will have them just assisting me so they’re not out on their own and once they’ve gotten used to how we work, then I let them loose.”
And surely, a lot of amateur makeup artists would appreciate that, because everyone knows it’s never fun to go out into a profession with trembling hands and a fear of messing up someone’s makeup.
“When you’re on your own it can be quite scary and lonely,” Sally recalled from her own experience, “when I was starting out, I had to make mistakes and learn from them. Now having colleagues, they can talk to me if they’re unsure about something so that’s nice. It’s definitely changed now, there’s more support, and we offer that in our team.”
On the other side of the room is a desk, where sits Chloe Drew, a Cornwall-based makeup artist at Orchard.
At 21, Chloe had been with Sally at Orchard for a year, and I was curious to find out how she snagged the job.
“I used to only do makeup for my friends, I wasn’t qualified or anything but I saw Sally’s work on Facebook and there was a girl that worked here before that said Sally is looking for someone and I thought I really want to do it,” Chloe explained, “so I came in for a trial and we just really got on, we’re quite similar in a way.”
Like Sally, Chloe also had to learn some beauty procedures, as makeup expertise alone were not enough to keep the place running.
“I really enjoy working here,” Chloe enthuses, “it’s different every day, it’s nice to meet different people all the time.”
The next couple of minutes we completely forget the interview and we dive into the world of Instagram, sharing out favourite online makeup artists and following each other. She showed me an amazing pastel photoshoot that she did with Sally where they used bright pastel colours and stuck sweets to the faces of the models. I didn’t hesitate to let them know that that’s the sort of makeup that’s right up my alley.
Then through the door came a client who was doing a test run of her wedding makeup with Sally. I truly got to see the way Orchard operates. Sally sat her client down, who introduced herself as Claire Reeves, and asked her about her favourite makeup, her bridal hair and dress. Sally worked well with people, be it in the studio or outside.
“I try to give the best customer service to all my brides, If they need the dress doing up, helping out with labels, its all part of the job. I can still get emotional seeing a bride put her dress on and ready to get married,” Sally mentions, “we get a lot of recommendations because of that so it’s really nice.”
On the other side of the salon, Chloe works on practicing bridal looks on the intern that they have working with them.
Perhaps it’s not for everyone, but for a makeup enthusiast, it was a wonderful atmosphere to experience, and it was a first for me.
Sally is a perfect example of someone who knows how to utilise the market and figure out where she could put herself that would allow her to thrive, and the proof is all there in the brand.
Find out more about Orchard Makeup and Beauty Salon at http://www.orchardmakeup.com.