Nicola Craig has opened a new business, Palette Beauty, at 2730 N. Clark St., in Chicago's Lincoln Park area.
Craigwho calls herself a "big business nerd with a passion for both entrepreneurship and creative endeavors"started her first business in high school selling clothing she designed and sewed. She has also worked in management consulting at Bain & Company and got her MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. During her spare time she learned makeup, card making and calligraphy skills.
"My friends always tease me for constantly bringing a trail of glitter with me wherever I go," said Craig.
The genesis for this venture began after Craig got her MBA.
Craig, who identifies as bisexual, was looking to get her makeup done in a quick and inexpensive way for a holiday party and could not find an establishment that offered this service.
Craig did some research about a year ago and also found two other issues with makeup services in Chicagoinclusivity and dependability.
"Palette aims to be the most inclusive makeup services by always offering the right products and skills to do every face," said Craig. "Our artists have specialties in doing deep skin tones, Asian faces and male makeup. For dependability, we want to ensure that clients leave with the looks that they envisioned. We want to make sure that they look like themselves at the end of the service, not a face they do not recognize."
Craig said she wants her clients to encounter a friendly staff that will "go out of their way to work with you to make sure you" have an enjoyable experience. The overall mission, according to Craig, is that clients should feel the most confident version of themselves and have a "wow moment" when their final look is revealed so they leave with that "extra boost of self-assurance" to take with them to a big work meeting, date, headshot, event or other occasion.
When asked for the meaning of a "dry bar," Craig said the concept first emerged in 2010 to offer quick, affordable blowouts for people's hair that did not involve getting a haircut at the same time. A dry bar has a set menu of styles at an affordable price.
"Palette has a similar menu conceptoffering natural, glam and glowy options," said Craig. "We offer our services at $60, with 20 percent off your first service, which is far less than hiring a makeup artist for a one off event, which can cost $100 plus."
Craig said she decided to open her business in Lincoln Park because it is a more residential area and "coming out of COVID, we felt that people were still gravitating around their homes." She added that customers have already come from other parts of Chicago and she is looking at locations in the West Loop and River North down the line.
In addition to Craig, Palette Beauty also has a team of LGBTQ allies Kate Davis, who is working on the summer marketing efforts; Phoebe Deards, who is involved in overall marketing strategy and branding; makeup specialist Christianne Johnson, who created the menu, looks and organized the diversity-focused photo shoot; Seanette Ting, who designed the customer experience and organized the physical store location; and Craig's two sisters, Emma and Gillian, who are involved in interior design and advertising, respectively. Additionally, there are 10 make-up artists and Craig is in the process of hiring more to add to her team.
In terms of the financing, Craig received funding from Northwestern University's entrepreneurship program for students. She was chosen as one out of three students to be funded by Kellogg to embark on this endeavor as a full-time job this summer. Craig said she is one of 10 participants who took part in an entrepreneurship boot camp to be accepted into the Jumpstart program at Northwestern that is designed to help the most promising early stage ventures. She added that Northwestern's faculty has helped her immensely.
The city's relaxation of its COVID-19 vaccinations has allowed Craig and her team to offer makeup services at the LGBTQ+ event Pride in the Park, where they also did body painting, festival glitter and sweatproof airbrushed makeup. They will also be offering services for Lollapalooza, Halloween and holiday parties.
Additionally, they will be focusing on makeup education and adding to their class roster including a makeup audit where customers come in with their regular makeup and Palette's artists will offer tips about how to better use them.
And in this age of COVID, "we also take sanitation very seriously," said Craig. "All of our artists have makeup certifications that involve sanitation procedures and we follow very strict safety protocols."
See palettebeautyco.com/ and instagram.com/palettebeautyco/.