February 2nd, 2017
Towards the end of last year, we started hearing rumours at Warpaint Towers that something was happening in the sleepy Home Counties village of Iver that was going to shake up the Pro make-up industry. Never ones to rest on our laurels, we headed round the M25 to chat with Jan Sewell and the team behind The Makeup Armoury.
WP: What brought you into make-up in the first place? What did you study and where?
JS: I have always loved art and creativity. Initially, I thought of pursuing a career in interior design, but this all changed when I watched the BBC TV series “I, Claudius” which showed the use of prosthetics and special effects makeup. Fascinated by this, I waited until the credits came up at the end of the programme to find out a contact for the makeup department. This phone call put me on a different career path and after applying, I was accepted to work and train at the BBC Makeup Department.
I have been fortunate to have been nominated for several awards and win a BAFTA award, which has introduced me to so many incredible experiences and artists alike, and has allowed me to travel the world and work with some of the best talent around.
WP: The Makeup Armoury is the new kid on the block – what prompted you to set it up?
JS: The team behind The Makeup Armoury – including me – felt that there was something missing in the industry: an amazing, inspirational full service make-up artist outlet that sells all the best PRO brands under one roof, puts the customer first, embraces technology and has a global appeal. We aim to deliver just that.
WP: Where are you based? Tell us about what premises include.
JS: We are based in Iver, a great location as it’s near to both Pinewood and Shepperton studios. There’s lots of parking available and we aren’t far from the M25, Heathrow or the train station. Our warehouse has plenty of space for stock, storage, photoshoots and a studio.
We have listened to what our customers want and researched popular pro stores across the world to use as a benchmark for our new space so that we appeal to both the UK and global market.
As a perk, industry PROs will be able to use our studio space free of charge. We want to help our customers in any way we can and give them the opportunity to use the studio for filming or as a private place to bring their client.
WP: Who’s in your team? Do they have defined roles within the business?
JS: We are a team of six and everyone has brought a different talent to The Makeup Armoury. As well as two professional make-up artists, our team includes a fantastic Sales and Relationship Management team headed up by Nathalie Wright and Alice Lennon, Marketing guru Katy Croxford and PR expert Sarah Vrancken.
WP: What makes you different? What do you offer that other pro shops don’t?
JS: We have seen how both retail and the make-up industry has changed over the years along with customer buying behaviour and we wanted to create a one stop retail experience that is at the forefront of technology, the industry and customer service. There isn’t another shop out there offering what we will be offering: full order fulfilment, personalised customer service and a sleek, multi-faceted shopping experience across our store, mobile and website. We have put a lot of thought into our internal relationship management programmes for our PROs and our VIP Ambassadors, which aim to make their lives just that bit easier with benefits such as discounts, free products, having access to their own personal account manager 24 /7 and free entry to trade shows.
WP: Do you have a pro discount scheme?
JS: Yes and it is very easy to apply. Simply fill in your details online, upload proof and that’s it. Our PRO discount scheme is available for whatever field your work in such as film, TV, editorial and we also offer a student discount.
WP: What brands are you stocking? Any exclusives?
JS: We will be stocking all the brands a PRO will want in their kit, from Skin Illustrator and MaqPro to Mouldlife and Bluebird FX. We are always looking out for new products and new brands, and will be revealing exclusive agreements throughout 2017 so watch this space…
WP: Where will we see you this year? IMATS? UMAE?
JS: We will be at IMATS and UMAE and we are looking forward to showcasing what we are about so come by to say hi!
WP: What are your plans for the next 3 years?
JS: We will offer a full service make-up artist outlet experience to a global audience and aim to raise the bar with regards to customer experience. It is also our aim to build a community and a knowledge hub that celebrates the industry and we want to inspire the next generation of professionals by partnering with colleges and universities.
WP: How do you source new products? Will you be retailing them at The Makeup Armoury?
JS: We find out about new products through working on set. It’s just a habit to eye up other people’s kit and that’s how we discover new brands and must-have products. Also, we listen to our customers and make sure we keep aware of the newest things on the market. Over the years, the team behind The Makeup Armoury has made great contacts and friends in the industry who are always keeping us up to speed. Yes, we’ll be retailing them, as we are mainly focused on the pro market.
WP: Do you accept approaches from new/niche brands?
JS: Absolutely! Everyone has to start somewhere. If a product is good, then it is good, whether it comes from a huge company or a small one. Being open to new brands is so important.
WP: What would you need from them to be of interest to you as a stockist?
JS: We need to be able to test the product and see where it would sit within our product offering. A great product formulation or design, nice branding and a sensible price point is a good start. And if the people behind the brand are motivated and dedicated like us, it may just be a match made in heaven…