Why Do Department Stores Have Approval Procedures?
Stand alone locations, department stores need to have a strong identity in order to persuade enough customers to travel there to shop. Department stores were once vast emporiums with a monopoly on many types of goods, high-fashion make-up included. Now that we can buy most items elsewhere, there needs to be a reason to visit a department store. That reason often includes atmosphere and service. In order to help achieve this, everyone who works in the store must have some easily recognizable and unifying attributes.
While beauty brands have high standards of grooming, they all work hard to preserve their own brand identity. Yet in the department store, overall experience usually has to come first so that customers make an effort to visit again. All the brands within this umbrella then benefit from having future business, which might otherwise not be guaranteed to walk through the door.
High-end department stores offer prestigious resume credits for beauty consultants. Some stores bring an eclectic mix of high quality brands and exquisite merchandise together, creating a fun and high fashion boutique atmosphere. These stores can be a little more laid back with image, if they have the right customer service. Stores such as these include Liberty and Fenwicks, both in London.
Other stores, such as Harrods in London, trade on a name that guarantees a certain type of experience, which they need to uphold at all times. All these types of department stores usually require a store approval to make sure that you fit the image and the team that you will be working with.
How to Pass Department Store Approval
Store approvals should be prepared for as regular job interviews by finding out information about the store beforehand. Knowing a department store’s history is usually part of working life as this is tied in with the customer experience. For example, part of the façade of Liberty’s grade II listed building comes from two British ships. The stores know that you want to work for your make-up brand and may be seeing the approval procedure as an additional chore. So showing some interest in the department store itself will go a long way.
Beauty companies usually put you in a store they think will suit you: It wastes their time to send people to store approvals they don’t get. This means that if you follow the rules, a store approval should go smoothly.
In terms of image, smart is safest. Unless a store is particularly fashion focused, aim for the slightly more conservative end of the scale with clothes and make-up:
- Wear the beauty company uniform if relevant, or a smart suit if not.
- Ideally make sure that jacket and bottoms are of a matching fabric.
- Skirts should not be too short; knee length is usually the best.
- Smart, clean, enclosed shoes are essential and ideally shoes with a proper sole rather than ballet pumps.
- Wear retainers in any piercings and try to only wear one main set of earrings.
- Pay attention to detail Clean nails, tidy hair and fresh breath are essential.
In all but the strictest stores, dress code after a store approval is fairly fluid as long as the appearance is well groomed.
A very few stores now have daylight but for others a strong, ambient light is typical. This type of lighting flattens the face and blasts out features. Therefore a little more make-up is required to look representative of a cosmetics company. This might be partially responsible for the legend of the orange-faced, freakishly made up beauty consultant.
In truth, that is mostly just myth these days and most beauty consultants are not encouraged to apply make-up like a mask. However, a really natural look that might be just perfect at home often does not show up in a department store.
- Make sure that features are well defined, obviously but gently made up and that products are extremely well applied.
- The safest look is flawless neutrals with one feature such as a bright lipstick or liquid liner.
- Mascara and eyeliner should be crisp and fresh.
- Avoid gaudy or theatrical colors, even if working for a make-up brand that champions them. You might just be unlucky enough to be interviewed by a store manager that hates lime eye shadow or purple lipstick. There will be time enough for personal favorites after you have secured the position.
Some people love working in department stores, settling in to the hierarchy well and enjoying the luxury environment. For others it is just a necessity of working for a particular make-up brand. Promotion to national and regional artist positions often comes from time spent in department stores, so many consultants work hard to achieve this by making a success of their job in store.
Beauty companies are loyal to their good salespeople, so failing a store approval does likely mean losing a job. If a position came up elsewhere you might still be put forward by the brand. However, passing relevant department store approvals can lead to regular work as well as a faster chance of promotion in beauty retail.