Becoming a Confident Business Owner
"I just had this nagging feeling that I needed to have something of my own—so that I could market it how I wanted to and call all the shots!"
Madison Hardy Dennis is a mover and a shaker, and she’s definitely making things happen! Her business, MHD Beauty, uniquely positions her as not only an expert makeup artist in Nashville, but also a go-to for high-quality cosmetics.
I love Madison’s business because it aligns beautifully with her personality and her strengths. She maintains excellent relationships with her clients and, as a result, has received many positive reviews and awards. Her marketing plan involves creating YouTube tutorials that promote her own products, a robust social media presence and strong branding on her website!
There’s so much to take away from how Madison leverages her skills and her time. Check out our conversation about how she took her side business full time!
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Christy Wright: Madison, your business is both service-based and product-based. Tell us about that!
Madison Hardy Dennis: Sure! I own and operate MHD Beauty, LLC as well as Nashville Wedding Stylist and MHD Cosmetics. MHD Beauty is the parent company, while Nashville Wedding Stylist is a wedding-specific hair & makeup artist agency and MHD Cosmetics is a full line of luxury cosmetics.
CW: That is super impressive! I know you built this dream from the ground up. Tell us how you got started.
MHD: I was that friend doing hair and makeup for my girlfriends for nights out, formals and more. Not professionally, but I did it enough to have an idea of how to work with different heads of hair and faces than my own.
My very first client was my cousin way back in 2008, when I did makeup for her wedding. I don’t know if you could actually call her a “client,” but I got professional photos out of it and did a professional-looking job.
In 2013, I competed in the Miss America pageant system. I won a local title—Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival! (laughs)—and went on to compete for Miss Tennessee. During that process, I learned a lot about styling my own hair and makeup for the stage, and at the state pageant I even did an updo for one of the other contestants! After that experience (I didn’t win, by the way), I was asked to go on a trip with a pageant hair and makeup styling team to work for another big national pageant, and I did. Truthfully, I had no idea what I was doing other than making the girls I worked with look and feel beautiful.
CW: Way to jump on that opportunity and go for it! So, this started accidentally as a side-gig while you were working a full-time job. Now, the business is your full-time job! How did that happen?
MHD: I first decided that I wanted to try to do this full time in the summer of 2014, but I was still full-time in an administrative role. So my husband helped me a lot by creating a logo for my business, setting up my first website, and supporting me through the long hours of hustling with no days off. I was also performing on weekends with a high-profile wedding band, so I had to squeeze in makeup sessions with friends whenever I could. Six months later, I had saved enough money and had started to build enough of a client base that I felt comfortable quitting my day job.
CW: Good for you! That is such a great example of what I teach about taking your side-business full time and making it a step, not a leap. Even though you were hustling like crazy for a season, now you can do what you love full time! So, there you are, working as a makeup artist. What prompted you to start your own line of makeup?
MHD: When I first started out as a full-time entrepreneur, I found myself doing a lot of makeup lessons with pageant contestants and brides. I’d give them a list of product recommendations at the conclusion of each lesson, but I just had this nagging feeling that I needed to have something of my own—so that I could market it how I wanted to and call all the shots! I knew that if I was going to represent a line I had to know EVERYTHING about it, and if it was something I curated or created, then I would have no problem with that.
CW: I’m sure there are some readers who are wondering how to even begin that process. Can you share how that works?
MHD: Sure! I wanted to represent a product that did not have any known toxins in its ingredients but that also covered well. So, I started researching cosmetics manufacturers online and I found a Canadian company with a whole catalogue of cosmetic recipes that they manufacture.
I ordered some samples to test out. I did that for a while until I was ready to go all in with this manufacturer, and at that point I flew to Canada and met with their reps for a day to finalize the formulas, shades, and packaging. From there, the MHD Cosmetics line was born!
CW: I love how driven you are and how you just kept going for it at every turn! But I also know that it hasn’t all been easy for you. What have been some struggles or challenges you faced along the way?
MHD: Well, even though I am a very driven individual, I often consider how others view my success. I wonder what they think about it. I wonder if they think I charge too much. I wonder if they think I’m “too young” to run a legitimate business. I wonder if they think, “Does she really know what she is doing?”
But I listened to the Business Boutique podcast for the first time a year ago. And then I read the book. Business Boutique really helped me to get out of that mental space, to charge what I am worth, and to enter each client interaction from a place of love and sincerity. It helped me to realize that my business is based on helping people, which is something that I never considered before.
CW: Girl, you are not alone in wondering those things! Imposter syndrome is real and it can do real damage. I’m so glad you found us and we were able to help you overcome that! What do you think has been key to your success?
MHD: Consistency. I stay on top of my tasks every day so that when I need to relax and step away for a moment, I can.
CW: What do you do to stay on top of your tasks?
MHD: My business is pretty seasonal, so when I think about my workload I look at the forest instead of the trees and embrace the down time. I’ve found that I have more time at home, not out doing makeup, during the winter months. It just so happens that January and February are my biggest months for inquiries and bookings, so it works out that I have more time to spend in front of the computer. Plus, I’m able to be off my feet and physically relax!
It also helps to establish office hours. I added them to my email signature so my clients know what to expect. For me, I really value getting a good night’s sleep, so my office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. I am committed to working on the business during those hours every day.
CW: I love it! If any of our readers are considering leaving their day job to pursue a dream full time, what advice do you have for them?
MHD: Be sure to have money saved up—several month’s worth of expenses—and don’t be afraid. When you have all that time suddenly available, you will find a way to fill it with activities that help your business grow!
If you’re like Madison and want to start or grow your own business, I’ll give you the essentials to do just that inside the Business Boutique Academy!