We had the good fortune of connecting with Celine Tran and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Celine, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
One of my first thoughts when starting my own business was to be able to a have better work life balance. Little did I know, I am now basically working 24/7! But I absolutely love what I do and the people I meet, that I still wouldn’t trade it for any other job.
I dropped out of college after my sophomore year. It was a time in my life where I was very lost and had no sense of direction. Outside of school, I was a part time restaurant host.
I used to be extremely shy, so after working in the restaurant industry for a year or so, I became more outgoing and really enjoyed interacting with guests and serving them. I grew a passion for the hospitality industry and decided to quit school to take my chances in this career field. I spent 3 years working 5 days, sometimes 6 days, per week and most of the time 10 to 12 hour shifts while I lived in England. A country that surprisingly severely underpaid and under appreciated hospitality workers. Due to my schedule, I had absolutely no life outside of work as I was either too tired of resting until my next shift. My excitement for a career in that industry went downhill pretty quick.
I was able to take a little bit of time off to visit my family in Vietnam, who I used to spend every summer with. This is where I had my first experience with permanent makeup, where it’s very popular and common amongst women of all ages. The artist who performed microblading on me was practicing straight out of the comfort of her own home and ran a full permanent makeup studio with many workers there. I was amazed by her success and the art of microblading itself. It completely consumed my thoughts, I was so fascinated by the beauty of microblading and the business it brought.
When I came back to England from my little holiday, I still couldn’t stop thinking about microblading. Obviously, Instagram’s algorithm knew it too because microblading posts would not stop popping up on my feed!
A microblading course was taking place in London just a few weeks away and I was very tempted to take it but had so many doubts and hesitations. I’ve always had an esthetic eye for beauty but never believed it was something I could actually perform. What if I wasn’t good? What if I fail? I can’t even draw a stick figure!
It was either giving something new a chance or back to the hospitality reality…
I wasn’t able to get it out of my head so I went for it and signed up for the course. Money was tight and I couldn’t afford to quit my waitressing job. After coming home from work at 2am, I would sit down at my dining table and practice microblading on fake skin until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I turned my storage room into my work studio and got an awesome deal on tattoo furniture from colleague I met at the training. It was like everything was falling into place and working itself out.
At first, I performed a lot of services for free until I felt more confidant about my art and to build up a portfolio. It was well worth it as all those client’s became free walking billboards for me. A couple months later, I became busy enough to only work part-time in hospitality and having more flexibility with my schedule.
I was finally able to make time to go to the gym, have hobbies, see friends and family and turn one of my passions into a well paying job. I am my own boss and make my own schedule. Nothing could ever beat that and that’s why I wanted to start my own business.
What should our readers know about your business?
I cannot believe I am able to say this, but I am so proud of myself for building a successful six figure business a the age of 25.
I have been running a one woman show, although a bit hectic at times, I am able to ensure quality and service to the highest standard to my clients since the opening of my business.
I love the relationships I’m able to build with my clients. Of course not everyone is super talkative.
Some just come for their service and are on they way, but those that I can have conversations with, make I what I do the more rewarding.
As I work so close to their faces, there is such a high level of trust they put in me. With most appointments averaging 3 hours, you can only imagine all the different things we talk about and open up to each other about. At the end of the day, we are just two human beings getting to know each other and sharing each other’s stories. From personal problems, to future life goals, to our dog’s favorite treats.
I pride myself in being a genuine person with my clients instead of just treating them like a business transaction. I have become good friends with some and keep in touch with most through social media.
I wouldn’t be where I am without them, they trust me whole heartedly and bring me many referrals which contributes to my success today.
While business is looking great and flourishing today, it was not an easy road. I struggled a lot, emotionally and financially to get to where I am today.
I moved from England to San Diego Summer of 2018. It took me some time to reestablish myself in a new location.
I was going thru a divorce at the age of 22, taken what I thought would be a dream job that ended up making me lose all hope for a career in the permanent makeup industry. When you think you have it all only to suddenly lose it all, I was experiencing what felt like being at rock bottom.
I picked up 2 waitressing jobs and worked round the clock, double shifts, 6 days a week in hopes to be able to save enough money to reopen my permanent makeup business someday.
It took me an entire year. In December of 2019, I reopened my permanent makeup business. Covid hit just 3 months later and I had to shut it all down again.
I took this time to work on a strategy to reopen strong. I rebranded, offered plenty of promotions, nearly worked for free just to have clients walk thru my door to walk back out with my work on their faces. My walking billboards. Luckily, it worked and it was the biggest relief I’ve ever felt. Everything fell into place as we slowly adapted to this new world.
Being so afraid of losing everything like I have before, I kept one of the waitressing jobs as my security net. I only left that job just about 5 months to focus on growing and building a team for my business. I thought to myself, if my business if my baby, I need to give it 200%.
Overcoming those challenges were tough, but I never gave up on my dream even when I felt like that was the only option. I had to stay persistent no matter what.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
San Diego is such beautiful city full of adventure. Whether you are a foodie, nature enthusiast or need a beach bum vacation vibe. You can get it all!
Say you want to start your visit slow and relaxing. San Diego is all about the beach views and beautiful sun all year round. Spend a day in La Jolla starting off with brunch at Cody’s La Jolla. They have THE BEST french toasts. I mean they don’t call it “the Amazing French Toasts” for no reason.
Walk down to the cove and give the seals a visit, check out the famous cave and then go rent a kayak. You might be lucky enough to have some dolphin sighting!
Dinner at Catania is a must when in La Jolla. You’ll be able to sip on some delicious cocktails and enjoy amazing Italian food while catching the sunset from their open patio.
That should get you warmed up to the San Diego vibes! Now another popular brunch spots and one of my go-to’s is Snooze. I have tried almost every single item on their menu, and they always get it right. Loosen up with their Bangkok bloody Mary before heading for some fun at Belmont Park. Walk around, play some games, grab another drink (you’re on vacation, no one’s judging) and a few sushi bites at Cannonball ‘s rooftop ocean front views. We’re really all about the beach views here, I tell you.
San Diego is known to have many hiking trails to choose from. Torrey Pines is a state natural reserve along the Southern California coast with a moderate, peaceful trail and beautiful views of the ocean. It’s one of my favorites hikes and I love to come here to clear my mind.
If you’re up for a challenge, the iconic Potato Chip Rock is where you want to head towards. Super steep hills but super instagram worthy picture of yourself standing on what looks like a very thin potato chip. People wait in a long line just to snap of picture of this moment!
You’ll definitely want to fuel up after a hike! A lot of people will argue that San Diego has some of the best Mexican food and I couldn’t disagree. No need to get fancy or dolled up, Tacos El Gordo is the best joint to grab some Adobada spicy pork tacos. Add the cilantro, onions, green sauce, pineapple, don’t leave a single ingredient out! There’s normally always a line but they move pretty quick.
There just isn’t enough time or room in our stomachs to check out all the food scene in San Diego but my next brunch recommendation is Morning Glory. It’s fancy, it’s edgy, and it’s always packed. If you don’t get there early enough, you’ll be missing out on their jiggly soufflé pancakes.
Walk it off down to Seaport Village. A waterfront shopping complex with many cute little local and souvenir shops.
Hot Licks is a cool shop selling all kinds of hot sauces only.
You’ll want to wrap up your San Diego visit with these most well known dinner spots. Either Mister A’s, where you’ll have the best view of San Diego, hands down. Not only do you get a full panoramic view of downtown and the waterfront but you can also watch all the planes landing into the city.
Some of the freshest seafood is also here, so Ironside Fish and Oyster would be my other pick. The freshest oysters are served here and one of the best lobster rolls I’ve had. They have a long list of special cocktails served in unique fun glasses.
As you can see I’m a huge foodie and I hope my recommendations don’t disappoint!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When I first started permanent makeup about 5 years ago, it was such a small, specific niche that not many people around me understood the importance or seriousness of a career it could be.
Of course friends and family were very supportive but I wouldn’t say as encouraging. Nobody used to believe that doing permanent makeup is a “real job”. Most people just think it’s a good side hustle or hobby to have.
Often when people asked me what I do for a living, I would reply with “I tattoo eyebrows!”. People would kind of just shrug their shoulders while saying “oh okay, interesting” or even make a joke about me tattooing their eyebrows for them.
It’s definitely not as impressive as saying that you’re a doctor or a lawyer. For that reason, I decided to work in silence and let my success speak for itself.
After I took my first microblading course, I joined various support, tips and tricks groups for permanent make up artists on Facebook.
These groups, full of women entrepreneurs and business owners from all over the world, were the true definition of “ there is room for everyone”. You could go on there to ask for constructive criticism on your work, what the top products were, and someone would always have an answer or show you support. We were all there to lift each other up to succeed and I think that’s a beautiful thing.
These women really helped me pushed through the up & downs that many entrepreneurs go through. But especially because they all understood the frustation of being a beginner, eager to succeed and achieve perfection as quickly as possible. None of my friends or family could understand the art of permanent makeup like these women did.
After learning, being inspired and gathering so much knowledge from different backgrounds and experiences, this helped mold me into the artist and technician that I am today.
With that being said, my all time number one supporter has definitely been my Mom. Having a Vietnamese Tiger Mom growing up was not easy. My Mom comes from an immigrant background and raised me and my brother on her own. She has always been extremely hard on us when it came to school and getting a proper education, in order for us to have a better life than she did. But when I dropped out of college, became a full time waitress then chose to learn microblading, she did not question me once and has always supported me from day one. She used to always tell me that whatever I put my heart into and do with a passion, I would be successful at it. I am so grateful to have had her full support.
Facebook: Celine’s Beauty Studio
Yelp: Celine’s Beauty Studio
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