I Was a MAC Pro For 11 Years, and This Is What It's Really Like to Work There

I worked for MAC Cosmetics for 11 years, and it was wonderful! I worked for them as a retail manager in both California and New York City. I was lucky enough to get the job even though I was a telephone operator with no prior experience! I just happened to love MAC and was at the counter at least twice a week. I often would do my friends' makeup at the counter, and a small group of customers would gather, the manager noticed and encouraged me to interview for a job, and boom! I got it and was hired as part of the management team. Makeup always came naturally, and I definitely had a huge passion for makeup and product. Here is what I learned being part of the MAC Pro team.

Work Friends Become Lifelong Friends
Getty | Astrid Stawiarz

Work Friends Become Lifelong Friends

Even though it's been about four years since I left the company, so many of my ex MAC co-workers are still some of my best friends. We are closer than friends I've known since childhood. It is so great when you find someone who speaks your language (the language of makeup!) and has the same passion as you do. We have all been through so much, have seen each other grow in our career and artistry, and we trust each other with something that is so personal. I love that all of us were from different cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, and sexual orientations. It is amazing that the love of makeup brought us all together!

When you put your art out there for everyone to see and judge, you need your people around you, and I am so lucky to have that. Since leaving the company, I have ventured out on my own as a freelance makeup artist, and it is my old employees who are helping me make connections and introducing me to potential clients and photographers. Thank goodness I wasn't a mean boss!

The Perks Include Swag and Worldwide Travel
Getty | L. Cohen

The Perks Include Swag and Worldwide Travel

Yes, we got a discount. This was always the number one question I was asked when I worked there. And no, we can't share our discount with you. Let's just say the discount is huge. Whenever there was a new makeup collection coming out, we got most of the new product (this started to dwindle when I left, but you still got some).

Twice a year we got to pick whatever we wanted from the whole store. How much you got to spend depended on if you were a full-time or part-time employee. MAC wanted us wearing the product at all times, as customers usually wanted to know what we were wearing. So they made sure we had everything we needed and then some.

Some of the other perks included but were not limited to participating in New York Fashion Week, the Grammys, and our own MAC industry events. If you were a star retail artist, you could get flown to participate in MAC events around the world such as in Hawaii, Barcelona, Paris, etc. They really love to reward their top artists.

You May Turn Into a Makeup Hoarder
Getty | Dimitrios Kambouris

You May Turn Into a Makeup Hoarder

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much makeup! All of the gratis and discounts can really add up over the years. My friends and family often benefited from my wanting to get rid of unwanted (and often unopened) product. I, of course, had to give my mother first dibs at everything, and then whatever was left over would go into a drawer. My friends knew they could come over and raid that drawer. It was also great if they needed to put a little gift basket together.

After a while, the gratis requests got more boring. I stopped asking for every color eye shadow they made, and I would just order my staples like wipes, skin care, black eyeliner, and mascara.

Discontinued Products Break Our Hearts, Too
Getty | Astrid Stawiarz

Discontinued Products Break Our Hearts, Too

One of the hardest things we had to go through was informing a customer that his or her favorite product had been discontinued. The person would often take out his or her frustration on us. The reality is that most of the time, the product was just a limited release and was never meant to stay. That is why I would always inform customers if they really liked a new lipstick, then they should buy multiples of that shade. When old products get discontinued, it is often due to low sales or that the pigment is no longer available.

I will say the internet is a powerful tool! I have seen products that were limited release get so much love, and customers would write to MAC and beg for the color. So the company would have no choice but to make it permanent. This happened with our favorite Candy Yum Yum [hot pink lipstick], for example.

MAC's website is also extremely helpful in letting you know when product is about to get discontinued. It can help you locate a store that still has your favorite product in stock. So please do not take it out on the MAC artist! It isn't their fault.

The Job Entails More Than Just Playing With Makeup
Getty | Astrid Stawiarz

The Job Entails More Than Just Playing With Makeup

I know working at MAC looks uberglamorous and fun, but I had never worked so hard in my life! Yes, we get to play with some of the best makeup in the world, but it doesn't stop there! We often have to help at least three people at the same time, since customers often outnumber MAC artists. If you are not a multitasker, then this job isn't for you. We are often therapists to our fellow co-workers and especially our customers. They don't call it Lipstick Therapy for nothing!

Customers would come in feeling so down on themselves for whatever reason, and it was up to us to make them feel better. I often told my staff to always be nice to our customers, even the rude ones, because you never know what they are going through. It wasn't uncommon for a customer to burst into tears, because she has never felt more beautiful or ready to take on the world! Those were the best days. When you know you made a difference in someone's life.

To this day, I am so grateful for those days with aching feet, hurt back, tear-stained cheeks, face hurting from laughing so hard, because they turned me into not just a great makeup artist but someone who can work through any circumstances that get thrown my way.