Fashion and beauty are always changing, but Khadija DeShong has managed to build a 30-year career in the world of makeup by being endlessly adaptable. Since becoming a mom, she’s brought that can-do spirit to her brick-and-mortar store, Blushbaby Lash & Makeup Studio.
Khadija DeShong grew up in the Bronx and started out doing makeup at department store beauty counters. She wanted to work with celebrities, so she took a job with MAC Cosmetics.
“Back in the day, it was the only fashion-forward makeup brand,” Khadija says. The job at MAC led her to work New York Fashion Week, and, ultimately, to realize her dream: she went on tour with Ashanti and did makeup for Tamia, Regina King, Jennifer Hudson and other celebrities.
When Khadija became a single mother in 2009, she knew she wanted to settle down with her daughter. “I just wanted more stability,” she says. She chose to move to Atlanta, where her mother was already living. “When I moved here in ’09,” she says, “there was really no place that women could get their makeup done besides going to the mall or going to somebody’s house.”
At the same time, the beauty industry was changing. The rise of social media meant it was easier for newer makeup artists to break into the industry—and harder for more established artists like Khadija to charge premium rates. “Once it’s more saturated, your rate changes,” Khadija says. Everybody wants to save money and get the best “bang for their buck.”
Khadija says she doesn’t let herself get upset about changes like this. “We don’t walk backwards,” she says. “You have to learn to adapt to a situation.” So she opened her own studio in the Buckhead area of Atlanta in 2011. Blushbaby is a one-stop shop where women could come and get their makeup, lashes, brows and makeup classes done for occasions big and small. Having a studio allows her to offer a more personal touch and a greater range of products compared to a department store makeup counter–but in a professional setting.
Blushbaby upgraded to a Clover POS system after about eight years in business, and Khadija says her clients immediately noticed the difference. “They love the ease–that they can tap to pay. They love that you can text or email the receipt.”
Khadija uses a Clover Mini to process payments, and she says her clients love the speed and convenience. During COVID, she says, clients also appreciated the option to use a contactless payment method like Apple Pay®.
Khadija’s business thrives on customer loyalty and word of mouth referrals—and Clover helps her cultivate both. “My clientele is very much like family because they’ve been with me for so long—a lot of them for eight or nine years,” Khadija says.
Clover makes it easy for her to reward loyal customers with promotions for certain services, by emailing promotional offers or adding them to customer receipts. Her best customers also use these promotions as opportunities to get friends to try the studio. Clients will say, “‘Oh, finally, I can give my friend, who I’ve been talking about lashes for three years now, a promo to come visit,’” Khadija says.
Clover also allows Khadija to offer digital gift cards, which clients love for holiday gifts, she says.
Ultimately, Clover’s POS system for personal services streamlines the work Khadija has to do to keep the studio running, giving her more time to focus on building her business and providing great customer service. Using her previous system, it would take her hours to calculate commissions for the freelance makeup artists who work out of her studio. With Clover, it takes just 15 minutes. “Everything’s built in, so it’s quick and easy at your fingertips. So this allows me more time to focus on other aspects of the business,” Khadija says. “In the ever-changing world of beauty, Clover helps me focus on what matters most.”
Before COVID hit, Khadija used to host donation drives to help unhoused people in her community. As the pandemic eases, she hopes to get back to doing events like this. “I love giving back,” she says. “I mean, somebody helped me, you know, you gotta always pay it forward.”
Learn more about Blushbaby Lash and Makeup Studio on Instagram @blushbabyatl and @theblushbeautyacademy.
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