• Kyle Harder

Leaving an Impression on Set

Tips from THG Founder Kyle Harder.


We can all use and benefit from industry feedback. It is essential if we want to become better at our trade, more professional and maintain the highest standards. Since launching The Harder Group, I have asked for feedback from other artists, producers, talent and neighboring department personnel. I think it has made me better as a professional and it has helped me to stay focused and refocus when I’ve needed to. So take a minute to ask yourself, “what critiques would the industry pros have for hair and makeup artists if a hidden camera followed me on set?” Although you probably know these things, it’s helpful to hear them again as we strive to keep our standards high and our services professional. How you perform directly impacts your client retention rate.

1. Clean kit

Your kit should always be clean and organized. I don't just mean "kind of" clean or "mostly" clean. I mean so clean if your dream client or potential client were to come by, you wouldn’t need 5 minutes to fix it up.

  • Wipe pallets down regularly (this includes the mirrors, it looks dirty when covered in powder).

  • Brushes should be cleaned the night before every job, not once you get to set.

  • Go ahead and spend the few extra dollars and get an organized holder for your Q-tips, mascara wands, sponges, cotton rounds.

  • Get in the habit or spraying eye & lip pencils with alcohol directly after use, before you put them away.

  • Not enough hair stylists keep Barbicide in their kits. There are as many potential hair germs as in makeup so be sure all your hair tools are just as clean!

2. Prepared kit

Really take a minute to consider if you have a kit prepared for the job at hand, or any situation that might arise. Too often I hear from artists “oh I didn’t think I’d need that”. Always plan to be prepared. I know we all can get lazy on occasions and put off restocking certain supplies or think we can get away without something just this one time. But any day could present the opportunity of a lifetime. Why risk not being ready when it’s just not that difficult and only takes a little pre-planning to be prepared.

It’s easier to prep and pack your kit the night before a job when you have time to make sure it’s done well.

  • Consider how many talent will be on set

  • Consider the weather

  • Never show up to set with out a proper set bag

  • Include proper set size compacts, and proper bags for different characters. If you can’t afford individual talent bags then always have zip lock bags to keep everybody’s product separate and clean.

  • Buy, or collect small plastic cosmetic sample containers (like the ones Sephora gives samples in, if you cant afford to purchase and want to recycle a bit!). These are great for holding touch up samples to add to talent bags, of lip product, foundation, cream etc.






3. Step up your kit - revamp and renew

What you use does make a difference in the quality of your work and the level of service you give. Your clients will feel more confident in your skill and special because you’ve used the good stuff.

  • Buy three less personal items each week and invest the savings in good, expensive high-end / quality product.

  • As you aim to move up in price point and status of clientele consider adding some “designer brands.”

  • Constantly remain aware of the trending products being used (which are effective and which are not?). Test, test, test …

  • While testing product you might as well get in the habit of posting and reviewing it. Social media is a major part of the game these days. Make sure you have a presence, this is a great way to build content and don’t forget to tag the appropriate artists and companies!

4. Dress code

How you present yourself is everything in an industry that doesn't have a uniform. First impressions happen within the first 5 seconds of meeting someone. Making a good first impression can make the difference between working just this time and getting a good repeat client. There are plenty of people working in our industry. Many times the only difference a client can see between you and a competitor is how you look and act. Rather than thinking you can wear anything you want because there are no rules, take the time and make the effort to dress professionally and attractively. No client wants to hire an artist who looks like he/she was too lazy to bother, doesn’t take the job seriously, or didn’t quite care enough to treat the job respectfully and professionally. Even you will take yourself more seriously when you know you look as amazing and confident as your exceptional skills warrant. See this as an opportunity to gain respect, represent yourself in the best light possible, and gain positive attention while still expressing yourself professionally. Dressing for the job is an opportunity to shine!

Dressing for the job is especially important for all the young artists working hard to carve out their place in the industry. You can’t compete with experienced professionals if you don’t look the part. If you don’t have a black blazer get out there right now and go purchase one. You can get one from H&M for under $30. This will make any outfit you wear look more professional and you will look confident as you work. When you look confident and professional, your client will feel more at ease and trust your skills as they sit in your chair and put themselves in your hands.

5. Phones and Social Media

Cell phones are definitely a part of life and social media is not only welcome but expected. However, most clients will not appreciate you being glued to your phone when your attention should be on the job they have hired you for. If you must use your phone:

  • Judge your sets appropriately

  • Keep in mind who is around you and choose wisely when to be on your phone

  • Keep your focus on your job

  • It’s always a better use of your down time to take the opportunity to build relationships with the team you’re working with...

  • Not only will work be more fun and comfortable, your conversations with the people around you could lead to your next job.

6. Timeliness

This is HUGE. As a professional, get it set in your head that “on time” means arriving 15 minutes early. If you plan to arrive just “on time,” you will probably be late many times due to shit happening. Being late is just not okay. Your client will definitely notice and you might even hold up production to the annoyance of everyone you’re working with. It’s just not that hard to always be on time if you plan accordingly.

What should you do if you are late due to factors out of your control?

  • Apologize immediately for your lateness to the talent, the producer and anyone else who has been affected by your lateness.

  • Never make excuses. Nobody wants to hear it.

  • Make up for your lateness by working efficiently to gain back the lost time. Don’t dilly dally setting up.

  • Don’t be frantic even if you are now seriously behind, but work professionally, efficiently and quickly.

  • Be pleasant and conversational but keep in mind people planned entire schedules based on everyone’s timeliness, and do not waste any more time.

  • Let your client know that you are serious about their time.

  • You had better be on you’re A-game the rest of the day.

  • Never joke about your lateness or blow off the fact you were late.

  • Before you leave, apologize one more time and assure the client it will not happen again.


I believe I have assembled the best team of incredibly talented artists and motivated professionals. As a team, what we each do and the reputation we build reflects on all of us. Let’s be sure we hold ourselves to the highest standards. We will all benefit. Thank you!

Kyle Harder

Owner - The Harder Group

917-453-8512

Kyle@TheHarderGroup.com

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