Change comes when bold individuals refuse to be limited, seeking to disrupt the norm. Some industries resist breaking from the status quo, often erecting trivial barriers to keep groups out of the conversation. The permanent makeup industry has a long history of marginalizing individuals of color, often telling artists of color that there’s no room for them in the industry. These artists fight for a space at the table. But one group, Black Micropigmentation Association, decided they didn’t need to be at a table they felt unwelcome at. Instead, they built their own table and made inclusion the centerpiece. 

The organization focuses on elevating & celebrating underrepresented black artists in the permanent makeup industry. By providing a comprehensive education to aspiring artists, the group is raising the standards for the entire industry, challenging assumptions and pushing for more regulation to protect clients and artists alike. 

Black Micropigmentation Association was formed by four salon owners who met on the social media platform, Clubhouse. With 24 years of collective experience in the beauty industry, Kechia Taylor, Sheron Devlin and sisters Dior Davenport & Shalon Burruss came together and formed the association to empower the next generation of micropigmentation artists through education. 

And the education doesn’t stop there. Get ready because Black Micropigmentation Association is taking over the Vagaro Pro Blog for Vagaro Promo Days! Over the next weeks, you’ll hear from each entrepreneur as she offers wisdom & share how technology has helped in the evolution of her business. Get to know BMA in the Q&A below and keep an eye on the blog for their takeover! 

Pictured: Shalon Burruss & Dior Davenport

What are your goals for BMA? 

SD: Our short-term goal is building community and trying to pull in the newer artists so they can have some guidance because a lot of artists of color don’t have that guidance. We didn’t when we came into the industry. Our long-term goal is hopefully to be involved with legislation and regulation in individual states for micropigmentation artists. 

DD: Currently, there’s lack of regulation in a lot of states, meaning they’re not required to have blood-borne pathogens classes, they’re not required to adhere to infection control standards, they’re not required to take a class for a certain amount of time. So that results in a lot of botched jobs or people just caring about getting money and not training people properly. So, our goal is to make sure that we are the organization setting those standards and helping to get into those regulations to help set the high standards. 

Our overall goal is to make sure that we’re creating a well-rounded artist that’s equipped with everything they need to feel prepared and to perform services properly. We really want to make a change in the industry and the big goal, of course, is upholding artists of color because they’re the ones who are overlooked the most in the industry. 

KT: And I think that’s important for people to know about BMA is that we represent so many different ethnicities within, although we’re women of color. We teach people to work on every [type of] skin. 

SD: That’s why there is a BMA, because we want to be able to support a new artist if they get told they can’t work on women of color. One thing I think is a testament to the women of color in the industry as a whole, is that with being told that, we still were able to prove [them wrong] and debunk that myth. 

How do you think being women of color has impacted your experience as business owners? 

DD: Good and bad. I would tell you it’s difficult when we all trained. Being in a classroom and being told by your instructor that you can’t perform permanent makeup on skin that looks like ours is highly offensive. But we had to sit there and listen to these things and be taught incorrectly. 

For all of us starting our business, we just knew our skill and our goal and just stayed consistent and grew our businesses in a way where it was like, you have no choice but to acknowledge us and see us. And even if you don’t, we’re still doing great and we’re growing. 

In my classes, I’ll get questioned on my education or my qualifications. I know that my white counterparts don’t have to deal with [that] being a business owner. So, it’s always the fight of constantly having to prove yourself, you know? 

As business owners, do you think technology helps business owners save time so they can focus on things like mental health & other endeavors? 

DD: Technology is life. The things that help are automation and setting firm policies. Those alone will help you to run a smooth business. All of us, we’re super busy. We do not have time to sit on a phone call. So, making sure that we can have automated bookings, making sure that the Forms feature is selected so they can sign those consent forms, take those deposits, send out e-mail reminders—all those things to make our lives easier. 

Tell me about your experience with Vagaro. 

DD: Vagaro needs to make me an employee because I’m always talking about Vagaro! Visually, it’s regarded as a good interface. It’s easy to use, it’s simple for people who aren’t as tech savvy. I’ve used their customer service a few times. Someone always picked up the phone or called me back instantly. 

So, it was awesome when we got to meet the team at the Professional Beauty Conference in London. We call them our BFFs because we hung out the whole time! I know I personally saw how they took care of [everyone], showing them the platform, going over every feature. I just always know that they take good care of us. Oh—and one more thing. I love the cost comparison to what it costs me too. The cost…because I was paying like $250 per month for another software. 

Pictured: Sheron Devlin & Kechia Taylor

Did you say you were paying $250 a month? 

DD: Yeah! Every time we hired somebody, they would make you buy a user license. I paid $1,200 for a thing like this before. It was like a CD. Then they told me they were going to change to it being online, and then we had to pay. It was $250 per location. Sheron got in a little late, so she was paying $400. 

How has Vagaro improved your business? 

SB: It’s more streamlined. Using Vagaro has helped me pull everything together and make life easier. 

Think of your favorite Vagaro feature. What is it and how has this specific feature helped your business? 

SB: I love the Forms! We have consent forms, we have consultation forms. I love the fact that I can have those sent out and have them signed before a client comes in. That way, I’m not waiting for them to fill out the paperwork, and the system, it stores it for me. 

DD: I know when Pay Later is out, we need to enable it. We know, for our industry and our service costs, they’re all high. Pay Later is going to be a game changer for us. 

I love the Zoom integration. I do video consultations. As soon as a client books, the system sends them an e-mail that looks super professional. 

If you had one piece of advice for new or aspiring business owners, what would it be? 

KT: My general is: Do your research before you become a business owner. Research it first and make sure it’s something for you before you get into it. 

DD: And get your stuff in order. Like, make sure you have insurance. Make sure you have an accountant. Make sure you get the house base in order, because those are all things new artists [have to do]. We’re artists, we just want to create, and then we don’t think about the business side. So, really make sure you’re setting it up properly—crossing the T’s dotting the I’s with those things. 

If you really are starting a business, it’s more than just providing a service, you know? 

SB: Make sure you have some YOU time. Don’t go so hard at working all the time that you don’t block out a day or weekend to rest. 

With new entrepreneurs, carve out some time for yourself or you’re going to get overwhelmed. You’re going to feel like it’s too much and it’s just going to feel like you’re not enjoying it anymore if you’re just working, working, working. 

Stay tuned for BMA’s blog takeover! You’ll hear from each of the women behind Black Micropigmentation Association to learn more about their experience in the permanent makeup industry, how they built their businesses, and how technology like Vagaro has helped them along the way. Til then, check out their article & inspiring session from our industry conference, iconic.22!