By Thuy T Tran
Due to the explosive popularity of Microblading, trainers from all over the world are now finally getting to showcase their talent and inspire others. Unfortunately, like all great things this comes with a price. The industry has fallen prey to some rather dubious characters and even more questionable “fast-food” training sessions. If you ask any notable, well respected trainers, they are now offering more fundamental courses than ever to accommodate the frantic students who paid anywhere from $2,500-$5,500 only to find upon completion of the course that the only thing they have to show for it, is a fancy kit with no real grasp on the basic fundamentals.
It’s even more unfortunate that there is no single law, state or nationwide which governs/regulates this ‘grey’ area of the industry. I’ve heard and seen everything from trainers coming to class hung-over, improper handling and disposal of hazardous materials, to sisters who took training only 3 months prior turning around and teaching full-on courses, using google during class to answer basic sanitation questions (you know who you are). After talking to veterans of the field who are both experts in PMU and microblading, there seems to be a consensus that when choosing a trainer, there is more peace-of-mind to choose someone domestic. Local trainers have a greater level of accountability for who complete their course, and the training those students receive.
If it’s more convenient for you to go with a lesser known trainer coming to an area near you, with the plethora of options out there, it would be wise to go with someone who is considered an industry leader. Yes, you may pay a little more for the two options above, but it’s much cheaper than paying for another course to makeup for the education you didn’t receive the first go around.
1. Beware of trainers who will not reveal location of training to you until after you make the deposit. Even after the fact, get it in writing where the training will take place. I once had a trainer advise every one of us to book at the $500 a night hotel she was staying at, only to change the location 5 blocks down the street because it turned out to be a smaller class, she didn’t want to pay for the conference room at the hotel.
2. If the training advertises work on live models, and f you’re not already a PMU artist, unlikely your business insurance will cover any liability issues should the model seek legal action for any reason. Even if you are, your insurance will unlikely cover a procedure you do not have certification in. In the unlikely event something should go horribly wrong, with a model ie, anaphylactic allergic reaction, accidents with the blade you do not want to be caught uninsured. This is why I strongly suggest you train with someone who will either show you proof of their own business insurance which will cover not only their training but also their students. This should be a separate form for the students fill out, to guarantee you are protected in the event of legal or safety related complications. (Liability waivers are not iron clad, trust me, especially if the other party ‘model’ can prove negligence).
3. Ask for a contract or written agreement–and I cannot stress this enough–prior to committing any money that the training you’re interested in is registered with the state, and has met all other requirements necessary to be considered legal and sanctioned. This goes hand-in-hand with RUN if a trainer will not reveal exact location of training. No matter what excuse they give you, this is a bad sign.
4. Ask for an information package detailing the course. Beware! Prior to committing any deposit ask make sure that the language in the information package is precise not just for what you expect to learn, but what you should bring. Such as lamps, mag lights, or any special tools you are required to furnish on your own. Some courses promise support after training, be sure to specifically ask what forms of support you will receive and for how long.
5. Get it in writing that the course will not be cancelled for any reason other than weather related delays, death in the family, or denial of Visa. Especially if you’re traveling to a different state for the training. This is not part of most, if any, of the contracts I’ve seen, however it SHOULD be. Proof should also be provided in the event this occurs. Yes, they will offer to refund the course, but what about the money you’ve paid for what is most likely a non-refundable ticket plane ticket, hotels need 24-48 advance notice. What about the time you took off work, the clients your booked next week to make it to this training? I strongly believe that if these questions are asked enough, industry professionals who want your business will start including it.
6. Do not be misled by the happy group pic advertisements. Even when I was visibly annoyed with my trainer for wasting most of our time on resolving issues she should’ve taken care of prior to our training, I politely took the group pic, and duo pic with her. Bottom line, most people are polite and will follow suit especially in group settings. A happy group pic, does not a happy group make.
7. Beware of anyone who disables ‘comments’ for their advertisement. You will see that you cannot comment on the ad or video. This is a HUGE RED FLAG. Don’t walk, run from this person like your aunt’s creepy boyfriend. If for any reason someone doesn’t want comments for their training to be visible, it’s most likely for good reason i.e. Lots of disgruntled students trying to warn others of the scam.
8. Beware be trainer who gives you reason for lack of transparency by stating that fellow trainers are ‘jealous’ of the ‘competition’. If you take time to do your due diligence most trainers who are industry veterans (international and domestic) are very supportive of each other’s events often teaming up in one way or another to show support.
9. NEVER send PayPal payment as ‘personal gift’ no matter what excuse someone gives you. This is the PMU/Microblading equivalent of sending money to the Nigerian prince you met online two weeks ago who promised to make his princess if you send him some money for the homeless shelter he’s building. If they show up to the training, no matter how poor or “significantly different than advertised” it was, your money will NEVER be refundable. In truth you should avoid PayPal all together when possible. After multiple conversations with PayPal personnel, it is almost nearly impossible to recoup monies paid for ‘services’. I still can’t wrap my head around the student being asked to pay the PayPal transaction fee. This is rather questionable because training is a ‘business’, you are the customer. Imagine going down to your local Walmart paying a business transaction fee to purchase a stick of gum. Credit card processing fees are a pain, so I can understand avoiding those. But not paying taxes and sticking you with the PayPal fees is another definitely a red flag. Lesson here, when possible pay with credit card.
10. Learn to be discerning regarding good reviews. Often times these are not hard to fake. I’ve been contacted multiple times by underground companies claiming to ‘boost’ my business if I paid for yelp and Facebook reviews. Even when reviews are legitimate, you need to consider the source. If you’re a foodie like me, you’ve learned that yelp reviews are only as good as the person who writes them. A first time ‘sushi’ eater will tell you that the half-off Buffett sushi they had was the best sushi they’ve ever eaten. While I’d rather see my own father naked, claw out my eyes with hot prongs, than take one bite of that E.coli on rice.
11. Run if a trainer sets their privacy and security settings on high, and you cannot see their friends list or other pertinent information about their business. It’s less likely for privacy of their friends, its more likely they do not want their previous students contacted for real-time reviews.
12. Be cautious of videos posted on live student work during ‘3 days of training’ unless it’s accompanied with before pictures of the models. This is one of the most misleading advertisements. The trainer I trained with specifically chose models with near perfect brows, this is unrealistic and lazy. A high number of clients will not have brows with nearly 90% of natural hair. Secondly, if you’re new to Microblading, after the 2nd mask, most eyebrows will look perfect to naked eye. You should look for pictures of their students healed results. If a student is properly trained and educated, with enough time and practice, they will be proud to tag both their trainers and healed results on Facebook forums.
13. Trust your gut. The money you’re paying is money you’ve worked very hard for, don’t invest it lightly. If from the start you feel that somethings a little ‘off’ trust your gut. Do as much research as you can on the person you wish to train with, look outside of social media if possible. If someone has a bad reputation in the industry, they will often fly under the radar for some time, but if you value your money, get creative with your approach to finding out more about them beyond what they advertise. Forums are the best way, read as many comments as you can for the particular trainer you’re interested in. Try not to read it on their page but the independent PMU/Microblading forums.
Author’s note: I was inspired to write this post after myself and a fellow student were both put through the ringer by the trainer we chose. The blatant lying, and lack of communication after the deposit (non-refundable) was placed, I felt compelled speak out. When I wrote this post, I knew two things, one, many people might disagree with me, that maybe what I’m asking is unreasonable. I feel strongly that as a business which generates very high revenue, trainers who are not doing their best to ensure a high-quality-learning experience should not financial benefit from it. Second, for someone looking to enter the PMU/Microblading industry, it can be a daunting task when selecting from the stream of flashy advertisements on Facebook. I hope this post has helped you, and that you share it someone you feel might benefit from it. I will repost this periodically with new-updates added to the list. Please share any tips you might have with me and I’ll be happy to mention it in my next post. Thank you for reading. Thuy Tran