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Meet Debbie Miller of Newport Permanent Makeup in Newport Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Debbie Miller.

Debbie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been asked many times how I got started in my business. There is no short answer, however, I think that from the time I was very young I was influenced by many key people in my life that encouraged my talents and passions, giving me a strong work ethic, compassion for others and a desire to serve, I have always loved any artistic pursuits and working with my hands.

I always had plans to become a veterinarian until life circumstances caused those plans to change. In 1982 I found myself a young mother at the age of 18. Being a mother to my son became my number one focus, and from that point forward everything I ever did was a means of raising him. I went to nursing school instead, found the hours and demands too much for a single mom with a newborn and decided to get my training as an EMT.

I later went on to become the very first female firefighter in my community. One day while driving in my car, an advertisement came on the radio for a local Beauty College. In a lightbulb moment, I knew that was my next pursuit. I interviewed for admission, got a grant to fund the tuition and never worked harder at anything in my life. I knew that I had found a career that I could genuinely embrace with joy and also create a schedule that worked with my son’s life and enough money to support us.

After graduating from the Cosmetology program, I went to work to learn everything I could. I worked for a couple of different well-known salons building my clientele and my career. In 1995 I decided to move to California. I was living in Utah and although a beautiful and safe place to live, I felt there was so much more to the world, and I wanted to open myself and my son to more opportunities and experiences.

In 1997, I partnered with my then-boyfriend, now husband of almost 20 years, to open a hair salon in Newport Beach. It was during that time that Permanent Cosmetics was starting to gain some traction. I had my eyebrows, eyeliner, and lips tattooed and knew that it was something that many women would benefit from and would become mainstream procedures in the future.

I decided to take some classes to learn the skills, never dreaming at that time where it would take me. After meeting some key mentors in the Permanent Cosmetics industry and attending more and more classes to expand my knowledge, it came to my attention that there was a new aspect to the permanent makeup being used in the medical industry. Now I was seriously hooked! I felt that I had finally come full circle and that all of my previous life skills were converging to bringing me to my true calling.

I had found a career that allowed me to be artistic and creative, work with my medical background, help people feel better about themselves and do something challenging and unique. We sold our salon, and I went full throttle into the Permanent Cosmetics and medical tattooing. I started with a mission and a clear plan and never looked back.

It took several years of networking within the medical community, and lots of marketing to spread the word about this transformative process. When I first started, many plastic and reconstructive surgeons were not even aware that areola restoration was possible via tattooing after a mastectomy and breast cancer reconstruction.  Now I have an extensive network of surgeons that routinely refer their patients to me for this service.

I have now worked as a Certified Permanent Cosmetic Professional for eighteen years. I have been actively involved in my industry as a teacher, lecturer, author and have served on the Board of Directors for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, (SPCP). I wrote the text for the training manual on Areola Tattooing used by the SPCP in their educational textbook. It has been a dream career for me.

Every single day is a new challenge and a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on someone’s life. For some women, it is merely the convenience factor of not having to apply daily makeup to enhance sparse eyebrows or wear eyeliner that smears and smudges. From career women to full-time busy moms, virtually all women benefit in some way from permanent makeup.

Additionally, you have people with metabolic and medical issues that cause hair loss such as alopecia. I can restore a look of natural eyebrows to both women and men with this condition. With medical tattooing, I have restored confidence and a more pleasing aesthetic appearance to people with scarring from traumatic accidents, dog attacks to the face, skin cancer removal and facial reconstruction and even cosmetic plastic surgery scars.

This type of transformation is magical to behold. Often I get patients who have been sent by surgeons who have done all that they can surgically to restore someone’s appearance, yet they still feel self-conscious due to the scarring, or missing eyebrows or asymmetrical contours to the face.  I have patients that have been horribly scarred by laser treatment burns gone wrong – the list is extensive.

By matching the person’s skin tone with specially formulated pigments, scars like this can be blended into the surrounding natural skin color and no longer become the focal point. Although as a woman I can one hundred percent appreciate the benefits of permanent makeup for eyebrows, eyeliner and lip color, which I wear myself, for me the real magic happens when I can help my clients with restoring their sense of confidence with the medical tattooing.

To see the look on a woman’s face when she goes from a blank breast mound that looks like a Barbie doll, to looking like herself with unbelievably natural and realistic looking areola/nipple complex – well that is for me the ultimate finale’ in physical and emotional healing after a long and challenging journey. It is a gift that I have been given to be able to use my talents and strengths to provide these services to my clients, and I am thankful for the extraordinary people that come into my life and teach me lessons in humility and gratitude every single day.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It is always a challenge to start a new business, and to do so in an emerging industry makes it even more so. Permanent Cosmetics and especially medical tattooing needed a lot of explanation and consumer education, and I needed a few good trusting people willing to let me gain experience by permanently changing their appearance. I had to create a portfolio of before and after examples of my work and prove a level of credibility to the medical community to gain not only their trust in my skills and abilities but to embrace the very concepts.

There was also very little in the way of educational options. I had to seek far and wide to find anyone experienced and credible enough to look to as a real mentor. In the beginning, it was a lot of trials, practicing on items like pig’s ears from the butcher, and sticking together with a small group of artists seeking to improve, educate and present professionalism not previously associated with the tattoo industry. It took a good four to five years to gain solid footing and begin a strong referral network within my growing clientele.

Conversely, the ideas and concepts were hugely appealing to the consumer. Once the word started getting out, and friends were telling friends, and medical professionals were in awe of the transformations on their patients, it became consistent growth of a magnitude I could have hardly imagined.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Newport Permanent Makeup – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I started with a basic business name, to state clearly what the business was all about. It is much more common in my industry that people were using fancy names like “Transformation Beauty” or something that didn’t explicitly describe the services offered.

Today it is more likely the artist’s name used to brand their businesses, but I felt the less confusion, the better when trying to attract customers. I also thought that it was a name that could be adopted by someone else in the future if I ever decided to sell or retire. So Newport Permanent Makeup was born, to let the world know I was in the tony location of Newport Beach, the destination of high-end and desirable things, and to describe just what I was offering. My branding evolved over the years, and now we are known as Permanent Cosmetic and Medical Tattooing Specialists.

I have managed to carve out an extremely niche and unique business. It is easy to copy someone’s product, but not easy to provide a specific and unique service that requires a perfect mix of skill, artistry, excellent communication, and people skills. I believe I can invoke trust and confidence in someone who may be coming from a very emotional or fearful place. I believe strongly in the work that I do, and I think my passion comes through in a way that sets people at ease.

I am most proud of the fact that although I do derive an income from my work, the primary outcome is the ability to help restore a person’s well-being, confidence, and appearance. Over 80% of my business comes from referrals, and I have clients that have been with me for almost two decades. I always felt a bit disappointed in myself for never graduating from a traditional university. My dad was a college professor, and I had a sense for many years that I was, on some level, a failure for not getting a degree.

It took years, but with the relationships that I have developed, the respect that given me by surgeons, dermatologists, medical estheticians, among other professions, and the caliber of clients that I serve, I feel that I have accomplished more in this role than any piece of paper could ever validate. Today, there are quite a lot, in the thousands internationally, of people who provide permanent makeup services. However, there are very few people that can provide the complete package that we offer at Newport Permanent Makeup.

The level of experience, the credentials, the education and the way that I interact with the client sets me apart from the average. I know this to be true based on results, client retention and referrals. What I do every day is often so challenging that I have had moments when I ask myself if it is still worth the pressure, the liability, and the emotional intensity often required of me to do my job. I am so proud of the path I have carved, the solid and professional reputation that I have built and the results equal the client’s expectations.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The volume of clients coming to me in the last two years for correction and removal of work done with regrettable and often disastrous results is astounding. The number of people who are getting into this industry solely for the money, who have not focused on proper education and do not possess the skills they should have, is at an all-time high. Social media has shined a light on permanent makeup in a way that never existed before.

It is attracting the consumer and creating demand; therefore every person who has any connection whatsoever to the beauty industry is trying to get on the train. There are very little in the way of educational requirements and licensure in most states. It is changing little by little but still needs more extreme regulation to prevent the things that are happening.

Permanent scarring, horrible placement, and shaping of the eyebrows, no understanding of color theory and the correlation of skin tone to pigment are all leading to clients seeking a means to fix the botched jobs. I am now creating an entire sub-business in removal and correction. The new future for Newport Permanent Makeup is our presence in the market as one of the few places that can help these unfortunate victims of cosmetic tattooing gone wrong.

Traditional laser tattoo removal is usually not an acceptable form of removal for permanent makeup. The pigments do not react the same as the inks used in traditional body art. The risk of permanent scarring is too high. I have worked closely with a company that provides a topical solution and technique for lightening and removing unwanted pigment from the skin.

We now specialize in the process, as well as provide training and certification to experienced artists that hope to offer corrective services to their clients. I believe the landscape of cosmetic tattooing is changing. My hope now is to continue to be an example, mentor and teacher to those who wish to have a legitimate and successful business in my beloved industry.

Pricing:

  • Permanent cosmetic procedures that include eyebrows, eyeliner and lip color range from $900 to $1250 per procedure. This includes a complimentary follow-up/touch up visit, and we offer reduced fees to existing clients for periodic maintenance of their procedures. Specific pricing and details can be found on our website.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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