LIFE | Goodbye, Clinique


2015 was a weird year of change and discovery for me. I left a job to study makeup artistry at Weltec in the first half of the year, and after gaining my qualification I became Assistant Counter Manager for Clinique at Farmers Lambton Quay. In December I handed in my resignation after working for Clinique for six months.

There’s a lot I could say about the past year, and I’m sure I will in time. Unfortunately, working in cosmetics retail doesn’t really work for me at a fundamental philosophical level. Working with skincare and makeup all day is great. Introducing people to new products and routines that can help them achieve the changes they want in their skin is great. Showing people how to apply makeup is great. Clinique is great!

Having a monetary target to reach each day is not great. Sometimes I’d have customers who clearly didn’t have a lot of money or were unprepared to commit to the expense of the full 3 step system that Clinique is based around, and I just don’t have it in me to try and push someone to spend money if they don’t want to. I’d spend fifteen minutes with a client applying their makeup, talking about their skin and then their day and then their life, and I’d want to tell them they didn’t need to spend $70 on some foundation; their priorities were clearly elsewhere. It’s painful to think about how many mothers brought their pre-teen daughters to counter, projecting their own insecurities on their children and wanting to get their nine year olds onto anti-acne skincare they just didn’t need.

Other things that are more mundane but equally unpleasant are all the aspects of working retail, which don’t need dwelling on. I know I’m spoiled for never having worked retail before, and I now have infinitely more compassion for everyone who does. I’ve always made a real effort to be kind and communicative with retail and hospo staff, but seeing how many people treated me like a robot or a servant, barking instructions at me or looking right past me, has made me want to be even nicer to everyone I meet. I also feel like I need mobilise all retail workers in the country into union action so they get treated better by their employers. That one’s probably not going to happen, but I have always been an advocate of unionisation so, sidenote, if you’re in a job where union membership is available to you, you should join.

Clinique is a great brand and I’ve learned a lot about skincare in the past six months. I’ve also learned a lot about myself, and I’m prepared to admit that it’s not where I belong. I don’t think I made a mistake doing what I did; if I hadn’t done it, I would always wonder what it would be like. Next week I’m starting a new job that I’m pretty excited about. Hopefully 2016 will be a lot happier for me than 2015 was, and I’m hoping that will mean I have more room in my life for blogging, too.

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  • Shinygirl

    My personal platform (should I ever run for Office) is that all NZers should have to complete a mandatory 6 month stint in either hospo or retail before leaving high school. Much like other countries have mandatory armed-forces enlistment – except I think hospo/retail experience is infinitely more terrifying and useful. You really do get to see the worst come out in people you would never expect it from – and also gain such empathy and respect for the lifers who do those jobs full time for such little recognition. I completely understand your ethical qualms about sales targets. For the brief time I worked retail, I felt as though my soul was being dismantled piece by piece by those damn targets.
    Can’t wait to hear where life takes you next. Any team would be lucky to have you as part of it. Thanks for everything you write on this blog. Although I don’t comment much, I tune in regularly and it’s definitely a highlight anytime I check my inbox and see you’ve posted something new. Kia kaha! xx

    • Agreed on that policy! And thank you for your kind words too – I really appreciate it! xx

  • Cindy Marsha

    I am the same way and leaving after not even a month. Hugs!