Bhargavi also know as “Barbie” discovered her love for fashion and makeup while attending Columbia University in New York, NY. Since attaining her degree in 2000, she pursued her interest in beauty by furthering her training at the Artistry Beauty Institute (ABI). Over the last 10+ years, Barbie has mastered the skills that place her at the top of her game in the profession of makeup and skincare & Hair Artistry. She works with Artistry cosmetics, ranked one of the top five brands in the world.
Barbie is the Founder of Cinderella Bridez, which has been on Wedding Wire’s Brides Choice awards for the past 5 years. She is a celebrity makeup artist, and has worked in several prestigious fashion shows, editorial makeup, and bridal portrait photography. She has a large client base consisting of South Asian brides, and is responsible for catering to the top 3% wedding market share. We’re so excited to have her on the show today!
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Alice: We’re recording. Cool. So welcome Barbie. I’m so excited to have you on the podcast. We have Barbie with Cinderella Bridez here with us today. Welcome.
Barbie Patell: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Alice: Yes. So I just want to ask you some more fun questions to get started. What are your favorite go-to beauty products?
Barbie: Oh my god, I think, I have a ton of favorite go-to products but one thing I can’t live without is my eye cream. One of my favorite eye creams is the artistry, supreme LX eye cream. It tightens the skin it makes my fine lines look a lot smoother. And whenever I put makeup over it, it like vanish. It just works so well. So that’s one of my go-to and as far as like makeup, I think that I would have to say a concealer. I love the tart-shaped tape. The medium color, my color is medium, but I love the tart-shaped tape. And I also love my mascara. And there are a few mascaras I love but one of my favorites is the artistry. Three in One mascara. It makes my lashes look so long. And it those products if I have just that I can like walk out the door with no problem.
Alice: That’s awesome. Okay, I like to take some notes and definitely get that eye cream going on. That’s amazing. Where do you get your beauty news?
Barbie: Social media. I do subscribe to lots of different newsletters. I like one that I subscribe to skincare.com I think L’Oreal publishes it. I do a lot of reading. I’m alsort of CEW cosmetics. It’s an organization called Cosmetic Executive Women. And it’s for different industry leaders within the beauty industry. So they periodically, especially during COVID, last year, had tons of webinars to teach you how to have better branding, better marketing to be more successful in your space. And then they have lots of different speakers that are very successful within the cosmetic corporate world, that they come in and speak and they share different experiences. So, it’s a little bit of everything. It’s not only social media, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, learning from other people that are in the industry, but it’s also learning from business people in the industry because I think that to be successful in the beauty industry. When you have a business or you’re running your own stuff like a brand as a business. You have to know all aspects of business and craft.
Alice: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You have your own business as a female entrepreneur. Can you talk a little bit bit about Cinderella Bridez? What is it? And how did you start it?
Barbie: Yeah, absolutely. So, Cinderella Bridez is a luxury beauty concierge, we cater to the South Asian Indian community, throughout the United States and globally. And what we do is we make we help brides look their best version of themselves for their dream wedding. And so we’ve been in business about 14-15 years now.
And the idea really came about, I got married about 18 years ago, so been married a long time. And back then I was one of the first in the South Asian community to have an Indian wedding, I was struggling with finding makeup artists that would be able to work with my skin tone. And I knew that I was able to like do my own makeup and make it look nice. So what happened was after going to multiple trials, having different artists work on me and make me look like a pasty white or like a ghost white. I was just very frustrated, and I decided to do my own makeup. And with the help of my girlfriend and my sister, and so, between the three of us, they applied my makeup I approved I changed my lipstick throughout the day, I kept one look throughout the day, and I hired a separate hairdresser to do my hairstyling who ended up showing up late so one of the things I found was that in the beauty industry, there wasn’t a lot of professionalism.
And I always loved to make up I was the kid in the schoolyard in junior high school trying on red lipstick. And so because of that, when I was in grad school, I had started selling skincare and I was always into like products and different things that are good for your skin because I didn’t wear a lot of makeup. And so slowly that company had skincare training and makeup training, which I definitely talk and then I started just like doing makeup on friends and family and in the South Asian Indian community. Once you know how to do something that word spreads quickly, and I saw that there was a gap in the industry for anybody that could be of like a more of a brown skin tone that can do clients or brides like me. And so that’s how Cinderella Bridez is born.
The name I got because every girl growing up, she wants to feel like Cinderella she wants to feel like a princess. No matter if it’s a South Asian bride or an American. Like a white dressed bride, I like to call them white dressed brides. So it was just a side hustle. I had my corporate nine to five job worked. And then on the side, It was just something fun to do it was a way to make a little bit extra money, but it’s because I really enjoyed it.
And that’s why I did it for such a long time while I kept my full-time job because I never wanted to feel like I had to do makeup or had to do beauty in order to earn a living. It was just for me more like it was something that was a real passion. I love making somebody feel confident and beautiful on the biggest day of their life. And so when they walk out the door, they feel like the best version of themselves.
Alice: Oh, that’s wonderful. That sounds like a great version of yourself. And amazing that you can find that niche in this industry. Because I know you went from Amex and LexisNexis. And then now you’re full-time, Cinderella Bridez. How did that happen? Can you talk a little bit about moving forward with your company?
Barbie: Yeah, absolutely. So, I worked corporate for about 13 years, I was with American Express while I was in grad school. And then for a little bit, after I finished grad school, it was my I have my Master’s in organizational development. So huge HR training. And so the jobs I was geared towards I was in the HR department at American Express, I moved into like the sales and training department at LexisNexis, where I stayed for a really long time, it was great, it was a great, great company to work for. It had a great work-life balance, I mean, LexisNexis has been doing at home virtual workforce for years, with a pandemic, everybody kind of geared towards that, but they were already ready for this, that this is something we’ve been, and for me, being a young mom, I was just a newly married young mom, I had small kids, it was the perfect opportunity to grow my professional career, my professional presence, but also, juggling the side hustle, which was the makeup of Cinderella Bridez.
I really feel like, again, like I said before, I didn’t want to give up one or the other because I didn’t want the passion of beauty to be something that had to do to earn money. But as I started to scale my business, I identified that there was an opportunity for me to duplicate my efforts. And so, I pioneer things like three-day workshops to train people on how to be makeup artists. So I did a bunch of those at a university here in New Jersey.
I knew there was more potential, I found myself through the year is getting busier and busier. And one of the reasons why is because I have a very, I feel like I have a very strong presence in social media and in marketing, I really grew my business through word of mouth referrals. And so I noticed that we get a lot of inquiries on the same dates that I needed to hire other people now could because there’s only one me and so I really needed to scale and be able to duplicate my efforts. So that’s kind of how it evolved into solo, Barbie makeup artists into a few people working and then now we’re scaled up to 27, staff members, we have about five back office team members doing the social media and the blogs and the YouTube and all of that. So, there’s a lot of like moving parts today to this business where it’s not just like somebody who’s a makeup artist and they do brides it’s more of a business where we can provide a service to multiple clients on one given date.
Alice: Wow, that’s amazing.
Barbie: Yeah, it was scary. Yeah, scary to leave my job. Because I had a really great corporate job, it was over six-figure income, corporate expense account, corporate credit card, debt, they paid for my cell phone, my internet, I traveled the world, I’ve been all over the world. So it’s a great company. And that was sad to leave. But I knew that if I wanted to scale further and grow, and actually, in essence, buy back my time, right, because the only reason someone becomes an entrepreneur is so they can work really hard and give up all their time to eventually go back to having more time. And so that’s really kind of what the evolution of that process was where I left the nine to five started. But I did it in a way where I didn’t give up anything. I worked really hard. And a lot of times I know that I talked to young people in the generation, they’re like, Well, why do you have to work seven days a week and like, I wasn’t afraid to do that, because I knew that I work hard in my 20s. And like, the early 30s, I’m going to be able to enjoy a lot more later on.
Alice: Well, that’s wonderful. And you traveled all over the world with your corporate account, but now you’re doing the same with Cinderella Bridez. Can you talk a little bit about that, like at weddings that you’ve been to all over the world?
Barbie: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, so initially, when my kids were younger, I wasn’t open to traveling as much I probably could have even done it back then. But I had the job but now I have like teenagers. And so there’s a lot more freedom that goes along with being able to travel and either take them with you or just leave them at home and have that peace of mind. Because although I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a wife and a mom first. And everything has to get woven into all of the different elements of the life of the many different hats that we wear as women.
And so fun weddings, I mean, recently, we’ve been doing a lot of Cancun weddings. I’ve done a wedding in India, for my college roommate. So we’ve done weddings all over the world at this point. But recently, just this past year, I had two different destination weddings in Cancun. We have a couple of more coming up this year later on in all different parts of Mexico because it’s a very central location to go to for a lot of the South Asian Indian community. It makes for a really nice destination wedding where the flight time is not too long. And so it’s been really nice. At the last wedding we did, we took the whole family because the kids were on spring break. And I really was able to do it, I was calling it I called it a work-cation because I was working and it was vacation too. And it was just really nice to be able to blend all aspects of my life from my family to my business to everything else and just really make it like a very fun but productive time off.
Alice: Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah, it just looks like you’re traveling all the time. Everyone, check out her Instagram, @cinderellabridez, brides with a Z.
Barbie: Yeah, we’re actually headed to Alaska in a couple of weeks. A client of mine is doing a shoot. And they’re flying me to Alaska. So we’re gonna go I’m taking the kids, the family because why not?
Alice: That’s awesome. Can you talk a little bit about the wedding industry this past year? Like, what is the pandemic look like?
Barbie: Absolutely. It was a very stressful year for us, brides and grooms, and their family members. And then wedding vendors alike.
There was a big question mark when we’d get back to having our weddings. What is it going to look like? How big are we going to be able to have our numbers and we shifted like I said earlier, we shifted over 90 weddings into 20, from 2020 into 2021, which was this and then during 2020, we were booking a lot of 2021 also because usually being in this business for so long, that’s really the evolution it, you book a lot the year or two before.
So now we as a company are booking out to 2023 because the weddings and the dates are so like limited, we live in a very population-dense area. Primarily my business is in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the surrounding areas, Connecticut, all the tri-state area. And then we do go out of town for weddings, we have weddings in Florida, we have in Greece, from California, and Detroit and Texas, and all the all different places this year, last year into this year. And so I think that one of the biggest things that we as a wedding vendor in like from a vendor perspective really had to evaluate with a lot of people needed to re recheck their contracts to make sure that they had these clauses.
Luckily, I was prepared, because I did have, like the unforeseen circumstances, unforeseen circumstances, or acts of God clause within my contract, which protected me as the business because retainer, as people were asking for a retainer is back, they were asking, what, how is this gonna affect me next year, there was just a lot of that type of change, where we gonna oppose or impose fees, or moving fees for changing the date, because we lost half of our income more than that last year. Because if we move 90 weddings, we probably would have booked more weddings, if weddings were on last year. And so, all of that needed to be taken into account.
And I think we saw the best, and the worst of people within the industry, what vendors are, like, really pulled together and join forces and really collaborated and even if you’re a photographer and a photographer, you still helped each other, even if you were a makeup artist, and a makeup artist, you still helped each other. And like you talk to each other and, versus being in competition with each other. So that was really nice. I think that was a really good thing that came out of it. For I think people also really had time to slow down and think really about what they what’s important to them in their lives, me included and how I want, like maybe the next year or two really this year, I can’t control how busy we are.
But the following year is like what I’m willing to do and not do. Just because from a business perspective. The time is so invaluable. You know, time can never get back. It’s precious, money, you can always make. And so I think that was the biggest lesson that I really learned more of why I always knew it. But even more so last year, when I had the time to really slow down and think, and build different areas of my business, like, I basically am almost completed with a course that I’m writing on how to be successful in the beauty industry. And it talks about marketing and branding, and having a camera presence and why you should have a professional website and how you build it, and how to do a contract, and what you need to know about. And then we have a piece on communication skills and how you can have that sales aspect, so you can book more clients and convert your followers into paying customers.
Barbie: So yeah, that’s going to be launching in the next few months where I have to now record the course like a video recording, but all the written element is done for it.
Alice: Oh, that’s awesome.
Barbie: Thank you. Thank you.
Alice: Yeah. Wow. So you’re just like going off in different directions, which is amazing.
Barbie: Yeah, absolutely.
Alice: Where do you see the wedding industry headed? Is it back? Is it back to normal? Is it like, where do you see in the future?
Barbie: It’s back. It’s busier than ever. It’s anything that any wedding vendor loses, they’re gonna make up this year into next year and the year after that. Weddings are bigger, and people are spending more money because there is this some and a lot of like, different publicity outlets have been talking about this. Like how it’s like the roaring 20s again, because people have been so cooped up in the past year, year and a half where they’ve really essentially done nothing.
So travel is experiencing a boom, weddings are experiencing a boom, anything that’s like celebratory in nature is experiencing a boom, people are willing to spend more money. They want to make up that last time. And so I believe weddings are back unless something big happens. And I’m not anticipating weddings are busier than ever, and we don’t want anything else to happen.
Alice: No. Definitely not. And Barbie, something that we always ask on this podcast is, what is your definition of womanhood?
Barbie: I mean, I think that womanhood, means different things to different people. I mean, the element of being a woman, I think that women are very unique creatures. That’s why God gave us the ability to have children. Because we’re able to deal with more pain and more of everything. I think, as a woman, you are someone that is able to juggle multiple tasks and be very creative when it comes to accomplishing anything. And so I think that we’re, we are like women, women in general, are just a stronger being.
In it, I know, maybe men are physically strong, but we women, if we put our mind to something, we can accomplish anything. And so I think that being a strong woman. For me, womanhood is living life to the fullest. Knowing yourself the best knowing what makes you tick. And, what you need to work on being very self-aware, is what I think being a woman is all about what you can accomplish, what your limitations are, what you can where you can grow, what you can work on, and just being the best version of you, you know?
Alice: I think that’s wonderful. Being the best version of you. That’s something that we all work on.
Barbie: Yeah. In all aspects of life, right? The time that you make for yourself as a woman, because a lot of times we put ourselves last. And the older you get, you realize you need to give yourself that time, your time is the most important because then you can be good for everybody else, you know?
Alice: Yeah. And I love what you said before, too, like, I’m an entrepreneur, but first I’m a mother and a wife.
Barbie: Absolutely. And I think one of the things I can add is, in your 20s, you’re always worried about what everybody thinks, in your 30s, you’re still kind of worried about that. But the older you get, you don’t care what everybody else thinks because most people are not thinking about you, they’re thinking about them. And so I think if I could give a piece of advice to any young woman that’s listening to this podcast, it would be that just don’t be afraid to be you. People are going to accept you for who you are, and some people are not. And don’t be afraid to not be liked by everybody because not everybody is going to love what you have to say or love who you are. And don’t be worried about pleasing people. As long as you’re doing the right thing you need to worry about focusing on what is there going to be the best thing for you and maybe the people that are around you
Alice: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much, Barbie.
Barbie: Yeah, of course.
Alice: Is there anything else you’d like to add to our listeners? And how can they get in contact with you or Cinderella Bridez?
Barbie: Yeah, I mean, anything else, I think I shared a little bit of being an entrepreneur, I think, you know, if you have any type of small dreaming, you’re hard to do something. You may be listening to this podcast because you have an idea. It’s a seed, it’s planted, it’s in your mind for a reason.
That’s the best advice I can give. And I tell this to my kids all the time, is that don’t wait for everything to be perfect in order to start, you have to just get started. Wherever you are, if it’s big or small, whatever it is, just get started. Because you don’t know if the idea you have is going to work. And if it’s not, then don’t be afraid to fail. And start again, and fail and start again. Because that’s where success comes from. The more failure you have, the more you’re going to be closer to success. So that’s my biggest piece of advice. Just get started. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect.
I think that a lot of people get hung up in just being the details of making something perfect before they actually start. I’m waiting for my social media to be perfect and I have to do this and just start, just throwing up on it’s like a canopy just splatter on the wall and see what sticks and keep going.
And if you’re looking to find me on social media, my personal Instagram handle is Barbie Patell, with two L’s on Instagram. My website is barbiepatell.com, my company is Cinderella Bridez with a Z at the end instead of an S. On all social platforms, you can find Cinderella Bridez, our YouTube channels a lot of fun. So if you want to watch my travel vlogs and watch some of our behind the scenes when we’re working weddings and bridal trials and just you know creating fabulous looks for our clients. Definitely head over to Instagram make sure you like and subscribe to the channel because we’re growing our YouTube. So that’s my major focus this year is just to get out, or increase our subscribers and our view time and watch hours and just make a greater impact.
Alice: Thanks so much Barbie. It was good to talk to you.
Barbie: Thank you, Alice. I’m so excited to share with your listeners and thank you for having me.