by Terry Rogers
Beauty has always been a passion for Ericka Passwaters and she spent 11 years in the retail side of the industry. Raised in Milford and a graduate of Milford High School, Passwaters became certified in permanent makeup while working full time with Bare Minerals and Alta.
“Just after I got certified to do permanent makeup, I got a huge promotion at work,” Passwaters said. “So, I just kind of put this on the back burner for a little bit and focused on the retail aspects of my job while doing this on the side, learning more and taking courses in order to perfect my trade. And then, in April 2021, we unfortunately had to close our doors permanently because of COVID. I was scared to branch out on my own and start a whole new business, but it was either that or look for another full-time job that could ultimately close again, so I went ahead and took the leap.”
That leap became Ericka Passwaters PMU, located above the Mispillion Art Gallery at 6 Park Avenue in Milford. Passwaters explained that she decided to become certified in permanent makeup because the industry seemed to be growing and seemed to lend itself toward more natural beauty. She realized there were not many artists doing this kind of work in Delaware and especially in Milford, so she felt it would be well-received.
“I do permanent brows, permanent eyeliner and permanent lips,” Passwaters said. “The eyeliner is technically called a lash enhancement and the lips are called lip blushing. Brows, there are multiple techniques such as microblading, microshading, ombre powder and combinations. So, there’s a bunch that goes with it. One thing I am very excited about is I’m taking a course soon on 3D areola reconstruction for those who have undergone a mastectomy or just, you know, have issues with their areoles lightening. It’s amazing. I don’t think there is anyone in Delaware that offers it at all.”
Passwaters explained that the best part of her business is giving women confidence, seeing them smile and giving them confidence. This is one of the reasons she is excited about the areola course she is taking soon, even though it will be some time before she is able to offer the service. She stated that for some it may seem to just be an eyebrow, but for some her service can be life changing.
“My biggest challenge is saying no,”Passwaters said. “I’m always ready for either a challenge or just to try to accommodate people. I’m in the process of just simply trying to give myself a day off. I’m very fortunate now that I am booked out a couple months already and that people want to get in sooner than that. So, it’s again fitting my days off. Right now, I handle everything, scheduling, social media which is the hardest to find the time to take pictures and post them.”
COVID, which cost Passwaters her full-time job, still has an impact on her business. She gets occasional cancellations if someone is exposed or tests positive which can cause some juggling if she’s fully booked. This has required her to be understanding when someone cancels at the last minute. Normally, she has a cancellation fee if someone cancels within 24 hours, but she is currently waiving that as she understands an exposure or positive test is not the fault of her client.
“Aside from that I am fully trained in Barbicide COVID protocols,” Passwaters said. “I take that very seriously. I have to deep clean the station and the entire studio between each client so that takes time, but I just try to make everybody feel as comfortable as possible. It is a situation where we’re in close contact and I do need to see their full face. But as long as they are comfortable with me wearing a mask and taking the right protocols, then it’s good to go.”
One piece of advice Passwaters would give anyone else who is thinking about opening a business is to ask for help. She suggested that others in the industry may be willing to act as a mentor, pointing out that she met someone through a microblading group on Facebook who is in the Poconos who was a great source of information for her.
“When I first started, I was on the phone with her all day, every day just asking random questions,” Passwaters said. “She was just a huge lifesaver for me.”
Passwaters is excited to be downtown in the same town where she grew up. She said there is a side entrance to her studio, but her sessions are by appointment only as the door is always locked. Her hours are currently Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM until 6 PM. Appointments can be booked through her website, https://erickapasswaters.glossgenius.com.
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