Well it has been a while since I updated so this is long overdue! I thought it would be nice to write about the amazing weekend I have just had.
Last year I won some Virgin vouchers on the MSN ‘Big Snap’ competition. I didn’t think that I would get chance to use them so I passed them on to my sister. My sister decided to use them to book a makeover/photoshoot experience for me, her and her best mate.
It was booked with a company called NewID Experiences at their Cardiff salon. I had heard that you get quite a hard sell at the experiences so before our visit I decided to do a bit of research on-line so I knew what to expect. I managed to find loads of reviews – all of which were really quite negative. Reviewers had moaned about a long wait, poor customer service, rip off prices, poor photo quality….This didn’t bode well and after reading all that I had really low expectations about the company.
Our appointment was at 3:15pm, but we decided to leave early on Saturday morning so that we could do a bit of shopping first. For the photoshoot you can take up to 4 outfits. I had packed 4 but I actually ended up buying 2 new outfits beforehand.
After dumping our shopping in the car we headed to the salon early. We actually arrived about 20 minutes early for our appointment. The staff were fine with this. We handed in the vouchers and they took our coats and bags off us. We took a seat in the seating area and they offered us drinks (Bucks Fizz, tea, coffee, squash or water). This was a good chance to have a nosey around at what was going on. The salon was a lot smaller than I had thought but with hindsight I actually consider this a good thing. You are able to see and hear a lot of what is going on, which I found reassuringly honest.
Along one side there was hairdressing stations, at the far end there was make up stations and along the other wall there was the photo studios and viewing rooms. There was about 3 or 4 clients having their hair/make up done whilst we waited. Plus there was a couple people waiting.
A member of staff came over and asked us to fill in a consultation form – which was basically so we could give them a rough idea what hair/make up and photography we wanted. Nothing was set in stone though and you could also just leave it up to the staff to create your look if you wished!
My sister was called over to have her nails done and I went to have my hair styled. The stylist asked what sort of look I wanted for my hair – and I said curls. She actually had her hair styled nicely with curls so I told her I’d like the same look. Unfortunately the only available straighteners weren’t heating up so she transferred me over to the make up station. They have 3 looks for the make up ‘Classic’, ‘Glamorous’ and ‘Fashion’. I wanted Glamorous (smoky eyes – cat walk style). Overall I think she did a good job of the make up and it did look nice but it wasn’t what I’d call glamorous. It was very subtle and I did have to ask her to apply a bit more eye-shadow. They do check that you are happy with the look after every stage which is good.
Next it was back to attempt my hair! This time there was a working set of straighteners available. The stylist managed to curl my hair very quickly and she was really good at doing it. I was very impressed. The final look was really nice.
I had a bit of a wait before I was called to have my nails done. Throughout our wait we were regularly offered drinks.
At the nail station there is a wide choice of colours. The stylists gave my nails a quick file and applied the nail varnish I had chosen (silver).
It probably took about an hour for all 3 of us to finish having our hair, make up and nails done. My sisters friend did have to wait a bit longer to be called to get her make up applied as it appears there was a mix up between the stylists. They were very apologetic though.
All made up and looking glam we had to wait around in the seating area. This was a good chance to have a sneaky peak through the door into the photo studios. I could see that there was lots of different backgrounds they used. There were two photographers – one male and one female and two studios.
I’m not sure how long we had to wait to be called in by our photographer. It didn’t feel particularly long – perhaps 30 – 45 minutes? When you’re nosing at what’s going on, chatting and browsing their brochures the time soon flies!
Once in the photo studio the photographer explained to us how it was going to work. She asked how many outfit changes we had – my sister and I had 4 and my sisters friend had 3. The photographer said they usually try and keep to 3 changes. She also asked if we wanted photographing together or individually – and we wanted both! This was not a problem. She left us to get changed ready for the first shoot.
The photographer was brilliant. She gave really good direction and helped us feel at ease in front of the camera. I think having the photos taken was the most exciting part of the whole experience. We got to choose different backgrounds and we used some props that were in the room too (chairs and a ‘circle wall’).
After finishing in the photo studio it was back out to the seating area to wait to view the photos. It was getting quite late in the day now and the staff were busy tidying up and packing away. I think that this was the worse ‘wait’ we had during the experience. The staff were behaving as if they were off duty. Where as previously we had been asked if we wanted any drinks – no one asked us at all…despite the fact that the staff were back and forwards making themselves drinks. I was able to see into the viewing room and could see that the salesman was flicking through our photos on screen. Several of the staff members were in and out of the room during this time and it felt like they were nosing at our photos. I began to feel a bit embarrassed but I was also very excited about seeing the images for myself.
After what seemed like forever we were called in to view our photos. The salesman was lovely. Not at all how I had expected (from his appearance and also from the reviews I had read). There was no hard sell, no pressure and viewing the photos was a very relaxed experience. He was friendly, funny and approachable. In total we had 93 photos. He got us to go through them all and say if we didn’t like any – which he then got rid of. We were then left with just over 50. We went through them again until we whittled it down to 4 individual photos each, 1 of me and my sister and 2 of my sister and her friend (15 in total).
At this point prices had not been discussed at all. We were simply having fun viewing the photos and picking our favourites. You do get one free 5×7 photo with the makeover package. Having read their website I knew that a 5×7 photo was £50 and 1 photo on a cd was £100. I had in my head, that if the photos were really nice then I could probably stretch, at the most, to £150 – so I would get four 5×7 photos (including my free one). As it happens the salesman was able to offer us a deal we couldn’t resist. I’m not able to publish it here but we did manage to get the 15 photos on CD for a very good price. This was the icing on the cake for what had already been a fantastic day.
Even if I had just walked away with the one free photo that comes with the package, it would still have been a brilliant experience. I think if you can go in there open minded, not expecting the glamour & glitz you see on tv makeover shows and remember that the experience only cost £25 – £50 then you will enjoy yourself.
Here are the photos so you can see the end result!