Friday, July 21, 2006

Hair-raising

Right. Wedding. So. Everything has been going fine, until yesterday, when drama at last arrived. The short version, as best I can tell, is that my hair and makeup artist decamped to Boston sometime around mid to late June, without notifying me or indeed many other brides who had booked her. And paid her. It seems likely that if I had not attempted to check in and confirm our arrangements yesterday, I might have discovered this only when she did not show up the day of. Luckily I've got a couple more weeks, and have already lined up another makeup artist who is a friend of a friend. Still working on the hairstylist, but at least we've got two weeks to find one instead of two hours.

Long version:

Yesterday I decided to call her just to confirm everything was set, and discuss exactly what time we wanted her to show up. I tried to pull up her website for her phone number, and discovered the site no longer exists.

Disconcerting.

I googled the website's name, Artistry By Tess (also known as the Artistry Group), and discovered an entry called "Special Report: The Artistry Group" at a blog called Wedding Bee.

Goodbye disconcerting, hello lead weights in my stomach. I'm one of the people who paid in full to get the discount, back in April, on the basis of several years' (I think) worth of glowing reviews on the weddingchannel.com and theknot.com forums with nary a dissenting voice. At least I paid only for me, and my maid of honor's hair, and not more. It sounds like others may have lost significantly more.

The bottom line appears to be that Tess Standley (aka maiden name Teresa Johnson, according to her pricing page) says she has cancer, and also a pending divorce from her husband, and has decided to stay in Boston with her family while she undergoes treatment and tries to rebuild her career there. A blog where she made several posts about these things during early July had already been taken down by yesterday, but helpful Google has cached a copy here.

Using emails previously exchanged, I looked up her (Pasadena studio) phone number and tried calling it, and it is indeed disconnected. I sent a brief email inquiry, half expecting it to completely bounce, and got an autoreply, which seems to be missing a few lines in the first paragraph:



For updates pleasde visit:
http://dayinthelifeoftess.blogspot.com/

As you may or not be aware, I have been fighting cancer since March. On
a recent trip to Boston to see my family have been my closest
assistance for the past 5 years and can always mimic what I have done.

I understand that this may cause you stress and anxiety and having been
a bride, I can completely understand.

I have provided a list of contacts below as replacements for your
services. Design Visage and Stacy Oliver are happily taking brides.

I am so sad that I will not be able to personally fulfill my obligation
to you on your wedding day.


Love and Thanks
Tess


followed by a list of contact information for several Southern California hair and makeup stylists.

I did discover a mirror of her website which is still up at this writing, which announces "Booking both Los Angeles and New England appointments for 2007," although the phone number listed is still the disconnected Pasadena one: http://theartistrygroup.com/

I'm a patient sort (sometimes too patient) who usually gives a person the benefit of the doubt, until I have reason to do otherwise. It is possible that she is telling the truth. Fighting cancer is as good a reason as any to have a bit of a nervous breakdown, BUT: not notifying her clients of this situation is a big ol' honkin' red flag. She had enough energy to set up and publish a blog, if only for a week or so. Said blog, and the email auto-reply, would only reach those who attempt to find her. Those who do not suspect that anything is wrong, which was me until yesterday, would have none of that information. In my opinion, the honest professional's very first response to a situation beyond their control would be the mass-email notification of all clients. The autoreply demonstrates that she does or did have access to her email, which presumably contains her clients' addresses, yet she did not do this.

That said, I sent her another email today taking her at her word and inquiring about refund procedure, and I will give her a chance to answer before I decide whether to take further action. Anyway, I've got a few errands this weekend, what with getting married in a couple weeks and having to find a new hairstylist and all.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that this happened to you. It's estimated that she's left 60 - 70 brides high & dry for the summer season alone. Not even sure how much $$ that amounts to.

inkgirl said...

Not a small amount, I'm suspecting. When her schedule was still up on her website, you could see she was booked up pretty solid for a good ways. That's why it's so weird to me that she would handle the situation so badly, when she had such a good thing going; seems to me it'll be pretty hard to recover from, professionally.

Anonymous said...

I am in the same boat. Paid in full because of her reputation and because of the discount. It's terrible, but for someone who made a living off of brides, it's sad that she's totally turning more than one off to the whole wedding vendor industry.

Good luck, I hope your wedding goes well.

midwestgal2006 said...

I have also been "taken by Tess" the makeup artist who skipped town with my money. I paid her in full to do my hair and makeup for my wedding. I appreciate you sharing the information about her on your blog. All I can say is "what goes around, comes around" and Karma is a b_tch.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear that this happened to you and all the brides she had booked. Tess did my hair and makeup for my wedding last year. She does indeed have cancer and I don't think she is lying to scam any of you brides. ALthough I am disappointed that she didn't notify all of you in the first place, esp. since wedding planning is stressful as is. If she does have integrity (which I hope she does b/c she was really great to work with), I hope she will refund all your money. But please, don't think that's she's lying. I found out thru my photographer about her cancer.

Anonymous said...

tess isn't living in boston, she's living in maine with some guy she met online. she's running all over new england with this man going to zoos and having a grand old vacation, probably spending money she didn't earn. go here http://www.flickr.com/photos/leecullivan/220660385/ to see her drinking in a bar with the guy. too drunk to drive even.

cancer? seems to be the least of her worries.

Anonymous said...

I too am a former "Artistry Group" bride, and I too am a bit confused by all the stories I have heard. My girlfreinds and I were all very happy with Tess's work and professionalism. I too know for a fact that she has cancer. I'm not sure about where she is on the East Coast or anything, but what do you people expect? That she is laid up in a hospital bed undergoing treatment?? Never stepping foot into the light of day? Honestly! She's probably getting on with her life, trying to put pieces back together. I heard she left and took her son back to the East Coast. Since her reputation has been trashed by so many (including people that she took money from AND people who never even met the girl - that one really confuses me), I can only assume she is working in some other field, or in any event starting anew. I'm not certain of her story, so I won't try to speak for her, but when I did hire her, her reputation was stellar. Her services were perfect. I just can't believe that she would do something so drastic as to flush her career and name down the toilet, unless she had no other options. That's just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

have you done a google serch on her name? she is in business again. Tess Standley Hair and Makeup.

I am sorry for what you went through; i hope it worked out alright in the end.

inkgirl said...

It did, thank you. I found friends of friends for (separately) hair and makeup and they were both great.

If she's started up business again, I should probably try again to contact her and see about working out a payment plan. Thanks for the info, I will investigate.

stella said...

Paying Back:
Tess is starting to pay people back, I have received 2 payments from here and one other bride I know has also started a payment plan that she is sticking to. It's taken a long time and the payments are small but at least its something.
You can email her at treasagael@aol.com and see what she can do.
She wants to make things right... and I don't think she'll ever have a makeup career again in the wedding industry but at least she's trying.

Stella

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I suppose leaving your husband and your two step-sons is okay when you have "cancer." I suppose that taking ALL of the money out of her husbands bank account PLUS all her brides money is okey-dokey when you have "cancer." The story she tells is mostly bogus. (She has cancer) I know people who knew her more personally and their story to tell is very saddening.

Anonymous said...

I'm also sorry to hear what happened. Tess did my hair and makeup in May of 2006 and it was then that she told me she was dx w/ Cancer. She told me the details of it and how she underwent surgery and tx and her prognosis looked good. It's unfortunate that the CA might have come back. It's sad though that as important as it is to plan a hair appointment for your wedding day, it's less important to all of you that she is dealing w/ a disease that can kill her. I felt like I was reading "US" or "People" online! I work in a hospital setting, and see people get dx w/ CA everyday. It's never easy, and it's worst when it comes back, assuming it did for Tess. People handle crisis differently and if she had to bail, then she had to bail and start over. All the best to her and rebuilding her business. She's a talented hair dresser & makeup artist. Shame on those who never gave her a chance to redeem herself. She's already paying people back! Really, put things in perspective now. Yes, this is your wedding day, but it's only one day and you've got the rest of YOUR LIFE to live and a MARRIAGE to nurture!

Anonymous said...

It's very disappointing to hear that Tess would leave her brides high and dry. She is a VERY talented make-up artist and hair stylist. However, she has a history of bailing out on payments on refunds AND not paying her independent contractors for their make-up and hair services.
I worked with Tess for a few years. I was usually paid in cash for my services minus her 20% fee. The last three checks given to me bounced. She told me a family member was dying and she could not pay me right away. Weeks later, I ran into a close friend of hers. I asked her if Tess was doing okay (with the family issue) and her friend had no idea what I was talking about. It's been three years and I still have not been paid.
If she does have cancer, that's very sad and unfortunate. But it shouldn't be an excuse to not pay everyone back.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is still interested, I think Tess can be contacted here:
www.seaglassphoto.com

Anonymous said...

How bitchy of all of you to be whining about your wedding day when someone may be DYING!

Could you, I don't know, possibly hire someone else to DO YOUR FACE and send up a prayer that this hurting individual survives?

There's a thought.

Let's get things in perspective, shall we ladies. I don't even know this woman and I feel really bad that she's battling so much at one time.

This is why women get the rep of being catty and self centered. In many cases, we deserve the moniker.

thin hair said...
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