building that was cracking to get the books and I went to a meeting wearing what I had on the morning I left my house,” remembers Peronneau, who didn’t turn a profit until her third year in business.
But, before long, other stylists were seeking representation through the Peronneau Agency, which earns a commission on its clients’ services. It now has 15 regular clients-a mixture of makeup artists, hair stylists and wardrobe stylists-who have created “the look” for entertainment heavyweights, among them Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle, R. Kelly, Monica, Deborah Cox, Jay-Z and Will Smith. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that takes place. They need somebody to keep it all in place, and that’s where we come in.”
While most of her artists also do television commercial work, those assignments aren’t as plentiful. “We get to work on a lot of black commercials, but we don’t really get to do mainstream,” says Peronneau. “We’re pigeonholed before they even know what we do.”
Despite the challenges, Peronneau is determined to push ahead. She mostly credits her success to the passion she feels for her work. “My father once said that if you find a job that you love, you will never work again. He was so right. I love what I do!”
B.E.’s Successpert Speaks: “After 10 years and a very successful business, Dion Peronneau is an expert in her field. It’s time for her to let the world know,” says George C. Fraser, best-selling author and founder of Frasernet.com, a Website and Cleveland Heights, Ohio-based company focusing on networking and personal growth and development. “Peronneau need not pigeonhole herself. If she cranks up her visibility using high-powered networking techniques, business will flow from all sources.” Fraser offers some pointers:
- Get your face in the place. Peronneau knows she has to be where the most influential people in her industry are. Use your client list to secure invitations and tickets to prestigious events.
- Get published (or at least quoted). Contact editors of trade publications that target your industry, and express your interest in lending your expertise to some pieces. With today’s focus on diversity, every editor is looking for experts of color.
- Brand yourself. By creating an immediately recognizable identity, you’ll expand your reach and influence within your field (see “Packaged for Promotion,” this issue).