Makeup expert makes it up as she goes

The Ground Floor

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Using her talent and training in theatrical makeup has been more difficult in Cedar Rapids than in, say, Burbank, Calif., where Nichol Reicher was educated six years ago at the Make-up Designory.

But the Iowa native – who moved to Cedar Rapids six years ago to be with her now-husband – has overcome cultural and marketplace hurdles and grown a business for herself by doing mostly bridal makeup.

“It has been a struggle for sure, there are not a lot of makeup positions,” said Reicher, who worked her way up at Estee Lauder from a counter manger to a freelance artist while booking wedding gigs on the side.

“I have not done a ton of advertising. It’s been all word of mouth. And it’s blown up, just this last year.”

Reicher is booked at 34 weddings across Iowa this year, and in March she took a step toward expanding and diversifying her business by opening 100% Pure Pro, a spa, beauty salon and home base for her growing bridal makeup clientele  in downtown Cedar Rapids.

“A year ago I would have called myself a ‘struggling make-up artist’ but now am finding true success with it,” she said.

This year’s wedding agenda is the busiest yet for Reicher, who last year beautified about a dozen brides statewide but now has the option of either traveling to them or bringing the wedding parties to her Cedar Rapids location.

And with 100% Pure Pro now open, the 26-year-old entrepreneur – married in September and with a baby due in November – hopes to use even more of the skills she acquired on the West Coast. Her shop offers a variety of spa services, from facials to waxing to prosthetic applications.

Reicher said she’s even seeking to stretch her services further into the theatrical arena, starting with her recent work on an independent film and a few commercials, including one for Jumer’s Casino in Rock Island.

“I’m definitely looking to do more films,” she said.

Still, Reicher said, the “weddings carry the business,” and local brides are opening up to some of the more creative and newer makeup trends – such as airbrushed makeup, which is applied as a spray rather than with sponges or brushes.

“Most of the brides want to be airbrushed,” Reicher said. “We also do corrective makeup, so you can look flawless for film and print.

"And we can do some fun stuff too, like prosthetic applications and tattoos, tattoo cover ups and body art.”

Reicher has relied mostly on word of mouth for new clients. And she has just one employee right now, but she’s hopeful Cedar Rapids will provide the right setting for her business to blossom.

“This is no ordinary business,” she admitted. “It took a lot of hard work to get where I am.”

Know a Corridor business open for less than a year that should be considered for "The Ground Floor"? Contact Vanessa Miller at

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