Stylist vs. the Trumps: Is it ever ok to work for free?

Is it ok to ever work for free?
Stylist Tricia Kelly (Image supplied by Tricia Kelly)

A U.S stylist has been threatened with ‘messing with the president of the United States’ after she refused to do the hair and makeup of Marla Maples and Tiffany Trump.

Freelance stylist Tricia Kelly says she was contacted by Maples’s assistant to style her and her daughter’s tresses for Inauguration Day. After discussing rates, which included a $150 travel fee, she discovered Marla and Tiffany were sharing a $300 budget for both hair and makeup.

Kelly thoughtfully reduced her fee to a total of $200, but Maples’s assistant suggested an alternative – being paid in ‘exposure’. She explained that Kelly wouldn’t be paid but instead would be mentioned on Marla’s and Tiffany’s social media accounts.

“I was stunned,” Kelly told The Washington Post. “I told them…I work for a fee, not for free.” We went on to say that she works with many politicians in DC who “make far less than they do who pay full price.”

Is it ok to ever work for free?
Marla Maples and her daughter with Donald Trump, Tiffany Trump

“It seemed like they were trying to see how much they could get for free based on their names.”

Soon after Kelly’s interview with The Washington Post, the client who had put her in touch with Maples emailed her saying “You are messing with the President of the United States,” before claiming that Marla was concerned about her financial situation as she no longer receives child support from ex-husband Donald Trump.

All too often beauty industry experts have heard the phrases ‘This will be great for your portfolio’, or ‘If this works out it’ll lead to a lot of paid work from us.’ Even the savviest of us can get duped into complimentary work when a client lays on the guilt trip. However, some have argued that it’s not uncommon for makeup artists and stylists to provide services free-of-charge to celebrity clients and Kelly should have foreseen the offer.

Who do you think is in the right? Is it acceptable for an experienced stylist to work for free or is this a flawed notion?

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