King of beauty: Maggie King's beauty business a York City success

Maggie King never thought she'd open a business in York City.

The York Suburban graduate set her sights on the big city after college, working in fashion design in New York and a variety of odd jobs in Las Vegas — including creating floral arrangements for the rich and famous, which almost landed her a reality show.  

But one thing was always consistent: makeup.

Throughout her many jobs, King always brought her makeup with her, even doing nightlife makeup for go-go dancers in Vegas.

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When a few closely timed family deaths brought her back to the York area to help her mother, she took the opportunity to open what would become MKUP: The Beauty Studio at 46 S. Duke St., focusing on makeup, hair, brows and lashes for weddings, special events and photo shoots.

"I was that friend who you’d come over and play with hair and makeup," King, 33, said about growing up. A friend she met when she attended Moore College of Art & Design was a MAC makeup artist in Philadelphia, and that friend was the first person who showed King she could be making money from it. 

The staff of MKUP: The Beauty Studio takes a selfie during a photo shoot at the York City business Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. The staff are, from left, Talitha Collado, owner Maggie King, Samantha Fregm and Tiffany Chavez. A year ago King moved the beauty business to its current Royal Square location. Bill Kalina photo

King used to work at Renaissance Bridals on Market Street. She sold prom and homecoming dresses there when she was 15 or 16 and lived above the shop before college. It was there that she first worked with brides from first to final look, she said.

It was something she loved then, and now, after at least 600 weddings, she delights in bringing out a bride's natural beauty. 

"It's absolutely gratifying and rewarding to make someone feel extra beautiful," King said.

When brides comment on their final look, King gives them credit. "I'm working with what you have!" she says.

Maggie King, owner of MKUP: The Beauty Studio, in her studio in York City Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. A year ago she moved the beauty business to its current Royal Square location. Bill Kalina photo

Her business began as Maggie King Makeup Artistry in 2014 — a single-person operation starting from referrals from friends and family — and now she and her team of women do 100-150 weddings per season.

"I was getting five inquiries per wedding and turning them down," King said of early demand.

When her cousin, Josh Hankey, president and CEO of RSDC, told her about an open studio space, she jumped on the opportunity.

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Last October, the company name changed to MKUP: The Beauty Studio. A small loan and consulting from Shippensburg University's Small Business Development Center helped take the business to the next level, and the studio space opened in April. 

King is grateful that she took a chance on York because otherwise the business would not have "grown like wildfire," she said.

Some weekends, the team does five weddings, which King describes as "a chess game of placing my team onsite to work with brides and itineraries."

"Every day’s changing, which keeps it kind of interesting," King said. "(It's) not doing hair at the same vanity everyday."

King's team also does branding videos and marketing shoots for film and TV, works with models for local magazine style shoots and travels for many weddings.

The group hits destinations such as New York, Philadelphia and the Delaware beaches, and King takes them out to dinner and makes it a girls' weekend — like a "traveling destination glam squad," she said.

King hopes to open a second, smaller location one day in a city such as Philadelphia, where the business already has a market, but she knows the market in York is still strong.

She's grateful she made the move, noting, "I would have stayed on the West Coast and would have been a small fish in a big pond."

King likes to share her expertise with others through studio classes for aspiring artists, which could create more competition, but King said, "I don't feel it will dampen our shine."