These days, Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square offers just about every kind of business and service. That includes Moxie Allure (2497 N. Milwaukee Ave.), a microblading and permanent makeup clinic run by a Logan Square native who’s seen the neighborhood’s rapid change firsthand.
Moxie Allure offers clients confidence and an effortless daily beauty routine, said owner Kristin McCaffrey. A Logan Square native, Humboldt Park resident and mother of two children (who both attend Millie’s House day care center at 3030 N. Kedzie Ave.), McCaffrey has been offering microblading and permanent makeup since 2015. Now working out of her shop located between Your Happy Place Liquors (2501a N. Milwaukee Ave.) and Next Level Tattoo (2489 N. Milwaukee Ave.), McCaffrey said she remembers cutting through the old Megamall and crossing the boulevards on her walk to St. John Berchmans School (2511 W. Logan Blvd.), which she attended from seventh through eighth grade. Back then, she passed through this same stretch where she would later open her business.
Evolving with the Neighborhood
McCaffrey has seen the seismic changes that the neighborhood has gone through over the years, but she said she’s also excited to contribute to Logan Square’s evolution. She said she remembers one night about six or seven years ago noticing that there were a lot of people out at 2 or 3 a.m. on Milwaukee Avenue. The new restaurants and bars opening along the avenue made Milwaukee and the neighborhood feel more sociable and fun, she said. “While I’m sad to see some of the original neighborhood and Latin culture dwindle in Logan Square, I have friends who grew up here that are also embracing the change, rolling with the punches and want to create within this space. I wanted to stay in the neighborhood and be a part of the change that is happening.”
New Age Microblading
For those less familiar with what McCaffrey’s business provides, “microblading” is essentially permanent makeup. As McCaffrey put it, “Moxie Allure is basically a glorified tattoo shop” offering solutions for thinning or shapeless eyebrows; permanent eyeliner; hair follicle tattooing to minimize the look of balding, receding or thinning hair in men and women; permanent eyeliner; lip tattooing; and lip blushing. Microblading differs from older permanent makeup services, also known as permanent pigmentation. McCaffrey described the older method as “pumping you full of ink” so it stays forever. By contrast, new age microblading is much lighter and more superficial, McCaffrey said.
“Today, microblading is semipermanent and gradually refreshed over a few sessions, lasting up to three years with recommended annual top-ups.”
From a Shared Space to a Milwaukee Avenue Shop
In 2015, McCaffrey began training to be a permanent makeup artist and dabbled in various beauty ventures, including braiding hair and working as a certified nail technician. At the time, McCaffrey offered her services in a shared space on Western Avenue.
“I knew I wanted my own space no matter what, and I wanted to provide a legal environment for more permanent makeup artists to work and make money,” McCaffrey said. Finding a space came with its own challenges. Tattoo shops, which is how microblading shops are classified from a commercial perspective, means zoning can be tricky, she said. But she found the right location. “My husband, who is a commercial realtor, and I would always pass up and down on Milwaukee, and I always had my eye on that spot” McCaffrey said.
Opening the shop in 2018, McCaffrey balanced a corporate career with Moxie Allure until 2019, when the business really took off. “I brought about 200 of my own personal clients to the new space in 2018, and we were able to recruit a lot of newer clients who came to the Milwaukee location when we opened and offered a Groupon,” she said. The newer artists did very well and continue to thrive at Moxie Allure.
However, because of the pandemic, Moxie Allure had to close from March 20 to June 2, 2020. “That was scary, as we are a service-based business, so there was a lot of uncertainty personally,” McCaffrey said. The timing was especially bad, as March and April are usually Moxie’s biggest months, when people get their tax returns and want to invest in themselves and personal treatments. Luckily, between the government stimulus for COVID relief and previously booked appointments that were rescheduled when Moxie reopened, the shop stayed afloat. And it got slammed with bookings when the doors reopened, with clients in need of top-up services. Moxie has also attracted new clients who have a new appreciation for permanent makeup as they want an effortless but fresh look while working virtually from home, McCaffrey said.
Moxie Allure put some precautions in place to welcome those customers back after the reopening. The shop now has fewer stations in order to space out clients, and a rule prevents people from waiting on friends and family at appointments, to avoid overcrowding in the shop. In addition, Moxie Allure doesn’t currently offer lip tinting or blushing given the required mask policy. Each artist is self-taught and apprentice-trained and then receives certification as a tattoo artist, and they must pass blood-borne illnesses and cross-contamination prevention training as the business is inspected by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“Our cleaning standards are higher than salons and spas based on Illinois regulations because we are defined as a tattoo shop,” McCaffrey said.
Consultations and Training
Prices for consultations and services at Moxie vary based on the experience level of the artist requested. A consultation and initial service cost $800 with McCaffrey, $700 with a master artist, $600 with an advanced artist and $500 with a skilled artist. Top-up sessions cost $150, and annual sessions for the first one to three years are approximately $250 each.
In addition to permanent makeup for clients, McCaffrey offers certification for aspiring permanent makeup artists. Training lasts about three days and comes with a certification approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, as well as a certification in preventing blood-borne illnesses and cross-contamination. To book training at Moxie Allure, visit the website or call Moxie and ask for McCaffrey’s assistant, Yashira (“Yari”). Another Logan Square native, Yari grew up with McCaffrey in the neighborhood and lived three blocks away from Moxie’s current location.
Featured photo: A Moxie Allure permanent makeup artist gives a male client a hair follicle treatment. Photo: Moxie Allure
This article was updated to note that McCaffrey has two children and attended St. John Berchmans School from seventh through eighth grade and that her assistant’s name is Yashira.