Can you tell me a bit about your business?
I ran a beauty salon for 24 years with a business partner. Covid made me think about and reevaluate what I wanted to do. About this time last year I decided enough was enough. I was burning myself out by working long hours, impacting my mental health. I definitely felt that if I'm working this hard, I need to actually be reaping the benefits for it.
And so, we decided to close the high street salon at the beginning of July and I opened my home salon, Nourish Beauty Studio. After three months, I already know from the difference in lack of stress and feeling more financially secure, it’s the best thing I ever did.
The big difference with my home salon is that I've tried to use small brands. I was using big commercial brands before, and I felt quite directed ‘you have to do this, you've got to sell that, you've got to do this’.
A lot of the brands that I use now are owned by women. I’ve also tried to use sustainable, ecological and vegan products where possible. I’m trying to be as eco-conscious as I can.
I also only work on a one-to-one basis now. You’ll never see more than one client within the salon at a time.
I thought I was going to have this really nice, steady, easygoing business and I'm actually working eight to late every day. I've not actually really taken a lot of new clients, what I found is that my existing clients just love the salon.
It's time for them, it is just literally their time. It's not a busy salon environment, so there's no sound from anywhere else. It's Just me and them. What I've found, which is a problem for me, but good for them, is they wanted to spend more time within the salon so they’re booking more treatments.
Do you think you always wanted to start your own business?
Right from when I first started training I knew I wanted my own business. When I was a manager at a spa, I met the person who ended up being my previous business partner. I would have been in my mid-twenties when I decided to open the high street salon with my business partner, and at that time it was perfect to have a partnership.
But then we quickly grew to a team of 11. I’m very much a beauty therapist. I’m not an accountant, I’m not HR, I’m not all the extra things that start having to be your job at that size, and it took away from the things I love doing.
I loved my job, but I hated what I had to do. Now I’ve removed those extra things, I've found a totally newfound love for what I do. And I'm passionate about what I do again. So I think yes, I’ve always wanted my own business, which I obviously have achieved now. But the fact that I am able to do what I love, at a one-to-one scale, is the thing I always wanted. Previously I didn’t have the time I wanted to dedicate to my clients. Compared to now where I can dedicate all my time to my clients, that’s what I was designed to do.
Were there any perceived barriers you had to overcome to start your business?
The biggest for me was the stigma connected to home salons. In the past they were often in a spare bedroom and a bit basic. I had worried about whether people would still come to me. Would they think it’s still professional, and consider the salon luxury?
I’ve now realised that over the last 10 years that stigma has changed. I'm also very lucky that we've got a three story townhouse and the downstairs was converted into a sort of garage in the 70s. So I've got two rooms, its own bathroom and a separate entrance. People love it and find it quite luxurious.
I also thought I was going to struggle to be busy. In fact now, I can barely keep up with what I’m selling and how busy I am. I think that has come down to how I approached it and my attitude of ‘I will do it, not I can’t do it and where there’s a will, there’s a way’.
When I first told my husband he initially said ‘no, no, no’ but now he’s saying ‘oh my god, why did I ever doubt you’.
Rachel, founder of Nourish Beauty Salon
You mentioned earlier the brands you try to use now. Did you want to expand on that, and is there else you do to be environmentally friendly?
The main brand I use is a company called ESSE, and that's a skincare brand from South Africa. They are totally natural and organic, based on probiotics and prebiotics. So they neutralise all the chemicals from the pollution that we have in the environment and the products that we use nowadays to give you healthier skin. The difference in people's skin within three months of using it is fantastic.
I've got a friend who is a beauty therapist who blends her oils, which I then use. Another company I use is called Navy Pro Tools. It started off three or four years ago by a single mother. She’s now grown her company in over 60 different countries.
So I always look at small, or what started as small, independent brands that are developed by women or founded by women, and are very ecological.
All the brands that I am passionate about, that I use with my clients are also available for purchase on my online store.
Being environmentally friendly is also a reason why I like the Mettle app. I don't have to leave the house to do my banking unless I get cash, which is not very often for me.
Mettle is paperless and I’m also trying to be as paperless as possible. The only things I have paper for now are gift vouchers and compliment slips, which both are on recycled paper.
Some clients do get surprised when there is no appointment card, but I just let them know to write it down in their diary or put it into the calendar on their phone.
Is there anything else about the Mettle app that helps you run your business?
I very much wanted an account that I could create pots with because I like being able to to move money to the side. When somebody buys a gift voucher for example, then that goes into a pot so that when the client comes in and they use that voucher I can then transfer it into my bank account. With my tax and national insurance, I just pop that in a pot.
It's just dead easy. So easy to use. I like that you can categorise everything. I like to keep everything organised so it works really well for me.