How do you build a beauty salon that stands out from the crowd in a city like Liverpool, where there are hundreds of alternatives for customers to choose from?
We asked, Leanne Harry, one of our High Street Heroes and owner of The Powder Room, a salon close to Liverpool’s historic Sefton Park and Penny Lane, made famous by The Beatles.
When Leanne decided to take the plunge and start her own beauty business, she had an ace up her sleeve. As a professional make-up artist working for Mersey TV, she could offer an experience few could match.
“It was time to try doing my own thing,” she explained. “The idea was to give customers a little bit of what the celebs on TV get. A little bit of glamour I suppose.”
She’s been in business for ten years now and The Powder Room has gone from strength to strength. Today Leanne employs a team of freelance make-up artists and hairstylists who still work in TV, on programmes such as Hollyoaks. Between them, they offer a range of make-up, hair styling services and beauty treatments, and that ‘celebrity experience’ has positioned the salon as the go-to place for a wide range of people.
“We regularly get local TV personalities and the wives of Liverpool footballers in,” she said. “That’s a nice endorsement and helps with new customers of course, but it’s not the be all and end all. It’s just as important that everyday people coming to us leave happy and feeling good, whether they’ve come in for nails or for something bigger like wedding hair and make-up.”
Over the years, Leanne has found running her own independent high street business incredibly rewarding, and her pride in the business is clear.
“There are downsides of course, like no paid holidays, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world,” she confirmed. “It’s a 24-hour job because you never really switch off, but it’s my baby. It makes me feel good to own something that people genuinely like and value. We’re not the biggest salon in Liverpool, by far, but we have a really good reputation. That makes me genuinely proud.”
Not surprisingly, given the salon’s reputation, Leanne gets a lot of new business from word of mouth recommendation, but also makes extensive use of social media to promote the salon.
“It used to be mainly Facebook,” she said. “But these days Instagram is much more important and lends itself really well to sharing photos of our work, and of happy customers.”
Having never owned a business before setting out a decade ago, Leanne has learned a lot along the way: “It’s hard work, there’s no escaping that, and you don’t necessarily start making money straight away. It takes a bit of courage to stick out the early days, telling yourself that doing a great job and making people happy will pay off eventually. But it has to be that way round if you want to be successful.”
Leanne has also learnt the value of effective business insurance: “There are a lot of different risks associated with beauty treatments, health and safety and allergy risks for instance, so liability insurance is really important. Having the right cover and some help to manage risks gives me confidence to get on with making sure people leave the salon feeling like a million dollars.”
Finally, Leanne is delighted to be part of an independent store-led regeneration of local high streets: “Independent businesses just add a quality to your life. The high street is somewhere to go to get out and about, socialise and all that. We really need it. It’s good for communities to get together and the high street can be a focal point. I’m really happy to be part of that.”
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