How do you take a prestigious beauty industry award and use it as a platform to build a thriving high street beauty salon?
We caught up with Joanne Mary Smith, owner of Beauty by Joanne Mary Smith to get the low down.
Joanne has been working as a beauty therapist since she was sixteen and, over the years, built up extensive knowledge for the industry from working in a variety of local salons, further afield on cruise ships, and then as the assistant manager at a large high-end spa. Though she was nervous about striking out on her own, it was always at the back of her mind as a possible future direction.
Her big chance to realise that dream came in 2010, when she was recognised as ‘Beauty Therapist of the Year’ at the prestigious Professional British Beauty and Spa Awards. This gave her the confidence boost she needed to finally branch out on her own.
“It was a case of now or never, even though I was still pretty nervous about setting up on my own,” she said. “It was actually my husband, family and friends who persuaded me to just go for it and I’m so pleased I did.”
Eight years later, Beauty by Joanne Mary Smith is a well-established salon, offering state of the art treatments, on the busy high street of Barrowford in Lancashire. As well as Joanne, there are two full time therapists, Jennifer and Amber, and the salon is a firm favourite in the local community thanks to a relaxed environment and a focus on personalised treatments.
“When I first opened Beauty, one of my main priorities was to offer specialised treatments on an individual basis. Our clients are of various ages, with different skin care needs and concerns. I also felt that offering our clients time to relax even if they were popping in for the smallest of treatment was an important part of the ‘Beauty’ experience.
“We have worked hard to build the reputation of the salon and our customers really value that personal service. We have a lot of loyal clients who have been coming to us for years.”
The salon’s location on a pretty high street with lots of quirky shops has also helped the business go from strength to strength.
“Location is key,” Joanne pointed out. “There’s a community of independent business owners here and we all work together and support each other. We shop in each other’s shops, we promote the local businesses on social media and whenever possible work together for the greater good.”
Joanne’s pride in her business and the personalised treatments it provides is evident when she talks about seeking out new products, and the professionalism of her staff.
“I am keen to source new products, treatments and procedures,” she explained. “But I never just jump on new fads. We always do a lot of research first, to make sure a new treatment is right for our clients.
“I am so proud of the business and my team. The girls are intelligent therapists who are passionate about their careers.. They have gained extensive training and experience with many professional skincare houses and are ever evolving their skills and researching the latest trends.
I am delighted that I made the leap to open my own salon and it’s great to see all the hard work paying off as we go from strength-to-strength.”
Of course, in the beauty industry, there are always risks to contend with, and Joanne takes great comfort from the insurance she has in place.
“There can be risks for our clients and therapists with the treatments we perform and the environment we work in,” she said. “First and foremost I need to ensure our clients coming into the salon are walking in to a safe place and. I need to make sure that my staff and I are confident in our work place. Any beauty treatment can be a risk if it’s done without proper consultation, so we are very careful with every client to patch test and make sure they don’t have an adverse reaction to the treatment.”
“Business insurance for me is having the right insurance in place. This gives me that peace of mind that allows me to focus on making sure every customer leaves the salon feeling and looking fabulous.”
When asked about her advice to anyone starting out on the high street, Joanne warns to expect hard work and continued commitment, but to enjoy how rewarding being part of a local community can be.
“Expect the unexpected,” she said. “Being your own boss is a little more difficult than I ever thought it would be, but you just have to get over any confidence issues and keep going. You really have to stay calm and focus on what makes the business special.”