The amazing thing about the hair and beauty industry is that with hard work, passion and motivation, any budding stylist or technician can make their mark on the world.
This month’s Salon Design of the Month shows just that! Having started out in a modest shed, today The Secret Brow Club boasts a stunning salon, its own brow product range and a training programme.
We spoke to the founder, Chelise Howells, to find out more…
How did The Secret Brow Club begin?
The Secret Brow Club began following on from a very difficult part of my life when my husband had a life changing accident at work. He was in hospital recovering for quite some time afterwards whilst I was at home on maternity leave with our third child.
When my husband (who was the main breadwinner at the time) was released from hospital, he had a very long recovery process ahead of him. I realised then that I needed to find a new career where I could work around our three very young children.
After training with Nouveau Contour in Permanent Cosmetics and HD Brows, I built a log cabin in our back garden to work from home and this is where The Secret Brow Club was born.
After painstakingly building up my client base little by little over the next few years in my garden, I eventually got to the point where I was working back-to-back 12 hour days with a waiting list of up to 3 months at a time.
I had been approached on so many occasions asking if I offered training, so I then decided to take the plunge and invest in my teacher training course, with a view to expanding into a training academy in the future.
Knowing I would need to find new premises if I was to expand, I purely by accident stumbled across an old dilapidated building soon after finishing my teacher training. This was to become the new home for The Secret Brow Club Brow Bar & Training Academy!
How did you decide upon the aesthetic of the salon?
I never really settled into jobs after leaving school and never felt like I knew what I really wanted to do. But, one thing I strongly believed in though is that “no day should feel like a work day” and that’s probably where my struggle with the 9-5 came from.
Our jobs and careers are what we spend the majority of our time doing so we must be happy with them in order to make it worth our while. So, when the time came for me to expand, I really wanted to create that place where “no day felt like a work day”. A place where you can leave your troubles and worries at the door and the perfectly pink backdrop nestled with beautiful palm trees, roller skates and Miami vibes does exactly that.
How do you stand out from your competitors?
I never like to think of anyone as a competitor but rather as a motivation to improve on all of our services and ensure that we are always offering above and beyond to our client base and customers.
If I see a fellow brow babe offering something that inspires myself or my team then I would look at ways in which we could offer something different to make us stand apart and keep moving forwards.
I am a firm believer that there is enough room for all of us in this industry and that if we all worked together, then every single one of our voices can be heard. I love nothing more than watching my fellow technicians smash their goals – Collaboration over Competition Everyday.
How do you think social media has influenced our industry?
Social media is a game changer for me, and I would guess a lot of other businesses feel the same.
I would say 80% of my business revolves around Instagram. It is such an influential platform where you can meet people from all walks of life, in all industry’s and sectors. It gives you an opportunity to showcase your work to people that in any normal circumstances wouldn’t see it.
The majority of my client base evolved from Instagram. Social media doesn’t come without downsides, though. It can consume you and there are days when you feel like you aren’t good enough. You can find yourself comparing to others, comparing following, interactions and likes, but you really have to take a step back and use the tool for what it is: a platform for your work and enjoyment and nothing more.
How do you keep up to date with the latest industry trends?
I am a ‘research-a-holic’ – I never stop! When I am not working with clients, I am researching the latest trends or looking under every stone for the next best thing.
I believe as a business owner in a specific industry I owe it to my clients and staff to be on top of the latest trends. I need to ensure we give our clients a service that is second to none. Our industry is ever evolving and I still believe there is room for growth. Researching for me is so important and comes part and parcel of your job role.
What do you think makes a successful salon?
Teamwork makes a successful salon.
After working on my own for so many years to then expand into a salon, I cannot tell you the difference it makes to be surrounded by people in the same industry, with the same passion and mindset, as you.
Team work also doesn’t end with your staff; it begins with your clients.
One thing I strive for is making my clients feel like a million dollars. So if it’s that they would rather sit for 30 minutes of their 35 minute appointment talking about their troubles at home or their successes at work, then that is what we will do.
Loyalty, flexibility and diversity is something that I think is imperative to any salon. We always have and always will open our big pink doors to anyone who wants to come in and that will never ever change.
What advice can you give to others wanting to open a salon?
Go for it and don’t look back. You will never know until you try.
Anyone that knows me well knows that I very often take risks because I am a firm believer that you will never know until you try. If this is your passion then your work will speak for itself. Remember, no day should feel like a work day! Make it your own and GO FOR IT.
What are some of your favourite products and tools to use in the salon?
I am fortunate enough to have my own product range in the salon and my heart and soul has gone into all of them. My newest arrival The Secret Brow Club – Brow Henna, however, is my baby. The one I have built my business around.
I was one of the first few that started using henna brows in the UK industry several years ago before it was even a thing, and since then I have been researching and working tirelessly to bring to market everything that I thought was missing. Believe me when I say my heart, soul and sanity has gone Into this product, but I just know that it will have been worth it!
What can we expect from you in 2019 and beyond?
I never sit still for too long. If I am quiet, just know that I am behind the scenes making magic and putting all of my research into good use. I want to expand my focus this year on my Training Academy and Product Range. I will never stop pushing myself in this industry because this isn’t just my passion but this is my happy place. I love every single thing about my job, so all I can say is watch this space ….
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