This week I took a little trip to beautiful downtown Stillwater MN to visit Emily Hallaway, owner of Essential Esthetics. Her cozy skincare spa is nestled inside the Grand Garage where she shares a space with SheFancy Salon. With white-washed walls and shabby chic decor, the salon & spa is an instant calming oasis that makes you want to stay awhile. When I arrived, Emily was just getting the final touches done on her hair inside the salon. Part of me was a little jealous… not because I wanted to get my hair done (although that would have been amazing), but because of the atmosphere of kick-ass women working for each other, with each other. That’s something I’ve always wanted… like a female partnership & friendship to share the ups and downs of business with. That’s the main reason I started this blog in the first place because if you’re like me and haven’t found this type of camaraderie yet, I want this blog to sort of be there for you and your business … if that makes any sense.
Next, Emily took me upstairs to her skincare loft where she offers custom facials. There I was able to see her in action and now I seriously think I need to get a facial on the books! You’ll read more about this amazing business woman below, but I want to mention some of my favorite tips I took away from my chat with Emily that apply to not just skincare/spas/ salons, but to any business … 1) Specialize!! Don’t try to be everything to everybody. This is great advice for any type of business. Focus on what you are good at, what you have a passion for, and lose the do-it-all mentality. 2) Surround yourself with a network of female business owners that can inspire and keep you motivated. Build friendships & partnerships with entrepreneurs in similar fields so that you can refer each other to clients looking for something you don’t offer.
Here’s what Emily has to say about getting started in skincare and running her business…
How long have you been in business and how did you get started?
● I struggled with pretty severe acne starting around age 20. At that time I started seeing an Esthetician. I started on a regular skin care routine and started getting regular facials and chemical peels and saw a huge improvement. Right around that same time I was laid off from my job as a Corporate Travel Consultant. So, I used that as an opportunity to go back to school to get my Esthetics License.
What type of schooling did you do?
● I enrolled at St. Paul College in their Esthetics Program. That program was roughly 5 months full time.
What services/products do you offer and how did you decide what those would be and how did you price your services when starting out?
● When starting out in this industry the excitement overwhelms you to think that you should offer EVERYTHING. I wanted to stay busy and I didn’t want to lose potential clients because other Estheticians offered a service that I didn’t. My plan was to be the best waxer, and to offer lash extensions, and to have the best machine to offer all laser services. This caused stress and burnout and financial issues. I realized I dreaded when I had a wax service on my schedule. I also felt nervous performing unregulated services such as laser hair removal, BBL photofacials because I believed there was not enough regulation and that those services really were meant to be performed in a medical setting overseen by a medical doctor. So, I made the decision to really focus on soft esthetics. Which in my world include Custom Facials because that is what I loved to do. It gave me more time with my clients and it gave me the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals who offer services that I did not…..and THESE other professionals were amazing at waxing, and laser services, lash extensions and injections…and they loved to do it. Competition is not a word in my vocabulary. I believe that creates a mentality that there is not enough clients to go around. And that is definitely not true.
● I’ve always aimed to keep my overhead low so I can offer services at a fair and affordable price. I did not want women to view “getting a facial” as a luxury that they could not afford…or a luxury that they could only afford on a special occasion. In order to see true results it takes commitment and I’d rather have clients that trust me and come back on a regular basis than TONS of clients that I call “one hit wonders”. So, my 1 hour Custom Facials started out at $59. Which, if you shop around, is a pretty great price.
Have you raised or changed your prices at all since you’ve started out and why or why not?
● I just recently increased my prices. This was because last year I randomly went into a franchise skincare shop and paid $109 for a 1 hour facial. And this particular Esthetician had less than a year of experience. It made me realize that it is ok to increase my prices because I know my experience and knowledge and capabilities were worth it. And I felt that there was such a HUGE difference in my pricing vs everyone else and I did not want to be seen as the one who offers cheap facials to gain more clients. So, my 1 hour Custom Facials are now $79.
How do you get and keep clients?
● This is a simple question. I always ALWAYS remain authentic and true to my values. I absolutely LOVE on my clients and I believe that will attract like minded people. So, I stopped running ads and groupons (which I did once and DO NOT recommend). So now I would say my business runs on pouring into my current clients and referrals from people I know, love and trust.
How did you get into a collaboration with the Salon you are currently located in?
● I get all warm and fuzzy when I think of my current location and the amazing women I get to share space with. There were 3 of us that worked together at a larger salon on Main St in Stillwater and that salon closed. At that time Anne Smith told me she was looking at some spaces to rent and asked if I was interested in going with her. I was thrilled because her and I have very similar work ethics and energy. I knew it would be a perfect fit. Then we decided we had to have Heather come with us too……I still am thrilled every.single.day that it all worked out because we have created a super fun, super laid back NO DRAMA place where we can all focus on our clients, running our businesses and having fun.
Last year the incredible Make-Up By Mindie and Hair By Theresa joined us temporarily while they finalized plans for their own space. It’s a tight squeeze at times but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Do you recommend other skincare professionals partner with similar fields.. what are the pros and cons?
● I LOVE referring my clients to other women in this industry that I absolutely LOVE.
● Theresa Larsen, Avante Salon in Stillwater is my go to referral for anyone in need of waxing services. I NEVER liked to wax so I send all my clients to her. She is fast, affordable and super specialized in sugaring (brazilian!!)
● Custom facials can only penetrate so far into the layers of your skin so when I have clients who need specialized services such as laser resurfacing or injections I refer them to the beautiful gals at Physician Skin Services in Woodbury. They are the BEST!
● And of course, if you need a spray tan there is only ONE name I trust and that is DEE! Dees Spray Tan.
● Lash Extensions….this is NOT an easy service to perform and it takes a lot of specialized training…..so I refer everyone to Theresa Fink.
● Make-up for special occasions >>>> Make-up By Mindie…the best there is!
How did you decide on the decor or look of your space?
● I wish I could take credit but that is all Anne Smith – She Fancy.
How do you want your clients to feel when they enter your spa/salon?
● I want my clients to feel comfortable. I don’t want them to feel overwhelmed by a 10 page intake form, and a 30 minute presentation on products. I want them to walk in and feel right at home. And my secret is….I can get all the required questions answered from a new client just by having a 2 minute conversation before we start. I don’t like to take time away from them by being robotic and asking the boring questions.
What is your favorite part of your business?
● Everything! I love my clients, I love that I know my clients and I know about their families, their careers, their struggles, their health concerns. And I love that they trust me.
What is your least favorite part? Any thing you would change?
● I wouldn’t change a thing.
Have you ever doubted yourself or your business and how did you push through and keep going?
● Oh, absolutely. Leaving a “safe” 9-5 work environment to basically work solely on commission was scary. At first I would give myself time frames. For instance, if I don’t make this certain amount of money in a year I will quit and go back to working full time at a “real” job. That mentality did NOT serve me well at all. So, I stopped having a “Plan B”. Plan A was rocking my Esthetic biz and I was going to make it happen because I stopped having a Plan B.
Do you have any female entrepreneurs that have inspired you and your business?
● I honestly can’t choose. I feel like I’m fortunate enough to constantly be surrounded by women business owners and I am inspired by all of them.
Any words of wisdom to those starting out in the skincare field, looking to build a business of their own?
● Yes! Don’t think you have to know it all right away and don’t think that you have to work yourself crazy doing it all right away. Take time to find your niche. What do you LOVE to do? What makes you the happiest? Is it waxing? Is it medical procedures? Is it lashes? Make-up? Your Esthetician License allows you to legally perform all those services but you don’t have to. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Take the time to find what you love to do the most. And when you love what you do, your clients will feel that and they WILL keep coming back.
Facebook >>>> https://www.facebook.com/essentialestheticsstillwater/
Instagram >>>> @essentialestheticsstillwater
Email >>> firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel >>>> 651-592-8904
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