Here's the real and raw of it my business journey!
I tell this in hopes of inspiring you a little bit that setting your mind on something is achievable.
In the height of my salon career I owned three salons all offering brows, lashes and waxing. We were one of the first to open a lash & brow salon in Melbourne and what an adventure and learning curve that all was!
I actually had a cleaning company before opening the first salon. I slogged my guts out cleaning other peoples houses when we first moved from New Zealand to Melbourne. I had a 1 year old kid and a husband who didn’t earn a great deal of money, so I was given no choice but to also create an income around being a mother.
I was hard-working enough to eventually sell that cleaning business which gave me enough money to open the first salon.
Oh how clueless we were!
Straight up … I had no idea what I was doing...
Not how to do brows, knew only a little about lashing and absolutely nothing about owning a beauty salon or being in the industry. Back then there wasn't a lot of good education or training courses to go off.
I just had a feeling that this was a good industry to be involved with (and I wanted free shit like my brows and lashes done 😂).
We did so many things wrong and so many things went wrong.
In the first week of being opened, one of my staff was giving a brow tint and as the tint was removed one eyebrow also came off. I saw it happen and was so petrified of the customers response that I literally turned around and walked out of the salon without saying anything!
(I am laughing as I write this - good way to deal with problems ha! Walk away 😬)
Needless to stay that customer didn’t become a regular.
Annoying things happened like...
Then there was the time when we spent $6,000 on radio advertising and got ZERO results. Nothing.
And how about when another salon tried to sue us for using the words ‘Brow Bar’ in our name (they had trademarked ‘Brow Bar’).
Or the time an employee (lash tech) just didn’t turn up one day and we never saw her again and later learnt that she had stolen our client list.
So many learning curves and so many laughs too!
Once I was sitting at reception and a strange and very strong smell started to spread throughout the salon.
I couldn’t figure out what it was until I realised that in one of the rooms one of my staff was giving a Brazilian to a customer who obviously had a few hygiene issues. Oh the smell!
I sat there and giggled with shock!
Owning the salons was a hustle;
Often at the beginning, just to pay the wages each week was difficult. We didn’t draw any money from the business personally for the first 6 months.
We had so many bright ideas and so many stupid ideas on how to get more customers. Once I thought it would be a great idea to put my naked butt on big posters all around town to draw attention (photo for evidence...yes that's my butt) - it didn’t really work.
I would even bake cookies and give them out on the street with a flyer in hope to gain another customer or two.
I haven’t gone into how many lash sets I f**ked up either during my salon career or about the 12-14 hour days I would spend lashing and not personally receiving one dollar from it because I had so many salon bills to pay.
The most devastating part of my salon career was when...
...Due to differences in the direction the salons should go, my business partnership violently broke up. I lost my business partner who was also my best friend and cousin. We didn’t speak for 3 years. It was horrible. All over money. So not worth it.
(The good part of that is however, we reconciled and love each other even more now).
But I did it.
I eventually sold those salons for $176,000 which was like a BILLION dollars to me at the time. And that gave me the $50,000 I needed to purchase Locks Lash in 2013 - and baby did I then enter a whole heap of new problems and learning curves!
I didn’t analyse the business by looking at spreadsheets with figures or any other grown up thing when I purchased it and didn’t have this vision of the future that this industry would be good … again I just wanted free shit and thought it was a good idea.
I remember saying to Derik when I first started with Locks Lash “don’t you dare quit or lose your job, because I have no idea how Locks Lash will ever support us” and then a couple of weeks later the conversation went “you have to quit your job because I can’t do all of this by myself!”.
We did everything at the start; we packed all the orders, answered all the phones, flew to a different States each weekend for training, learnt what to do and what not to do in marketing, hired staff, had staff quit, got ripped off by manufacturers and lost thousands of dollars … the list goes on!
However through so much hard work, a great deal of persistence and really learning from all the billion things I have done wrong and right, I have turned Locks Lash into what is today! Employing around 30 people!
The photo attached below was taken for a magazine in the US when we donated $500,000 USD (about $700,000 Australian $$) of our profits to charity a while back.
Why am I writing all of this?
I suppose I just hope that it gives some inspiration to you when you want to give up.
I wanted to a billion times. I still do sometimes if I am honest.
I am no different to you and if I can do it, so can you.
I didn’t do great at school (actually I failed rather spectacularly with a grand total of 33% on my final exams), I didn’t have endless quantities of money behind me, I am not super motivated (Netflix and I are BFF’s - seriously, it’s actually a problem), I smoke too much, I eat too much and sometimes I can be actually rather stupid (a fine example is I recently went to the toilet, went to wipe and felt something very strange as I wiped. Freaking out thinking I had some sort of weird growth on my v-jay-jay and maybe I was dying … I called my husband in to “help” only for him to inform me that I still had my undies on and hadn’t pulled them down to go to the toilet).
How did I do it all? Well … I suppose I just kept going and believed in myself enough that I knew it would all turn out ok in the end if I just turned up again tomorrow.
I also used the tools and principles from L. Ron Hubbard in my life and business. That certainly has been a key to our success.
And I KNOW that you can keep going too and it WILL be all good…I promise. You have abilities far vaster than you allow yourself to believe. Start believing in them a little more.
Love Jess x