Moseley’s New Haven

Friday, 30th October 2015

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Alison Knowles
Alison Knowles

Prepare to be pampered and relaxed in Alison Knowles’ new beauty salon in her family house in Greenhill Road, Moseley. After three years working in the Clarins salon in the House of Fraser she has decided to go it alone.

“I loved working there and learnt a lot. Clarins is a strong company with a good reputation. But there are set treatments that have to be done in a set way. I wanted to broaden my horizons; be my own boss; have my own brand and develop my own business.

“I’ve been a beauty therapist for about five years, qualified when I was 20. I trained at the University College of Birmingham. It was a two-year course covering NVQ Level 2 and 3. It was really good and I really enjoyed it.”

Alison’s treatment room is bright, calm and the orange and red towels are a welcome change to the usual brown, white or beige found in most spas.  “I chose warm colours, something a little different and I think they give an oriental feel.

“I took a lot of care in designing the salon to make a relaxing and welcoming environment. I want my clients to feel they are in a tranquil country house. I sourced some of my furniture for the room in Moseley as it fitted with the theme I wanted to create.

“I’ve been open a month and I’m getting busier every week. Pedicures are very popular at the moment possibly because it’s summer. I think it’s hard to find somewhere you can get a nice pedicure done. A lot of the time when you go to budget salons treatments are done in front of everyone. I think my clients like the more private approach I offer them”.

“In term of the treatments, I offer Swedish style massages incorporating a range of lymph draining techniques to release toxins and tension. For facials, I use a steamer to open up the pores on the skin so the effect is warm and relaxing rather than clinical.”

How did you prepare to set up your business? “I focused on the range of treatments I was going to offer; researched what other salons were offering, to help me know how to be different from them. In terms of my facial brand, Eve Taylor, I did a lot of brand research, picked my favourite: the one I felt was the most desirable. It’s is a long-established professional brand available only to professional beauty therapists and at spas.  When it came to nail products, I chose a well known brand that offers a wide range of colours and gives the best results.”

Did you go on a business planning course? “No I did a lot of it on my own initiative and researched on line. I took part in a Business seminar with Facebook, which focused on how to promote your business on Facebook. Social Media is so huge now that you can use it to boost your business. “I also joined an online forum, Salon Geeks. It’s always useful to get advice from fellow industry professionals.

“I actually found it quite difficult to find help. I looked into finding a business mentor, explored government helplines but found it quite difficult to get my foot in the door. Courses were booked, but didn’t fit into the time I had available, or I wasn’t eligible as I was still employed at the time. I started my business within three weeks of leaving my therapist job.

How did you make the numbers add up? I set myself a budget – what I was going to spend on the room, equipment and products. I set myself a target of how many customers I have to gain and a timetable of how long it is going to take me to recoup my start up costs.

“I did a lot of the work on the room myself with help from family to give it the ambience and feel I really wanted. So wherever I could save money I did, whilst still keeping very high standards. I set my pricing at a competitive level that customers are happy to pay for the treatments I offer.

“Having the same therapist builds customer trust and being a home run business I offer a much more personal approach, making every treatment special. In the future I hope to be able expand my business within Moseley and offer customers a spa experience in a salon environment.