After 14 years in the beauty industry Belinda Hughes decided to take the leap of faith that many only dream about and open her own salon.
Just 18 months later, the small business that began life in a rented room at the back of a small pharmacy is now a fully-fledged salon in South Yarra – and Belinda is planning to open a retail store to meet the increasing demand for the organic products she stocks in the salon.
We found a short break in Belinda’s obviously busy schedule to ask a few questions to find out the secrets behind the rapid success of Belinda Hughes Beauty in the still relatively new ‘natural’ salon market.
When and why did you open the Belinda Hughes salon?
“I have always worked with natural and organic beauty so I was finding it difficult to work out where I might want to work. I love facials and being in a salon but natural beauty salons are still quite rare and I had a deep desire to open my own business and create my own space where I could work the way I like to work. My values are strictly natural/organic and high quality services that get clients the results they’re after so I felt quite unemployable in the ‘traditional’ beauty salon.”
What were the biggest hurdles you faced when starting the business?
“In the first couple of months my South Yarra space (in the backroom of a pharmacy) ended up being closed down, due to a plaza management re-shuffle so I had to move my new business but it was the best thing that could have happened because I ended up on leafy Davis Ave where I’ve stayed. Besides that it’s been pretty smooth sailing, the brand offering has steadily grown with our client base. There’s the ongoing marketing headache of getting the word out there that we’re here and open for business but nothing more than the usual struggle for most new small businesses.”
What does a typical day working in the salon look like now?
“Most days are different, depending on what’s going on. We’ve been in full renovation mode for about eight weeks but typically, I’ll get in about an hour before clients (do the usual set up, meet couriers and laundry services, etc) and then get into a day of facials (facials make up about 90 percent of my treatments) with some other beauty services thrown in. We also get online orders and clients dropping in to pick up products so that’s also a juggle around appointments. I seem to be spending more and more time organising and doing admin, so I’ve just hired my first therapist to help with clients.”
What product ranges do you use/stock in the salon?
“I actually have 13 brands. I’m obsessed with natural skincare and have chosen each one strategically to meet our client’s needs. They are Organic Spa, Roccoco Botanicals, Divine Woman, Eminence Organic Skincare, Indah, Simple As That, Natulique Haircare, Byron Bay Skincare, Zilch Acne, Uni Organics, Au Naturale Mineral Makeup, Gemma Vendetta and Kester Black.”
What tools/technology have you adopted to help you grow the business?
“We’ve built our e-commerce website ourselves including doing our own SEO. On the site clients can book online, order gift vouchers and order products. Our focus is on making it as easy as possible for client’s to book or purchase the products they love. We use Square in the salon on an iPad for all our in-clinic transactions. We also use Square’s plug-in to synchronise our stock inventory and pricing from the website to the iPad. We started using Square due to its convenience and pricing. It was such a simple sign-up process with no monthly fees like EFTPOS has.”
What do you think have been the ‘secrets’ to your career and salon success so far?
“I think my ongoing obsession with all things natural beauty and the pursuit of achieving real results for clients’ skin conditions is my main driver. From that passion the rest falls into place… Having a small business family background definitely helped me establish the salon, but if you’re passionate enough about something and truly care about others, you’re doing everything for the right reasons and people will be drawn to that.”
What’s next for Belinda Hughes Beauty?
“More expansion and more brands! I truly am obsessed. My goal is to help as many people as possible find the correct skincare for their skin so they achieve the results they’re looking for. If the Belinda Hughes brand can be known as ‘the place to go’ in natural and organic skincare that would make me very happy.”
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*Does not include iPad.