Absolutely Fabulous Skin Therapy is a fitting name for the beauty salon situated in a gorgeous terrace in Sydney’s Summer Hill.
Salon owner Trinh Grasso-Nguyen purchased the business in 2013 when she was looking to return to work after being a stay-at-home mum with two young kids.
“I hadn’t worked for seven years as I was looking after the kids, but as they were growing up a little bit, my husband prompted me to start thinking about what my next steps would be once my youngest started school,” Trinh said.
“I had to start thinking about who or what I wanted out of life.”
She and her husband started looking at various different businesses to buy in the area, before finding the perfect match.
“We came across this beautiful salon with a cute village feel and I knew this was it,” she said.
“Even though I knew nothing of the beauty industry and nothing about running a business, and knew I had big shoes to fill from a salon owner who was moving back to England after having established the business for 15 years first, I jumped in head first.”
Trinh said what followed was a time of learning, growing, conquering and understanding in how to run a business, the beauty industry and managing and leading a team.
“Even though I am not a therapist, I now know most of the clients by voice, what they look like, what treatments and products they have purchased, and a little about their personal life,” Trinh explained.
“I am often the face of the salon at reception when they walk in the door; I’m the voice on the phone when they ring the salon. I take the time to chat to the clients in reception before they are taken by their therapist to have their treatment, and look in their client history notes and see what treatments they have had and what they bought.”
Trinh said it was this attention to detail, in addition to the local, community vibe that she fostered, and the salon’s focus on old school values that had seen the salon’s continued success.
“There is a big trend moving towards machinery in the beauty industry,” Trinh said.
“But we are still very much focused on human connection using our hands. We are the only salon in Summer Hill that performs high quality treatments that provide results, so it’s very important that local clients have somewhere fantastic they can go that they trust.”
Trinh said her “back to basics” philosophy is what loyal customers kept coming back again and again to Ab Fab.
“Our clients walk out feeling happy and good about themselves and their skin,” she said.
“We don’t need 10 machines to achieve that.”
Trinh said she had kept “the essence and integrity of the salon the same but made little changes and improvements over time”.
“The techniques that we have maintained have mostly been the same as what was introduced 20 years ago and clients love that,” she said.
The salon is Ultraceuticals exclusive with all five of the team members fully Ultra Academy Certified, and they were one of the first salons to bring the Ultra Consult program to their customers.
Trinh said she was extremely proud to be one of the first in NSW to be accredited from Ultraceuticals as a gold standard, ‘Ultra Consult’ clinic.
“We were chosen as the trial salon when they first in trial stage, and then a year later when it was officially rolled out we got certified,” she said.
The salon made the move to being Ultraceuticals exclusive after an unfortunate fire in 2015.
“I’d only had the salon for 18 months when we experienced a fire by a mag lamp that was accidentally left on overnight,” Trinh said.
Everything in the salon was soot damaged from the fire’s smoke.
But rather than dwell on the negative, Trinh said she used the incident as a way to put her own stamp on the salon.
“It was a blessing in disguise as it gave me an opportunity to maintain the integrity and essence of the salon, but to add my own personal touches,” Trinh said.
“It was the fresh start the salon needed and empowered me to be able achieve. We had the salon back up and running after two weeks of being closed working round the clock to get everything cleaned and restocking everything in the salon again.”
Clients can choose from a range of treatments at the busy, boutique salon that include facials, LED treatments, micro needling using Dermapen, electrolysis, waxing, massage, ear piercing, tints, tans, manis and pedis.
Waxing, manis and pedis are done downstairs, while upstairs are the facial treatment rooms.
Trinh said the Signature Facial, a relaxing, one hour and 10min facial that provided results and was tailored to target each client’s concern was one of their most popular treatments.
“We also offer more intense skin treatments if someone wants to get faster results, and we encourage clients to go on a journey with us and invest in their skin, much like they would invest in their gym membership and nutrition,” Trinh said.
Trinh said all of her staff had reached ‘expert status’ by completing all of the necessary modules using the Ultraceuticals an online learning tool.
“I’m lucky to have fantastic, loyal staff that work hard and love to learn and build up a relationship,” she said.
Trinh said she kept her staff motivated by providing training at every opportunity.
“There is training usually at least once a month with an external supplier, as well as in-house training within the team on anything new that’s coming, or if they want to practice or refresh their own techniques on each other,” she said.
“I am a flexible boss and allow them mostly the time off as and when they need it, and in return, when I need them to work a little extra here or there, or to cover sick leave or annual leave, they are available.”
Trinh said scheduling team outings a few times throughout the year also allowed team members to bond outside the salon environment.
It’s a formula that’s winning for Trinh and her team – last year they received the Outstanding Award for Beauty Services at the Inner West Local Business Awards.
It’s clear that Trinh’s personal philosophy to always have a positive outlook on life, to remain steady with a calm aura and maintain a balance of family, fun and hard work is a winning formula for her and her team.