Salon profile: Sanctuary Skincare

Natasha Lee ditched her corporate role for beauty therapy more than 15 years ago and never looked back. The busy, working mum-of-three catches up with Professional Beauty to share what life is like as owner of Sanctuary Skincare, an advanced skin clinic and beauty salon in Neutral Bay.

Tell us about Sanctuary Skincare?
“I have always genuinely loved customer service and looking after people. I left a corporate job many years ago to study beauty therapy, with the aim of becoming a business owner in the beauty industry. I love this industry so much, especially helping people with their skin, and I feel fortunate to be working in such a dynamic and exciting industry. I purchased Sanctuary Skincare in May 2013. I had owned and sold another beauty salon previously. I was ready to return to the industry after a few years as a full time mum. With this business I wanted to focus on achieving optimum skin health through advanced skincare solutions. We specialise in helping people with skin concerns like ageing, pigmentation, acne, rosacea and barrier dysfunction.”

Interior features?
“When I first took over the business, I did a small revamp, purchasing some new furniture and painting the walls and installing new ceilings as it was quite run down. Cash flow was so tight initially, that I remember struggling to buy some basic Ikea prints to put on the walls. More recently, we completed another revamp of the interiors. I commissioned interior designers Woods and Warner, who have given the clinic more of an upmarket, luxurious, yet inviting feel. Think 50s glamour, houndstooth prints, and dark navy walls inside the treatment rooms.”

Typical clientele?
“I wouldn’t say we have a typical clientele. We have people coming from all walks of life, from people in the public eye, to models, to young professionals, to yummy mummies, to retirees, to students and men who like to look after their appearance. I like to think we provide the same high standard of care to everyone who walks in the doors, no matter what their age, appearance or background.”

Tell us about your focus on skin?
“When I first took over the business in 2015, it was a generalist beauty salon offering nails, spray tans, body massage, waxing, and basic facials. Over the years, I have changed the direction of the business. Now, about 90 percent of our time is spent providing skin treatments. I like to think we take our clients on a skin journey – we look after them over a period of months and years. We educate our clients on how they can optimise the heath of their skin, now and into the future. Ideally, they commit to a targeted homecare regime. That’s when the real magic happens. We also take a holistic approach and look at how factors such as stress, diet and lifestyle can affect the skin.”

Most popular treatments?
“I would say we are best known for our advanced facial treatments, which are a fusion of modern technology, advanced cosmeceutical products, and the pampering touch of a traditional French-style facial. Skin needling is also an incredibly popular treatment; it is definitely a favourite amongst the team.”

Challenges faced by your salon?
“As most employers would say, it is finding good staff. I absolutely have the back of anyone whom I employ. I invest a lot of time and energy in staff development and having an awesome team environment. So it has been a personal challenge for me to deal with employees who lack my core team values of honesty, integrity and teamwork. I have learnt over the years that implementing the correct policies and procedures prevents many issues from occurring. Business coach Brigitte Benge told me recently, ‘People do what they do because they can. Because somebody lets them. Because YOU let them. Stop letting them.’ I heed those words.”

Tell us about your relationship with Refectocil?
“I’ve been in the beauty industry for over 16 years now. In all that time, I have used Refectocil for lash and brow tinting. I have tried other brands, but I always seem to come back to Refectocil. I’ve found their colours to be the most natural, consistent and they have good staying power. When I do brows, I like to blend the tints, depending on the look I am trying to achieve and to give more definition to areas of the brow which need extra help. Sometimes, I’ll use up to three different colour blends on a single set of brows, in order to perfect the end result.”

Tell us about education and training?
“Education and training is huge in my business. I am always seeking out the best trainers in the industry and I am all for investing in the knowledge of my team. Over the years I think my team and I have trained with most of the leading experts in our industry including Lia Trebilcock, Dr Andrew Christie, Nancy Abdou, Gay Wardle, Florence Barrett-Hill, Chiza Westcarr, Brigitte Benge and the wonderful trainers I have come into contact with over the years at AST, Claire Losciuto, Lynda Savic and Amanda Younan.”

Future plans?
“My future plans are to continue to grow my current business from strength to strength. I am currently a single mum juggling my business with three kids. Life at the moment is manageable, but I have flirted with the idea of opening up in one or two more locations and will do so, should the right opportunity present. Am I slightly crazy? Perhaps.”

Achievements/awards you’ve won?
“We recently won an award with Advanced Skin Technology for NSW Clinic of the Year, as well as Clinician of the Year in the Education category. In addition to that, we’ve been nominated as Finalist for the past six years in the Local Business Awards. It has been a phenomenal year for us and my current team is probably one of the best I’ve ever had, so I am hoping that 2019 will be our year to win this award.”

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