Back in April 2001, I opened the doors to Salon 112 and my vision was to bring West End treatments to a local clientele at affordable prices. Overall I feel I have fulfilled that vision. However, what I didn't envision was how the beauty industry would change over that 21 years, for the good and also for the very very bad and ugly.
I trained back in 1996 qualifying in CIDESCO, BABTAC and ITEC and like every newly qualified student, I thought I knew everything - little did I know that my training journey was only just beginning. The first 5 years after leaving college, consisted of working from home, setting up a mobile service in Surrey and Chelsea (thanks to my friend Kim), renting a room in a tanning salon and working part time in one of the first laser clinics to open in the UK. These first 5 years gave me the time to think about what aspect of the industry really interested me the most and for me, it was always going to be Skin Treatments and Hair Removal, learning about what causes problems with both and continually looking for treatments and products to best treat the symptoms experienced by so many.
Numero uno has to be all of our clients. So many of you have been with me since I opened Salon 112 and many of you go way back to when I first qualified. Watching my clients get married, having babies and now some of those grown up babies coming in for treatments. Without all of you this business wouldn’t exist - for this, I will be eternally grateful. ❤️
The staff, the majority who I loved working with, the ones that stick in the memory are; Charlotte, Catherine, Phillipa, Stacey, Carla, Abbie, Georgia, obviously our lovely Mandy Moo who will always be a part of the salon in one way or another and last but not least, our absolute star - Rea. Lots of fond memories! Some crazy times we had, like driving to Liverpool for a training course and going out for a quiet meal that ended up in a night club on the docks and never making it to the course because we were all too hungover! So instead of the course, we spent the day shopping at the Trafford Centre. And another time, Charlotte and I went to the Manchester trade show, but on our way back from dinner got talking to two guys in the street who then took us to the best gay club in Canal Street. And finally, the Christmas parties at Potters, those memories are best left in Norfolk.
Bringing new treatments into the salon is still very exciting especially when you see what a difference they can make to our clients. Back in 2001, I was probably ahead of the time in being the first salon in the area to introduce a Non Surgical Cosmetic Clinic, having a Permanent Make Up artist and opening as a Laser clinic - all these treatments were still relatively new to salons outside of London. I think its the footwork that goes into finding the experts and the best products for the salon that I love and remembering that social media didn't exist back then - we didn't even have websites to look through. It was a case of going to all the trade shows, networking, really doing all our homework and ticking all the boxes. I would get so excited at trade shows and believe everything they would tell me… so naive. Now I want to know how much the company spends on clinical studies verses how much they spend on marketing and packaging!
Something that I’m most proud of is being the salon that is welcoming of everyone, I never wanted to be the salon that clients were intimidated by. At Salon 112 you will always be greeted with a smile. We are not what I like to call your “tits, tan and teeth” salon, and you will never be greeted with a “hello hun”… we are just not that salon. I like the salon that we have become.
The bad parts have been few and far between for us. We have survived two major recessions and a world pandemic which no one could have imagined. As a salon owner I would say the worse side of the business is when a therapist is deceitful, sneaking behind your back, using all your knowledge that you’ve built up over the years, contacts, suppliers, salon data, even my style… for their own gain. And to top it off, never giving any appreciation of where they took the information from in the first place. It’s only happened twice to me in 21 years but I will never comprehend why; just because someone is too cowardice and backstabbing to leave on good terms that overnight I not only become the number one enemy to them, but also to the few clients that follow. So to all you new therapists out there, remember who taught you and who helped you grow, and remember it was the salon that gave you the opportunity because never did a client walk through the doors for the first time and ask for you, they came because of the reputation of the salon and the expertise you were kindly taught. It’s so much better to leave on good terms with the door left open… all good salon owners understand this.
The standard of training has fallen beyond recognition and I think this is really sad, especially for anyone putting themselves through college. I actually feel sorry for girls entering this profession now. My advise would be, if you are serious about wanting to be a beauty therapist get the best possible qualifications and training. Both myself and Rea are CIDESCO trained; CIDESCO is an international qualification, recognised worldwide, the standard of training is very high and it most definitely gives you an advantage when applying for work.
The Very Very Ugly
The rise of the one day course and even worse, the one-day online course. I find these courses make an absolute mockery of the beauty industry. I don’t think that anyone would believe the amount of anatomy and physiology a properly trained beauty therapist has to learn in order to pass an exam. Now all I see on social media are one-day courses with no qualifications needed! What’s even more worrying is these courses are run by a one-day course therapist.
Something that is very scary are people doing a half-day or an online course for injectables. Up to now the beauty industry is totally unregulated in this country and this means anyone can put a shed up in their garden and inject dermal filler, with no knowledge of the anatomy of the face and with no medical training. They can buy products from unscrupulous medical practitioners or even worse, off the internet. Botox is a different matter, this is a medically licensed product and should only be administered by medically trained practitioners who are also prescribers. Because of the extremely high number of people suffering injuries due to negligence and incompetence by unqualified medical personal setting up, a campaign by BABTAC and Safety In Beauty have at last, worked with the government to get non surgical cosmetic treatments regulated and licensed. It’s been a long time coming and hopefully will be the beginning of getting the beauty industry back to the high standards where it should be.
Please if you are thinking of doing any sort of course within this industry, do your homework! Don’t rely on social media as so much of it is fake and you can’t believe everything you read. Followers can be bought and people can claim whatever they want. Telling followers you have 18 years experience as a Skin Expert when in reality that would have made the person 10 years old when they started in the industry and making claims like “I am to skin what David Attenborough is to animals”, when actually they took a few one day courses, set up their own academy selling one day courses to very naive students falling for the promise of the potential of earning 100k per year once completing the course! I could cry with how low this industry has fallen. My advise is fact-check everything the therapist or salon claims, check everything they claim they are and check their qualifications. Reputable courses will always insist that you are NVQ level 3 or equivalent to register for further training and this means your therapist is already a competently trained beauty therapist with proven track record and understanding of anatomy and physiology.
So I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported my small business over the past 21 years. I have no idea what the future holds for the high street beauty salon, all I know is we are here for as long you as will have us x
The best thing a client has said to me is,
“can you let me stay here and wake up tomorrow”
The worst thing a very mediocre therapist has ever said to me,
“I have nothing more I can learn, I know everything”!