Meet Mel, a trained Beauty Therapist with 35 years of experience who decided to open her own salon. Mel always wanted to be her own boss and starting her salon enabled her to combine her love of skincare with running her own business. Let’s hear more about her story.
Introduce yourself and Your Skin Expert, what was your motivation behind starting the business and what do you sell?
My name’s Mel Sunshine and I’m the owner of Essential Therapy Skin Centre and EKM online shop yourskinexpert.co.uk.
I trained as a Beauty Therapist 35 years ago and opened my first salon as soon as I qualified. I always wanted to be my own boss and this allowed me to combine my love of the skincare industry with running my own business. The company started off with just me and at its peak employed 9 other staff members. It was a successful business and has always been well respected both locally and in the industry.
About 12 years ago, after a family tragedy and the desire for a more balanced lifestyle, I decided to go back to basics, concentrate on skincare and take the business off the high street and go back to working from home. I have a loyal customer based have been just as successful working from home just 4 days a week. I have a dedicated space at the side of the house so keep work and home very separate and professional.
Was the Coronavirus an influencing factor for getting your business online? If so how has being online treated you?
My online shop, yourskinexpert.co.uk took about 3 months to develop, with the help of my son and husband. I’m not particularly tech savvy and couldn’t have completed this without them. The website launched at the beginning of February and who could have known how fortuitous this would be, because less than 6 weeks later, I had to close my treatment room for 3 1/2 months!As part of the personal care sector I’ve been closed on and off for nearly 8 months in the last year, so am relying totally on my online sales.
As a result, I’ve become far more active on social media and post every day on most platforms with videos 2-3 times per week. I put up tutorials on skincare and regularly talk about the different segments of the product range I use, which is Dermalogica.
Tell us more about your products
I’ve worked with the brand for over 30 years and 2 years ago was appointed one of 14 UK Dermalogica Brand Ambassadors. This gives me access to new products and training as well as creating digital training and content for the brand. I also appear inside the product packaging! The products are high end, scientifically based to cater for many skin conditions such as sensitivity and rosacea, teen and adult breakouts, hyperpigmentation and of course skin ageing.
My client base is mostly early 20’s to 60+ years old and they come to me for regular treatments and products for home use.
Do you think without your online shop things would be different? If so, how?
When I launched the online shop, take up was slow with clients preferring to call me direct and pay by card over the phone, but as the year has progressed and my regular social media posts have filtered through, they are all now ordering online. In many ways, I think they are spending more on products but that may be because they are saving money not having treatments. My biggest problem is growing the business organically. Reaching new customers that are out of area and don’t come to me for treatments is my biggest challenge. Having no previous online selling experience, every day is a school day!
How has shutting your bricks and mortar shop affected your business?
As I write this, I’m still waiting for Boris to give some indication of when I can reopen the treatment room. I love receiving orders and take great pride in sending out beautifully packaged products that clients love to receive. I’m desperate to get back to seeing my clients in person and love the combination of selling online and being hands-on. Having the online shop has been a lifesaver both financially and mentally as it has kept me focused and gives structure to my day. I’m so pleased I took this path and am looking forward to growing yourskinexpert.co.uk
Why did you choose EKM for your new online business?
I’ve always been strong on retail and 15 months ago recognised that I needed to grow this side of the business so that when I retire from the treatment room, I could continue selling products online. After researching the options for a webshop I decided on EKM as I felt it was user friendly and I wanted a UK based host.