Before taking the plunge and going home based, Scullion spent three years at Staffordshire’s Hoar Cross Hall spa, in that time going from a fresh-out-of-college beauty therapist to a seasoned professional, trained in over 11 product houses.
“It’s very different now from when I started, but it was a shock to the system,” says Scullion, reflecting on when she first joined the spa. “You’d be on eight hours of massage or facials a day, but it gave me great experience. Working there made me strive to do more training and go on to be able to represent the brands – I really enjoyed that side of it.”
However, joining the industry at such a young age made Scullion feel like she was missing out on parts of life her friends were able to enjoy. “I was working there between 18 and 21 [years old] and had a lot of friends at university and friends that would go away on the weekends,” she explains, adding, “I used to work two Sundays a month, and three Saturdays, with seven o’clock finishes.”
The feeling of missing out led to her leaving the spa in favour of joining the team at a local salon. “I was approached by a salon I used to go to for treatments – when I was in college the owner would always say ‘Are you ready to join us yet?’. I went in one day and said I thought I was ready, and we had a chat,” she says.
After working in the salon for a while, Scullion felt as though the owner was less engaged in the business, a feeling that eventually led to her going solo. “A month later, she closed the salon. I had two weeks’ notice and had a mortgage to pay,” she says. “I rented two rooms above a hairdresser and set it up in two weeks with just the things I needed.”
Scullion knows how expensive setting up on your own can be, sharing, “At the start, I managed to get a secondhand CACI machine, but the rest I couldn’t afford. I knew I’d have to wait and see how the business went before purchasing more equipment.”
Fortunately for Scullion, the relationships she had built with her clients, some of whom had been with her since her college days, were strong enough for them to follow her to her new premises. “All my existing clients came with me, and I gained new ones. The business just grew and grew,” she says.
Scullion had always known she eventually wanted to be home based, and, when she unfortunately needed to undergo surgery and take 12 weeks off work, she realised she couldn’t afford to keep her rented salon space.
“I still had to pay for the business even though I wasn’t there, and it made me realise I didn’t want to take on any staff, so I decided to have my salon at home,” she shares. “I moved house and picked one knowing I could extend it to make space for my salon.”
Two years after purchasing the property and a year after building work had begun, The Brick House Beauty (pictured above) opened its doors. “I literally cleared my old space on the Sunday and opened my own doors on the Tuesday,” she says. “I gave my landlord two weeks’ notice and had someone ready to take my space as I didn’t want to leave them with it empty.”
Despite making the decision to bring her business into her home, it was important to Scullion to maintain a work-life balance. “The salon has its own section on the side of the house, so you don’t have to come in to access it,” she explains. “I used to go out of the front door, lock it and then let myself into the salon from outside. That was really good for me mentally.”
While being home based can sometimes lead to therapists struggling to be strict with their hours, Scullion enjoys the flexibility that comes with being your own boss. “You can set the amount you earn, and choose your hours and which treatments you do,” she says. “I had two weeks off after a C-section and came back to work, but being able to work from home enabled me to do three hours in the morning, two in an afternoon, and, in the middle, I could have two hours off if I needed to.”
Scullion is aware that the reason she was able to take that time after the birth of her son was due to her relationship with her clients. “Clients were flexible. They appreciated that I was coming back because they had a holiday or a wedding or big event,” she explains. “So, if I said to them that we’d had a terrible night’s sleep last night, and would they mind coming in at 10 rather than nine, they gave me that little bit of leeway. It was because I had already built that relationship with them.”
Although the freedom is great, there are, of course, some negatives to running a home-based salon, and Scullion says that, at times, clients assume because you’re home based the rules around appointments are different. “Sometimes, when you’re at home, even though it’s completely separate and is a luxury salon to a degree because it’s one-to-one, the clients think it’s OK to cancel last minute,” she says, adding that sometimes they even imply that they’re doing her a favour.
“Clients think, ‘It’s OK, Emily can then put the washing on, or get tea started’, but forget that that doesn’t pay the bills,” she says. “It’s got a lot better recently though, because I’ve got stricter with it.”
In addition to running her own business, Scullion offers mentoring to those wanting to set up a home-based salon. “I used to get a lot of messages on social media, and now I offer a mentoring service so I can help guide them through everything,” she explains.
“There are so many uncertainties when you start a business. If I’m honest, I felt very alone at the beginning. I had some negative experiences when I first opened and was scared to ask other salon owners for advice because I worried they’d see me as a competitor. So now, it’s just providing that little bit of support for people to know that it’s a gamble worth making.”
Scullion knows more than anyone that taking a risk pays off, being named the winner of PB’s first ever Mobile/Home-Based Salon of the Year award earlier this year. “I entered the day that entries were due, and it was more for personal growth and to showcase the salon than to win. I’m so proud of the salon,” she shares. “Winning was such a shock – I felt very overwhelmed, but I felt so proud for the industry that we now have a category for home-based salons. For us to have the same recognition as the boutique and large salons have is just amazing.”
Article written by Lollie Hancock and originally featured here
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