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#NLGirlBoss: My Story by Susan Roche

#NLGirlBoss: My Story by Susan Roche

I’ve been at the helm of my own business for 25 years this year and in that time I’ve watched similar businesses come and go…

Newcastle Hair & Beauty Clinic is the longest standing beauty salon in Newcastle and I think that’s down to my strong management style and my fantastic team of female dominant staff. Like anybody, I’ve been through hardship and I’ve weathered it, as a result I’ve learned to be strong – I discovered early on in this career that women often aren’t taken seriously in senior positions and I’ve had to factor that in to my approach to business. I’m sure any #GirlBoss will back me on that one!

 

What piece of advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of your Girl Boss journey?

Enjoy the moment it passes so quickly. Keep a diary there will be so many amazing mile stones and memories along the way that you will forget a lot of them that should be cherished.There’s will be disasters and bad decisions on your journey but they will only add to your experience of life and enrich it by enabling you to grow and learn. After all if there was no rain we wouldn’t see the rainbows.

 

How do you define female empowerment?

Female empowerment is subjective, in the beauty industry to me it’s several things – from making a cancer patient feel reconnected with the world by giving her an eyebrow treatment that restores her confidence, to teaching staff to lead on brand new treatments and watch them flourish (training is paramount to me & my staff). I think empowerment comes from confidence and confidence comes from knowing you’ve enhanced your skill set. I hope my staff would say that they feel empowered!

 

How did you feel after completing your first treatment?

Completing your first treatment in the beauty industry is a real milestone, but the real achievement is when that customer keeps coming back because they have confidence in you. That’s when you know you made the right decision to put the hours in and learn the trade. I still put in the same effort as I did for that very first treatment and that gives me a real sense of pride.

 

How did you feel after officially registering your business or opening your own premises?

It was so daunting and terrifying but also empowering and exciting. I realised this was it and I had to be an adult now, making my own decisions and standing by them. I was so proud inside and had to contain this euphoric feeling that threatened to show all over my face every time a potential client walked through my door.

 

How did you acquire your first high profile / influential client? What affect did this have on your business?

My first high profile client, Cate Blanchett, was by chance. She was in town filming the movie Elizabeth and we treated her during her stay. Since then we’ve had a few celebrity clients but we respect their rights to privacy and would never advertise their whereabouts on social media or announce their arrival, we aren’t that type of salon. I’m sure though, you’ll have seen our salon on MTV’s Geordie Shore as we regularly have the cast & crew in to film their treatments for the show.

 

We do work with some high profile bloggers and magazine editors and gain quite a lot of media coverage, you only have to google us to find that out!

 

Which key factors do you think are the cause of your success? 

Five star service. I expect anyone who works alongside me in my salon to deliver a five star service, even on a two star day! Our service keeps our clients coming back and it’s what we’re known for. It’s also important to keep a finger on the pulse for beauty trends and new treatments – if there’s something new, like Nouveau’s SVS Lashes, we’ll look to implement training and service delivery as soon as possible to make sure we’re always ahead of the curve.

 

At what moment did you realise you were truly successful?

That’s a difficult question; whilst I acknowledge that my business is successful, and I take a sense of pride from that, I can never become complacent and assume that I’ve achieved everything I can achieve. There’s a fine line between success and complacency and I always want to learn and achieve more, I think it’s always good to be hungry!

 

How do you keep your clients coming back for more?

Again, five star service. Our clients know that our service is second to none and our reviews and testimonials reflect this. I also think that it’s about knowing your market, because the salon is in the centre of Newcastle’s shopping district, we know that our clients fit a certain demographic and what our most requested treatments are so I ensure that staff are fully trained and confident before practising.

 

How popular are lash treatments with your client base?

Lash treatments are amongst our most popular treatments. We know our demographic very well and our treatment range is dictated by this. We were amongst the first wave of salons to offer Nouveau’s LVL Enhance treatment and the ever popular Extend and it remains our most popular treatment because the results are high and maintenance is low. We are so busy with Nouveau Lashes all day, everyday and couldn’t imagine it any other way.

 

Have you found lash treatments to be beneficial to your business?

Absolutely, this is Newcastle we’re taking about! I think certainly for younger girls, they see the cast of Geordie Shore in the salon or on the show and want to emulate the look. The lip filler and lashes look is huge in Newcastle and we have to cater for our demographic. We also get a lot of hen parties from further afield who come in to us for lash treatments having seen us on the TV show or having seen our online reviews.

 

The official theme for this year’s International Woman’s Day is #beboldforchange, what’s the boldest thing that you’ve done to get where you are now?

I think being brave enough to make the leap to take on a three floor property in the centre of Newcastle to offer beauty treatments. It was a bold move because i had never been in business before and it was such a massive commitment and brave decision and one that paid off. I thank myself every day for being braver enough to take that on and make it work.

 

From a personal point of view, away from the salon, the boldest thing I’ve ever done is tackle a black run in freezing fog during a skiing holiday. It may not sound that impressive on the face of it but when you have an insane fear of heights and visibility is non-existent in sub zero temperatures, there’s nothing for it but to give yourself a shake and ski yourself down that slope like you own it!

 

Which women along the way have inspired you the most?

My original inspiration of a strong women was when Margaret Thatcher became our first female Prime Minister. I was studying economics at school and regardless of what anyone thought of her policies I admired that she constantly made decisions (rightly or wrongly) and stood by them. I was overawed by her strength of character to stand up to everyone under massive pressure.

 

Another of my inspirations was Gill Morris from Sterex who was a world of knowledge and was the epitome of girl bosses some 24 years ago. Gill taught me to multi task when she employed me to teach blend electrolysis to all of the students & lecturers at the colleges in the north of England, whilst running my own business.

 

What message would you give to women in the beauty industry this International Women’s Month?

Never doubt yourself. Whatever stage you’re at in your beauty career you’ve come a long way from where you started and if you can make that work, don’t let anything stop you from taking the next step. Strong women build strong businesses and that’s why we’re all girl bosses

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