How did your journey with Blink Brow Bar first begin?
The journey began in 2004 when I decided that my career would be compromised by having children and if I wanted to see them and have creative freedom, I would need to set up my own business. I actively searched for an idea. It was important that I created something that excited me and was also a personal need so I could relate to it. Bringing in my heritage, launching in London and a Female focus were all an important element of whatever I created. The idea of threading came to me because it was a personal desperate need for a service that was barely available in central London. I travelled far to get a quick but brilliant eyebrow service in the suburbs. Threading needed to be offered in Central London but in a way that made it accessible, fast and trusted.
Your mission was to offer a basic beauty essential for everyone – what were the first steps you took to start your business?
I created a proposal that was essentially a business plan. It has my vision of a brow bar in a department store, set up in an aesthetic way, perhaps more of a bar to disrupt how brow beauty was offered. I sent the proposal to all the London department stores but got little response. I then targeted Fenwick in Old Bond Street as they were hidden away and close to Conde Nast. I thought it might be the perfect launch pad and luckily so did they.
You were largely responsible for bringing the ancient technique of threading into the 21st century after seeing a gap in the market. What were the steps you took to build that idea into a fully-fledged business?
I took one step at a time. I didn’t want to borrow any money and really felt I should trial the concept and grow organically. I was confident that it would be a hit because I knew that threading was unbeatable in terms of results and speed; I felt passionately about sharing this with women in London. The key thing was to ensure I could offer a premium version of the service and consistently. If I could get that right, everything else would follow.
How did you know that brows would be popular as nails bars?
All I knew was that brows were key to a women’s beauty regime and were being largely ignore by the Brits. This wasn’t deliberately but because there was a lack of advice and services to offer quick tips and services to create amazing brows. I felt completely confident that by offering a service out in the open (ie not hidden away in a salon) the visibility of the results would create queues and demand. So, in my eyes there was no risk.
What was it like initially to get people to be open and interested in such a new concept?
Visibility – the best way to launch a business. Don’t hide it away but take advantage of the footfall and show off about the results. One satisfied customer will lead to another. We also wrote to all the key journalists to come and trial the service and they did – because it was a new concept. Their support was instrumental in pulling in new customers as well as word of mouth. As someone once said to me, there is no point having an amazing service or products if no one knows about them.
You took on some of the most famous, established department stores in the UK and convinced them to take on this slightly different beauty trend. How did you get them to see your vision and trust you on this?
It wasn’t easy but persistence was key. You can’t hold back when you feel so passionately so I harassed the beauty buyers in the stores that I felt was the correct positioning for blink. We needed one store to say ‘yes’ and I knew the rest would follow. Fenwick was brave enough to do that and sure enough, as people got wind of the queues, the phone began ringing off the hook. Every entrepreneur’s dream!
You pride yourself on your therapists – why is this so important to you when looking for the people who work at Blink Brow Bar?
The therapists are at the heart of everything we do and they need to create a bond with the customers whilst being professional and producing fantastic results. We invest hugely in training as consistency across brows bars is so important and has allowed us to grow.
How did BBBLondon then come about?
Eyebrows need upkeep and customers want to take care of them at home. We needed to bottle our services into products so people could take a bit of blink away. BBBLondon naturally evolved to provide products that were created by our customers to resolve brow issues for every age, texture and shade. It was vital that they were easy to use and could be used in place of or to complement professional brow services.
What would you say is your most memorable achievement as a businesswoman and why?
It has to be when I was honoured with an MBE in 2015. I had no idea that anyone was observing the brand in anyway and when I was told that I had received this honour, I was flabbergasted but delighted as it meant that the team and our offering had been recognised as being ground breaking in beauty and an important contribution to the industry. Most importantly it endorsed that we made women feel fantastic and therefore confident and also supported charities close to our team’s hearts. It was also a privilege to be able to take my father to Buckingham Palace.
What has been the most difficult or challenging obstacle to overcome?
As we were the first, it had to be competition as suddenly there was a pull on our talent. However, I soon realised that competition is healthy and you have to up your game to maintain leadership status. It is hard to always remain ahead of the game and the Pandemic definitely has to be the biggest challenge any business has had to face. Everyone has had a wake up all and had to think differently to survive. Entrepreneurs tend to work well when faced with a challenge like this as it shakes everything up.
What do you wish you knew before you started Blink Brow Bar?
That it was going to be a long journey so no point in sweating the little stuff. It is my fourth baby and you learn that everyday there will be a challenge but along with that comes great moments that makes you feel incredibly proud and grateful.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business in the beauty industry?
Make sure you have a point of difference. You have to stand out for some reason whether it is price, how you offer the services or location. Once you know what your unique positioning is and you have trialled the concept, you should for it. There are too many reasons not to but you have push these to one side. I would just advise that you walk before you run and prove the concept before investing too heavily.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur?
Be unashamedly persistent. I interpret that as not taking ‘no’ for an answer. There is always a negotiation to be and an alternative route to get to where you need to.
How do you continue to up your game and stay fresh, after so many years in the industry?
I love watching people, what they are up to and what the latest trends are. It is hard to keep up, especially technically but we have to. Children keep me on my toes as I like to look at what the next generation is up to. The Pandemic also made everything rethink behaviour and habits so it has been an interesting time.
You’ve celebrated 16 years of Blink Brow Bar which is amazing. What would you say your secret to success is?
Passion for the customer experience. I try not to compromise with this and with 25 brow bars, we don’t always get it right. The intention to provide an exceptional customer journey is always there and there is nothing better than hearing back from customers to make sure we are kept on our toes.