Every now and again here at CheltenhamMaman HQ someone gets in touch and tells us that we must head out into the community and meet an inspiring woman who is doing something incredible around a family. With tip offs like this it would be silly of CheltenhamMaman not to jump in the mum mobile, camera and dictation device at the ready, and find out what’s going on!
In this instance we stumbled upon a beauty sanctuary in the most unexpected of venues. Hidden inside a very modern looking community centre in Bourton on the Water, is Beautylicious, a thriving beauty salon managed single handedly by local girl Verity Edwards- Flaherty. We caught up over a cappuccino to find out how she has built her mini empire.
CMHQ: Hi Verity…. so first things first! Every interview starts with the most important question. Tell us about your small people?
Verity: Great – I can answer that one! I have two boys, Connor is 6 and Rohan is 17 months. We live in the Cotswold village of Guiting Power, Connor is in year one and goes off on the little school bus every morning and Rohan stays at home either with his Dad or me if it’s my day off.
CMHQ: You mention that your husband sometimes looks after him. How do you manage the childcare juggle.
Verity: Well it’s all linked in to the success of the business really. My husband, Patrick wasn’t very happy in his job and with the astronomical costs of childcare we would have to pay to both work we recently made the very scary decision for him to hand his notice in and become the main carer for the boys at home. It’s made such a difference to all of our lives and we’re all adjusting to our new roles but it feels like a really positive step for our family.
Having said that his role within the salon now is significant. Don’t panic ladies he’s not doing the spray tans but I love the fact that it’s not just me worrying about the logistics of running this place and that I have someone with a vested interest and a bit of time on their hands to call on for the less glamorous side of things; marketing, keeping the place in great condition, financial stuff and of course someone to plan with. We’ve made some huge decisions in the last few months and we’ve got a real vision for this place with some exciting new projects in the planning stages so it’s been amazing to share both the time with the boys and the enthusiasm for really making something of the business with him.
CMHQ: So what’s the history behind the business? When did you set up?
Verity: Beautylicious has been going for five years but we’ve only been here for two. It’s the perfect spot; there’s a cafe and library on the site so it’s a real hub of the community. I have Mums who pop down on a Saturday morning; Dad takes the kids to get some books at the library while mum has a treatment. We’ve been really happy here and built up a loyal following.
When I fell pregnant with Rohan I took some time out but almost all of my customers returned to me when I came back to work; I’m so grateful for that. In fact we have just recently given the salon a bit of a decorative overhaul and we had an amazing launch party last week. I invited all of my most loyal clients as a way of thanking them for standing by me and allowing me to have a bit of space from my business to be with Rohan but not abandoning me! We had a great party and there were lots of new faces too.
CMHQ: Five years in, what mistakes have you made along the way? If you could go back and do it all again what would you do differently?
Verity: Initially I felt like I had to offer every single beauty treatment out there. There are so many unique techniques and products in the beauty industry. It can be really hard to focus your attentions and find your niche and what works best for you.
With the benefit of time and trial and error I’ve found the treatments I really believe in and want to offer my clients. I’ve done a lot of training and research in the power of reflexology and it’s one of my most popular services. I’ve delved deep into the theory behind it and can now offer a truly person centred service. So many of my treatments are adapted once I meet the client; I’m good at asking open questions and helping people get to the root of their problems whether it be mood, anxiety, fertility, digestion or hormonal imbalances there are not many problems that can’t be significantly improved with reflexology. I’ve gone one step further and learned how to incorporate mindfulness techniques into the treatment so my clients can really find some deep relaxation when they’re on the couch.
CMHQ: Do you do offer more traditional beauty treatments as well?
Verity: Yes definitely. I do Swedish massage, hot stones massage (that’s great for clients who want a deep massage but don’t like being pummelled by the masseur!) Of course we do spray tanning (using a product called Sienna X) HD brows and CND Shellac nails. Oh and we’ve also recently started working with Décleor and I use their products in my facials and treatments.
It’s really hard when you first start out to attract and sustain a major brand of products so collaborating with Décleor felt like a defining moment! I felt like it was really all taking off when we partnered up with them and I’m so proud to offer all of their stock here to buy. I’m expecting a huge influx of husbands and partners in the last few days before christmas popping in for their last minute presents! I get lots of my Mum clients to make little wish lists and then when their Partners pop in I can help them choose the right gifts.
CMHQ: Any tips you might give people starting out in either this business or any business?
Verity: Have a long hard think about what’s worth spending money on. I’ve tried lots of different investments but a while ago I decided to trial an online booking system for my appointments. Sure, this costs me a fair bit each month, but it’s totally transformed the business. My customers love it. there’s none of those difficult long phone calls trying to match their busy diary with mine, they can do it all themselves – they just book my time and let me know what treatment they want. It’s also saved any errors as a result of me not writing things down properly and my clients get sent automated reminders which helps both them and me.
Each business will have just one tool that it’s always worth spending a bit of money on to look professional. This was mine.
CMHQ: Now that you have the product, you have some amazing clients and you feel you’ve found your niche… what’s next?
Verity: Well all successful businesses have to evolve. Although I mentioned that I was offering too many services and spreading myself too thinly before, I do still need to diversify and find interesting ways to offer my services, retain my existing clients and offer new ones.
We’ve recently started doing pamper parties and with the cafe next door (which can be rented as a function room) I can put together all sorts of bespoke events. Birthday parties, hen dos, baby showers, tailored pamper mornings or afternoons. That’s the joy of being your own boss, if someone comes to me with a specific request, if it’s feasible and I have the skills then why not? We’ve had some brilliant events and I hope to do many more.
I’ve recently trained someone else up to offer the spray tans so when we do events we can offer more services to more clients. Things are stepping up and with the additional manpower (quite literally!) my husband can now offer, the sky really is the limit. It’s a real family business now, a team affair.
CMHQ: And how many hours do you physically work in the business?
Verity: I do 30 hours of treatment time but as I’m sure you know there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes to keep the cogs turning. I don’t think people appreciate when they’re employed the joy of being paid for all of the time you spend at your desk, and of course the holiday pay, the pensions…. but the flip side is that I never miss a school concert or awards ceremony, so to me it’s worth it.
CMHQ: And what’s your downtime day of dreams?
Verity: I ride, that’s my special thing, just for me. Although I’m sharing it more and more with Connor. I visit my horse every day and he’s starting to become more involved with mucking out which is great. My day of dreams would definitely feature a long ride in our beautiful countryside. Maybe alone or maybe with my great friend Caz.
CMHQ: What do our readers need to know about how best to contact you or take advantage of some of your services and special offers.
Verity: I’m really excited about my November/December special offers. I’m doing a hot stone back, neck and shoulder massage with a Décleor mini facial for £50 which is a significant saving. There are also a few other offers on the site. Obviously I have all of my beautiful Décleor products and some amazing christmas boxed packages of some of my favourite items with extra free gifts; they make a great value present.
I’d love to welcome some new faces and I can always work around small people! I get it. Being a Mum is bloody hard work, we all need some time every now and again. But there are also times when you just need to get your brows done or your lip and chin waxed but have the baby with you. That’s just fine and you’ll be safe here because you know I understand.
CMHQ: Any chance you might offer an exclusive offer just for CheltenhamMaman readers?
Verity: Yes, sure. Anyone that books a Back, Neck and Shoulder massage or an Indian Head massage (both 25 minutes) can have it for £20 instead of the usual £26 throughout November. I need to look after you Mamans! You’ll need to give me a call or email to book it. Take a look at the site for contact details.
CMHQ: Ok Verity, one last question…. what is the one beauty tip that we all must follow with immediate effect?
Verity: Easy… remove your makeup and moisturise at night, regardless of how many gins you’ve had. That’s when your skin rejuvenates so it desperately needs that moisture.
CMHQ: Thanks lovely! It’s been great to come and visit you. Thanks for the cappuccino and all the best with the brand. We love a family built business and you’re doing a smashing job.