2 min read24 April 2019
When her experience at a beauty salon didn’t match up to her idea of luxury, Cecilia Downer decided to set up on her own, with a little help from a ‘baby boss’. We chatted to her to see how she did it.24 April 2019
We’re a nail and beauty salon, we’ve just opened our first branch a year ago – hopefully the first of many. I like to call it a boutique experience.
I was in operations management for a few years. My best friend and I always wanted to open something. Originally we dreamed of a spa, but we decided to start a bit smaller.
Cecilia outside her salon, Nails and Cocktails, in Chingford
In 2016, it was my daughter’s 16th birthday, and she asked, “Mum, can I get my nails done?”. Eventually I conceded, and I went with her afterwards because I liked how it looked. We went to a salon, and I was really unhappy with the service.
I was sitting there, thinking “Imagine being able to do this with alcohol on a night out”, as a way to relax. “Why don’t we just do it for ourselves?”. We set up an Instagram, and we started to get followers. They asked us “When are you going to open”, “When can I get an appointment?”
We knew that we had to start up. I started looking at properties and a week later we had the keys.
The best part is being allowed to have full control of all things creative. Being able to be as creative as we want to be, I tell my staff that they have no limits. It’s just freedom.
We have a lot of staff turnover. Finding the right staff is crucial, especially in an intimate environment like a salon. I want our customers to come in and be able to talk to us about anything. That's the kind of experience I expect to receive.
Cecilia prides herself in her customer service
We call her the apprentice, the baby boss in training. We’re keeping it in the family and she’s learning all the beauty techniques. We hope that when the empire has grown, we’ll have her driving up between all our locations and managing them.
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