“How I Built a Thriving Beauty Business”: Joelle Moke Shares Her Beauty Career Journey
Owning a thriving beauty salon or spa would be a dream come true for many people.
Imagine the fulfilment you’d get from watching your business grow as revenue streams in, and you have a diary filled up with loyal clients that leave their time with you feeling fresh and fabulous. With the ever-evolving services available these days, and the demand for them more prevalent than ever, the beauty industry is one that is not going anywhere.
So, what makes a successful beauty business? How do you get there? And what is it like? We were lucky enough to get down to the nitty-gritty with beauty business owner Joelle Moke.
With her salon, Beauty Within Boutique, nestled in Masterton, Joelle lives in the primarily farming region of Wairarapa. With a husband and two children in tow, Joelle loves the lifestyle they have in their community of ‘salt of the earth’ people who work tirelessly for the good of their family and our country.
Editor’s note: the following answers have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
“Whether it is taking the dog for a walk, going for a hike in the lush bush, a trip to the coast for my husband to dive for paua, or just a BBQ with friends, life is rich and full in its simplicity.”
What made you decide to work in the beauty industry in the first place?
Joelle: I knew I wanted to help others. I was interested in the human body and had a natural ability with self-care. I was doing my friend’s makeup and nails for the ball in our final year of high school, when one of them suggested doing ‘beauty’ for a job.
When I was growing up, I had terrible skin, so I tried every trick in the book to help my physical appearance. There have been times in my life when having terrible skin has robbed my self-confidence, so I naturally empathise with anyone feeling similar.
Did you study before working in the beauty industry?
Joelle: Yes, study is essential! I opted for a private institute… I wanted to hold as many qualifications as possible when I left, to arm myself with the best chance of employment. That is why I also did the international diplomas that were on offer.
What was your first job like?
Joelle: My first job was with one of my lecturers. It was part of a Hair and Beauty salon located in central Wellington. Although it was a great opportunity, the negative was that I was working alone. I felt that as a new graduate, I still needed to develop my skills, so quickly moved on from that role to join a large team of beauty therapists.
What made you decide to leap into owning a business?
Joelle: It was certainly a leap of faith. Driven by a belief in my own abilities as a clinician, a desire to have more flexibility for my family, and a great wish to treat my clients how I felt they deserved to be.
Talk me through your first year of business.
Joelle: The first year in business is hard. There is no sugar coating that. It’s just about what sacrifices you are willing to make to achieve your goals.
I moved back from Brisbane with our two kids, while my hubby stayed back in Australia to keep money coming in. We moved to a new region, the kids started new schools, and I started a new business in very quick succession. We were armed with a lot of family support and a strong business plan.
I hoped that the clients would come a little more quickly, but admit it took a good year to have a full book. I was slow and steady in my approach. I wanted my clients to come to me authentically, via word of mouth from other happy customers.
When did it feel like your business started to gain momentum?
Joelle: I think a growth tipping point was approx two years when I realised that my books were getting a little too full, and I was spending less and less quality time with my family. That elusive ‘work/life’ balance scale had tipped too far towards the business. That was when I hired my first part-time employee.
Has owning a thriving business has allowed you certain flexibilities and freedoms?
Joelle: Can I be real about this one? Having a thriving business is usually from working hard for it. I am very thankful to be able to run my business the way I like to operate. This comes down to what services I choose to perform, the products I have in the salon, the music I play, having breaks when I need them etc.
However, I am very committed to its success, and that does not come easily. It takes days of giving 100% care and attention to my clients. It takes nights of research and answering emails (like this one LOL), once the kids are in bed and I have some quiet in the house. It means enjoying the profitable weeks but then paying the taxes and GST on time. It means taking the salon linen home to wash if you’ve had a particularly busy day.
It is certainly ‘easier’ to be an employee of a business, without the burdens of owning the business. However, I guess the other side of that scenario is that it would be challenging to work for a boss that does not value or appreciate your time and effort. I know what that feels like first hand.
Do you plan on scaling up your business in any way?
Joelle: Yes. My part-time employee moved on soon after covid last year. I need a new right-hand woman to join me in developing the business. My goal is to be able to have the books full enough to justify moving into larger premises within 12 months.
What are the biggest challenges and rewards of owning a business?
Joelle: Everything is challenging when you are doing things for the first time, but nothing is unachievable if you put your mind to it.
For me, designing a perfect menu of services took me a while to get right. I spent weeks going back and forth from my designer. I think I have revamped it four times in the four years I have been in business! Employing staff has also been a challenge. I have out-sourced a mentor to help me narrow down how to find an ideal candidate.
I find it rewarding to look at the computer and see the books full for weeks in advance. What is also hugely rewarding is the trust that has been built with every client.
Do you have any tips for someone with a goal to own a beauty business in the future?
Joelle: The beauty industry is vast. I suggest trying everything that you can in the early years. You will find what you are good at and are passionate about pursuing. For me, it was skin and helping others along their personal journey to skin health.
I also believe that education is key. The more you learn about your industry, the more you read, the more you practise, the better you will be. Never stop developing.
Being in the beauty industry, you will predominantly be surrounded by women. I suggest being humble, having a strong work ethic and being kind.
A beauty business can take on many forms. Many start building a client base by offering beauty services or hairdressing services from home – some rent-a-chair in an established salon before embarking on opening their own.
However, you start, in New Zealand, we have so much opportunity at your fingertips. Maybe it’s time to take the bull by the horns and sign up for that beauty course you’ve had your eye on. You never know, it could be your first step towards owning your own exciting and successful business.
Ready to take the next step?
Beauty Courses found:
Beauty Therapy & Make Up Certificate
Become a qualified beauty therapy and makeup artist. The course provides an opportunity to interact with and learn from very successful, highly qualified and experienced professionals. It also allows you to enter a fast growing profession....
Online courses also available
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