Le Salon is the beauty salon of the 21 st century providing on-demand professional, yet accessible manicures and pedicures. We spoke to Natasha Pilbrow, Le Salon Founder, about the process of bringing a business idea to life.
When did you launch Le Salon?
We launched LeSalon at the beginning of 2015. Both Jean-Michel (my co-founder) and I had each separately been looking into the beauty service/tech space with the idea of launching on demand mobile beauty service businesses. We were introduced by a friend and decided to venture forth together with LeSalon. We both have different interests and views of the business so working as a team has benefited us both.
Why did you decide to launch your own business?
I had been working as a lawyer for ten years and the idea of being part of something new, different and challenging was very inviting. As a potential LeSalon client I felt that there were lots of people in London who wanted quality mobile services at a competitive price in the convenience of their home or office. On the other side I felt passionate about building a business that allowed women to work flexibly, hone their skills and increase their earning potential.
How long did it take to get from concept to launch and what was the development process like?
We were up and running very quickly but our initial site was very amateur. We have subsequently spent a significant amount of time rethinking our design and branding and how we wanted to be perceived in this space. We then spent quite a long time building our IOS and android apps.. Quality of service is really important to us so we have always been very rigorous about our onboarding of beauty therapists – ensuring they all have a certain level of skill before they can be a LeSalon ambassador. We then provide our team with ongoing training and feedback to ensure they are able to reach their full potential.
What does the Le Salon platform offer the beauty therapists you work with?
As I mentioned above my initial goal was the create a business that enabled women to work independently, safely and flexibly around childcare and any other commitments they may have. In addition we also want to ensure that our ambassadors are able to build and expand their skill set. Using technology we are able to manage our ambassadors bookings and payment so they can focus on their number one skill being the service they provide to the clients. In addition we offer training and networking events as being an independent mobile technician is liberating in many ways but can also be a little isolated.
What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced launching Le Salon?
There have been many challenges along the way. For the first couple of years the biggest challenge was with the development of the technology. While Jean-Michel and I have a number of different skills between us neither of us had any experience in coding. We have however learnt a lot about building a tech business and now have an amazing team of developers we work with which means our tech is evolving at a great pace.
The other challenge has been managing supply and demand – we obviously want our technicians to be able to work flexibly but we also need to ensure we have availability for when the clients want to book.
You enrolled in the Google Squared Digital Marketing Programme. How did this help you with the launch of Le Salon?
I actually completed the Google Squared Programme prior to launching LeSalon which meant that I was learning everything without any practical experience so in retrospect I did not benefit from it as much as I could now. I have subsequently taken a number of other courses with General Assembly – in Digital Marketing and HTML and CSS – both have given me a lot of support for the business.
What advice would you give someone wanting to launch a business?
I would break it down into three key questions they should ask:
Are you are truly committed to being a business owner as it is a 24/7 demand.
In terms of the idea for your business – are you absolutely passionate about it, to the point you bore everyone around you talking about it. As over time you will inevitable have moments of deep frustration so it is important that care enough about it to endure the ride.
Who do you know or can you can connect with for advice? The best feedback advice I have had is from those who have already done it and have been willing to share their learnings..
What do you like most about running your own business?
It is great to be able to make decisions about the direction of the business and our ethos as a company and follow it through. I think the part that gives me the greatest fulfillment is that we have a team of skilled ambassadors who are working as our representatives across London, providing a great service that our clients love.
What’s next for Le Salon?
So far we have just focused on improving our service and the ease of booking for clients while building our team of ambassadors. Over the course of the next year we plan on launching in another city – we are already testing the waters which is exciting.