In Durban there is a beauty salon on virtually every corner, so you really have to be on top of your game.
While there is consensus that time out at a professional beauty salon is the perfect escape from stress and agreement that the market for professional beauty treatments is growing in South Africa to keep step with an evolving middle class, this remains a fiercely competitive environment.
Add to this the hard reality that times are tough and clients want more beauty bang for their buck and you realise that the stayers in this industry are testament to the fact that there’s more to building a successful beauty business than painting nails.
Sisters Cally Ash and Amy Nixon, who opened Body Care Health and Beauty Studio in Westville more than 10 years ago, have proved that strong business skills are as import as knowing just which moisturiser is suited to a particular skin type.
Nixon points out that the beauty business is a “100 % service industry” where personal attention is paramount and it takes hard work and patience to build a client base. Loyalty is key and they have a number of clients who have been returning since they opened their business.
That, they agree, was a “now or never” decision.
Ash, who is the eldest by six years, was the first to venture into the beauty business, working in a salon in central Durban after qualifying and then going overseas. On her return, she and a partner opened up a salon in Kloof. She sold her half three years later, working from home while serving out a restraint of trade.
It was 2004 and Nixon had just qualified. On the exact day that the restraint was up, they opened Body Care.
As their business has grown, they have been careful to keep a personal touch within an environment where clients feel comfortable and relaxed. Ash admits that even she often finds some beauty salons intimidating and wanted to eliminate this from the very beginning.
So, whilst the pair might are professional, friendly and seemingly impossible to rattle, they are always on the hop. Mothers of young children, they were back waxing and polishing toenails within weeks of having their children.
“We are normal and go through what everyone does. That is what our clients like about us. I have a passion for what I do. I fell in love with this business through Cally,” says Nixon.
The sisters are very alike and often asked if they are twins. “Amy and I work well together. We are very similar when it comes to the way we work and the standards that we set. When Amy was small, I used to dress her up and do her hair and take pictures,” Ash laughs.
Although they operated from an outlet at the Salamanca Centre in Westville for a number of years, the pair eventually decided to relocate to Nixon’s home, an arrangement that has worked well for both them and clients who tend to enjoy the quieter and more homely environment.
Body Care offers a wide range of treatments – from sun beds to manicures to massages. Each of the sisters has her area of expertise. Ash enjoys doing facials and lash extensions whilst Nixon is the waxing specialist. Nevertheless, they both handle the full spectrum of treatments and share a passion for skincare.
However, it is not a once size fits all approach. Different clients have different likes and wants. Clients are both male and female. Then there’s the quickly and constantly changing technical side of their business.
“Clients are very savvy so we have to keep up to date. But we also know it is our responsibility to remain current as well as knowledgeable when it comes to the services we offer and the brands and products with which we associate ourselves. We continually undergo training and always have our ears to the ground to ensure that Body Care is at the forefront of what our industry has to offer,” says Nixon.