Getting mobile

Make-up artist Amy Westlake is launching franchises of her home spa company A Brush With Beauty. She tells Lucy Douglas why branding is the future of mobile therapy

Have you seen demand for mobile treatments growing?
Yes, hugely! I noticed a gap in the market though because, rightly or wrongly, mobile therapists have an image of being very good at treatments, but maybe a bit lax and unreliable.

I want to give mobile therapists, who are equally as brilliant as anyone who works in a spa, the kudos and support of a strong brand behind them.

So from September, I started offering mobile therapists the option of becoming A Brush With Beauty franchisees. It also gives the client who is booking a mobile treatment the confidence that they are booking from a company, as if they were going to a salon itself.

How have you built up A Brush With Beauty?
Ten years ago it was just me and my make-up brushes. I started building a portfolio of wedding work, then I moved to Bath and the wedding business completely took off.

As time went on and I was taking on bigger bookings, bridal parties started asking me to provide beauty treatments. I also opened a salon in Bath, but we were being asked to go to people’s wedding venues or homes. I’d built up a really strong brand with A Brush with Beauty, and I thought there could be something in the idea of making this a formal business; that’s where the idea for a franchise came from.

Do you still run a salon?
We were asked time and again to go out on location, so when it came to the time of renewing the lease, I took the brave move to close the salon, reduce all our overheads, and go to people’s homes. I thought that was a smarter step forward than trying to run an expensive salon. It was a hard decision to change direction completely, but I’m really pleased I did.

Which brands do you use at A Brush With Beauty? 
Skin RetreatWhile I was in Bath, I built a relationship with a laboratory in the States, who talked to me about having my own skincare range. One of the features of the franchise is that we have this exclusive skincare brand, Skin Retreat, which we developed with professionals in California, as well as with therapists in the UK that I know and trust.

It’s great to have that complete exclusivity. You know the pedigree of the products, and you’re growing with the brand. It’s lovely to talk to clients about products that you have developed, I think more passion comes through.

With a bigger brand you would get the benefit of years of experience. And from a retail point of view, a more recognised brand like Elemis or Dermalogica would sell itself. But I love the fact that we are more individual, because it gives us room to grow in the future. We do use other brands on the nails side – Essie for polish and Gelish for gels.

What’s next for your company?   Amy Westlake
We’re launching a project next year called The Associates. When I was in Bath, there were lots of beautiful boutique hotels, but not many of them had spas. I talked to a lot of them about the option of having girls come out to the guests in a hotel room, and be on call, like a concierge service. It’s the same concept as the franchise really; the hotel has the confidence they are booking with a company.