Career profile: Kerry Beavis

Kerry Beavis, PB’s Therapist of the Year 2016, tells us how she built up her skills so she could open her own salon.

2006–2013 freelance and casual beauty therapist
“After studying for a GNVQ in Beauty Therapy at Hertford Regional College I decided to get as much experience in beauty salons and spas as possible before starting up my own business. I had several roles including beauty therapist for Nuffield Health Club, spa therapist for Sopwell Country Club and self-employed spa therapist for day spa Kuno Tierra, to name a few. I learned a lot of beauty skills and it gave me a good glimpse into the ins and outs of running a business.”

2007–2015 beauty and holistic lecturer
“After gaining my PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) qualification at North Hertfordshire College in 2007, I joined education agency Protocol as a beauty and holistic lecturer. I taught at VTCT Levels 2 and 3 as well as GNVQ Levels 1 and 2 – helping therapists develop their beauty, holistic, service and retail skills. I also designed a deep-tissue massage course. I learned a lot from teaching, especially how to build a rapport with people and how motivating others can be incredibly rewarding.”

2012–present Pilates instructor
“I hurt my back working as a spa therapist and only Pilates helped alleviate the pain. After experiencing the benefits, I wanted to help others who suffered with bad posture so I trained as a CYQ Level 3 Pilates instructor, as well as in Pilates equipment. In these courses I learned more about how the body moves and how the muscles work than in any massage class and I’ve been using this knowledge ever since, suggesting exercises to clients in aftercare to help with ailments.”

2013–present Jessica Hands on Team 
“As a fan of the nail brand, I put myself forward to be a manicurist on the Jessica Hands on Team and couldn’t believe it when they said yes. I’ve worked with them on several London Fashion Week shows including Gyunel AW13 and AW14 (where I did the nails of Canadian model Coco Rocha) and Pearce Fionda SS14.

“It’s completely different to anything else I’ve done. You really work under incredible pressure. Most of the time I’m on the floor doing nails and getting squashed by hairdressers, but when the models go out it’s amazing to see. The designs I’ve done have varied from silvers and nudes to a bright lime green with a matte top coat. Working in that high-pressure environment has helped me deal with stressful situations in my own business and taught me how to work quickly.”

2013–present The Revive Company 

“I wanted to see how I could run a beauty and holistic therapy business without the pressure of overheads such as renting a premises, so I decided to open a home-based salon. My partner and I had just moved to Wixams, Bedfordshire, and because I didn’t know anyone in the area I had to build my client base from scratch. I had a part-time job as a Pilates instructor at PATS Pilates while I gradually built up my columns and this meant I never got a day off, but now that the business has grown I’m able to take set days. When you start out you have to take whatever you can as you don’t want to turn anyone away; you may even have to do a bit of mobile work while you establish yourself.

“Being home-based is great because I get to choose which product houses I use and the hours I work, but it can also be hard. My treatment room is a converted bedroom. I can feel wary about who I let in to my house so I tend not to treat men, just because I’m on my own. To stay relevant, I try to offer what my competitors don't. For example, I created my own treatment – The Revive Signature Ritual – which focuses on the back, face and scalp using a personalised oil to suit the client’s needs. So many of my regulars tell me what they need or want from a treatment so I reacted and created one that’s bespoke.”

What the future holds
“I’m looking to create a website for new mothers that will help them look and feel well, covering everything from skincare routines to how-to exercises, and if the site takes off, hopefully I can do wellness retreats for mums-to-be. I’m also planning on doing an advanced skincare course so I can create a medical-focused facial treatment for my salon, and I’m looking into the possibility of working with hotels – maybe opening spa rooms within them as a way to move the brand on.”

What I've learned...

…about taking risks
“Plan what you want to do, work out your costings and don’t go overboard when product houses show you their latest stock – you need to think about how much money these products are going to make you.”

…about marketing yourself

“I’ve attended charity nights, contributed articles to local magazines and entered awards like Professional Beauty’s to help boost my reputation.” …about professional relationships “If you can afford an accountant get one as they are invaluable. Teaming up with other local professionals, such as bridal boutiques, health food shops and hairdressers, to set up an agreement to recommend each other can also help build your brand.”

…about putting up treatment prices

“Don’t be scared to do this. You need to know what you’re worth and the worst thing you can do is go too cheap. Last year I took on luxury skincare brand Germaine de Capuccini and I had to put all my treatment prices up as it's a big product house. I let my clients know in a newsletter.”

…about networking

“It’s important to meet other professionals because it can get lonely being home-based. I attend business retreats, post into online forums and attend industry events like Spa Business Bootcamp to meet other therapists and salon owners.”

…about creating a USP

“I like to build loyalty by giving more, like with the food diaries I create for clients. I write a programme, give them a diary to fill out and then review it at their next treatment to see if what they’re eating could be affecting their skin.”

Images (top to bottom): Kerry with her PB award, working with the Jessica Hands on Team and at her salon The Revive Company.