Inside Dija Ayodele’s London skin clinic for women of colour
The issue of whether the beauty industry is failing women of colour is an important topic, with some clients in the UK still not feeling catered for. This is why Dija Ayodele, a well-known aesthetician and founder of educational platform Black Skin Directory, has opened West Room Aesthetics in West Kilburn, London, a space that specialises in products and treatments for darker skin tones.
“99% of my clients are people of colour and many of them don’t feel like beauty businesses or brands are talking to them. They pass a clinic on the high street and because there’s no imagery showing different ethnicities or an advertisement clearly stating ‘we treat all skin tones’ they tend to assume it’s not a place for them; that their needs won’t be met,” explains Ayodele.
How does West Room Aesthetics cater for people of colour?
The 430sq ft clinic, officially opening in April 2020 following its soft launch in February 2020, will offer advanced treatments for common skin issues faced by people of colour, such as hyperpigmentation and keloid scarring, using chemical peels, microneedling, microcurrent, microdermabrasion and mesotherapy.
All cosmeceutical brands stocked in West Room Aesthetics, such as Cyspera and Neostrata, have also been chosen because they have clinical trials and marketing imagery with people of colour.
“There needed to be a specialised service to satisfy that nuance, and that’s what I’m trying to do. Clients don’t need to feel dubious entering my space because everything has been created in their image,” says Ayodele.
The move was also a result of Ayodele’s client base growing at a rapid rate, with more than 200 new customers now on her books, including celebrities. “I had been renting a space in Anamaya clinic in Kensington, London, for the past three years and it got to the point where I couldn’t satisfy client demand,” she explains.
“The clinic had four rooms available for rent but they were always booked up, so I could only offer appointments one day per week. It was also impossible to do proper retail education as it wasn’t my space to do what I wanted with.”
Image: West Room Aesthetics interior
What facilities does West Room Aesthetics have?
The new clinic has been privately funded by Ayodele and features one clinic room, one treatment room and a retail area. It will be open five days a week and Ayodele has hired a Level 4 junior aesthetician too, with hopes of also bringing a medic in-house by the end of the year to offer injectables.
“It would be a fantastic addition to our services, especially for my mature clients whom I sometimes refer to reputable specialists in that area,” says Ayodele. “I just haven’t met anybody yet who fits the bill or who has the flexibility to come in twice a month.”
The clinic will also act as an event space, playing host to monthly Skin+ sessions – where different experts come in and share information, ranging from refreshing your make-up for summer to sessions on managing money or boosting your wellness.
“We will cover everything that can have a direct or indirect impact on skin. Clients talk to you in the treatment room, they divulge private stuff like the fact they’re going through a divorce, and I think having experts talk about money or stress management is practical information that could really benefit them,” explains Ayodele.
What were the biggest challenges setting up the clinic?
Aside from the admin pressures of dealing with HMRC and accountants, Ayodele was also juggling personal issues during this time of business upheaval. “The day after I soft opened the clinic my daughter had a massive operation, which was originally meant to take place in January but got pushed back,” she says.
“During this time, I was pretty much living at Great Ormond Street Hospital with her and coming into work from there. Plus, I had the pressures of other people, some I didn’t even know, telling me how they envision the clinic to be. It was hard juggling family pressures and the stress of other people’s high expectations for you. I just made sure I had a strong support network around me during that time.”
Image: West Room Aesthetics treatment room
What is Ayodele’s stance on beauty therapists and how they fit into aesthetics?
When asked about the ongoing debate of whether beauty therapists should be doing injectables, Ayodele says “it’s a messy situation”, and believes the Government should introduce legislation because of the mishaps that are happening in this country.
“But until that happens, I think the medical profession needs to introduce some interim rules because what they’ve done is only focus on consumer education, and some of that has not got through to the most vulnerable people – the ones who go off and have these treatments with unqualified people,” she explains.
“As much as doctors want to put all beauty therapists and aestheticians in the same boat and tar us with the same brush, there are rogue doctors out there too providing these prescriptions.
“How are beauty therapists getting a hold of botox if a doctor is not writing the prescription for them? There’s been a lot of talk in the industry about what to do but no action, and it’s when we do nothing that the general public suffers.”
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