Outsource or In-House? Questions to ask Your Potential Social Media Manager | Part 2

In the February 2024 issue of Salon Education Journal, I wrote an article called: Outsource or In-House: How to Decide What’s Best for Your Business? Read part 1 here where I discussed the pros and cons of outsourcing and hiring in-house SMMs (Social Media Managers). In part 2, I look at essential points, things to be aware of and questions to ask when lookining to hire an SMM for your business. 

I was asked an interesting question a few months ago by a business owner who was quizzing me about whether he should outsource his social media or hire someone to be in-house, he asked:

“Is there such a thing as a ‘one-size fits all’ social media cheat sheet that works across any industry or do I need to hire someone who is specific to mine?

Let’s get real for a moment about social media as a business owner. When you start your own business, and you put your blood sweat and tears into it over time, outsourcing your social media to a stranger, no matter how professional they are, can be frightening.

Social Media Marketing

The idea of losing control of what is posted across your accounts can cause serious anxiety, not to mention cost you a pretty penny, and the idea that someone outside of your business would know better than you what to post is a little hard to believe.

In this article, I have compiled some information to consider when outsourcing your social media along with a few questions to ask your potential social media manager to ensure you’re hiring someone who is right for you and your business.  

To successfully manage the social media for a business, Social Media Managers (SMMs) need to understand a lot more than just what the business is. It’s all well and good knowing what the business sells, the services they offer and the industry they are in, but they also need to understand things like, their unique audience, the language or tone of voice the company is comfortable portraying, the specific aspects of the location they are in, who their customers are and where they come from, the way their current customers interact with them, what their end goal is etc. These are the types of things you may not understand as a SMM just by looking at the client’s website.

Ideally, anyone running your social media for you needs to make sure they match your businesses goals, understands the current trends and important aspects of your industry, familiarises themselves with any geographical issues, understands your target audience and most importantly, matches the tone and personality of your businesses and any in-house posts you are sharing.

As a business owner, you need to make sure that, if you’re going to outsource your social media management, that their asking you the right questions for them to reach and engage with your target audience.

Here are some questions you might want to ask anyone who is potentially looking to manage your social media for you.

      • Looking at our current social media presence, what recommendations would you make for improvements? Ask this question to identify whether they have done their research and looked into areas that need improvement.
      • Can you talk me through how you would develop a strategy for us that’s in line with our audience and business goals?
      • How do you stay up to date with the latest social media trends and changes in algorithms and platform changes?
      • How do you manage analytics and reporting to measure the success on social media platforms?
      • How do you tailor content to each individual platform?
      • Can you show me examples of successful campaigns and profiles you’ve managed for other businesses in the same, or similar industries?
      • Have you got experience with handling negative experiences on social media?
      • What approaches other than paid-for ads do you use to grow and increase reach?

Here are some key things to be aware of when outsourcing your social media management: Is your SMM doing the following things?

Here are some key things to be aware of when outsourcing your social media management: Is your SMM doing the following things?

      • Leveraging specific features and tools from each platform such as Instagram’s shoppable post features for websites with E-commerce, LinkedIn’s article publishing feature, and Linktr.ee’s ability to include multiple links in your Insta bio.

      • Is there consistency in your brand voice, colour and style in the visuals and content?

      • Is there evidence that the SMM is actively listening to and responding to engagement, encouraging discussions.

      • Is your SMM taking advantage of posting into local/regional/relevant groups, connecting with other pages, and collaborating with other accounts and businesses that could be mutually beneficial?

      • Are they actively staying in touch with trends, algorithms, and current topics?

      • Are they posting at the same time every day or are they actively adapting to posting at peak engagement and view times?

While there is no universal cheat sheet for managing social media, no one knows your business better then you, so finding someone that is a good fit for you and your business is important. If you have made the decision to hire in-house or outsource, make sure they have a deep enough understanding of your business, your audience, and the platforms you currently use.

A few more things to be aware of:

Your limitations and expectations for the future

If you decide to hire an SMM, you need to consider what is going to happen with managing the account in the future. If you’re hiring someone on a short-term basis to boost reach and engagement, they need to be aware of your limitations going forward, for example: If they’re going to be creating beautiful images, branded graphics, and templated videos to accompany your posts, is this something you would be able to continue with if you parted ways? The last thing you want is for an enthusiastic SMM to totally revamp your social media with regular shorts, reels, beautiful graphics etc for it all to stop when you part ways because you don’t have the time or the knowledge to continue.

Don’t change your style and voice all in one go

There’s nothing that screams “I’ve hired an SMM” more than your profiles suddenly looking totally different all in one go. If you’re current audience is used to seeing basic posts with simple text and a before and after images posted once a week when you have time, to suddenly see your page being flooded with branded, graphics and text full of emojis, polls and links every day can be too much of a big change. Transition to your new style gradually so that your current audience get used to seeing the new style content more and more, interspersed with what they expect from you.

Hiring an SMM can be a concern, and when you’re letting go of control of something so important to your business, you need to ensure you find the right fit. I hope this article has been helpful for you, but if you have any questions or would like to engage with me about this subject, you get in touch HERE.

Di’s sales and marketing career spans over 26 years starting in print sales and progressing through to head of special publications and on to running her marketing business for the last 10 years. Di now specialises in website design, SEO, social media management and content creation: It is through her marketing business that she became involved with Nabuno, and most recently, which sparked the creation & launch of Salon education Journal.

Embracing The Wellness Trend: Using Trends to Grow Your Beauty Business & Brand

Di’s sales and marketing career spans over 26 years starting in print sales and progressing through to head of special publications and on to running her marketing business for the last 10 years. Di now specialises in website design, SEO, social media management and content creation: It is through her marketing business that she became involved with Nabuno, and most recently, which sparked the creation & launch of Salon education Journal.

For a long time, wellness and beauty have been closely intertwined. However, not every wellness trend will transfer to your business, so how can you spot the next trend that is going to increase your client satisfaction and help grow your business?

The answer lies in looking at how your clients build wellness into their daily routines. Research the market and look for wellness trends reshaping the wider market and how you may be able to incorporate them into your business.

The wellness movement has created a surge of “natural” brands and has marked the start of a significant shift in the salon industry. Yet, simply being labelled as “natural”, as we know, isn’t the golden ticket it’s sometimes made out to be.

 Misuse of language like natural or organic to sell a solution to your clients is something we should be mindful of and before you use these terms make sure those labels fit. 

To attract new clients, and maintain client retention, it’s important to tap into new wellness trends that are emerging. Here are some current trends that are being welcomed by clients and businesses alike:

“Clients are continuing to seek brands that offer “free from”, cruelty-free, vegan ingredients, plant-based formulations, and packaging that is reusable or refillable, along with low carbon footprints.”

Self Care Isn’t Selfish

Following on from the after effects of the pandemic, more and more consumers are prioritising self care and incorporating it into their personal care routines. According to global insight organisation, NIQ in their 2023 Consumer Outlook, a huge 46% of current consumers identified physical or mental wellness as a top priority for 2023. 

As we all make the effort to improve our mental and physical health, are your clients looking towards a wider range of products or services to help target hair, skin and nails as part of a healthier lifestyle?

Clients are not only seeking to improve their skin or build healthier hair and nails, they are looking for products and services that help reduce stress and anxiety, give a sense of relief from daily life and something that makes them feel pampered and looked after inside and out. 

Clean Beauty

The demand for clean beauty and personal care products is growing, and today’s clients can be highly selective about the ingredients they prefer.

There are a variety of free from products on the market and many product brands are now ensuring that they offer a choice of products that reflect the consumer patterns that are evolving.

As more products exclude ingredients like sulphates, along with many others, to enhance their purity, the market becomes narrower but continues to be a growing space. It’s important that you understand your client demographic’s view on clean beauty so you can deliver the products they are most likely to connect with. 

Building Sustainability Into Your Business

As an industry we have begun the turn towards eco-friendly brands and systems to improve our carbon footprint, create less waste and be more world friendly. As we make these changes an increasing number of clients are also, not just scrutinising the practices of the businesses, where they spend their hard-earned money, they are also looking at the packaging materials, its potential for refill, recycling, or composting which we should also be considering. 

More and more clients are looking for sustainable solutions in every aspect of their lives, including actively making more sustainable choices when choosing salons and professionals.

Marketing your business and demonstrating your use of products created by eco-brands that offer sustainability, focus on wellness and shine the light on healthy living, will make you a beacon business for those keen to help themselves and make a difference to the world. Many clients are unaware that there are eco-salons out there, so if you are in that mix, make sure your marketing and branding clearly state it.

Clients are continuing to seek brands that offer “free from”, cruelty-free, vegan ingredients, plant-based formulations, and packaging that is reusable or refillable, along with low carbon footprints. 

The momentum behind the clean and sustainable trend shows no signs of waning, and so if you’ve not taken the step in the clean, green direction yet, maybe it’s time to start investigating.

Make It Personal

One trend that is significantly on the increase is service personalisation. Clients are seeking out products and services that salons are tailoring to their specific and personal needs. This level of bespoke services attracts clients that want to be made to feel like they are created just for them and that they are heard.

Bespoke advance level beauty treatments and packages, that include in depth consultations and treatment plans, will hook into a very specific client demographic that has a disposable income level to support this very service level. However you can also create affordable upgrades to make things a little more personalised to your clients. The cheapest of these is offering silent treatments where there is no conversation during the client’s treatment time. Free to offer, but for some who want to relax, be with themselves, it can be an invaluable service offering.

Offering a highly targeted product or treatment can also help you stand out from the crowd and be ahead of the game in terms of meeting the needs of specific category searches.There have been shifts in what your clients may be searching and research shows that the key words are changing.

“The demand for clean beauty and personal care products is growing, and today’s clients can be highly selective about the ingredients they prefer.”

Searches are less generic and terms like “anti-aging” are being used less while searches looking for more tailored options such as, “mature, dry skin over 40” are increasing.  

Being aware of these shifts in consumer searches can help you keep your business or brand at the forefront of these trends and you can use websites like Answer The Public, to look into keyword searches for your services, treatments and products. 

Stay Ahead of the Game

In order to use consumer trends as a way to increase revenue or help your business grow, it is vital to keep informed of the latest wellness movements. Reading consumer magazines, industry journals, keeping up with social media and checking in with your clients on what their interests are will all help towards this goal. 

Be alert for trends that bridge the gap between wellness and beauty, such as eco-friendly products, organic ingredients, or mindfulness-related practices. This understanding can provide a lens into the industry’s next new thing as it emerges. WGSN is a great place to start and will give you insights for coming years. 

Keep on top of your client thoughts and desires, by using in salon questionnaires and polls on your socials before investing in new products so you don’t end up with a lot of stock that didn’t quite hit the mark. 

Embracing the wellness trends that are here to stay for now means you will appeal to consumers who are building health into their lifestyle and are seeking a salon that fits their needs.

Top Tips to Bring Wellness to Your Services:


  • Silent Treatments

  • Offer weighted blankets

  • Heated underblankets

  • Cooling blankets

  • Music choices in treatment rooms

  • Lighting options

The Story of SEJ

How We Got Here – AKA “When Your Planning Meeting Takes An Unexpected Turn…”

Welcome to the first issue of Salon Education Journal! I’ve been tasked with writing our first article, which has to be about what’s brought us here and why I’m writing this. Grab a cuppa and take a comfortable seat, as I tell you how Salon Education Journal came to be (imagine the Disney Tinkerbell wand, the ‘Trrriiiiinnngggg!’ and fairy dust …)

Once upon a time, there was a salon owner, called Sue, who had an idea for a salon-wide education platform. It would operate a little bit like a professional’s directory does for service providers (you know the type – Treatwell, Check-A-Trade), but for education and course sourcing. She’d been in the salon industry for a long time; she had worked hard as a salon and business owner (mobile, events, home, and salon); educator; in competition and trade association management; and had even won some lovely awards! She’d been around the block a few times. Sue knew that there were lots of education providers in the salon industry that were amazing, but that there were also a rising number that were selling poor quality courses leading to unhappy learners and lower quality services. 

Something needed to change! Too many learners of all levels were paying poor quality education providers for bad courses that didn’t give them confidence, the right skills, or even insurable skills, or enough foundation knowledge. Fortunately for Sue, she had a great person who had worked with her on her salon website, socials, and graphics, called Diane, who was a whizz at the techie stuff she wasn’t so good at. Diane helped Sue work out how this idea could be created. Sue put her thinking cap on and created a name that came from a god of wisdom (Nabu) joined with the verb ‘to know’(no), and Nabuno became the name. Diane got busy creating the brand and checking out the tech side. Many conversations followed about how to create what would become Nabuno and over the next 18 months they developed the salon industry’s first education platform and course directory. The platform launched as the pandemic hit – talk about bad timing huh? Nabuno got put on the backburner and they dissolved the business side of it while they waited and waited…

Scroll forward over a lot of stuff we’ve all tried to put behind us between 2020 and 2022 and, wow, did the education sector change over that time. When the UK went into the pandemic, online and remote education as a way of teaching in the industry was often frowned upon, even for theory. During those 2 years everything shifted; as an industry that were sat at home for a long time, we got bored and suddenly online was considered acceptable for many parts of the industry, and for some, not so much. Online theory and business education has been ingrained in the industry and hybrid learning is now the present and the future of learning for practical based skills. 

Two of the many, many Nabuno & SEJ planning meetings

“Something needed to change! Too many learners of all levels were paying poor quality education providers for bad courses.”

They knew things had shifted and that Nabuno hadn’t fulfilled its destiny yet, so they went back to the drawing board and created a new and improved platform. Following a few delays, like Sue moving from Kent to Norfolk and Di moving from Devon to Argyll & Bute in Scotland, amongst some other obstacles, Nabuno relaunched in March 2023. Nabuno v2.0 brings together the power of a salon dedicated course directory with a learning management system that links the education providers’ courses directly to the directory, along with the Nabuno Oracle, a source of information, blogs, and more.

This is really where the seeds of Salon Education Journal were sown. Throughout the process, providing information that is educational, informative, accurate and inspirational was part of their mission. During the ‘wilderness years’, both Sue and Diane continued to work on their own projects. Sue creating her Inspiring Salon Professionals podcast and brand, and Diane managing her creative agency, Enzby Media. Both continued to write content for the Nabuno platform when it returned. 

In July 2023, Diane suggested perhaps a digital 8-page periodical may be a useful tool to provide a new platform to shine a light on Nabuno and share our educational content. She continued to play with imagery and layout in between other tasks and a design format started to shine through. By 6 September, it was a 32-page document and ready for final decisions on content; and so, in their weekly planning meeting, Sue & Diane set aside a portion of the meeting to decide on what was going in. As the conversation progressed, it went from 32 pages to 40. Sue suggested she could ask a couple of associates to write a column and it grew from 40, to 48, to 60- and then the fateful words, “Why don’t we just create a new trade magazine?” were uttered from Diane’s lips (which she may now be regretting just a little) and we all know where that led…

“Why don’t we just create a new trade magazine?”

The Who…

Let’s come back to the real world and leave the fairy dust and the rose-tinted glasses behind. Starting a magazine is not a simple task; starting any major project is not an easy thing, and we knew how hard we’d worked to create both versions of Nabuno and the challenges of bringing it to life were just the start. However, both Diane and I have histories and experiences that are expansive and have the components to make a trade magazine happen. Sue’s background in her corporate career and salon career as an award-winning salon owner & professional, writer, podcaster, and industry advocate with a network of collaborators at her fingertips, and Diane’s as an online marketing, graphic design, publications & advertising expert, position us to be able to deliver something new and something with a different feel to what exists already.

The What…

Salon Education Journal will be packed full of engaging, informational, inspirational, and motivational content and have education at its core, whether the readers are new to industry, seasoned professionals, educators, or industry leaders. Our ground-breaking quarterly print and digital publication is dedicated to serving the thriving salon industry and delivering educational content to enable professionals and businesses to grow and develop their abilities. 

Content created by professionals and experts – a team of industry titans who make up our Collaborative Columnists and who will be joined by guest contributors from within and from outside of industry. 

Affordable advertising opportunities for smaller businesses that want to reach their target market are also available.

Key Features of Salon Education Journal

    • In-depth features that promote education and development across the sector

    • Expert insights from our 28 leading industry experts who have been exclusively invited to join us as Collaborative Columnists and guest contributors

    • Best practices and strategies for salon professionals, salon owners and education providers

    • Spotlighting self-care, and harnessing the power within, to grow as a well-rounded professional or educator

    • Learners and professionals sharing their inspirational career journeys and pathways

    • Advertising opportunities for business of all sizes with transparent and clear pricing

    • Exclusive access to educational resources through our online education platform, Nabuno

The Why… (The Backdrop Why)

With some 209k employed workers in the salon industry, and with a large increase in self-employed workers since the pandemic, there is a recognised shortfall in educational resources within the industry. In 2021/22 there were over 80,000 recognised qualifications taken and a considerable number over and above this that are based in accredited education as foundation or as continuing education. Education is a growth market within the salon industry and one that shows no signs of slowing down. With regulatory change on the horizon for some areas of the industry, education and knowledge surrounding the correct pathways is more vital than ever.

There is a lack of educational direction for newcomers, and even for existing salon professionals, on where to find quality education resources and courses. There is also a significant lack of business and strategic planning education within the ever-growing world of the solopreneur and entrepreneur. SEJ brings together, for the first time, a collection of the industry’s biggest coaching names and business experts from outside the sector. This powerful combination will highlight this important area that regulated and accredited routes of education only have time to touch upon. There isn’t a dedicated education space and between Nabuno and Salon Education Journal that void is filled. [Statistics: British Beauty Council – Value of Beauty Report 2023]

The Gritty Why

We want to bring transparency to the table and so first up, let’s be real about why SEJ has happened. 

We’ve got a lot to say, and we know the rest of the industry has a lot to say too. The industry has changed and is changing still; both professionals and small businesses feel they have little voice and are not heard. The constant refrain is that what is currently on offer does not serve them or their businesses. They do not feel represented, they do not feel heard, they feel overlooked. SEJ is about representing and including all in one place, under a shared roof.

We’ve experienced the challenges of trying to reach our target market in any way other than social media. Whether that’s the prohibitive cost of advertising, getting editorial or even a mention, and building that elusive email list – let’s face it, it’s a tough world out there. There is a glass ceiling that is hard to break through. The consensus amongst professionals is that there is something missing. Smaller brands are beginning to fill a gap when salon businesses are looking to make changes in their client offerings, but they may find it hard to be seen and to build brand awareness. These limitations were the part of the trigger for us creating SEJ. We recognise that collaboration over competition is the way forward and that there is room for everyone. We will welcome larger brands to contribute in editorial and advertising in the magazine, but we will also ensure that we offer a diverse, equal, and inclusive platform that everyone has the same access to so that smaller brands and businesses have the same opportunities to reach the same market. 

So, once we started going through the 8-page, 32-page, 60-page options, we knew we wanted to create a change; we had the knowledge; we had the skill; we had everything we needed within us to create our own doorway; and we knew if we needed a new vehicle to market there were many others who would like to walk through that door with us. The only thing we didn’t have was time, but you know the saying, “Ask a busy person”, yep, we found the time.

The How… What makes us different?

SEJ is something different, something accessible and open to all. Like most professionals, I’ve read my fair share of industry magazines over my time, and I’ve listened to other professionals and readers who want to see something ‘different’, and so we made the decision to take on board comments and readers who want to see something ‘different’, and so we made the decision to take on board comments and observations about the reader experience. SEJ is committed to delivering quality information and articles over product and brand promotion, which is why our advertising space is limited to a lesser portion of our publication. Yes, we know this isn’t the pathway most magazines take, but content will always outweigh advertising rather than be equal to or surpassed. There will always be weighting towards content.

Editorial from Experts & Professionals 

Our editorial delivers real content by real industry experts taking readers behind the curtain. SEJ doesn’t have traditional journalistic reporters, all our content is delivered by professionals with experience in the area they write about. A reflection of the industry – raw, uncut and with a little bit of edge.

We have our Collaborative Columnists who represent a different sector or niche, we have guest contributors, and business and industry experts with international and entrepreneurial experience, and with skills and knowledge built over decades. From nails to hair, mindset to retail growth, lashes to qualifications, beauty to team management, aesthetics to marketing, woo-woo to science, we deliver something for every salon professional no matter what level they are at there will always be useful takeaways. 

The magazine is not about ‘how to’ or technique building guides, it’s about actionable knowledge to help the audience leverage their skills and grow as professionals. If you want to know ‘how to’ on a practical skill, we will always advocate for taking courses and getting involved with an educator by your side.We want to inspire professionals to grow through continuing education.

“We struggled to climb the ladder to reach our audience and so we have built a ladder with no ceiling.”

Advertising for All

Alongside providing editorial space for industry experts to have a new platform to be heard from, we provide a new platform for brands small and large with advertising packages that are inclusive, affordable, and clear. Giving access to smaller brands is part of our mission for change in the industry.  We recognise that every business needs to advertise but most entrepreneurial suppliers struggle with the cost of publication advertising and are missing this audience completely. Salon Education Journal is different, we welcome smaller advertisers and provide premium space at an affordable price. We offer Quarter Page adverts through to DPS Premium space.

Our prices are transparent and fixed, they say what they are, no haggling, no wondering, no obstacles. Those dreaded calls to see if you can afford to advertise won’t be necessary. You can visit our website, find the pricing, work out what you want and get in touch. We want to provide an open door to small businesses to advertise and reach their ideal clients. Salon Education Journal isn’t a cheap substitute, we are an affordable, quality-driven alternative.

“Education doesn’t just come in the form of vocational courses; it is about building broad skills cross more than the ‘how to’ of our day-to-day role, whether we are a salon pro or an education provider. As professionals in the salon industry, we need to learn and understand all elements of how we perform our role regardless of role.”

Louise Searles – Industry Support Network & Salon Education Journal Collaborative Columnist

“Our industry is ready for something new and exciting, disruptive education, inspiration and a reconnection with real stories, small business focus and an affordable showcase platform for all.”

Debbie Lewis – Salon Angels, Nat West Business EcoSystem Manager & Salon Education Journal Collaborative Columnist

FOCUS: Inspirational Learners, Professionals and Academies

Welcome to SEJ’s first Inspirations feature where we talk to 3 different inspiring individuals. In this article we meet Jessica Carson as our Inspirational Learner who has just completed her Cert Ed qualification and is continuing her growth as a professional; Kirsten Steward as our Inspirational Professional with a long career as a beauty professional and who has shifted her business into a skin heaven for clients and finally; our Inspirational Academy, Signature Academy, owned by the expert educator, Tracy Fensome.

There is a resonance between all 3 of these women which I didn’t realise when I asked them to be our first Inspirations. They’ve all taken their educational journeys at different rates and during different times, all of them have continued to grow through building their families and working and learning in between life changing situations. This is a common theme across our female dominated sector and I know we’ll see many more stories that have this resonance too. You’ll see that they have also never stopped learning and that any one of them could have been any one of our Inspirations either now or at some point in their career! They are true inspirations to all those who walk the same pathway in their footsteps.

Thank you, ladies, for joining us for our launch issue and we look forward to seeing your continuing journey in the salon industry!

-Sue Davies, Editorial Direct: SEJ

Jessica Carson

At the age of 16 I had decided the career route I was going to take. The Hair and Beauty options jumped out at me, and I enrolled into a local college studying VTCT Hair and Beauty. My tutor on the course was young, supportive and a great inspiration. I knew then, teaching would be part of my career plan.

By the age of 19, I had completed my qualifications to Level 3 standard, including my VTCT qualification in nails. Having these qualifications has opened many career opportunities for me, and I was able to gain valuable experience from working in spas, salons and being self-employed.

When I was 21, I had a one-year-old and was pregnant with my second daughter and I had made the decision to take my education further and enrolled to study an Ofqual regulated PTTLS course. This would enable me to teach others privately. Although I did learn a lot from this course, I knew I was missing a huge

part, this was the experience. I did not feel for me this was enough.

My next career steps included attending university to study my Cert-Ed level 5. Due to life and having my children, it was a long journey and was on hold for 7 years.

During this time, I continued to work both in salons and as a self-employed mobile professional building up my clientele and growing my skills. I started university aged 28 with four young children. Being completely honest, this is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career.

I managed to secure a ROLE delivering regulated qualifications, whilst also studying my university course, juggling children, home life and my clients. The course was two years long and I have recently completed it.

This is by far the proudest career moment I have had!

I learnt so much in this time as the course required a minimum of 100 teaching hours. I gained practical experience and had the opportunity to work with some amazingly skilled educators who shared expert knowledge, tips, tricks, and support throughout my time working alongside them.

I recently left my teaching position to set up my own salon and academy where I will use my teaching qualifications to enable me to teach privately.

I have proudly joined Nabuno and the theory for my courses will be delivered online through their learning management system, followed by practical sessions in the salon academy.

The beauty and nail industry has allowed me to have a career that I have worked around my children. For anyone who is looking to begin their teaching journey, I would strongly recommend gaining the regulated teaching qualification as you can progress through the different levels to grow your knowledge and skill.

Kirsten Steward

What made you choose the pathway of salon professional?

A visit to the careers tutor at school to discuss work experience led me to be placed at a beauty salon. It was 1983 and I literally had no idea what a beauty therapist was or did! Back then there were only about six salons in Cambridge; they were purely for the middle to upper classes, certainly not a place my mum would’ve frequented or introduced me to.

As requested, I arrived in my brand-new white outfit and was immediately transported to this amazingly tranquil world; the smell of surgical spirit and essential oils filled the air and everyone spoke in hushed tones. I immediately fell in love with this magical, peaceful environment and shortly after arriving I had my first ever epiphany; the course of my life changing forever! One of the therapists wasn’t busy so I had a Cathiodermie facial; my fourteen-year-old self was in heaven and in a lightbulb moment I knew that I HAD to become a facialist and make everyone feel as amazing as I did in that moment! Here I am forty years later & nothing’s changed!

How long have you been qualified and what was your route into industry?

I qualified in 1988 after a two-year full-time course, gaining both City & Guilds & International Health & Beauty Council diplomas in Beauty and electrical epilation. In those days there were only 10 colleges in England offering Beauty Therapy and only 15 places on each course – we had to have good ‘O’ Level results and interview well. How times have changed! I did my City & Guilds Level 3 in Artificial Nail Techniques back in the 90’s and I now hold Level 4 Aesthetic Practise and Level 5 Clinical Skin Science.

What challenges have you faced?

After working for Glemby International for a year and earning a measly £75 a week, I was offered the opportunity to rent a treatment room above a hair salon in 1989; I went to every bank with my business plan but no joy! With time running out, I changed tactics and asked for a £5k car loan instead. The following week I was on the first ever UK Dermalogica training course with Eve Taylor! After a few years, two salons in Cambridge and teaching part time at Cambridge Regional College, I opened the first ever beauty salon in Chatteris. My biggest challenge was being a ‘boss’. I wasn’t great at it and learnt after six years, just days after an emergency caesarean section, that I hadn’t prepared my staff for my absence. Everything quickly fell apart, and I realised I much prefer working alone! Some of us really aren’t cut out for a big salon business, and that’s ok!

What lessons have you learned and overcome?

From staff nightmares, recessions, not to mention, keeping positive during a pandemic to IT skills and social media marketing in a digital age when you’re clueless. Staying current & relevant by continually learning and finding your tribe by networking and reaching out to other lone skin professionals so you can support each other in this crazy paced industry! I’ve embraced TikTok too, and regularly talk in depth about skin on there.

What type of treatments do you offer?

I’ve made the choice to only take on skin & electrolysis clients now and I offer blemish removal, microneedling, RF and peeling but I mainly offer bespoke treatments that incorporate both holistic & aesthetic treatments such as CAP (Cold Atmospheric Plasma), Mesotherapy, LED, Electroporation etc. I firmly believe in this approach and am disheartened to see leading Aesthetic industry figures who dismiss the benefits and referring to it as ‘fluffy’! Devices have their place but can be blended with hands on too. My natural face lift massage is relaxing but you’re also going to leave looking 10yrs younger too!

What is your biggest achievement or proudest moment to date?

I’ve never been ambitious; I’ve never entered any competitions & I’ll certainly never be Businesswoman of the Year! So, I guess my proudest career moment was finishing my Level 4 and 5 qualifications last year, with a post-menopausal brain at 53 years of age! If I can do it, anyone can! I hated science at school and A&P at college was challenging but Skin Science changed everything; I loved every second of this module! Knowledge is power & I highly recommend every Level 3 therapist does it. It ups your game more than you can possibly imagine and in our constantly changing industry we need to have an enquiring & educated mind to ask the right questions of potential suppliers & educators. Of course, you’ll also need it with the impending regulation of the aesthetics sector.

What is your favourite part of being a beauty professional?

My favourite aspect of being a skin care therapist and electrologist is making such hugely impactful differences to my clients’ lives; hearing them contentedly snore during a facial and telling me it’s the best facial they’ve ever had!

If you have one, what would your Top Tip to a successful career be?

Being successful isn’t about being rich, Insta famous or winning awards, it’s about loving what you do, being able to sleep at night and being appreciated by your clients who have been loyal for decades.

Signature Academy Luton: Owner - Tracy Fensome

What made you take the leap from professional to educator?

I became a qualified teacher around 29 years ago and I have a passion that can transform people’s lives and as a natural educator I wanted to share my knowledge with others.

How long have you been in the education pathway?

I started my education pathway after recovering from a serious illness, which debilitated me for some time. It became the catalyst to take foundation qualifications and then entry to teaching and assessing leading to my Cert Ed and the PGCE. That all started when I was 26 years old. Yikes 33 years ago! So, I’ve had a lifetime as an educator.

What challenges have you faced in becoming an education provider and starting your education business?

I needed to get some entry qualifications to start the education process so that alone was a challenge and time consuming. At school I was amazing at anything creative and involving my hands. Despite that my dyslexia and ADHD were just put down to, “Lacks focus” which explains why I had to begin with access qualifications.

One of my biggest challenges was starting university with a three-year-old and a three-month-old, breastfed baby. That was a very hard time, and my time management and organisational skills became streamlined. Whilst at university I set up my first academy teaching software and management leadership. I later sold this business and started my reskilling journey into beauty, holistic therapies, and later permanent makeup.

Signature Academy Ltd was born in 2012. Beginning with 1-2-1 training and progressing to 2/3 trainees per course with individual trainers. In 2016 we took new premises and registered as a VTCT/ITEC Centre. This allowed us to provide both accredited and regulated training courses and business mentoring.

One of the most frustrating things I see are the training academies that pop up delivering training without good practice. When talking to potential trainees, it can create challenges in them understanding the level of training they need to be able to work safely and professionally and how this is paramount to success. Quick, cheap training will backfire on them, and they often end up coming back to us to start again! I am pleased that regulated qualifications came in for PMU and will continue to be adopted over the next 18-24 months. It’s happening already and I believe that Permanent Makeup will be included within the new proposed roadmap.

What lessons have you learned and overcome?

I learnt early on that the mentoring, support, marking, and assessment days take a lot of time outside of teaching. Ensure time allocation in your work and life schedule – don’t forget to factor all these in with your course pricing. Also remember that your passion for creativity is what will make you a great educator but do not forget you are a business and processes, procedures, and marketing should be just as important for success and growth.

Having successfully set up two academies and being a previous salon owner, I have the blueprints to starting and scaling a clinic salon and academy and the best route to becoming an education business. Signature Academy will have a great opportunity in 2024 for five prospective educators to academy owners.

What type of courses do you offer?

We run a variety of accredited and regulated VTCT and ITEC training courses in subjects from beauty through aesthetics, PMU, education, and business. I have also created a comprehensive beginner course for PMU as I felt it was missing in the sector.

What is your biggest achievement or proudest moment to date?

  • I was one of the first judges in the first ever PMU Championships in 2015 and have judged several times since.
  • I’ve created and scaled five businesses since I was 23 years old. Three I sold and the other two I am still CEO of.
  • The proud list must include seeing my trainees become successful, and sometimes award-winning, business owners, especially the mums, as that was me at 28. I’ve lived it for 3 decades, so I can help them overcome the challenges and reach their goals quicker.

What is your favourite part of being an education provider?

Seeing smiles when a skill or some knowledge clicks, the passing and graduating is exhilarating. It’s such fun getting to see their businesses thrive on social media and the visits when we go on the road to capture their updates for our YouTube channel. I’m a proud educator with a great team, many of whom are also past trainees.

Outside-in with Guest – Sara Burton

Salon Education Journal welcomes a guest columnist each issue to share their thoughts, coaching or mentoring from a place outside of our world.

Ever thought like just giving up and packing it all in? Wait! Hold that thought…

Try This!

We’ve all been there at some point, right? That place where you’re always working hard, you’re super busy but just not getting the results you want. Perhaps you’ve been building your business for what feels like forever, doing all the right things, putting in the hours but just not achieving the success you want…the success you KNOW you are more than capable of achieving. 

I see you!

It’s frustrating when you still have the passion for what you do but when it’s not working how you want it to and you feel tired, stuck, and just don’t know what to do next it can feel hopeless. Decision making becomes hard …our brains go into survival mode and want to keep us safe, so to avoid further angst, our thoughts turn negative, and we convince ourselves that it would be good to just pack it all in and do something else.

But there is a way to get back into the driving seat and boost up the motivation. Rather than keep plugging away in the same way, doing the same things, and potentially heading for a burnout, try this 

Do a start over!

Wiping the slate clean and starting over can be a game changer and its repeatable. Success isn’t a linear path, learning as you go, tweaking and re-thinking is all part of the journey.

Done in the right way, a start over will flood your brain with a wonderful new motivation to take confident action in a different way, allowing you to step back  and look at what’s really going on. It’s a chance to lose bad habits, strategies that aren’t working, release toxic thoughts and raises excitement over a new challenge. Shed the old way of thinking and doing and bring in the new!

You see the thing is, you’re not starting over from scratch. You are starting over with experience and more knowledge than before. And THAT IS an advantage. 

Maybe it’s time to make the most of what you know best…YOU!

Oh, and that word “failure”? Let’s throw that out too if that feels big to you. Failures are merely lessons that you needed to receive to move forward. 

So, how do you start over?

I’ve studied this and have had thousands of start overs in all areas of my life (it’s easy to say that when you are 52) so I know this works and have proven it works for others too! So, I set about simplifying it, formulating it so you get to discover the power of a start over fast.

You can start this right now…grab a pen and paper, find somewhere quiet (it can be done!) so you can hear your thoughts and let’s get you started.

My start-over method has 3 phases: Sort, Shape and shift!

1. Sort

Before you can make any changes it’s important to understand where you are starting from. Be kind to yourself, this isn’t a time to berate yourself for all the things that you could have done differently, this is a time to evaluate your current situation objectively. Be honest with what comes up, remember this is just for you to work with.  

So, get ready for a good sort out. What’s is or isn’t working well? How are you feeling? What are the things you’ve learnt so far? What’s important to you? Just let whatever wants to come out flow out on to the page. Getting it out of your head and seeing it on a page can really free up some much-needed head space.

2. Shape

Now for shaping the vision of where you want to be, for example, “I want a business doing what I love that brings me a regular income of £5k per month”. This may be exactly the same as before or you may have adjusted it but make sure you’re really aiming for what you want next. So…What do you want to achieve? What does success look like to you? When do you want to achieve it. Let your imagination be free to explore. How do you want to feel when you get there? Have fun here, let the excitement run through you and really try to visualise it all.

3. Shift

Now you are clearer on where you are right now and where you want to be, it’s time to look at how you are going to get there. Look only for the positives here. Go over what you’ve written so far…where are the gaps? What’s are the biggest changes needed? What can you do differently this time? What resources or support do you need? And my favourite…who do YOU need to be to make it all happen?

Gaining clarity through this method only comes after giving yourself time to think, to trust in yourself, your knowledge and experience so far. You get to let out YOUR thoughts, ideas and needs, everything you need is inside of you. If you can imagine it, you can do it!

Now you can begin to plan, now you can start-over, and the fun bit is that no-one else needs to know the shifts that are happening inside you, your successes will show for themselves.

It’s never too late to make a change and it’s never too early to start-over.

Sara Burton is The Start Over Coach helping driven individuals re-evaluate, re-define and re-energise their goals, next chapter and desires in life and business after something has changed them forever and they’re ready to start over. Creator and host of The Start Over Podcast.