From a back room in a hair salon at 21, Leah Ingram has come to make waves in the beauty salon business.
Marketing to the waxing niche, can you tell us where your business idea came?
I wanted a place where people could feel that they could just pop in and get a wax and not feel like they had to have anything pushed on them. This was in the 80’s and a lot of beauty salons were intimidating for the average woman, young or old. I wanted a salon that was affordable to the average client but also a comfortable and relaxing environment.
At 21, you traded in the opportunity for overseas travel for starting your own business- what led you to make this decision?
I was extremely passionate about beauty and always wanted to own my own business and be successful. I thought to myself I’m only 21, I have plenty of time to travel the world why not wait and live my life dream of owning my own business.
Early success can be vital for a new business, and especially one paying rent. With a slow start in the back of a hair salon, what marketing did you do early on to gain traction?
Yes starting up was very hard! The way I got my customers through the doors was good signage, awesome prices – back then I was offering a full leg, bikini and mini facial for $20! Word of mouth is also vital in getting your business out there. Mixing a great price with a great service, your customers are always going to come back and not only that they will spread the word!
Having studied Beauty therapy how has your practical knowledge of beauty therapy helped build a successful business?
Without my beauty therapy knowledge I could never had done it, especially working three years prior to opening my first salon. I could really tell what was missing in other salons and I wanted to achieve that in my business.
In your experience, what do you attribute a successful business to?
Ambition, hard work, long hours and caring for my clients, almost to the point of obsessing over them and always wanting to please them, not to mention my passion for hair removal. I would always give a client a Brazilian if they asked for bikini wax and my client would love me for it.
With highly competitive pricing, how do you communicate your high quality service also?
By giving the client what they want, by giving them a quick perfect job without the fuss! With us you could squeeze in a wax while at the shopping centre or grabbing a quick coffee – a wax without waiting, that’s what people want.
In any business knowing about your services should be vital. It helps me make a lot of decisions for my business from picking products to interviewing a potential new employee; all my employees have been interviewed by me personally and have all been trained by me, therefore there is a similar style and technique across all Leah’s Waxworks salons.
When expanding your business and opening new salons, what do you look for in your next location and store to ensure it is profitable and meeting demand?
With every business it’s location and competition. Those are the two key factors in opening a new business of any sort, but also having a very reputable name helps.
Now with seven salons in your chain and a reputable brand name, would you ever consider the franchise model for Leah’s?
Yes, we already have our franchise package ready to go and are hoping to have our first franchisees shortly for our new salon.
What has been the biggest highlight for you since starting Leah’s Waxworks?
It was definitely when Westfield Hurstville approached me to open my first salon. From the girl behind a hairdresser to a brand new swanky salon in Westfield – it was a massive challenge for me as a young woman.
Finally, is there anything you wish you had of known or would have done differently, knowing what you know now?
Probably not; I have really enjoyed my whole journey with opening my salons, there is nothing I would change.