Mathilde Heather is one of those successful women who followed the path to her dream profession to become a professional hairstylist & color technician. 2.5 years ago Mathilde and her twin sister Martha opened The Suite (a beauty therapist by trade), both started to build their professional career and worked years to develop skills as high-quality hair stylists & colorists. Today, the sisters own a business with 18 high skilled team members.
”The Suite (hair & beauty) was a dream of ours from childhood & being twins we are at an advantage as we are on the same wavelength, we speak the same language, bring the same input but double the work. We wanted to create a kind & open workspace for like-minded people in our industry to thrive. We both love the training, guiding and keeping them smiling! Martha is a beautician & I am a hairstylist by trade. We realised that our city, Bath, had no salons on the high street that combined both hair and beauty equally 50/50. So we set our focus on creating this vision. Once we had built up our trades & gained a strong following, we joined forces & opened big & beautiful premises together to grow the hair & beauty team we have today.”
What skills should the education system be promoting to the next generation?
The next generation will not know a life without social media, speedy wifi or modern tools & equipment. It is a world of ‘one-click it’s done’ but I’m sure my fellow business owners will relate, a social post does not pay the bills. As wonderful as the new things our modern world offers I truly believe we should be teaching & promoting in schools ‘real-life lessons’ e.g what is a tax bill? What is self-employment? The realities of work pressures & training to get there, money management or the importance of work ethic. In a world full of instant gratification we owe it to the young to teach them that real life is not.
When do you think someone should start thinking of starting their own business? When is the right moment?
I don’t feel there’s a ‘right’ time, however, I do believe there could be a wrong time. Opening a successful business will absolutely consume your life, money, & body (mentally and physically). Climates are constantly changing so you have to be consistent. You have to dedicate fully to the cause. When you are ready and prepared to do so, then that is your time.
What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?
There are many qualities. You don’t have to be the most confident person in the world but you do need a certain level of gumption. The most important, in my opinion, is to listen and be teachable. Everyone you will meet knows something you don’t so apply that & remain open to new ways & different perspectives. Business is a constant learning curve. I recommend talking to other business owners and absorb as much information as possible.
How do you balance work and life? Can you tell us how?
It took us a long time to get balance. This comes with the territory. However, after a certain amount of time, you will get into a good pace. Creating a balance is very important. You are no good to anyone if you’re working on a business burnout. We do this by prioritising our time management. Not procrastinating on your work dedicated days. I write a jobs list starting with the most important. Ticking off the full list by the end of the day. This will create balance.
Any great story from a customer?
This is a hard question because the best part of my career is I’ve grown up with my clients, so there are many stories & tales, I could write a book! I’ve been on their 1st dates, celebrated their promotions, marriages, children, & sadly mourned deaths with them. I’m privileged to go on their journeys with them. Going through all that with them is incredible.
Since launch, what has worked to attract new customers?
A consistently high standard of service will lead to good word of mouth. This has proven to be the most effective technique to gain new clients that visit us. Expanding onto another floor, creating more treatment rooms, has enabled us to offer more & combine treatments on our menu, which led to the ‘talk of the town’. We have combined keeping up with what and how our industry is changing & moving, tailoring the service to the guests’ needs.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t expect success straight away. It takes time and lots of hard work to build your brand. Stay consistent. It’s an everyday hustle. Be prepared for the unexpected, there is so much more to business that you just don’t think about. The ‘behind the scenes’ part has a lot more to it than you think. It’s not just about what you see on Instagram. You will have to step out of your comfort zone. Remember to stay humble.
What traits do you look for when building a team?
We look for a good solid work ethic, consistency and willingness to learn & grow. People who share our values is the most important trait. We are not interested in high egos or arrogance.
When scaling a company, what do you focus on first and why? How do you determine the best timing for scaling?
My biggest tip on this would be to work out your ‘formula’ what sells the best? What do your customers want most? Once you have found that. Scale that. Make your formula big. Then once this is working consistently, look to start adding to that formula.
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