Business | Nail Entrepreneur of The Year Dina Andreou Talks With Salon Geek

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The Ed.

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The beauty industry offer self-starters many things, but there aren't many industries that offer young, motivated, innovative and hard working people the chance to be very successful, very early on. This year, Sweet Squared's Event saw Dina Andreou collect the award for Nail Entrpreneur 2013 who at the age of only 26 has two successful Amai salons.

Here at Salon Geek we wanted to celebrate the industry and the opportunities it offers people of all ages to be successful and what better way to do it than to sit down with the gorgeous Dina and get her take on things.

1. You recently won the Nail Entrepreneur 2013 award at the Sweet Squared Event. How did you feel when you won?
Overwhelmed. I was not expecting it at all. Just to be invited to The Event was a total privilege in itself, let alone to win an award! To be honest, I had been standing there watching all the other winners and kept thinking, "I don’t know how they are going up there to talk in front of everyone..." and then, of course, I had to go up myself. It was the absolute highlight of my career so far.

2. You're only in your mid twenties and already the owner of two salons. How did you get this point? Tell us a little bit about your story.
OK, well where do I start?! My family have always had hair salons for as long as I remember, but my dad always pushed me to pursue my education and said it was something I could come back to if I wanted. I went off to university and did a degree in English Literature. When I left I started working in the City as a PA; a job I totally adored!

The concept of the salon actually came from both me and my dad bouncing ideas one day. We always would discuss the hair and beauty industry and what is missing. I said I was sick of having to go one place for hair, another for nails and another for beauty, and that there should be somewhere with everything under one roof. This is literally where the idea from salon number one came from!

Nails were something I really wanted to include because I was totally sick of going to get my nails done and dreading it. Generally the nail salons on offer weren’t very clean, they didn’t speak to me, and they hurt my nails with electric files. I wanted a nicer experience and thought I could deliver that. Anyway, before I knew it we had found a site and were building the salon, I left my job in the City...and boom, here I am!

Looking back, I was quite naive as it was hard coming into an industry where I had no real solid background in. It was a really tough time and I did struggle at first! Initially I had over ten staff and we began without a single client. When a staff member would ask me something I would look at them as if to say why are you asking me?! The responsibility involved hadn't occurred to me. Luckily working with my dad has been great as he has a lot of experience and has really guided me through this whole time. It is important if you are going to take on something like this that you don’t go it alone.

The second salon has come most recently and that is down to the success of nails within the salon. Nails is just a fantastic and exciting part of our business and thanks to Scratch Magazine, Samantha Sweet and Sweet Squared (loads more people I haven’t mentioned) we have developed in this business and now applied it to our second salon. I am taking my time with this salon as I have learnt from my mistakes; there’s no rush. We need to get it right.

3. In this economic climate, the perception is that the beauty industry has remained fairly resilient. As the owner of a salon, do you think this is true, or has it still been tough?
I think that what’s great about the beauty and nail industry is that it is still so new and it is just the start – which is so exciting. It seems that in tougher times people will be even more willing to spend money on ‘beautifying’ themselves, because it’s a great pick me up. That is why nails have done so well and certainly for my business, as my clients are your professional women who earn a modest salary, aged 25-50 and their nails are their one treat. They don’t have a lot of disposable income, but that little extra cash is spent on their nails as it is so instant.

The beauty industry is very competitive as there are tons of salons on every high street. When we opened, Groupon was a buzz word in the industry. Thankfully it has died down. We do offer certain discounts/promotions on certain services as there is a lot of competition out there, but I also am a big believer in ‘added value’. A client may say that they can get their treatment done for less elsewhere, but will that salon offer all the little extras that I do? A text to remind them of their appointment? Will they get greeted by a friendly face? Offered a choice of beverage? Sit in a clean environment? Have a treatment completed by open and friendly staff with experience in their field? Sent a text 24 hours later to thank them for their custom? All these details add to the customers salon experience. I think also having quality and well known product ranges really helps, people don’t mind spending extra on something they know works or is trusted.

I can however say that it is really tough at times and not at all as glamorous as it looks. I have over ten staff, and two salons to fill and keep busy; it’s a huge pressure. Some days people can’t get an appointment in my salon, and others we have nothing to do! There have been so many times when I have thought is this really worth it?! You just have to go through it and carry on, what else are you going to do; close your salon? It isn’t an option for me.

4. You are proof that the beauty industry offers young, motivated people the chance to be really successful at a young age. What advice would you give to other young people wanting to achieve the same level of success as yourself?
I am really glad you asked me this as it is a subject I am so passionate about.
The advice I would give is do as much extracurricular as you can! Young people have to realise that if they are in college doing beauty, for example, they aren’t just up against their direct peers for jobs....they are up against everyone studying beauty in the country and then the people out there that already have jobs and experience.

You are up against all these people when you go and get a job, so you have to set yourself apart. If you like nails, do them; do your friends nails; take pictures; set up a Twitter account and post them – social networking is such a great device if used properly! You could take pictures of everything you do and put together a portfolio; do a nail art course; volunteer to work in your local salon for experience. All these things make you valuable to a potential employer...but essentially they help you grow and teach you great skills. I could be on this subject forever! I have so many tips for young people!

The most valuable piece of advice would be to always be humble, you are never too good to make tea and coffee, sweep the floor, help tidy up...etc etc. On a busy Saturday you will find me in the salon sweeping the floor, cleaning the kitchen and even the toilet, whatever it takes!

5. You will be a role model to a lot of young people who want to do what you've done but who is your role model? Who inspires you in the industry?
Firstly, thank you, being called a role model is a lovely compliment. Samantha Sweet is my inspiration 100%. She is just so committed to what she does. Someone in her position doesn’t have to go to all the beauty shows and stand there all day (in heels!) and talk to everyone, answer questions etc., and she always has a smile on her face. I met her at Olympia Beauty about eighteen months ago and we stayed in contact. One day I challenged her saying "What’s it going to take to get you in my salon?" She forwarded me her email address and we started bouncing ideas. Before I knew it Samantha came to the salon with CND educator Justine Crick and made my salon the first in the UK with Fully Qualified Master Shellac Painters. Where in the world are you going to get that?!

6. It's clear that your success takes a lot of hard work. What elements of what you do, do you find the most challenging?
I would say that staying motivated is the biggest challenge as I don’t actually carry out treatments in the salon. I am always finding new treatments, offers and products to introduce, as well as just general jobs around the salon, as I think it is important to stay on top of your game and offer your clients something different! I am so into promotions and events, I love doing a special event day in the salon – for the Croydon salon's first birthday I had a guy on stilts walking around the salon offering clients chocolates and champagne!

Being a manager is also hard for me. I don’t particularly like telling people off or telling them what to do, or just general confrontation, but unfortunately this comes with the territory. I think it has certainly got easier with the more experience I have, as it is about me liking you or not, it’s about doing what is best for the brand and your clients.

7. What's next for you? Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Wow, if you asked me two years ago where I would be now- I wouldn’t have thought you’d be asking me these questions!! I really would like to pass on my knowledge to younger people looking to come into this industry and help them promote and apply themselves so that they can get to wherever they want to be. This is something I really care about.

I would love one more salon – a really special one in an amazing location. I have also met some amazing people and seen some great brands emerge in the industry, so I’d like to get more involved with that side of things.

8. What do you do when you're not running a beauty empire? What do you do to relax?
That’s a really nice compliment, but my empire is a long way off yet. When I am not at work I am thinking of ways to build it.

You will be able to hear Dina talking at Olympia Beauty on the 23rd September 2013.

Until then...geek on!

The Ed.

www.amaisalon.co.uk
 

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Mrs Geek

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For this advice alone - THIS is what makes Dina successful!!

The most valuable piece of advice would be to always be humble, you are never too good to make tea and coffee, sweep the floor, help tidy up...etc etc. On a busy Saturday you will find me in the salon sweeping the floor, cleaning the kitchen and even the toilet, whatever it takes!

:Kissing::hug::Love:
 

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