This week’s Vegan Business of the Week is Enlightened Beauty & Wellness (a.k.a. Vegan Chic), a beauty salon up in Perth’s northern suburbs. Run by Maree Earnshaw, Enlightened Beauty & Wellness developed from a long held desire to make vegan grooming accessible and a successful Arbonne consultancy.
Find out more about Enlightened Beauty & Wellness here.
Tell us a little about Maree Earnshaw; how long have you been vegan?
I went vegan in 2008 after reading a little booklet by Vegan Outreach called “Boycott Cruelty-Go Vegan”.
It rocked my world and opened my eyes.
Up until then I had always identified as an extreme animal lover, had toyed with vegetarianism off and on for years, but I never truly “got it”.
I went vegan overnight and from there I spent months trawling the internet and reading books on the topics of animal use and abuse – in a quest to gain a deeper understanding of the plight of animals in our history and society today. What I found cemented my resolve to live animal product free, and started my interest in animal rescue and vegan products for everyday use – from food to beauty, and everything in between.
When did you get started with Vegan Chic Life?
I registered the business name “Vegan Chic” in 2017. At this time I was an Arbonne consultant and had a vision of creating an online resource/store to provide vegan products for personal grooming, beauty, health and makeup services too. In Arbonne I had access to vegan products that ticked all of the boxes and I had makeup application skills to offer and share. Over time, Vegan Chic evolved to my own freelance business of online store, makeup artistry and massage services… and ultimately to the opening of my beauty salon “Enlightened Beauty & Wellness” after I attained my Diploma in Beauty Therapy. I now offer a wider variety of vegan brands across the board to give people more choice and in an ongoing quest to provide the best of the best truly vegan options in this field.
What challenges did you face in starting your business and now that it’s up and running?
The biggest challenge with a home based business is building clientele. Beauty therapy is a saturated market with many shop based salons and home salons offering services. So the challenge for me was and is cutting through the clutter to attract clients to try my products and services out. The second challenge for me with my own business is keeping up with all the associated marketing and back office accounting that goes into the job.
Selling beauty products that are specifically vegan do you find that this increases your target audience? Ever had any push back on this front?
Well that’s hard to say. I guess the vegan product offering may turn some away from ever trying my products or services in the first place. If that is happening I’m not aware as there is no way of knowing if I’m losing potential clients in this way. That said. I have a good mix of vegan and non vegan clients that enjoy the services and products regardless. I love that I have non vegan clients – it shows that people are aware that “vegan” can mean BETTER.. and this in turn should hopefully encourage more thought along this line in other consumer choices they make.
What strengths and weaknesses do you think come from being a vegan business?
For strengths I would say a vegan business is tapping into a growing market of consumers that are looking for ethical, and more healthy products and services. Thankfully, “vegan” is a bit of a buzzword right now when it comes to products so that is something a vegan business can jump on and use as leverage to gain the attention of their potential clients.
For weaknesses I’d say the OTHER “vegan” buzzword in the negative press works against us. I’m talking the negative press that vegan activism gets, and the impact it has on how open people will or won’t be to vegan products and services.
What’s the thing best about running your business?
I get to pamper people and give them guidance on the best vegan products for their skin, health, beauty, etc. I love the interaction and I love the message it sends. Helping people to choose vegan is so important to me. I truly connect with every person who walks through my door and am genuinely interested in solving their skin issues, or providing them with downtime, a pamper, whatever their needs may be. I am humbled by the trust they place in me, and I do all I can to honour that trust, and meet it with VEGAN options.
What would say is the ‘secret sauce’ that makes your business so special?
I’d say it’s the time I spend with clients. Unlike other beauty salons who are on a tight schedule – I allow more time per client so that we have time to talk about their needs, and to adjust the service a little if we need to. Some people are understandably quite anxious about allowing another person into their personal space, so I make it a priority to help them to feel safe, unhurried, and respected. I have a pretty high return client ratio, so it seems people like it.
Looking forward what does the future hold for Vegan Chic Life?
Hmm I have some big dreams.
For the shorter term I’d like to see the salon working with a few staff, offering a wider range of vegan services including more advanced treatment options such as skin needling, IPL, etc. Mid term vision is opening a shop based salon. Long term – world domination! Haha. If that fails a small chain of Vegan Chic salons would be amazing.
Anything else you would like to add?
Whether my business grows to my wildest dreams or stays humble and small – I’m happy. All I need to do really is pay the bills and keep providing vegan options. Here’s to an ever growing vegan world. I’m loving it!