Welcome to our new blogger, Katie Godfrey, the powerhouse behind the KG brand, who single-handedly built her empire from a single salon bought aged 19 as a school leaver with no qualifications, to a chain of salons, a UK-wide beauty training academy, an eyelash product range and a salon coaching business.
Katie left school at 13 after being bullied, but this only made her more determined to succeed in life. Her Bedfordshire beauty salon became a go-to destination and after being named Eyelash Technician of the Year in 2014, Katie started to rack up the awards winning 15 to date, and securing press coverage nationally including the likes of OK and Hello, as well as pampering various celebrities.
Now you’re as likely to find her judging awards as winning them – she’s co-owner of the “World Lash University” conference & awards which is partnered with “The Lash Games” at Olympia Beauty, and has her own podcast, “The Life Of KG”, aimed at those in the hair and beauty space but also relatable to anyone in business.
Going on to own a chain of franchise salons, Katie then sold these to focus on education, aiming to raise standards across salons and within the industry. She launched KG Professional, a beauty training academy which now has branches in Bedfordshire, Southampton, Gloucestershire, Derbyshire, Milton Keynes, Sussex and Essex, and an eyelash product range. Within 6 months of launch, the eyelash range was selling into 500 salons and is now sold globally. Katie was one of the first trainers in the UK to teach Russian Volume Lashes, flying to New York to learn and then bring the techniques back.
In addition to maintaining the salon and pro businesses, Katie is a dedicated business mentor and looks after over 35 salons. She started this side business 3 years ago after being inundated by businesses coming to her for help as a result of her success story – she offers 1-2-1 and group mentoring sessions, and aims to launch the first comprehensive online business course for the hair and beauty industry imminently. She talks regularly at colleges and events about her story and is passionate about motivating others to build their careers. She is one of the authors of number 1 best-selling book, ‘Extraordinary Women’, and co-owner of “Salon Franchise,” a consultancy company in the hair & beauty industry.
We quizzed Katie on the effect the pandemic has had on the beauty sector and her top tips for bouncing back…
How do you think the pandemic has affected the future of the beauty sector?
I think that the pandemic has and will continue to affect the industry in many ways. There will be a huge rush to get back into the salons but because most clients will get in within the first few weeks, I’d anticipate a lull between them coming back. This is where you want to make sure you’re still marketing for new business to fill any gaps you might gain. There are also people who are still worried about the pandemic and might wait a while to have their beauty treatments again. But I do believe there’s going to be an industry boom once everything has settled down and big things are coming to the industry.
How has it affected staff and clients?
In salons there has been a huge turnover of staff – a new report shows that hair and beauty start ups rose 33% as people made redundant or furloughed were prompted to launch their own businesses. The pandemic has given people that head space to rethink what they want in their lives – how much they want to work, if they wish to spend more time at home, a complete change of career, or a change of responsibility. There is also an influx of therapists wanting to be employed and looking for jobs, wanting that security of working for a company. It’s a really good time for salon owners to build their teams and get their salon culture how they want it to be. See it as a fresh start to opening your doors.
Clients are being extremely loyal and supportive and salons are finding a lot of their clients are returning. If they aren’t it’s most likely because they’ve got used to not having that particular treatment but in time they will want it back. Make sure your marketing is strong and you’re consistent so you’re always in the front of your clients’ minds to return. Use your mailing list to remind them what they’re missing – it’s not just the service, it’s the professionalism, the experience and the atmosphere that you offer.
Now that we’ve experienced this, how can business owners prepare in the face of a future lockdown threat – can you pandemic-proof a beauty business?
Salon owners should have taken this last year as a huge learning curve. Knowing your numbers in your business is key. Your outgoings, income and profit. How much does it actually cost you to open your salon doors? Knowing these numbers will then help you plan for the future and create buffers rather than living week by week or month by month. This will always help with any future lockdowns. Being a service industry is hard when closed, but having multiple incomes will also help. Boosting your retail in salon so you can sell online while closed helped many salon owners. Clients are still looking after their skin, nails and lashes from home. They are going to buy these products from somewhere and I’m sure they would prefer to support a local salon if you’re offering it. This also helps when the salons are open as you will continue with the retail sales.
What are your top 3 beauty business tips for salons coming out of lockdown?
- Get as much content as possible. You will be creating beautiful sets of lashes, nails and brows. Get as many images and videos of your work as possible to create content for later on.
- Raise your prices. If you haven’t already, you need to raise your prices. A year has passed and there is a lot more we are having to pay out with PPE and general bills going up. You need to make sure you reflect this into your prices so it doesn’t affect the business.
- What changes you decided to make over lockdown, stick with. That might have been to work less, build a team or spend more time with your family. Don’t fall into the trap of reverting straight back to how you were working before if it was something you wanted to change. It’s so easy to fall back into everyday life when we open our doors. But we need to remember what lessons we learnt over the past year too.