It’s Practitioner Spotlight time again, and this week, I spoke to the lovely Lauren Turner, owner of Aesthetics by Lauren Turner. She spilled the beans on her aesthetics journey, the challenges of opening a business during a pandemic and why she wants to change people’s perception of aesthetics.
Hi Lauren! Thanks for chatting with me today. What made you choose aesthetics as a career?
I was working long hours as a nurse in A&E, but Harley Street had always interested me, and I’d always had a keen interest in the things you can do to look after your appearance - doing things to make the best of yourself. I’d been thinking about moving into aesthetics for about two years before I took the plunge. Eventually, about two and a half years ago, a friend and I went ahead and booked onto a course. I didn’t expect it to go the way it did though. I never expected to leave the NHS - that was never my plan - but once I started doing aesthetics, things just really took off and I kept pushing on and on, and never worried about what anyone else was doing.
I loved it from the beginning! I had just completed my foundation course and then I booked straight onto my advanced course a week later. Then, I just kept doing course after course after course, as well as some one-to-one sessions in areas where I wasn’t too sure about or wasn’t feeling confident enough in.
While I was still working for the NHS, I found work as an aesthetic practitioner in three beauty salons, and in that first year, I was working about 90 hours a week to try and build up a client base. I just kept going and I didn’t stop, and that’s definitely the advice I’d give to anyone in the same situation. If you get deflated, you just have to put it aside and keep going through any hurdles along the way. Here I am now with my own clinic, which I never would have envisioned two and half years ago, when I was looking at people who had done it and was thinking ‘I wish that could be me’. I never thought I would leave the NHS to do aesthetics full time - but I fell in love with it from the first day of that first course.
That’s such an exciting journey! You started your business during the Covid-19 pandemic. What was that like?
I’m still pinching myself from doing that in August in the middle of the pandemic. It’s so surreal working for yourself and leaving the security of getting a pay cheque every month and knowing you’re safe because you’re employed. Plus there’s the lease to consider. Those are the negatives, but it’s really exciting as well. I’m in quite an affluent area, and I’ve got so many more new clients in the past six months, which I never expected. I thought I’d have to work quite hard to get people in that area but it went from strength to strength.
The fact that so many people are working from home has helped too. A lot of the people I see say they used to go into central London but because they’re working from home now, they want a clinic that’s much more local to them. Plus there are no other aesthetics clinics in that area. All my previous clients stayed loyal, coming to the new place. It’s just so annoying that we’ve had to stop and start.
Sounds like there have been lots of positives, which is great! What were the main challenges?
The main one, for me, was not knowing what’s around the corner. I knew that was a possibility back in August, when I started out, but I knew I always had my nursing to fall back on if I needed to. Also, one concern was not knowing if clients were going to follow me there, but luckily that hasn’t been an issue at all.
Marketing in the new area was also a bit of a challenge - not knowing how to get myself seen and let people know I’m in the area. We couldn’t have an opening event, which was a real shame. I really wanted to have a nice big evening where I could all my friends and family around me. That was more frustrating than anything because I envisioned that when we opened, we’d have everyone round to see it with prosecco. Instead, on the opening day, we gave out some leaflets, which was fine - but everyone had been working so hard to get it all finished in time, and it was all lovely and new inside, so I wanted to be able to show it off. That was the biggest disappointment because an event would have been a great way of marketing the clinic.
Instead, I’ve been working with some local magazine editors and they did some pieces on me, which was nice, talking about my new business in the area. Apart from that, there haven’t been too many challenges. I mean, I still don’t sleep at night, just because my head is always going round and round, wondering what’s going to happen. When you have to pay a lease on a place, it’s totally different to when you’re just renting a room at a salon - you have so many overheads. But being able to still work shifts at the hospital to tide things over is good.
When I talked about opening my clinic last March, a lot of people said, ‘things aren’t going to go well over the next few months - maybe you should wait’. But things have gone well for me and I’m so glad I’ve done it. What’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, and you just go back to working as a full-time nurse. It’s not the end of the world, and at least you can say you’ve tried. It is very easy to listen to other people’s opinions sometimes but I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing.
Love that positivity! And it’s great to hear things are going well. What steps are you taking to make sure things at the clinic go with a bang when we get back to normal?
I have got a huge to do list, which I’ve almost completed. I’ve sorted out my website, I’m finishing my Level 7 diploma, I’m writing an article for Allergan at the minute on opening a business during the pandemic, I’m still doing skincare reviews and people are still messaging queries, which is great. Everything’s pretty much up to date and ready to go the second we’re given the go ahead. I’m just trying to stay busy - that’s the main thing.
Do you see any big changes happening in aesthetics after the pandemic?
I think it’s busier, for me, now than ever before! Especially with skincare, but also with treatments. A lot of clients are now on Zoom and they’re noticing things like wrinkles more, whereas, they probably wouldn’t have spent so much time looking at themselves before. The amount of first-time clients I’ve had since the pandemic began is about triple the amount I’ve ever had before. But it’s hard to say what will happen in the future. I’m hoping the economy will still be ok and that things will return to some sort of normality. I like to stay positive. After lockdown, I’m sure people will want to feel a bit better about themselves, especially after being indoors for so long - I know I will. So, I think people will still want to spend money on making themselves look and feel good.
What’s your favourite cosmetic treatment to perform?
I love Botox - Especially for first time clients. A lot of people come in wanting Botox and fillers, but they’re afraid. But I like how happy they are when they come back in a couple of weeks later for their review. Sometimes, they like the results so much that if they were thinking of getting fillers, they sometimes change their minds and just stick with the Botox. They tell me that their friends say they look well but can’t pinpoint why. I know I feel a million times better when I’ve had mine.
You often say that aesthetics is mainly concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty, and that you want to change this perception. What do you mean by that?
What I mean is that aesthetics is not just for young girls and the Love Island cast, but also for people who are in their 50s and 60s, who’ve never had anything done and want to feel a bit better about themselves. I want us to get away from becoming that Instagram model everyone’s trying to look like, and to be yourself but look natural. Also, for me, it’s about a more medical approach - finding ways of doing treatments that complement each other, not just 2ml of filler here and 2 ml of filler there for some package deal that will have you looking like a Kardashian. That gives the wrong impression of the aesthetics industry. There are lots of people aged 40+ who just want to look like themselves, just feel a bit better and not be concerned with trying to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Everyone has their own idea of what’s beautiful and everyone is beautiful in their own way. It’s not all about the Instagram filter look; it’s about tailoring aesthetic treatments to the individual to give them what’s right for them.
I couldn’t agree more! Thanks so much, Lauren. All the best with your business when clinic doors reopen!