Welcome to the Sister Shout. A series of articles about our members and things that happen around Cheshire. In this issue of Sister Shout, we'll be chatting with Big Sister Amanda who runs HG Beauty Academy based in Stanlaw Abbey Business Centre just behind the cinema at Cheshire Oaks. HG Beauty Academy is a much respected training facility and offers a very wide range of courses aimed at a very wide range of experience levels.
Tell us about how your business was doing just before lockdown started, we’re there any plans you had to put on hold?
Oooh where do I start hehe.... My training Academy had just started to reach fully booked status and eventually a nice profit after 3 years and then nothing! I was in the middle of setting up a satellite centre with a national training company to offer advanced skin and body training. All courses are nationally recognised CIBTAC and OFQUAL regulated. Personally we were hoping to take my son to Lapland for Christmas but that will have to wait to another year as we haven’t been able to put any money aside.
How did you cope with lockdown? The personal toll has been so very hard on many of us, especially when it comes to not being able to see family.
I coped by learning new skills, completing many training courses including a Phlebotomist course. I built my own website and planned out how to turn my face to face training into virtual learning sessions. All while entertaining an energetic new puppy and home schooling a reluctant very energetic 6 year old. My son found it difficult to understand why he couldn’t see his grandparents and it was hard myself not seeing my parents and sister as well see each other a few times a week usually. We were extremely luck we had the garden an the allotment to escape to as with out this we wouldn’t of been able to cope at all. We also had to adjust to the fact that my fiancé had to work from home so trying not to disturb him in a two up-two down house was stressful.
How did you feel about the support on offer for businesses during lockdown? On a local level and a national level.
I was very lucky with the support of the government grant and reduced rent from the social enterprise building I rent off. But national government guildelines I found difficult to get hold of. But I enrolled in 5 social media and marketing courses run via zoom by the local council/ Lets talk business Cheshire West, who were also available at all times to help and advise.
Has the Coronavirus crisis changed your relationship with your customers? For the better or worse?
I think it has helped as I am now more used to and in the habit of communicating via social media, Zoom etc and keeping them informed of whats happening. Offering more free help and support as I had time to do so. I just need to put time aside each week now to keep it up.
How are you handling the restrictions being lifted? Tell us about any changes you've made to your business.
Wow we have had to put a lot in place and until 15th August wasn’t even allowed to open fully. Although I bought and used PPE for some treatments having to have it on all the time for all treatments and training ensured a large cost. Face shields, Masks, gloves (which were ridiculously hard to get hold of), aprons, disposable towels, equipment wipes, chair covering, sterile pouches, disposable nail files, duplicate manicure tools so I can have enough sets for the day, perspex screens and a hand sanitiser stand which by itself cost £210. Then there was the anxiety of have I don’t enough, will people be safe, will I be safe, will I bring anything back to the family home after being at home this long not even venturing out to the shops. I didn’t start training staring away, I started with a few clients and then worked out how to do face to face training but without a model….. this ensured more costs providing dolls heads and false hands to practice on.
Where would you like to see things this time next year?
Hopefully this time next year I would like to see things back to the way they were course bookings wise but I do think things will be different but for the better, more virtual theory training so it can fit in with people and there home life then more time on the face to face training to work practically. I would obviously like the satellite centre to be set up by then and able to offer more courses.
What do you hope to gain from your SisterHub network over the next 12 months?
The friendly support that is always on offer, hopefully face to face networking and talks starting up again and maybe some sort of monthly pairing promotion, 2 sisters linked to each other to help promote or buddy system?
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Learn a new skill, improve an existing one, check out what HG Beauty Academy has to offer!