Beauty salon a lesson in business rejuvenation

Beauty salon a lesson in business rejuvenation

Erin Laird was first drawn to the old Take Off Skin and Body salon because it was a failing venture.

Her usual work had been consulting businesses that were behind schedule or over budget, swooping in to clean up the mess and make operations more efficient.

Always eager for a challenge, Ms Laird bought Take Off to see if she could turn around a small business herself.

“The original idea was sort of to get it up and running and sell it on again,” she said.

That was 10 years ago.

“Now I love it and I love being in the industry, so I just kept it!”

The name “Take Off” was inherited from the previous owners in Peel St. It was airport-themed, with hanging aeroplane models and jokes on the menu about landing strips.

Ms Laird didn’t have the resources at the time to rebrand—but now the name is a reminder of how far the business has come.

Today, Take Off is a beauty salon on Errol St that specialises in skin treatments. It offers facials, waxing, tanning and treatments for people with skin conditions, those looking to refresh their skin, or parents who just want some space from their kids for an hour.

Ms Laird has taken a unique approach to fit in with the “relaxed area”. Her therapists don’t wear uniforms or follow a script. They’re allowed to show their personalities, and they won’t look you up and down or shame your skincare routine.

“I think beauty salons can have a reputation of being a bit intimidating,” she said.

“People can come here [and] they can feel good when they come in. They’re not going to be judged. They feel safe in our space. Whatever you’re after, whether it is just relaxing, or whatever budget you have, we can find something for you.”

The staff’s inclusive attitude is perhaps one reason the business has continued to thrive 10 years after its revamp.

Another is Ms Laird’s decision to specialise in skincare at a time when the industry is booming.

“I think it was like 10 or 20 per cent skin when I took it over. Now it’s more like 75 to 80 per cent skin [for] our services,” she said.

Take Off has invested in training its staff, who undertake intensive courses on ingredients on top of two-year diplomas. Technology and treatments are also kept updated, but Ms Laird is careful not to jump on passing trends.

“Some things just come and go really quickly,” Ms Laird said.

“If you can do really solid foundational, good quality services, they stand the test of time a bit more than the latest Instagram crazy, weird thing.”

She recommends newcomers to the world of skincare should speak to a professional before following advice from influencers.

At Take Off, this usually starts with a basic skin consultation, or you could opt for the skin analyser session where they photograph your face to observe underlying pigmentation, oil flow and dehydration.

This helps the therapists tailor realistic treatment plans to each individual and their budget, taking into consideration products clients might already like or own.

“We’d hate to be that kind of business where people come in and they walk out with 10 moisturisers and they didn’t want them,” Ms Laird said.

For a salon called Take Off, they’re very down to earth.

They work with clients to get what they want – whether they’re women, men or non-binary, people with stressed skin, acne sufferers, customers after preventative treatments or people who just some time out •

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John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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