Blush Academy: Zara Elliott

Combining both the beauty industry and business world, this entrepreneur aims to teach people what they didn't learn at beauty school...

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Name: Zara Elliott
Company name: Blush Academy
Location: London
Date launched: 13/06/2016
No. of employees: 1

Tell us what your business does:

Blush Academy provides make-up and beauty entrepreneurs with business and marketing training, specifically tailored to the industry – What they don’t teach you at beauty school!

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Running my own business for the last 13 years has been a challenge to say the least. When I opened the doors to my first beauty salon and managed seven staff, if the truth be known, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!

The reason for this is that industry training centres across the country, focus only on the practical skills needed to become a beauty specialist. They don’t teach you how to run a business.

According to Habia (Hair & Beauty Industry Authority) over 42% of the industry sector choose to be self-employed rather than working for someone else and with an industry turnover of over 6bn (2012) that means there are a huge number of beauty entrepreneurs that have the enthusiasm and drive to work for themselves, but lack the business knowledge to do so effectively.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Firstly, I have witnessed first-hand the risk that this gap in skills training is posing to the general public. The rise in popularity of ‘shortcut’ beauty courses means that therapists and make-up artists are not informed enough about the legal requirements of setting up a business on your own.This is dangerous and is lowering the trading standards in our industry in general.

Secondly, I have been on the journey myself, made mistakes and lost money due to my lack of business knowledge – what better way to help other’s than to share my experience and help them avoid the pitfalls that I faced?

What were you doing before starting up?

I am still doing my day job (Zara Elliot Beauty) and I absolutely love my work.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, it’s in my blood, my parents both worked for themselves.

How did you raise the money?

My day job!

Describe your business model and how you make money:

One to one coaching and training workshops.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Getting my business idea ‘out there’. My strategy to overcome this has been to set up and grow my social media following and distribute my first press release. My main challenge in the beginning was the fact that I was on my own with this idea and didn’t know where to start. Networking (Athena Network, Julie Eltham) has been my saviour.

Without this group of dynamic business women backing my corner, I’m sure I would have given up by now!

What was your first big breakthrough?

My press release was really well received in the professional beauty industry media and the feedback I received was so positive and encouraging.

I have been featured in a number of professional trade publications such as Scratch Magazine, Professional Beauty and soon The Beauty Guild.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Start by building and nurturing a positive business network around you. Having enthusiastic and ‘like-minded’ entrepreneurs around you is a great way to get un-biased feedback and keep you motivated. Never give up.

Don’t be afraid to hear what isn’t working, it’s a crucial part in your journey to success!

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Truthfully? I would like to be on a beach somewhere hot, with my two sons and a glass of bubbly. Being a young mum, business owner and a lone-parent for the past 19 years, has been really tough. I would like to build Blush Beauty Group to consist of training (Blush Academy) and professional products (Blush Professional).

I am also thinking about franchising and the idea of an online programme in the future.

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