The Changing Face of the High-Street Salon

Ashleigh Sharman tells a tale of machinery, injectables, cosmeceuticals and the high-street salon.

As the scope of beauty broadens and equipment and product technology move at a rapid pace, so our salon, spa and clinic businesses look to redefine themselves in a competitive market.

This is the tale of a Sydney salon; your typical high-street salon offering core beauty services such as tanning, waxing, nails and facials but which, over the last five years, has seen change and growth that is reflective of many.

Dolce-Vita-4Kate Joseph is a beauty therapist and owner of Dolce Vita Beaute, a thriving salon along Newtown’s busy King St, in Sydney’s inner-west.

Studying locally at The Australasian College Broadway in 2012, hers was a sharp trajectory from graduation to full-time work to owning her first business.

“My plan was to study for a year, work for a year, and then own a salon business yet I knew nothing about the industry when I started,” says Kate of her ambitious goal.

Work experience with Dolce Vita Beaute’s long-time owner Ruby Chehade soon turned to full-time work and the offer of a lifetime over lunch.

“I was offered a job and then one day Ruby took me to lunch and asked if I ever wanted to own a business. I thought it was a trick question! Was she sussing out if I wanted to steal her business?” Kate exclaims.

“It made me feel really positive about working here as it provided an opportunity to move in the direction I had always wanted.

“However, the gap between what I learned at college and the actual work environment was immense. I was certainly thrown in the deep end but that’s always a good time to learn!”

Kate took over the business on July 1, 2014, with Ruby staying on in the business for another six months – Kate agreeing that this allowed a smooth transition not just of processes but also of loyal clientele.

A best case scenario if I ever heard one. But it wasn’t long before Kate decided to make her mark, changing the salon’s dated layout and colours and planning much-needed renovations.

Holding onto existing brands Dermalogica, Thalgo, Kerstin Florian, Vani-T and Mancine, CND Vinylux has also been added to the treatment menu, in turn boosting manicure and pedicure services; a new microdermabrasion machine purchased; and the salon’s first LED, LightStem, has recently arrived.

“I’m always looking at new machinery and currently investigating tattoo removal,” says Kate, no doubt inspired by her ink-supporting Newtown community.

“Essentially I’m trying to offer as much as possible for our clients so it’s important that I do my research, meet with suppliers and see demonstrations. I have friends who also own salons and so it’s key to share our client feedback and business advice.

DVB salon

“I’m looking for services I can add into my current treatment menu rather than sit too far outside it and most importantly, I have to believe in it.”

Looking to expose clients to what’s on offer across the vast world of beauty, Dolce Vita Beaute has taken first steps towards offering Botox and fillers through a local doctor.

Outside the realm of traditional salon services, yes, however Kate understands that it’s her safe salon environment that puts many clients at ease.

“People were coming to the door asking if we offered injectables and so naturally it sparked my interest,” she says, admitting it took some time to find the right doctor.

“We currently have lots of interest and lots of people are talking about it. However, the conversion from a free consult to an appointment is what we’re struggling to build. But I know many clients have been thinking about it so I’m glad we’re offering it.

“This is a warm, safe, trusted space for my clients and a good way to introduce ‘clinical’ elements of service but I would still define myself as a salon because the main services I offer are traditional ‘beauty therapy’ treatments.”

Kate adds that it’s important for salons to offer multi-level services for clients, this broader scope allowing for a larger range of potential clients – from organic or cosmeceutical skincare to facials, machine-based rejuvenation to fillers.

Now celebrating a year under her ownership, Kate’s next task is to have Dolce Vita Beaute work more closely with the Newtown community. There’s a hairdresser across the road, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner a couple of doors down, and a lash expert in the next block, not to mention the several successful tattoo parlours in neighbouring suburbs.

“We’re growing slowly and I’m cautious not to do anything drastic, but implementing more machinery in definitely on my radar. It’s hard to knock back a client who asks for something you don’t have and, for me, they always come first.”

Dolce Vita Beaute, 53 King St, Newtown NSW

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