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Image / Editorial

No Outside Investment, No Loans-How Waxperts Ellen Kavanagh Is Building Her Business

by Ellie Balfe
04th Nov 2013

Ellen Kitchen Portrait

There are many things we love about Ellen round here: her business smarts, her passion for what she does, her friendly, girly vibe and that fact that she has made, eh, ‘intimate’ waxing a lot easier for lots of us. She’ll be sharing her story, and learnings, at the next Young Businesswomen’s Forum, November 15 at Dublin’s Westbury Hotel.

Tell us the Waxperts story 

The story began in 2008 when I began working for myself unexpectedly. I rented a room one day a week, in a physical therapy clinic. Luckily I had, and still have, the most loyal clients in the world that supported me. With their encouragement and through word of mouth my client base slowly built and Waxperts salon in Dun Laoghaire was born. As fate would have it, the couple that owned the clinic relocated to the country and I took over the lease.

I couldn’t find a wax that I really loved, so naively perhaps, I decided I’d create my own. Then at the beginning of 2012 we decided we would supply the wax as a wholesale product for other salons to use. We had been approached constantly over the years with salons looking for the wax so we knew there was the demand there. With help from the Dun Laoghaire Enterprise board we obtained a small grant to help us launch in the UK. We gained some great PR in the run up to it and featured on many UK beauty sites, blogs and print magazines. We sold lots of product and made some great connections.

You create the products – tell us about that- what’s the process? I’ve had a crystal clear vision for the brand since day one. I’m not afraid to work with people better than me to get the product exactly how I want, and that’s what I do. I have the best chemist in the world that deals with wax working with us. We created Waxperts Hot Wax and Strip Wax. Both are lavender-based waxes, with superior flexibility that is unique to us. They are made with Irish skin and hair types in mind and offer a much less painful waxing experience.

What have been the peaks and pitfalls? To be honest, the biggest pitfalls or speed-bumps I’ve had have been in my personal life, but as an entrepreneur you have no time or choice to do anything other than pick yourself up and keep going. When I look back it’s been very hard but I’m proud of myself for getting through it. The peak, personally, has to be the birth of my gorgeous baby three years ago. Professionally, it’s becoming Ireland’s number 1 wax, being singled out as an Innovator at the Image Business of Beauty Awards last year and hearing from happy waxers from all over the world that use my products!

Any high five moments? So many! You have to acknowledge the smallest success to keep you motivated for the next goal. So when we wake up to an email or tweet from someone loving the wax we’re high fiving! And when you get those big calls from salons wanting to order? It’s tears of joy as well as high fives!

How do you market your company? For the salon we have actually never advertised! We made it on word of mouth. Now social media and blogging has taken over from that so we engage a lot on Twitter and Facebook. I have always had a clear idea of the brand; it’s my baby, so for me the marketing is the fun part!

If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing? I’d love to have been a Home Economics teacher.

What are your favourite beauty products? I cannot and will not leave the house without blusher, and I love Bourjois Rose D’Or. Tom Ford is my go-to-guy for fragrance and like the rest of the country I’m a Cocoa Brown Tan fan.

Best advice you were ever given? “Do what you love, it doesn’t matter what it is, but be the best at it” – My Mam

What advice would you give to your younger self? God! Where would I start?! I’d tell her, ” Be brave, trust your gut instinct and BE HAPPY!!!”

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Photography by Ailbhe O’Donnell