With state of the art equipment, highly qualified and experienced tutors and flexible ITEC accredited courses and learning programmes available across evenings, weekdays and weekends, The London Beauty Training Academy (LBTA) is the ideal choice for those looking to begin a career in the beauty industry.
Cosmetologist and therapist Charlie McCorry founded Perfect 10 to offer the ultimate in mobile beauty services within the M25. The UK brand ambassador for Essie, Charlie has worked with an exceptionally high profile client base, including the Royal family, plus film stars, musicians and models.
How did you start out as a beauty therapist?
I started as a Saturday junior in a local salon in Dulwich just over 15 years ago which I absolutely loved. It gave me the confidence to work with clients of all ages, plus a passion for the industry. Who knew that you could earn money by doing a job you loved?
I worked here at the salon as an apprentice learning on the job, whilst studying for my GCSEs and A-levels. I then went on to study a foundation degree at university in Beauty Therapy & Health Studies. Again, who knew I could study my passion at uni?
I then qualified and wanted to learn more. Whilst working as senior therapist at branch of salons in Surrey, I went back to university to study a degree in Cosmetic Science, as I wanted to be the geek that knew all the ingredients and formulas that went into the products I was using on my clients. I wanted to be able to fully advise them and be as creative and as personable as possible in what I was doing.
Once I had graduated, I went on to become manager of a chain of salons in Surrey which then lead on to me discovering an article written in Professional Beauty magazine from Urban Retreat, which is the salon/spa based in Harrods. They were advertising a franchise to set up your own mobile beauty company under their brand name.
This seemed an exciting opportunity and one I could not afford to miss. I applied instantly and went through a very long process which included 4 interviews, screening tests, bank meetings to get a loan to buy the franchise, creating a business plan and many trade tests. At the time it was the hardest process I have ever undertaken but one that was so rewarding. After 4 months, I became the very first franchisee of Urban Retreat at Home.
After a very successful career of travelling the world with my clients, I had built an impressive client list. I needed help and I needed more of me so I could keep the wonderful client base I had built. This is when I started Perfect 10.
I now have a team of just over 58 therapists and a team of 8 staff in the office. We are a 24 hour company and one that travels all over the world to see our clients.
As well as owning and running Perfect 10 I am also now the UK brand ambassador for the nail brand Essie, a role which requires me to present for them on QVC UK.
Setting up Perfect 10 was a huge risk for me and a scary one at that. Going from a well paid stable job that I loved to becoming self-employed and doing a job I had never done before, I had to do my own marketing and advertising, find my own clients and create my own unique protocols and standards. I had outgoings of a new car and full set of mobile beauty equipment and a bank loan that I now had to make sure I could pay off. But this all just excited me and pushed me to work as hard as I had to to make sure this worked! I had no option. This was it – I was my own boss which was intense and overwhelming at times. The good times were amazing but the bad times were tough.
What were the challenges you faced when starting?
The hardest part was finding the clients. I worked 7 days a week. I had leaflets made, I contacted all the local businesses around me and offered the business owners a free treatment so I could then put my details in their shop. I also hoped they would love the treatment so much they would recommend me to their own clients and friends!
I also went leaflet dropping and even knocked on doors introducing myself to people as their new local Urban Retreat therapist. People must have thought I was crazy on occasion but it worked.
I made a plan – I chose 30 people who I would gift a free treatment to including influencers, business owners and people who knew other people. If I’m honest, this is what started my career. Word of mouth travelled and I was getting busy. I could not believe it but my hard work was paying off.
I had many teary moments at the beginning when I had no clients booked in or no re-bookings, which left me thinking ‘oh my goodness what have I done?’ But you have to find the self-motivation to get yourself up every day and try again. Persistence paid off. Hard work paid off.
Why did you choose to start in the industry?
The beauty industry is one that I have always been fascinated by, although I am not your typical girly girl. I was more interested in the science behind it and how treatments could make someone feel better about themselves inside and out. I also love people so doing this job was a dream come true.
At what part in your studies/career did you decide you wanted to be your own boss and become a freelance beauty therapist?
I have always been quite ambitious and always wanted to progress to the next step. I can always do better!
How have you carved a niche out for yourself? How do you keep ahead of the competition?
I had to find a niche and work on an offering that set me aside from every other beauty therapist in the industry. I did not have a pretty shop front to wow my clients with. It was just me and my equipment so I had to make sure I was the very best at what I did.
Adding the little extra touches to my treatments made all the difference, from room fragrance to music, heated blankets and a bottle of water and magazines on my iPad for my clients.
I also I worked incredibly hard to make sure I could see my clients and made myself available all day everyday, as with beauty if your clients want a manicure they want a manicure and if you are not free, as much as they may love you as a therapist they will go somewhere else to get it done if you’re not available.
I even travel the world with my clients, ensuring they do not have to compromise on their beauty regime whilst they are away on holiday or at another one of their homes overseas. I have been very fortunate within my career.
I also wanted to make sure I could work with impressive brands. While this proved difficult at the beginning of my career as no big brands wanted to work with a mobile therapist, once I persisted and proved to them that my offering was luxury and not what they had thought, they were more inclined to listen.
What advice do you have for those just starting as a freelance beauty therapist? Do people need a portfolio? What’s going to make someone stand out from the crowd?
When you work hard and are totally passionate about what you do, the world is truly your oyster. No one is going to hand something to you on a silver platter – you have to go out and get it for yourself. Have set goals and work towards them. There are going to be so many ups and downs but keep your focus. People buy into people so make sure you are your brand and you will go far.