Wednesday, January 20, 2021


Hey there, hi there, ho there!

If you're reading this, it's safe to assume that you're acquainted with me on some level. Perhaps you come in for your favorite services, or perhaps you just follow me on social media. Either way, you've likely been introduced to me in some capacity. I try to regularly re-introduce myself on my social media platforms because new people follow me every day (insert creepy *joiiiiiin ussss...jooooooin us!* chant here). However, I realized that I haven't really done so on this platform. Plus, not everyone is constantly scrolling through social media like I am (okay probably many of you are), so I thought it was time that I talked about one of my favorite subjects-ME! (Kidding! Mostly).

My name is Cherrie, pronounced like 'Sherry,' just more inconveniently spelled. No vacation keepsake keychains for this girl, lemme tell ya. I'm 34, but I feel like I'm 19 most of the time (my lower back and collagen production do not agree). I have been a licensed esthetician since 2016, and I technically (aka legally) started my business in 2018. But let's rewind a little, shall we?

I've been obsessed with anything beauty related for as long as I can remember. My grandmother always had fun nail polish and lipsticks on her easily accessed bathroom shelf, and I helped myself to many swipes of both as a child. My mother didn't often wear makeup other than brow pencil and mascara, but she had a few extras on hand that conveniently sat right on the bathroom counter. If only I could go back to 11 year old Cherrie and explain that the white eyeliner was unused for a reason. But alas, I would smear it in jagged motions across my lashline, put on half a tube of shimmery pink lip gloss, and go on about my day as if I were the 6th Spice Girl. This wasn't a daily thing, but as I got a little older, I indeed started wearing makeup regularly. Gone were the white eyeliner and shimmery gloss, and in its place was dark brown eyeshadow up to my browbone, eyes rimmed with thick black liner, foundation 5 shades too dark, and brown lipliner with corpse-nude lipstick in the center. Why yes, I'm still cringing at my 8th grade class photo. Isn't everybody? We'll skip over the glittery green cream shadow days and head straight to my early 20s, thank you very much!

Because I was free to be creative with makeup for so many years (thanks, Mom!), I did eventually become fairly good at it. I would always be asked to do my friends' makeup on nights we'd be getting ready to go out (which seems like centuries ago, to be honest). Then, I started getting asked to do people's makeup for events that they were going to. Eventually, I started to build a rudimentary makeup kit and took freelance gigs-aka friends of friends were asking for recommendations and I was willing to do it for less than professional makeup artists were. I did the makeup for several weddings, and then began assisting other artists at events and weddings too. Now, I didn't make a career out of this. It was simply something I liked to do. I actually studied to be an elementary school teacher (and all you parents out there should be thrilled that I didn't end up going through with it, yikes). I did think about taking makeup artistry courses, but it seemed like an unnecessary expense for something that I had no real ambition to make a career out of. I had started seeing an esthetician in my early mid-twenties (hi, Adrienne!), and from time to time she would comment that the beauty industry might be up my alley. I didn't think I had what it took, to be honest. So I continued nannying and putting off thoughts of a career, but I did put myself on a few mailing lists of beauty schools in New York (CT did not have a licensing program at the time) just in case. Good thing, too, because I went through a breakup, and like most young women who have a flair for the dramatics, I decided to do something rash. I lost some weight in a weight loss competition, used my $950 winnings to head to New York and sign myself up for an esthetics course at Atelier Esthetique Institute of Esthetics. I had only been to NYC a handful of times in my life before that, and didn't know my way around AT ALL, so this was a big step for me. That relationship was good for something, I guess.

I worked my butt off in school. I didn't just want to be the best-I gave myself no other option. I didn't get less than an A on any test or assignment. I took it very seriously and studied almost every minute that I wasn't working my 10 hour a day job. I woke up at 5:00 every Saturday and Sunday for almost a year and drove to South Norwalk train station, where I took the 6:33 train into NYC. I didn't know how to navigate the Subway and couldn't afford cabs because I was paying $800/month out of pocket just for my tuition, so I walked to and from Grand Central Station to 14th & 7th every school day. Am I telling you this to impress you with my dedication? Yes, yes I am. I want you to know how dedicated I was to what I was doing, because it's what got me where I am right now-a business owner! But before I got to where I am right now, I followed a different dream. Being in NYC for school made me fall in love with it, and I thought there was no better place to start a career in the beauty industry. I took a leap of faith and moved to Brooklyn to embark on my journey into my new career. 

After living in NYC for about six months and feeling like I'd mastered the waxing aspect of esthetics, I began applying for jobs in skincare. I had my first interview and scheduled a second, where I'd be doing a facial demo...but before that could happen, I got a text from my own esthetician. Adrienne had been sharing her Ridgefield space with someone, and that person was not going to resign their lease. Would I know anyone who might be interested? Why yes, indeed I might...When she told me the price, I couldn't believe it. I knew that it was an opportunity that I had to consider. It was hard, though. It was the end of summer in New York, and I was having the time of my life. I had favorite places. I had friends. I had opportunities...but if I had moved to NYC to get experience as a stepping stone to being a business owner, why let a chance to do it sooner slip away? I hadn't been there as long as I'd wanted to be, and I'm not sure I would have ever come back without the opportunity, but I took another leap of faith. They kept working out, so why not? As it happens, I'm still mid-air. 

I moved back to CT in September, and I can tell you that moving in with your parents while you're in your 30s is not ideal...especially when you have to share a room with your sister. I had no savings. No car. No supplies at all. I took out credit cards with an already crappy score and started small. I didn't even have the money to get an LLC at first. I took family and friends and then friends of friends. I was still taking the train to my wax specialist job in NYC 4 days a week, where the commute was almost 3 hours each way. I did this until March, when I absolutely could not take the commute any longer. I got a car, got a job as a nanny, and changed my schedule again. A couple of evenings a week, half day Saturday, and Sundays. Between nannying and my business, I worked 7 days a week. I officially formed my LLC in November of 2018, struggled my way through 2019 while still working myself to the bone, and had very high hopes for 2020. We all know how that went! I briefly gave up, to be honest, and decided that when my lease was up at the Ridgefield location, I'd be closing my doors and maybe trying again in a few years. The defeat didn't last long, though. It was only about a week or so of despair until my friend Bethany told me that her friend was looking for someone to rent out a room in her wellness studio right in downtown Bethel. Downtown Bethel! Where I live! My dream location! Who was I to give up when opportunity still felt like knocking? Pandemic be damned, I met with Lori and leapt again. I was only allowed to do waxing from July-October, but I made it work (despite my nanny job ending six months before I was prepared for it to. Goodbye, safety net!). Facials resumed, and I was thrilled. Then, in October, a fire broke out in our business' building. My freshly painted space was ruined, along with a couple of furniture items/products/supplies. Honestly, I felt ruined too. I couldn't believe that after all of what had already happened in 2020, I had to deal with a fire. Luckily, it was only a couple of weeks before Lori found a temporary location and we were back up and running, but it was so much to deal with. Again, am I telling you this to impress you with my determination? Again, yes. But now let's get to the point.

When I had the chance to move back to CT to start my very own business, I could have designed it any way I wanted. I could have chosen to stick with just waxing. I could have chosen to be a facialist and focus only on skin. I could have went the makeup route. I was in control of creating whatever kind of services I wanted, and could price them any way that I wanted. I realized that I didn't want to focus on just one aspect of the beauty industry-I loved waxing, skin, and makeup. So I decided that I would offer all three. Working as a wax specialist at EWC, I learned a lot about the business. More specifically, I learned a lot about what sucks about the business. Visiting spas around NYC and in my hometown taught me about what I wanted and didn't want as well. I decided that I wanted to design a beauty studio that catered to people like me and my friends-average people who want a comfortable experience without having to spend an arm and a leg. I'm not really a "spa" girl. I hate the all white, cold, exclusivity vibe. When I think of places like that, I think of being at a fancy dinner with well dressed strangers while I'm stuck in the corner wearing sweats and confused which fork to use for what course. I don't feel like I belong. It doesn't feel like something I could make a regular part of my life. Plus, the prices can be bonkers-a lot of the spas that I researched charged almost $100 for a 30 minute facial. I was determined to create the opposite environment because I knew that I wasn't alone in thinking those things. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that there's anything wrong with these types of places, the practitioners that pour their heart into it, or the people that love going to them. I don't think there's anything wrong with a business charging whatever they want for their services. But unless a person has a lot of room in their budget, it's not something they can do on a monthly basis. As a matter of fact, most of my friends had either never had a facial before or only booked one for a special occasion. I thought...why do beauty services feel so exclusive and expensive? What about regular people? Despite other professionals in my entrepreneur group trying to dissuade me from designing an affordable beauty business, I was determined to prove that there was a desire for it. And though I'm still in the "start up" phase of my business (aka the struggle phase), the fact that I'm still kickin' means that I was right. 

I work very hard to keep my prices low. I don't do so because I don't value my work, I do so because I think that there's an entire group that is being overlooked when it comes to the beauty industry. But I see you, because I am you. We ALL deserve to look and feel our very best. I might not have fancy sheets or machines, but it's because I'm dedicated to bringing you an amazing experience that doesn't cost you a car payment's worth of cash-and as you've read, when I'm dedicated, I make it happen. I don't know what the future of my business holds, but I can promise that I will remain rooted in my mission to make beauty services affordable and accessible for all. You won't be seeing a chandelier anytime soon, but you'll definitely be glowing like one. 

love & lipstick,

No comments:

Post a Comment