LEARNING CURVE | The beauty of her job is she loves it

Daniella van der Walt owns beauty salon The Powder Room in Walmer, Port Elizabeth
Daniella van der Walt owns beauty salon The Powder Room in Walmer, Port Elizabeth
Image: Supplied

Wanting to start a family changed things for Daniella van der Walt.

The beautician wanted to continue working but have the flexibility to also be with her growing family when needed, and so The Powder Room was born.

Van der Walt is passionate about skincare and loves the one-on-one time with her clients.

Please share some background on yourself and how the business was started?

I qualified as a health and skincare therapist in Cape Town in 2002, and worked in the Winelands for a few years before travelling to England to broaden my horizons as a medical aesthetician at a Laser clinic, working alongside medical professionals administering medical cosmetic procedures.

I then returned to SA after many years abroad and decided to go back to what I was most passionate about, the pampering part of beauty therapy.

And so The Powder Room was born.

What is your core service?

My core service is skin care and skin health, having suffered with many skin concerns myself, I have a keen interest in assisting others to get their skin issues under control.

I also stock an amazing South African cosmeceutical range called DermaFix, which has something for every skin condition and concern.

What makes your business unique?

My main aim at The Powder Room is to focus on giving personal attention to each and every client.

It is not a sausage machine to get in as many clients as possible but instead to focus on quality and not quantity.

If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?

The main thing would be to find suitable premises that is convenient, secure and peaceful.

They would need to kit it out with all of the necessary equipment and product ranges and then give the very best service they can to enjoy repeat clients.

What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?

I found advertising didn’t work for me.

There are many salons in Walmer and just placing an advert doesn’t set you aside from all the others.

Word-of-mouth had to gain momentum.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?

Do something you love and the rest will follow.

What are some of your biggest day-to-day challenges?

Keeping on top of all the day-to-day administration as I am the only therapist, which leaves little time for keeping proper sales records.

Luckily I’ve found a wonderful free app that assists me with this.

What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?

Act your best, deliver your best, for today is sure preparation for tomorrow (my Dad).

How do you measure or define success in your business?

I measure success on the feedback I get from my clients, when they leave feeling relaxed after a treatment or see an improvement in their skin or they refer a friend to me, that is a huge success in my opinion.

What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?

To treat the few clients I started with as best I could every time to make sure they felt important, and from there, my business grew naturally.

To keep my salon clean, neat and hygienic at all times, and offer affordable enough services.

What kind of advertising do you do?

I rely mainly on word-of-mouth, but do also have a Facebook page and Instagram account to keep my clientele up-to-date with new treatments or special offers.

I also offer an amazing loyalty programme which rewards clients for their repeat business with  a free treatment after 10 visits.

Do you have any plans for expanding the business?

I’ve started to think about how I could offer some additional treatments, but I think I would like to partner with another therapist to do this.

How did you acquire funding for the business?

My start up costs were not that high so I used my credit card to buy the few things I needed, but it left me with high interest debt.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey? 

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve learnt that going forward, to protect my business, I will start a savings account for a rainy day.

What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like PE?

The greatest challenge was to get clients in the door at first as there are so many other salons in PE.

The advantage has been the loyalty of my clients due to our smaller city supportive nature.

What do you wish people knew about your industry?

Most people are under the impression that beauty therapists just know how to paint nails and put makeup on.

But it involves an incredibly in-depth training course with anatomy and physiology, dermatology, chemistry and physics, psychology and business economics subjects.

As it is a service industry, it is also a very physically and mentally demanding profession, with not a huge paycheck, but rewarding for those who have a passion for  it.



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