Rebecca Griffiths believes her path to winning Professional Beauty’s Therapist of the Year Award 2018 was planned out from the beginning. The Wrexham-based therapist and owner of The Secret Spa originally wanted to work in childcare but the universe had other plans – a nail appointment when she was recovering from a serious illness at age 17 set Griffiths on the path to beauty and she’s never looked back.
“I was chatting to my tech and because I was so bored having not been able to work for two years while I was ill, she said I could come into the salon and help out. The minute I got into the industry I absolutely loved it, and I love my job more now than ever before,” she says.
When the first salon she worked in was suddenly abandoned by its owner overnight, leaving an appointment book full of clients, the landlord asked Griffiths if she wanted to take it on, marking the start of her career as a salon owner. “I made lots of mistakes and learned a lot over the years because I was quite young when I took it on,” she says. Fast forward to the present day and she’s won multiple industry awards and received recognition on both a personal and business level.
However, Griffiths says winning a Professional Beauty Award stands out from her other accolades. “The PB Awards are on a different level; the way the categories are judged really sets it apart,” she says. “The win has boosted my business unbelievably; I’ve now barely got an appointment free for the next two months. Clients love to know they’re being treated by the best in the industry and I think it’s so important to enter awards to keep striving for the next achievement in your career.”
While her PB win may have been down to her personal skills, Griffiths credits her team of 10 loyal therapists with much of her success, and that of the business. “I cherry picked my staff and that’s absolutely key for me. I found a lot of them through word of mouth, as you get to know the names of therapists in the area, but I’ve always said I would never poach a therapist because I wouldn’t want that done to me,” she says.
Every member of staff is Level 3-qualified and has advanced training on top of that, so while they’re all poised to carry out the full spectrum of treatments, Griffiths encourages them to specialise in what they love.
“I always ask them what they’re happy doing and what they want to excel in. I know who to book new clients in with for particular services because I’ve got my experts in each area,” she says. “I do facials, whereas one of my therapists loves waxing all day, another tends to stick to nails and another does our holistic treatments. I think you get the best out of your staff that way, if they’re as happy as possible with the work they’re doing.”
This could well be how Griffiths has managed to retain her team for so long in an industry that’s known for its high turnover of staff. The salon’s most recent recruit joined in spring 2017, while the longest serving has been there since it opened 18 years ago. The rest of the therapists have worked at the salon for either two or four years. Staff satisfaction and happiness at work is clearly very important to Griffiths, and she organises monthly activity days for the team to have fun together and let off steam.
There are also regular trips to “inspirational” spas, which serve as a way to treat her employees as well as keep abreast of other beauty businesses in the area.
“I’ve learned that give and take goes a long way between you and your staff,” says Griffiths, referring to a recent anecdote in which a therapist had a holiday planned with her boyfriend before they broke up, so she asked Griffiths if she and another staff member could have the time off to go away together instead. “Why wouldn’t I say yes? If I didn’t, they wouldn’t see the point in helping me out in all the ways they do – like doing lots of overtime when we’re really busy. I didn’t mind coming in over those five days to cover a bit more. They had a great time and she needed that time away with a friend,” she says.
While the spa’s therapists don’t present too many challenges for Griffiths, she was faced with one when Darphin, The Secret Spa’s core skincare brand since it opened, announced it was withdrawing from the UK and Irish markets this year. “If you cut me through the middle I’d be Darphin. It was such a shock. I’d just had two of my therapists train with them a month previous and had a £7,500 order delivered the day before I found out. It’s proving a really big challenge to try to find a new skincare brand,” she says.
I always ask them what they’re happy doing and what they want to excel in. I know who to book new clients in with for particular services because I’ve got my experts in each area
Griffiths now has meetings lined up with reps from different brands, and then has a big decision on her hands, although she says the panic has subsided and the salon is now excited for a change to a new product house. “I do want a brand similar to Darphin, but some that I’ve looked at haven’t got the range of products that I need for clients who like the Stimulskin Plus line, which is the real top-end anti-ageing line at Darphin. I really like Carita, Elemis and Caudalie… but it’s a minefield at the moment,” she says.
It hasn’t been long since The Secret Spa introduced another new product house for peels – advanced skincare brand Mesoestetics. “One of my therapists is really into advanced treatments and wanted to bring in peels from client demand, so I asked her to do some research and set up some meetings with brands. Mesoestetics have been brilliant so far; they’ve been really supportive and it’s a great training process with them” says Griffiths.
While she recognises the need to offer advanced skin protocols, Griffiths says Crystal Clear’s Comcit microneedling is the highest level she’d take a therapist up to. “I’m a bit of an old fashioned therapist – I’m very wary about therapists doing injectables, so while we do offer botulinum toxin and fillers, I have my dentist brotherin- law come in to do that. I can’t risk having something go wrong; the reputation of the salon after this long is too important to me,” she says. “This is my dream business and my dream job. I couldn’t think of anything else I’d want to do.” PB
The 2019 Professional Beauty Awards are open for entries until July 6, 2018, at professionalbeauty.co.uk/awards
Griffiths gains her NVQ Level 1
Begins working with Darphin, signing up as a salon account
Opens The Secret Spa in Wrexham
Takes the salon through a rebrand, replacing flooring and signage, and redecorating
Completes Darphin Advanced Face and Beauty training
Wins Professional Beauty Therapist of the Year 2018
Celebrates 18 years of The Secret Spa