In May 2018, two friends joined forces to launch their individual businesses side by side in premises on Victoria Road in Stoke-on-Trent, offering clients a 360-degree service. One side of the property is beauty salon Dolled Up Beauty Consultant, where Cathy Edwards does microblading, waxing, facials and reiki, while the other – pHskin Cosmetic Clinic – is where Pauline Dean carries out aesthetic treatments such as dermal fillers, botox and chemical peels.
“Cathy and I respect each other’s specialism and it’s one of the reasons we decided to team up,” says Dean. “She’s fantastic at what she does and Cathy respects me for my knowledge as a nurse. It’s a perfect pairing.”
Dean is a registered nurse who has worked for the NHS for the past 17 years and is a professional prescriber, while Edwards worked in retail management and consultancy, before training as a beauty therapist and renting a room in a hairdresser’s. The duo never would have collaborated if it wasn’t for a chance meeting.
“I met Pauline 18 months ago when she first came to Dolled Up for a brow treatment. We got on well and before long we started building a friendship. I knew she was interested in the aesthetic side of things and I’ve always been fascinated by that sector,” says Edwards.
“Every time she sat in my chair to get her brows done I would ask her tons of questions about what she did. It was just great to be able to talk about our businesses to each other. She once commented that talking to me was like having a special consultancy for treatments.”
In December 2017, a space above local hairdresser Hair By Jazz became available and Edwards was determined to take it because she needed larger premises for her business to grow. “Cathy told me about the place and asked if I wanted to come and have a look, with the idea of opening our businesses side by side,” explains Dean.
“At the time, I had been doing aesthetic treatments part-time at my own business, pHskin, while still working for the NHS.
As soon as I saw the place, I knew the idea could work.”
Operationally, the beauty salon and clinic are registered as two separate businesses “because we rent the rooms privately from our landlord [Hair By Jazz],” says Dean, but all other bills are split 50/50, such as gas and electric – a practical advantage of partnering up. They don’t share staff, as it’s just Dean and Edwards working there currently.
Despite being registered seperately, I always refer to it as ‘our’ business because we consult together and support one another
“Despite being registered separately, I always refer to it as ‘our’ business because we consult together and support one another,” says Edwards. “If somebody is coming in to see Pauline, I give them the same consideration as I would my own customers, and vice versa, because if somebody is unhappy, they would look at it as our businesses together because we’re in the same building.”
Since launching on May 22, business has been booming for Dolled Up and pHskin Cosmetic Clinic, with both seeing more customers than originally predicted, and 40–60% of clients taking up treatments with both Edwards and Dean.
“We talk about each other’s treatments to clients because we treat everyone who comes in as a potential customer for the other,” explains Edwards. “There are some treatments Pauline does that would be beneficial for my client to have after a session with me, and vice versa.”
If a client has microblading done with Edwards, for example, then they could have an LED treatment with Dean straight afterwards, which would help with the healing process, reducing redness. Similarly, if a client comes in to see Edwards for a facial but has stubborn acne on their chin, then she will refer them to Dean for a more advanced treatment using blue light.
“We also boost awareness of each other’s treatments by sharing social media posts from the other’s business account, helping to push any advertising the other is doing,” says Dean. “We’re very respectful of each other and make sure that this sharing is right and works.”
They are also boosting their reputation in the area by building strong relationships with other local businesses. “I’m hosting a lash lift day at some gyms soon. I’ve just taken on Nouveau Lashes’ LVL treatment and I want to create a buzz around it. However, when I do it, I’ll be taking all Pauline’s leaflets, helping her get business too. Anything Pauline does, she’ll take my materials also.”
An unlikely pairing
Some would say that this mutual respect between the beauty and aesthetic fields is refreshing and would argue that there should be more understanding between the two professions, but Edwards and Dean are modest, and state: “I don’t think we’re doing anything unusual. It’s weird to think we’re newsworthy.”
When I quiz them on which treatments they think beauty therapists should do and which should be left to the medics, both agree it depends on what people class as “advanced” treatments. “I would say any treatment that could cause serious side effects should be left to medical professionals who can deal with the problems; anything that’s life changing or threatening, such as botox, which can potentially shut down your airways,” explains to Dean.
Edwards agrees and adds: “When we show people around the salon, I’m always keen to take them to Pauline’s room and explain she’s a qualified nurse. I want clients to know we have someone professionally qualified, who has trained for several years and knows how to deal with things if they go wrong. I’d sit in a chair and have a treatment with her because I trust her, and that’s why I recommend her to people.”
The future for the duo is looking bright. Dean is hoping to invest in bigger machines to expand her treatment menu, which currently includes plasma non-surgical eyelid lift and skin tightening, LED and chemical peels; while Edwards is considering working as a regional trainer for a cosmetic house.
2000 – Dean joins the NHS as a registered nurse
2012 – Edwards qualifies as a beauty therapist and starts working mobile while Dean gains her prescribing qualification
2013 – Dean trains in botox and fillers
2014 – Dean launches pHskin Cosmetic Clinic, performing aesthetic treatments part-time while still working for the NHS
2016 – Edwards rents a room from local hairdresser and launches Dolled Up
2018 – Dean leaves the NHS and opens her business side by side with Edwards in new premises in Stoke-on-Trent