For Katherine Flood, the beauty industry was always where she was destined to be. “I never really excelled at anything at school and I just absolutely loved those two years in college,” she says. “I really thrived and felt like I found my calling, it was a wonderful feeling.” After her NVQ training, her passion for the industry took her around the world, working in salons and day spas before striking out on her own with her salon, Totality Day Spa, which she opened just weeks before her second child was born. Employing her own team, she won a number of awards along the way, including Babtac’s Beauty Therapist of the Year and Salon of the Year.
Her next venture saw her opening The Clinic in Tring alongside therapist Janet Miller, specialising in advanced skin treatments and hair removal. After selling the business in 2016, Flood set up Kt’Signature Skin & Beauty, now based at Haringtons in Wendover, where she offers advanced skin treatments alongside beauty and body treatments.
With 24 years of experience, her varied career, impressive treatment skills and passion then led her to win Professional Beauty’s Therapist of the Year Award in 2020.
Throughout being employed by salons to growing her own business and team, there is a common thread throughout Flood’s career, which is providing the client with the best experience possible.
A winning mindset
“A great therapist is someone who listens to their customer, and no matter what is going on in their personal life, as soon as that client walks through the door you tune into them – even their body language,” she explains. “Whether they are in for an eyebrow wax or a full spa day, you need to tune in to them and that is really what sets you apart. I think of everything from how the treatment room smells to what sounds they can hear.
Attention to detail is what makes a good beauty therapist,” she adds, priding herself on tailoring each treatment for her client with in-depth consultations, even for existing clients on her books.
Flood has also stays ahead of the latest treatments, products and innovations by continuously upskilling through further training, accumulating more than 500 hours of postgraduate training, including over 60 certificates from Dermalogica alone. She credits regular training as the best way to stay inspired as a therapist.
“Make sure that you still enjoy what you do; it is a job, but it’s a job that we can all feel so passionate about and get so much reward from,” she says, recommending further training if you feel stuck in a rut.
“I would say keep up the inspiration by making sure you’re keeping up with the education and looking at new products and treatments to keep that spark alive,” she adds. “And when you’re going on postgraduate training courses, you meet with people and it is a great network. I love connecting with other salon owners as you know you can inspire and support each other,” she says.
Striking the balance
However, Flood’s successful career hasn’t all been plain sailing. Like many great therapists, she has navigated work in tandem with parenthood, as the mother to five children and three stepchildren. “With each child that came along, I found it harder to keep the salon,” she says on selling her business in 2016. “I felt like it was time to take that pressure off and focus more on the children.
“It was easier when they were younger as although I couldn’t do treatments, I could go in and check messages and make sure all the therapists were OK,” she says. “I now have two teenagers and one pre-teen and they almost need you more as they get older. I think because I loved my career so much it didn’t feel like a hard balance being my own boss, because I could still pick them up from school and make sure it’s all managed in my diary.”
When it comes to the challenges facing the industry as a whole, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, Flood says the quality of therapists is one of her biggest concerns. “It’s a very saturated market and I think it can weaken the quality and integrity at times,” she says. “I haven’t interviewed for a new therapist for a long time but there are a lot more people doing training online, and often that’s not as good quality as someone going to college and doing their full course,” she says.
“It’s not their fault, they just haven’t had a tutor or someone correcting them. There are still some really good therapists out there but, for some, the role is just not for them. They might work in a salon for a couple of years and then realise they are better suited somewhere else,” she says. Her peers within the industry have also noted the challenges of competing with retail giants. “I know they really struggle with products being sold online,” says Flood. “My advice would be to encourage clients to support their local skin therapists. If they enjoy your business then they should try and support you by purchasing products directly from you,” she says.
“But on the positive side, clients do see treatments as a regular part of their week rather than a treat now. So, I think that’s something I’ve seen change since the pandemic. People really value our services – as a necessity to have that facial or massage,” she says.
A bright future
After winning Professional Beauty Therapist of the Year in one of the most challenging years for the industry, Flood encourages others to enter. “Winning the award was an absolute honour,” she says. “I’d been meaning to apply to the PB Awards for years and never got round to it because you’re taking time out of your diary, but I was so chuffed to have made it through the finals, then I was really surprised to win.”
The award has since boosted the profile of her business. “Winning the award has raised local awareness and it is a fantastic accolade to have and to be able to promote to your clients,” says Flood. “I would really recommend to any therapist thinking of entering that they do, because if you market it correctly afterwards, it can have a huge influence on your business.”
Her advice for those battling it out for the title this year? “Think of what your niche is; your unique selling point that makes you different to the therapist next door ,and try and get across how passionate you are about your clients,” she advises.
Looking ahead, Flood is concentrating on offering skin solutions for clients who want lasting results but don’t want to go down the injectables route, specialising in mircocurrent, microneedling and ultrasonic exfoliation. “I just love to give clients the opportunity to not have to go down that route if they don’t want to. I feel passionate about improving their skin health in a more natural way,” she says.
Her enthusiasm for ongoing education is clear, as she is also planning to offer postgraduate training for qualified therapists with a focus on electrical devices, and is currently working on a manual with fellow industry peers, due to launch next year.
“We’re looking at having a way that we can do postgraduate training for existing therapists – whether we are going to salons or having studio is yet to be decided – but we really want to focus on qualifying skin therapists in all the electricals, not just microcurrent and ultrasound, but also LED and microneedling,” she says.