Happy campers | Pocketmags.com

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Happy campers

As beauty therapists search for alternatives to the traditional rent-a-room and salon models, Lollie Hancock speaks to three therapists putting caravan salons on the map

When it comes to where to run your business from, beauty professionals have a host of options. Should you take the plunge and purchase or rent an entire salon, or join an existing business by renting a room? If you don’t want to be tied down to one location, why not go mobile and take your business to your clients? You can even bring work home with you through a home-based salon.

If none of these options fit your needs, but you’re not ready to take on a full salon, there’s an alternative route you can (literally) drive down: caravans.

Caravan conversions combine the benefits of working from home with the luxury of having your own salon to kit out as you see fit, without the financial commitments and rent looming over you, and these three beauty business owners have used this option to create fully functional, and fabulous, salons inside caravans.

RLJ Hair Nails

Rachel Jackson, founder of RLJ Hair Nails in Manchester, chose to leave salon life after lockdown forced her to re-evaluate her business decisions. “I was working full time in a salon in the Northern Quarter, where I still work one-to-two days per week,” she says. “When we moved house, we ended up buying a property with a garden which was perfect for setting up a salon in.”

Jackson, who purchased the caravan, now dubbed “Dot”, for a mere £300, spent around £1,000 on renovation, and a further £1,000 on stock to get the space ready for clients. “I wanted it to still feel like a cute, kitsch, vintage-inspired caravan, but to be as practical as possible for a salon,” she explains. If she were to change one thing, Jackson thinks she would invest in a slightly bigger caravan, but explains her reasoning: “I was keen to get a caravan with that classic shape – these are usually quite small.”

Biggest benefit: “Working at home with my little dog Uno. And only having a two-second commute.

Biggest drawback: “When the frost comes and the water pipes freeze.”

Beau Mobile

Adrienne Prior, owner of Beau Mobile, decided to invest time and effort into creating a caravan conversion after working two part-time roles – one within in a salon, and the other as a learner success mentor at a local college.

One of the main factors that led her down the caravan route was her previous experience as a mobile beauty therapist, a job she did for five years. “I’ve always wanted to own my own space and create a business that is portable – I’m very keen to use the caravan for local events,” she says.

When she heard that a family friend was looking to rehome their caravan for free, Prior says, “I took the opportunity to start my idea and convert it into a salon.” Despite not having to buy the caravan, Prior invested £3,000 into making it her dream business space, with a big portion invested in new flooring.

“I wanted to create a space in the local area that was different to everyone else around me,” she says. “A lot of the features in the caravan are my style and I have put a lot of love and attention to detail into the space.

“I did chop and change a few things while refurbishing it, but I wanted it to be perfect.”

Biggest benefit: “It’s completely mine and I can keep it clean and to the highest standards for my clients – and it’s portable and I can take it to different venues.

Biggest drawback: “The only thing at present is that there is no toilet to offer to clients. But this is something I’m looking into.”

Alicia France Evans Beauty

When Alicia France Evans decided to take a shot at beauty, an industry she’d been passionate about for years, her mum gave her the idea to refurbish a caravan and run her nails business from home.

“I have to give credit to my mum for this genius idea; we were originally going to buy a summer house and have that as the salon,” she explains. “We have quite a large, open garden which definitely needed something to fill it, and the added bonus is not having to pay rent.”

France Evans found inspiration on TikTok, where caravan owners were updating their vehicles for a new, modern look. “Because doing nails doesn’t really take up a lot of space, what’s needed is really only a table with seats either side, which was perfect in a caravan because we converted a space that previously turned into a single bed into the nail treatment area.”

After an initial investment of £1,000 to purchase the caravan, France Evans kept costs down when renovating, using leftover paint from her bedroom.

“We are quite a DIY family, so we already had a lot of products, such as paint and materials,” she says. “The only thing we had to buy was the flooring, which cost around £90. For the rest, we made use of things we already had.”

Biggest benefit: “Being able to work from my own back garden. It’s such a lovely space to be in; sometimes I just sit in there if the sun’s out and it can be really relaxing.”

Biggest drawback: “The space is definitely limited, so it only has the capacity for one person to have their nails done, and maybe one friend or next client waiting, at a time.”

This article appears in June 2023

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June 2023
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