Talking to… Pandora Long |

7 mins

Talking to… Pandora Long

The London-based facialist speaks to Lollie Hancock about the importance of word of mouth, and why she left the corporate world for a career in skin

When I first met Pandora Long at a product launch a few months ago, her passion for skin was immediately obvious. Having started her career in the beauty industry after the pandemic, her growth in such a short period of time indicates her potential to become a leading name in the beauty industry in the years to come.

“I suffered with skin issues my whole life – I developed acne when I was around 12 or 13, and then suffered with the manifestations of that until my early twenties,” shares Long, reflecting on what ultimately led to her entering the beauty industry.

As a result of her own skin issues, Long has been experimenting with her skincare routine since she was a pre-teen.

“When all the other children in my class were not having to wash their face or think about anything, I had a 12-step routine with Dermalogica, which was the only brand around for young skin at the time,” she recalls.

Like many who suffered with acne at a young age, Long was left with scarring and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.

“I managed it with treatments that were available at the time,but targeted treatments that hadn’t been developed as much,” she reflects. “I still researched a lot, even when it wasn’t as much of a thing to do as a client, which gave me a lot of knowledge.”

Long’s treatment room in Chelsea, London

Career change

Long’s decision to go into skin was a complete career 180, as, at the time when she decided to begin training, she was working as a management accountant in the City.

“I was working for small businesses, implementing their financial infrastructure in the City. To be honest, I was on the edge of a burnout and not loving my job, so decided to reassess,” she says. “I focused everything into my career change – Iknew the type of treatments I wanted to provide and that I really wanted to specialise in skin.

When someone’s enquiring based on a RECOMMENDATION, it’s like they’re ALREADY IN YOUR CORNER – they come in for their treatment with NO NERVOUSNESS, and excited to see what results you can give them. There’s already a LEVEL OF TRUST there because of that recommendation. It’s the LOVELIEST FEELING

“I was aware that, with what I wanted to specialise in, I would have to do a more extensive course and research thoroughly online, where I came across Skin Philosophy.”

Explaining why she chose to complete her training with Skin Philosophy, Long says, “It was so hot on skin knowledge and theory, and I had to complete pages and pages of coursework, then theory exams, all before even touching someone’s face for a treatment. I added up all the words within the coursework assignments and it equated to a university thesis.

“I was working at a tech start-up at the time, which are notorious for being long-hour jobs, and was initially trying to balance the coursework with my full-time job, before I got to the point when I realised, I can’t do both.”

At this point, Long decided to focus solely on her future as a facialist, leaving the corporate world behind. Looking back, she realises that continuing to work alongside training was a safety net, holding her back from a career in skin.

She shares, “I also think that I was using my full-time job as an excuse not to take the leap and start a new career – not to throw myself fully in.

“In the end, I handed in my notice, and managed to get my coursework completed in about three weeks and then, before I knew it, I was thrown into practical training straight away. It was the right decision – it fast tracked everything.”

Long’s interest in skin health pushed her to complete more advanced Level 4 training and influenced the types of treatments she wanted to offer.

“If I go for a facial and someone starts using a device on me, I want to know how it’s working and why – I’m not just going to take their word for it. That was the moment I realised I was really getting into skin and this led me to completing three Level 4s in microneedling, radiofrequency and skin peels.”

Spread the word

Following the completion of her training, Long began offering mobile and home-based appointments to friends and family.

“There were a few reasons I began as a mobile therapist,” she explains. “People were still very aware of Covid-19 when I began offering services, and I was only doing friends and family. Most of them would come to me, but I would sometimes go to their houses too.

Key Dates

Long begins training with Skin Philosophy

Completes training and launches home-based treatments

Moves into permanent residence in Chelsea

Brings on second therapist due to high demand

“I felt like the mobile route slotted into with how comfortable people were at the time. Also, restrictions could have come back into place at any minute, so it was less of a risk for me than if I were to rent a room.

“I wanted to ease myself in and just provide a facial treatment and microneedling while I built up my confidence and also financially built up to a point where I could invest in devices and equipment.”

The decision to keep her initial treatments to friends and family meant that the majority of Long’s clients at the start came through word of mouth, attesting to her talent as a facialist.

“Personal recommendations are invaluable,” she shares. “I couldn’t put an exact figure on it, but maybe 50% of the people that currently reach out to me are through word of mouth. Number one, it’s free marketing, and, also, when someone’s enquiring based off a recommendation, it’s like they’re already in your corner – they come in for their treatment with no nervousness, and excited to see what results you can give them. There’s already a level of trust there because of that recommendation. It’s the loveliest feeling.”

Moving in

In January 2022, Long moved into a permanent location, renting a room within Chelsea’s The Courtyard by Paollo Sagerah, a collection of hair, beauty and health professionals founded by hairstylist Paollo Sagerah.

The location provides a one-stop beauty shop with experts from personalised amino acid supplements by Dr Aydin Duygu to osteopathy with Christopher Gaia, and microblading treatments from Daniela Paolini.

Long performing a facial treatment with the CooLifting Beauty Gun
Long working on a client in her London treatment space

“It’s really beautiful and feels really calm,” shares Long. “When I came to view the space, I put myself into a client’s shoes walking in. Of all the places I viewed, The Courtyard felt the most refined and in line with what I wanted to provide.”

As a solo therapist, working within The Courtyard also gives Long a network of people alongside her.

“Working for yourself can get a little bit lonely. Having a quick catch up in the hall is nice, and we have a big WhatsApp group, so if there’s anyone that needs to borrow anything or has any questions, we can bounce off each other; there’s a community feel.”

Long has also brought in a second therapist, Lowri Jones, under her name, due to the demand from clients for weekend appointments.

“I’m so lucky to be booked up so quickly, but due to being at the age of weddings and 30th birthdays, I found myself less and less able to commit to the weekends,” she says. “I just put an ad on Indeed and could tell from our initial video interview that Lowri was really personable and had the same ethos and ethics as me, as well as being on the same level when it comes to treatments. She’s the best.”

In the future…

Asking someone who’s achieved so much in such a short space of time what’s next for them is a big question, but Long is already planning for the future.

“When I initially started, I could have definitely seen myself with a product line and a big clinic in London, but I think that’s changed since. It’s quite a tough market, and a saturated area. My priorities have changed as well.

“More recently, I’ve seen myself going down more of an education route, maybe a bit of consultancy. For the next couple of years, I’ll be doing the treatments in clinic, and expanding that, but beyond I think it’ll be more hands off. I try not to put too much pressure on myself – I’m taking it as it comes.” One thing’s for sure; we’re excited to see where Long’s career goes.

This article appears in July 2023

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