Studio style |

5 mins

Studio style

Georgie Milton tells Ellen Cummings how she transformed an empty shell into her salon, Georgeous Beauty Studio

After earning her beauty industry stripes by working in salons at the start her career, Georgie Milton began the process of setting up her own business.

“For the first four or five years of my career, I was working for other people,” she explains. “I offered all kinds of beauty treatments which was a great experience, but I always had a little dream to work for myself. Brows were my favourite thing to do, so I trained in microblading which allowed me to leave the salon I was in and work for myself. I worked from home to start with then rented rooms in a couple of different salons.”

Milton experienced a few roadblocks on her journey to establishing her own bricks-and-mortar business. “My initial dream was to have a salon with a shopfront, and for years I would go and view different shops. I went through the motions of getting one and had a rent offer accepted, but when I went back to have another look there was black mould on the ceilings upstairs. From there, it was just red flag after red flag. I brought a builder in to have a look and he quoted me £56k to do it up. 

“It would have been great from an ego perspective to have a big shopfront, but I think unless you have a lot of disposable money to throw at it then it’s not necessary. The numbers weren’t adding up for me; I wouldn’t have made a profit for a long time.”

Finding a space

Milton’s change of heart about having a shopfront salon was well-timed, as a client of hers got in touch about a space she was looking to rent out – a former taxi firm office located behind a row of shops.

“When I first looked at it, it was a shell with a tiny toilet and a blue carpet; it was ugly! It’s very tucked away but that wasn’t a problem for me; I’ve always rented tucked-away rooms in salons or worked from home, so I’ve never had walk-in clients anyway,” she says.

The pieces continued to fall into place; having worked in a few different Surrey towns – Caterham, Warlingham and Ewell – Milton had built up a loyal clientele who were willing to travel to her, and the studio was centrally located in nearby Banstead. While the space is located away from the high street, it’s still a familiar spot for locals and parking is free, so Milton jumped at the opportunity.

Inspiration and renovation

Like most people taking on a renovation project, Milton had a Pinterest board full of ideas for her new space. “I really like the clean, Greek kind of aesthetic with arches and lots of whites, beiges and greys. I just wanted it to feel like you’re on holiday,” she says. “A lot of the salons I looked at for inspiration were in Australia because the brow part of the beauty industry is huge there.”

The space required quite a bit of work, including building in a treatment room, adding plumbing for sinks, plastering the walls, and replacing the flooring, lighting and electric radiators.

Unfortunately for Milton, she ran into some problems with the building work at the start. She explains,“I had a cowboy builder; I’d given him a deposit to start the work, and nothing was getting done. I only had a six-week window and he’d promised the work would be done in four weeks. In the end it took about 10 weeks because he ran off with my money, so I had to find another builder. I told the new one I didn’t want to give him any money until the job was finished, which he was happy with, but I ended up becoming the project manager.

“It was hard not having any prior renovation experience because I knew how I wanted the studio to look but I didn’t know the ins and outs of building work, what materials I needed, what to ask for and whether it was being done correctly or not.

“Sometimes, the builder would say he’d be finished on a certain day, then I’d come in and it wouldn’t be done. It was soul destroying because I’d put everything into that business and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to work. By the time the building work was finished, I didn’t have time to get a professional in to paint it, so my mum, two of my friends and I had to paint it all.”

For anyone else considering renovating their salon, Milton advises doing your due diligence with the businesses you choose to work with. “I didn’t go for the cheapest option, but I did go for the person who was promising me everything. I overlooked the fact that I handed over money straight away, hadn’t signed a contract and hadn’t even looked at his ID. I’ve seen those dodgy builder TV programmes before and thought ‘that would never happen to me’ – but it did!”

Benefits of studio spaces

After opening at the end of 2022, Georgeous Beauty Studio now rents out chairs to four other beauty professionals and offers services including semi-permanent make-up, facials, waxing, lash and brow treatments, nails and hair extensions.

While some people may think that not having a shopfront and being away from foot traffic could negatively affect a beauty business, the opposite is true for Milton. She comments, “Sometimes, new clients struggle to find the studio, but I’ve put a video on my Instagram highlights showing how to find it and I keep an eye on the diary to see if any new clients are booked in so I can drop them a message beforehand – but once people have found it once, it’s fine.” She adds, “Clients love how private it is. I have a few who are in the public eye and they like coming here because they feel comfortable.”

Aside from privacy, Milton says there are additional benefits to having a studio space instead of a shopfront salon, including cost-effectiveness, reduced overheads and better security.

In fact, Milton doesn’t think physical shopfronts are necessary for many beauty busineses these days, with social media taking on the role of attracting clients. “My Instagram is like my shopfront,” she says. “Clients post photos of the studio on their social media, especially the G wall art, and tag us, so that’s worked as word of mouth. I also make a lot of reels and I’ve paid people to come in and film me working. I’ve started trying to get more photos of me because clients like that, and I try to show off the space because I find that people don’t just come here for the treatments, they also come here because they like the look of the studio.”

This article appears in May 2024

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May 2024
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