How I Converted My Garage to a Home Salon

9th Sep 2019 | By Kirsty

I moved back to Manchester from Essex in 2015, with my little boy Archie. I worked in medical sales as a Product Manager; whilst I adored my job, the hours were long and I travelled a lot. I’d started to really worry about if I’d made the right move for Archie coming back up north. With work being so full on, I decided that I needed to take a break and prioritise settling us in.

Why I chose HD Brows

I was really into fitness at the time and had signed up to do a personal trainer course that was going to take around 12 months to complete, but in the meantime I really needed an income. I’d been having HD Brows for a few years. My best friend in Essex trained with HD, left her accounting job in London to work from home and became really successful in her own right. With her support and a passion for the treatment, I decided to do the training as a stop gap until I was a qualified PT.

Building up my client base 

It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I hadn’t lived in Manchester for about 10 years, so apart from family and a couple of old school friends, I had to start marketing myself as much as I could. Social media helped loads and being part of The HD Brows Collective also helped with support whilst I was still learning about the industry. Within 12 months, I had gained a really loyal client base and I’d trained as a pro stylist. It gradually grew organically from there, to the point where I actually loved it so much I didn’t ever start as a PT!

Setting up my home salon

My partner and I had talked on and off about where I was going to go with the business long term and we toyed with the idea of converting the garage.

I didn’t feel hugely professional when people had to walk through the house to get to my room. and I didn’t feel it was fair on my clients or the boys when I worked upstairs in the evenings or on a Saturday.

In April 2018, we got three quotes to see where we stood in terms of the cost, what could be done with the space, etc. When we had the quotes, we decided on the company which we felt most confident with. NuSpace Conversions had tons of ideas, were really knowledgeable, showed us good examples of their previous work and said it could be done within two weeks. I worked out that the payments for the garage over five years would be the equivalent of what I’d pay working two days a week in a salon renting a chair, so we bit the bullet and work started a few months later.

The garage conversion process

I’d tried to be as organised as possible and was hoping to not work whilst the conversion was going ahead, but it was the holiday season and a really busy time. I tried to make sure that when they were due to do the most destructive work, I had no clients at all and then work late when they’d left. It didn’t work out at all really, as the start date was delayed by two weeks so it threw everything off and it also took about a week longer than expected. The work itself was great, but my house was dusty and noisy – I can’t lie. 

Towards the end, when the conversion was completed, I just wanted the room done. It took another couple of weeks for us to decorate and get the final snagging sorted –  I could have cried with relief at the end! All of my clients were really understanding through it and I tried to update them with little stories on social media, just to keep the momentum for my room going and also make them aware of the chaos. The builders were amazing too, so it was all worth it in the end.

The requirements of a home salon

Now my clients walk in through the front door and the entrance is right next to it, which has taken so much stress away from us as a family. I didn’t opt for an external door for a few personal reasons, but also our council would have classed me as an official business premises then. That’s also why I didn’t choose to have any external signage.

I informed our local council of the conversion and asked for a letter in writing to confirm what we had discussed, just for my own peace of mind. You may need to inform your council that you are working from home, as each council has different requirements. It is always best to be sure that you’re working in line with their requirements.

We also had to let our mortgage provider know what the conversion was being used for and take on additional insurance. So, as well as public liability insurance for my products and equipment, I have business insurance for the property. With so many people coming in and out of the house, it means there is more risk of damage.  

Creating my brand

The conversion also gave me a chance to really brand myself. I wanted it to feel that although you were walking into someone’s house in a random place near the hills, when you walked in the room, it felt like a little bit of a secret garden. I also wanted to feel like my work space looked and felt nothing like the rest of the house. Whilst working from home is amazing and I feel really grateful to be able to run a business around my family, it is sometimes difficult to always be at home. My room really does feel like I’m stepping into a work space; I feel much more professional.

I called myself The Find (because of location, not ego) as it meant I could take that with me if I move and if I choose to add or remove treatments in time. I’m not sure I’ve achieved exactly what I want yet in terms of my secret garden look but it’s such a chilled room and a pleasure to work in. I completely love it and so do my clients, which is always so lovely to hear.

Written By: Kirsty

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