These women abandoned the 9 to 5 routine, chose to be their own bosses and instead, offered beauty services working from home. Whether as hairdressers or beauticians, their challenges were similar but their stories diverse and experiences aplenty. Here they reveal some colour, fragrance and textures from their life’s makeup kit.
From art to heart
Suneeti Mishra of Indian Herbal Beauty, Rowville
From beautician to counsellor, Suneeti’s journey has been very fulfilling both personally and professionally. She started her salon, from home, at a time when there were not many around in Melbourne and her USP was a threading technique that is almost painless. She never looked back as people found out and word of mouth got her clients from far and wide. Her use of herbal products for treatment and care proved to be a winner with Indians.
Working from home offered her and the clients a flexibility that was not possible in a salon with regular hours. Clients could drop in on the way to work or on the way back and Suneeti was able to accommodate their bookings. Suneeti generously let them pick vegetables and seeds from her large veggie garden. They also got to sample the delicious food that Suneeti enjoyed preparing when she had the time. Clients became connections and then friends and Suneeti saw her role change gradually.
Her clients felt comfortable pouring their hearts out to her and discuss their health issues, family concerns, relationship conflicts and everyday problems. She listened and offered advice where possible. She leveraged her large number of contacts to help her clients. Doctors were referred for ailments, caterers for weddings and guidance offered, free, along with beauty treatment.
Keeping her clients’ identities confidential, Suneeti disclosed how she connected clients who suffered domestic violence to the social services that could provide assistance. She shared how she helped a lady who had no family support and was suffering from a terminal illness. Suneeti spent a lot of time giving her moral support and even had to bathe her body after she passed away as no one else was prepared to, an experience that Suneeti can never forget. Her involvement with the community became more than just offering skin treatments.
Her own strength was the support of her family, particularly her husband Alok who would ensure she would eat on days when her appointments were back to back or help her by cooking and taking care of the house and children.
“I feel blessed that I can make so many people look beautiful and feel good; I wouldn’t trade this for any other profession”, said Suneeti.
Work from home mom
Zhankana Jochebed of Zan Salon, Vermont South
As a young mother of two, Zhankana started Zan Salon from home ten years ago after she completed her beauty course and training. She was pregnant with her first child and remembers dropping off pamphlets at local Indian stores to let people know of her new venture.
“Initially, there were days when no one would come and I would get worried but I persisted and today I have no time to rest, thanks to word of mouth” said Zan. She prefers it that way as she is not comfortable having completely unknown people walk through her door.
“Trust is a two-way thing. I know my clients and they trust me so I don’t really worry much about competition. Over time we have made personal connections and I have had clients even cry on my shoulder, as they feel free to discuss everything with me. I ensure that I maintain their confidentiality and help them wherever I can,” said Zan.
Her USP according to Zan are her facials and hair treatments. “I had a client who had lost almost all her hair, I started an oil based colour treatment for her and today she has the most wonderful hair and is very grateful”, said Zan with pride.
Time Management can be a challenge but adjustments are made mutually. ”If any of my clients are running a few minutes late I am OK with that if they inform me. On the other hand if my little children demand my attention they are OK with that and often tell me to tend to them first”, she shared.
Her pet peeve, however, is people who do not turn up after making appointments and do not bother to inform her. She also disapproves of chronic latecomers. “What people fail to understand is if they are always late it delays my schedule for the next person who arrives on time and has to wait. It is a basic courtesy that some do not bother with”, she complained.
Other than that, Zan is very happy with her current arrangement that suits her as she can work around her children and be available when they need her. When they grow up she plans to invest in a brick and mortar retail outlet in a location where there is a strong Indian/Asian population.
“I am very social and love to be around people. This business gives me an outlet for communication, creativity and an income and I love it “ said Zan.
Passion and positive energy
Kiran Sekhon Gaillard of Belle De Jour, Mitcham
Kiran migrated from India 30 years ago and was offered two jobs, one at an Estee Lauder beauty counter and another at ANZ bank. She chose to work for the bank and did so for 11 years. When her first child was born, she decided to not take up a senior position offered at the bank and look after her child instead. A couple for people she knew were aware that she was a trained beautician, so they started visiting her.
Kiran was one of the few people who offered threading, at that time, and her home business took off very well, mainly from word of mouth. She did not need to advertise as she was booked out 6 days of the week and had clients travel from Sydney, Ballarat, and Geelong etc. to see her.
“The secret of my work is honesty and passion. I have a great rapport with my clients and I ensure that I am consistent with the quality of my work,” said Kiran.
Kiran said she was head hunted by Shahnaz Hussain, the world-renowned Indian beautician and trainer. Kiran had completed a 2-year diploma with Hussain and proved to be a great student. Back then, due to the time and investment required to open a Shahnaz Hussain salon, it was not feasible for Kiran to do so. Instead, she started operating from home.
Kiran finds many positives working from home especially when you have a young family. “Flexible work hours, house chores can be accomplished, most importantly your children have their mother around 24/7 with them. There are no overheads and clients get a more relaxed atmosphere. I have hardly any bad experiences but plenty of good ones,” she said.
Kiran is currently an educator in beauty therapy. She also teaches at Holmesglen TAFE and Artistry. She still operates from her home-based studio but works restricted hours, by appointment only. She is also guiding new immigrants to set up their salons or home studios and providing them skills and knowledge by sharing her experiences.
“The sky is the limit in the beauty business,” said Kiran. “Our Indian community has increased enormously in Melbourne; so has the demand for good hair, beauty and make up artists. My advice is – if you have the aptitude, passion and commitment, then go for it. It’s a very rewarding profession making others feel good about themselves. When they leave your salon with a spring in their step, you receive that positive energy back”, said Kiran.
A thing of beauty, a joy forever
Rachna Mittal of Makeover By Rachna, Sydneham
Rachna feels all women are beautiful and makeup just helps to enhance their features. She is more than happy to provide that little magic touch as a qualified makeup artist and hairstylist with specialisation in makeovers. She personally believes in botanical and organic products and loves to promote a good healthy skin.
Rachna migrated to Australia in 2009 and initially struggled to find a job. She did a Government funded course in childcare and worked in the industry for some time but her heart was not in it. Her creative side was attracted to the beauty industry. As soon as she could afford the fees, she enrolled in a Diploma of Beauty therapy and updated her knowledge through courses in makeup, hairstyling and skin analysis. She is currently completing her Certificate III in hairdressing.
She started a home-based salon in 2017 and used Facebook to promote her work. Small advertisements here and there helped to spread the word and her business got kickstarted with the support of friends and family. She found that many Indian women preferred to get their beauty treatment in a relaxed home atmosphere. It was more flexible and economical and catered to their specific skin type.
While most of her experiences were positive, she remembers working for a local beauty pageant in Melbourne where she was treated badly and not paid for hours of work. Despite that she enjoys participating in community events and often offers voluntary makeup or free vouchers for her services as a way of paying back.
According to Rachna, every woman has the right to look her best. Her favourite moment is when her clients get up from the facial bed and see their acne treated and skin rejuvenated. “The happiness and blessing I get from them is worth every minute I spent on acquiring the knowledge, practising it and implementing it,” claimed Rachna.
Today she works 7 days a week, 6 days in a newly acquired partnership at a beauty room located in Fitzroy and one day from home.
“It’s a very exciting time for me and I am glad I pursued my passion to get here. I particularly like working with events, fashion shows and photographers. I no longer need to look at the clock when I work as time just flies when you are having fun. I get a great sense of achievement and satisfaction when I can make people feel relaxed, beautiful and happy,” said Rachna.
Dimple Gupta of MUD (MakeUP By Dimple), Clayton
A day in the life of professional makeup artist and hairstylist Dimple Gupta is a balancing act between looking after her beloved little daughter, Myra, and her much loved vocation. Specialising in bridal and formal occasions, she has honed her skills in bringing out an individual’s unique beauty and making them shine.
“The best part of my job is when my clients feel that rush of confidence when they look at the mirror, after a session, and I know that my mission is accomplished”, said Dimple. She runs a studio from home and takes mobile assignments with photographers, models and commercials.
Dimple came to Australia as a student in 2007 and completed her education in Community Welfare Development. She started working for a not for profit organisation and at the same time pursued her interest in fashion and beauty. Counselling became a large part of her role both as a beautician and women’s welfare program manager.
“I worked with refugees and my work kept me grounded. When I heard their stories my own challenges seemed insignificant in comparison. It gave me enormous pleasure to offer makeup sessions for refugee women and boost their morale and help them feel comfortable in their skin”, said Dimple.
Beauty was never a passing interest for Dimple; it was a lifelong passion. “I used to always complain that my parents should not have enrolled me in Accounting while growing up in India, as I was better suited to aesthetics and should have taken up Fashion Designing”, said Dimple.
When she migrated to Australia, she worked in Welfare and simultaneously started shaping a career in beauty through training and education. “My friends often asked me why I was working on two extremes but I enjoyed both equally”, shared Dimple.
Dimple’s experience in the industry is varied but she never forgets an inspirational young woman she met on a modelling shoot who was an unfortunate victim of rape. She still turned up for her shoot the day after the incident and Dimple was asked to do her makeup. “I had never come across such a situation before but I handled it with sensitivity and care. It was inspiring to see someone so young show such remarkable resilience, I can never forget her”, said Dimple.
Dimple particularly enjoys working for avant-garde shows, fashion events and has worked with many high-end brands. She eventually opened her own studio at home so she could look after her child. Her clientele is predominantly from an Indian background and she regularly utilises social media to promote her business. She attends regular online master classes and courses to update herself on latest trends.
“It takes time to get established and at the moment I am not free to network extensively. But I am living breathing proof that it is possible to follow a dream and I hope to inspire others to go after what sets their soul on fire”, declared Dimple.