Green beauty salon thrives during pandemic
When Astoria Smith opened green beauty salon Lacquered Lounge, she was not nervous. She had a business degree.
“I knew what I was doing,” she said.
And when the pandemic started two months after she opened on Water Street in St George’s, she had a loyal following left over from three years running a mobile beauty business.
“I am so grateful to them,” she said. “They kept me going.”
But Ms Smith believes there is opportunity in every crisis.
Exactly two years after opening Lacquered Lounge, she is thriving.
“Business is good,” she said.
In fact, she thinks Covid-19 might be driving business up for her.
“People are looking for a healthier alternative, especially after knowing what happened with Covid-19,” she said. “That has given people the opportunity to look at their life and make decisions based on what will be best for them. That has been really good for me.”
The pandemic has taught her the importance of flexibility.
“Because I am only one person, I can do that more easily than a large business,” she said.
She runs Lacquered Lounge by herself, but she thinks that by next year she could be in a position to take on an employee.
She noticed a need for non-toxic beauty products when she started her mobile beauty business in 2017.
“Some of my clients were pregnant or breast feeding, or had health conditions,” Ms Smith said. “Some of them just wanted healthier options.”
She started looking for alternatives to traditional nail polish which can contain a number of worrying chemicals, such a formaldehyde, named a potential cancer causer by the National Institute of Cancer in the United States.
“That took me down the rabbit hole,” she said.
Soon she was also looking for other alternative beauty products.
“Most waxes have plastic in them,” Ms Smith said. “I have sourced a biodegradable 100 per cent beeswax that can be used for hair removal. I have had a lot of ladies switch over because it is gentle. Many people have less of a reaction to the beeswax than they do to the chemicals in traditional wax.”
She started offering manicures, pedicures, waxing, facials and make-up application using non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free products, and also selling those products.
She chose to set up in the old town because she is from St George’s. Her grandparents, Juliet and George Herman, ran the Carriage House restaurant for many years. Now, many of her customers are from the East End, but are also from other parts of the island.
“Many people are looking for an escape and a getaway,” she said. “They are willing to travel. And I am open until 8pm and open on Saturdays and Sundays. I wanted to make sure that I gave people the availability to come and utilise my services. That has worked out really well.”
In her younger days Ms Smith tried working in other industries, such as hospitality and banking, but never felt happy.
“I had always been interested in beauty,” she said. “So I saved up and sent myself back to school.”
At first she thought she would do make-up and nails, but decided to take as many classes as she could.
“I went to Toronto and filled up that fall semester with waxing and different areas of beauty,” she said. “I got out before the winter set in.”
Now she sees between five and six clients each day, but can work with as many as nine or ten people.
She also sells a mix of local and foreign eco-friendly products such as candles, phone cases, notebooks and other things.
“They are made by a mix of foreign and local people, mostly women,” she said.
She goes for things that look colourful, bright and exciting.
“Moving over to green can be daunting,” she said. “Sometimes people think that means they have to wear brown make-up for the rest of their life. It doesn’t.”
She wants people to say ‘wow, this is green? I can’t believe that!’
For Valentine’s Day she is selling a special basket in collaboration with local artist and mixologist De’Javon Paynter known as Dae Dreamer The Artist. It will include a customised drink package, two pieces of art and a self-care kit for lovers, among other things.
“It is everything needed to have the perfect night together,” Ms Smith said.
For more information see Lacquered Lounge on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok @lacqueredbda, call 735-2265 or see www.lifestylebylacquered.com