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Lessons in survival for Lacquered Lounge

Astoria Smith, of Lacquered Lounge, has got through the past three years in business through creativity and a sense of connectedness with others (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

This month, St George’s entrepreneur Astoria Smith has reason to celebrate.

Exactly three years ago, she opened the eco-conscious spa and boutique Lacquered Lounge on Somer’s Wharf in St George.

Since then, she has encountered many unexpected challenges, brought about by the pandemic, which started almost as soon as she opened her doors.

“Because of the pandemic there were times when there was no money, or very little money coming in,” she said.

Then last December, she had a new challenge.

“I came in one morning and found I only had one working electrical outlet,” she said. “And it was my busy season.”

Her landlord “hooked her up” so she could get through the rest of the month. Then electricians had to completely replace the wiring.

“The wiring was just old,” Ms Smith said.

Lacquered Lounge closed on January 11 for rewiring and reopened on February 2.

“Every time they thought they were done, there was another issue,” Ms Smith said.

But she is glad the work was carried out.

“They say now that my electricity is working more efficiently, my Belco bill might be lower,” she said.

Ms Smith thinks her ability to connect with people could be one of the skills that kept her going during the pandemic.

“One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is giving myself grace,” she said. “When you start a business, you have all these goals and you want to get to them as quickly as possible. But that is not very realistic, now.

“Another important lesson I can take from the last three years is to make sure I give myself time to relax, be creative and reset, so I can show up better for my clients.”

When she first started, she would take appointments whenever, including on her days off or late in the evenings. She soon found herself working 12 to 15-hour days, seven days a week.

“If you don’t give yourself a break you will get burnt out and miserable quickly,” she said.

Another help has been the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation. She finished the BEDC’s yearlong incubator programme last June.

“It was helpful because when you are in business for a while, it is easy to get jaded,” she said. “The newer entrepreneurs who are still in the ideation phase are so bright and shiny and can give you a different perspective. It is re-energising. It is cool to bounce ideas off everyone and be the support for each other.”

Lacquered Lounge offers manicures, pedicures, waxing, facials and make-up application. Her most popular services are brow work and pedicures.

Since opening, she has seen the green beauty industry really grow.

Until recently, she was not able to offer her customers a gel polish because she could not find a non-toxic option. Then last year the nail polish brand Janet and Jo released a gel polish for the first time.

“Now they have released a halal product line as well,” she said. “It is really cool to discover new products. There is definitely a shift in the industry.”

She is also seeing a change in the services that customers want. Earlier in the pandemic many customers wanted their brows done because that was all you could see when someone was wearing a mask. Now people are shifting back to wanting full-facials and facial-waxing, because they are not wearing a mask as much, or at all.

Lacquered Lounge

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Published February 07, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated February 07, 2023 at 9:52 am)

Lessons in survival for Lacquered Lounge

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