Abigail Smith is the Founder of Aluma Aesthetics, a beauty and cosmetic company based in Elland. Aluma specialises in facial aesthetics and lip augmentation and was established in early 2018.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
Growing up it was always my intention to go in to a caring profession, so I went to University and graduated as a mental health nurse to work in the NHS. I’ve always been interested in beauty and found that the two fields, while very different in some ways, had a lot of parallels. I’m incredibly fond of working with people and focusing on patient wellbeing, and a lot of that comes down to self-worth. I started Aluma because I saw the effect that aesthetic treatments could have on somebody’s self-esteem and wanted to continue doing that outside of my nursing.
What is your business motto?
For the company at least, what we like to say is ‘Start your journey to a more radiant you’. At Aluma we have a lot of people contacting us for their first ever facial aesthetic treatment. I believe that my work as a mental health nurse helps the clients be more comfortable and open to trying new things. With this kind of treatment, care and comfort is paramount, and we like to work with people who may be unsure and want some impartial advice.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
The first, and most important thing, that I would advise is to make sure you have all the knowledge required to enter in to your chosen industry. As I work in the medical field, that is doubly important. Once you have that knowledge, be confident in your skills. A lot of people think that business is a constant battle between competitors, but everybody is trying to support each other so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Before you begin you must have a plan to get yourself out to the public and be consistent with it. In the early days, you have to go out and find your work as it won’t come calling to you.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
Particularly within our industry, we often find ourselves working to challenge the negative stigma around facial aesthetics. Beauty magazines and the fashion industry try and paint an unrealistic body image, while at the same time trying to bring down anybody who may not meet that ideal, and you hear all sorts of horror stories.
For us, and it’s something that we tell all our clients, facial aesthetics is not about trying to be somebody else. Our treatments are about positivity and self-confidence, making sure that people are comfortable in the skin they’re in, but being able to help and advise if they’d like to make natural changes.
What do you enjoy most about running your business?
I think this goes back to why I started the business in the first place. Working as a mental health nurse, the greatest part of my job is seeing the impact it has on other people, and how it can boost somebody’s self-worth and help them.
Aluma is like that in so many ways. Being able to work closely with people and hear that amazing feedback on how positive they are now is without a doubt my favourite part of the job.
What do you enjoy least about running your business?
I love working with people, but unfortunately when you have your own business that’s not the only role you have to fulfil! As the head of the company I oversee all the administration work, from liaising with suppliers to accounting.
In a perfect world I would be able to have that done for me, but it is part of the package of having your own company.
Which business figure or company do you most admire and why?
I think the company I most admire is the one I trained with before starting the business, MC Aesthetics, who have clinics in Manchester and Birmingham. They have a great reputation and they’re certainly a future goal to aim for with Aluma.
I think what’s most important is their commitment to quality and training. They have a constant drive to improve their services and their staff, as well as make the experience better for their clients. It’s great to see in our industry.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
The first month of this company is something I’m most proud of. Having to work on everything behind the scenes with no business experience was challenging, but I’m proud of having done it. Working with graphic designers, coordinating with suppliers and ensuring that I was ready to receive clients.
I think because of the work that I did in that first month, it’s made the following few months easier. Having systems in place for marketing and having a manageable plan to scale the company have all come as a result of those first few weeks getting it off the ground.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
I’d like to expand the range of treatments we offer, as I’m currently training to provide botox and dermal fillers we’re hoping to reach a larger audience. We currently work where we are needed but in the near future we’ll be looking at having our own space and taking on further staff.
If you could launch one new product or service, what would it be?
It’s been around for a long time, but we’d like to expand in to providing Botox treatments because there is a lot of demand for it. Botox is a well known and sought-after treatment, due to it’s reputation and longevity.
It can be difficult in this industry to try and innovate yourself, as there are so many improvements happening seemingly every week! I want to try and keep an open mind and listen to our clients, to determine what they want before making any decisions myself.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
While I love having my own business, if I did have to work somewhere it would be MC Aesthetics, where I trained. They are what I aspire to achieve with my company, so if I was forced to pick it would be there.