Francien Vermeer (32) is the proud owner of First Expression and ambassador of Mrs.Highbrow. This hardworking and energetic brow stylist has worked for - and now with - Mrs. Highbrow for years. How did she set up her own business? And what are pitfalls to watch out for as a starting entrepreneur? Francien updates you!
- By Desi van Dijk
What do you run into as a starting entrepreneur?
Since three months Francien has her own beauty salon at home: First Expression. After years of work experience, a new big house in Hoorn and the fulfilled dream of becoming a mother, this was the perfect opportunity to start her own salon. With a small fan base of regulars Francien had from Amsterdam and a few handfuls of friends and family she already had her first clients. But setting up your own salon and collecting clients takes time and a lot of effort.
Francien: "It's true that collecting clients takes time. This is also something I ran up against. I'm a streamer and things never go fast enough for me. Of course I would have liked to be fully booked already. I am very driven and I like my work. But sometimes I have to slow myself down. Of course, I've only been open for three months. So an afternoon without customers is not so bad. I didn't expect it either, that I would have a full agenda right away, but maybe I secretly hoped for it.
A salon at home is of course different from a salon at a busy location. "Because I'm not in a busy shopping street, people don't see me. That's why I started making flyers for people in the neighborhood. Through the flyers, people could get a 10% discount on their first treatment. That way people who live two streets behind me also know that I'm here. So especially in the beginning you can make good use of the gaps in your agenda by making yourself findable. In addition to distributing leaflets, I also keep a very close eye on my Instagram. Your Instagram page is also really your business card."
"Especially with a home salon, you need to be seen and people need to know you're there."
What, on the other hand, goes very naturally as a starting entrepreneur?
"Word of mouth!" says Francien. "And I also notice that that works best to get new customers. I really like seeing that. Of course, this takes time. Because every time your customers do word-of-mouth advertising, you usually don't see it back until a few weeks later through new customers."
I would approach this differently....
When we ask Francien what beginning entrepreneurs should consider, she comes back to promoting your business. "If I was going to tackle something differently, I would have started promoting at the front end. I didn't. It's nice when you have some customers lined up in your first few weeks. I first saw how it would go without promotion. And at some point I found out that it doesn't just run by itself. Which is logical, of course." Especially if you have a salon at home, it is therefore necessary to actively look for clients in the beginning.
Francien & Mrs.Highbrow
Francien has worked at Mrs.Highbrow for over four years. She started as a manager in the salon. After that Francien was the Master Trainer of the then training courses at the academy. “I also helped develop new products,” says Francien. “Super cool!” And Francien is still closely involved in this. She is the first to test new products for Mrs.Highbrow, and she is asked for advice when Mrs.Highbrow wants to develop a new product."
What did Francien take away from her time at Mrs.Highbrow? "I learned a lot. I was first manager of the salon and there I learned how to deal with a big team. Super instructive, but I did notice that it takes a lot out of me. Now that I work for myself, I only have to deal with myself. From my position as a master trainer I have learned that I have a lot of patience. Also, I can convey things clearly and with enthusiasm."
"At Mrs.Highbrow, I helped develop new products. That was super cool!"
Francien uses Mrs.Highbrow products for almost all of her treatments. What does she think a good product should meet? "Very high on my list is that it has to be nice to use. And I want assurance of quality. It is annoying and inconvenient if you don't know how a product will turn out. A product should always give the best result. But of course your own skills are important too. In addition, the processing times should not be too long. Because then you also have to ask a much higher price to your customers because it takes you much longer. With Mrs.Highbrow's products I can tick off all these boxes." Francien herself uses Mrs.Highbrow's products for almost all of her treatments. She uses the Henna from Dyōtics, the Brow Lamination and Lash Elevation products and the Wunderwax.
What would you advise other starting entrepreneurs?
"Always follow your gut and stick to yourself. Only do the treatments that you enjoy and that you stand behind 100%. And be patient. Because it will come naturally if you do something you like and that you are good at. That's what I always tell myself. Especially in the beginning you may have an agenda that is not quite full yet, but you do something with passion and you do what you like. Therefore, have faith that it will work out. Sometimes you have to push it a bit of course, haha. But it's especially important that you bring something with enthusiasm." And that Francien brings something with enthusiasm we can say with 100% certainty!