Q&A with Lara Wicksteed, Co-owner of YouBar Illovo

Beauty Warriors had an opportunity to sit down and chat with salon co-owner and boss babe, Lara Wicksteed. Lara is the co-owner of YouBar in Illovo. Here’s more about her and her salon, let’s use this as an opportunity to support local entrepreneurs.

You had a successful job working for a beauty brand for 4 years, and you gave that all up to start your own business. Tell us a bit about what your average day entails being a business partner.

Working in corporate could’ve never have prepared me for what it’s like to be your own boss as well as the boss to 27 ladies 7 days a week. Each day is different but there are a few things I like to start each day with. I begin by checking what each of the salon’s schedules are like for the day, ensuring my staff are arriving before their clients so that they are ready from the get-go. That ranges from having the right tools, to the shampoos to the QMS moisturiser on the shelf. Completing the general tasks before the day begins guarantees a day without hiccups and it allows me to engage 100% with our special clients – probably the most favourite part of my day. When you have happy clients, you feel like you’re doing something right and everyone leaves with a smile on their face.

What is your greatest challenge in co-owning your own business?

To meet each client with the consistent, high standard we believe YouBar delivers. Running two salons on two different floors with a compliment of 27 ladies, 7 days a week, 12 hours a day has proven that there are no rewards without challenges. Staff management and coordination are two practices I’m still trying to perfect – which may be the wrong term when you’re trying to attend to everyone’s own unique working style.

It’s rather a job that requires adaption but I believe with the right principles and mutual respect in place, it can result in a high standard of service we aim to offer at YouBar each day.

What do you consider to be the personal strengths that have helped you achieve the success that you have today?

Persistence, patience and the ability to never stop learning. I’m someone that simply does not give up until the job is done – I have a relentless nature for ‘if you start something, you must finish it.’ I hope I inspire my staff to do the same. There is always something bigger and better to work towards – giving everything I have into this job has shown me that. Some days are tough, but I realise that I made this decision and I am so damn proud and grateful that I did.

Barbara and Tarryn, my business partners, are two people who have led me to where I am today. They have shown me the ropes of YouBar and running a business. They are two inspiring women who deserve an article on their own but it’s a reminder to me that you are only as strong as your team. So, thank you Barbs and T.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love running (away from my problems).

Running Ultra Marathons has taught me another kind of determination I never deemed possible in my young 32 years. I enjoy the quiet time to reflect and withdraw from the day-to-day worries and to simply do something different with my day. But if I had the chance to do my most favourite thing each day, it would be to wine and dine but that would require more running which my diary just does not allow.

How would you describe your salon’s style?

Striking and chic décor at both stores. We describe the style as ‘New York City chic’, with copper fittings – especially in the downstairs store. While both stores look similar, there is a marked difference in atmosphere between the two: the upstairs store has a calm and serene feel, while downstairs is much more ‘vibey’, with a more energetic environment. The hair salon needs the upbeat music in the background to meet the sound of hairdryers in action.

At YouBar we definitely try our best to ensure that for the guest, it is “All about you!”.   From our specialized teas or bubbling champagne to our premium brands that we use for all services. There are really no short cuts at YouBar (unless that’s what you’re looking for ;)).

How do you keep clients coming back for beauty treatments in this tough economic climate?

We really like to give back to our loyal and regular guests at YouBar.  So to ensure we do that, we offer a weekly discount as well as a monthly ALL OUT special. We normally try to do specific hair, or nail or skincare special to focus on all spectrums of guests.

In addition, we aim to leave each with a positive, memorable experience that they want to come back to. Our ladies each have their own unique style and personality which truly impacts each service delivered by either upstairs at the nail and beauty salon or our hair salon downstairs.

How do you motivate yourself to remain positive in the months when business isn’t booming?

Plan: anticipate the upcoming tough months (like winter) and implement action plans to support you through them. I am also very adamant about staying the course – be consistent. Find the smile and make sure that you treat every day as if it is your most successful day, even if it is not. And always keep in mind… SUMMER is coming J

Who would you consider to be your biggest influences and why?

In today’s day in age, we are exposed to so many aspects of influence that no single one I can say is my influence. Society, I think, has a huge influence on businesses – to always be dynamic, to keep up the trend and sometimes make it, otherwise, you will be forgotten.

I do always have my parents in the back of my mind, who taught me about hard work and ethics.

What should we expect from you next?

There are so many opportunities to diversify, grow and expand but I have thought about just mastering my craft. Doing what I do but being the best at it. The undisputed.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?

  • Do your research
  • Know your competition
  • Be unique but familiar
  • Be brave and vulnerable – nothing is ever worth doing unless you are giving it everything you’ve got
  • Accept that you are going to fail and fail again but there will be days that those failures taught you what not to do
  • Find a mentor – you’re going to need the guidance and support that you can’t always look for in those that surround you, all day every day

What differentiates YouBar from other salons?

It is the beautiful combination of our incredible team, our very special clients brought together by amazing brands. You’ll just have to come to see for yourself 😉

How best should people contact you if they want to book an appointment with you?

Giving us a call, make your booking with our lovely front desk managers.

Otherwise, it is also easy to fill out your online booking from our website.



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