This week the beautifuljobs.ie team spoke with Suzanne Alcock-Thompson, Director of Asu Nail & Beauty Supplies/ Training Academy. We asked Suzanne a series of questions regarding her success in the nail industry, along with her career path and business advice. Suzanna also gave an insight of upcoming nail trends, something we know our subscribers will love! Read on for full interview.
Have you always followed a career path in the nail industry?
Actually no, when I left school I went to college to do Sports & Leisure Management as I was always sporty growing up but after the first year I decided it wasn’t for me. While I was in college I worked part-time in a clothes shop called Morgan. We always had to be very well presented so I started having my nails done for work. It was from there I found the love for nails and beauty.
What’s your typical day like?
I have a weekly plan I try to work from, it can get flipped upside down though if I am in class teaching or travelling. I have so many roles and responsibilities being a director of a company. My business partner John and I split the company management roles between us so there is a lot for two of us. John looks after all the distribution side of things along with the day to day running of the showroom whilst I look after all the product lines, education and financial side of things. Along with managing our team, planning, marketing, promotions, business trips as well as trying to keep a little hands on in the classroom and the showroom. Last year along side our busy days we also developed our own professional spray tanning range called Cocktail Custom Spray Tanning which was an 8 month project, it was hard but very rewarding as the tan is amazing and is in hundreds of beauty salons all over Ireland and now has even reached a salon in Essex UK which we are delighted with. This year we have a new project, we are expanding Asu in size and product lines so we have even more on our hands but we love keeping busy.
Does your job include travel?
Yes, I do travel. Every month I am somewhere different. It could be Ireland or UK mainly as that is where we supply our products too however I do travel further too. We deal with companies all over the world, the main place I visit is USA but I have gone as far as Hong Kong before. In the past year alone I have been to Holland, Italy, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, London, San Francisco and New York. The travelling has increased the past while due to our expansion happening very soon so I have been on secret missions trying to source the best professional make-up products to take to the Irish market.
What do you love about your job?
It is easy to work at something you enjoy. I am in this industry 14 years and my own boss for 11 of them years. I have a passion for our industry and business so I think it is great I get to share it with our customers. I have worked in all areas we sell to: I worked from home, I worked mobile and I owned an award winning salon for 7 years with 10 staff. I sold my salon in 2011 for a nice sum after my current business needed my full attention. On top of all of that experience I have also won many awards too for business and skill. My wealth of experience allows me to select products that I know will work for the end user and then I educate the end user (my customers) on using it correctly making it not only a success for us but for them too. This results in our customers having happy clients that keep coming back for more when their service and products are one of the best. Which naturally results in their business growing along with our brands.
How do you balance work and personal life?
It is hard, my partner and I have a rule that we do not talk work talk at home but sometimes it is hard not too. But we really try to keep them both separate. When I travel for personal / family trips I bring no phone or laptop. I switch off. I try to do the same in the evenings or weekends but with social media for our business it is hard. Also if I am travelling or have a trade show I may have to work weeks with no weekends off so that can be hard. Once I arrive home in the evenings I go from busy business woman to busy mammy! Straight into dinner, homework, chores, taking my boys out or taking our dog for a walk and by the time that is all done and the boys are settled I make time for my own head space by running. I find running is one of the best ways for me to de stress and keep my head in good condition. But lately my running has taking a back seat due to how busy we have been getting prepared for our expansion in the coming weeks.
What courses have been the most popular with nail technicians?
By far our beginner nail course in gel and acrylic is the most popular. Our students are made up of all ages and some already beauty therapists but mainly students are complete beginners to the industry. We specialise in training for nails, tanning and eyelashes. Plus soon we will add make-up training when we expand to our new unit next door to us here in Swords, Co. Dublin.
What career opportunities do your students have?
They can start working in a salon or work from home. They can offer nail treatments as a mobile service too. We have had some student go work on cruise liners and travel with their nail certificates. Many have opened nail bars in hair salons or pharmacies. The choices are endless. Once you take a nail course you are never short of a few euro in your purse as nails are always in demand.
What has influenced the Irish Nail Market this year?
Nail dipping systems! Now it is Gelee, this is a gel / powder nail. It is a mix of gel base with acrylic powder. It can be used as a tip n dip system or paint on. It can be used for a natural overlay or on tips but the treatment is so easy to do it saves salons so much time on applying colour. It also is fantastic for adding strength and colour to the natural nail without having to add a tip. The range has 72 colours and 12 mood colours too. We offer a 1 day training class in it as it is so easy.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to those setting up their own business?
Go for it but only if you’re prepared to do very hard work. You must be dedicated and willing to sacrifice all you got to make it happen. Anyone can open a business but it takes a real grafter to make it work.
Do you have any nail industry trend predictions for 2017?
Acrylic nails are on the rise. For the past few years we’ve watched gel products out sell acrylic however acrylic is making a big come back. This is down to the end user being educated by well trained and informing their clientele that acrylic is not harmful on the nails when done correctly and remove correctly. Nails are being worn longer and longer now so acrylic can give better results for longer nails and sometimes can be quicker to do then gel. We’ve also seen Ombre nails created this year with soft white tips blended into make-over pink and peach tones, like a French look but with no definite smile line. This look may help a comeback of French nails with smile lines, who knows but whatever the nail trends are be sure that Asu will let you all know so make sure to like our page on social media to keep up with the trends.
Facebook – Asu Nail & Beauty Supplies
Instagram / Twitter / Snapchat : @asu_supplies
So what’s next on your business agenda?
The first quarter of 2017 has already been hectic. We are getting prepared to expand our showroom to a unit next door to us here so we will open a bigger premises and classrooms mid 2017. We have purchased the building next door to us, two long years we have waited for the deal to happen. It is a large 6,000 square foot warehouse we are converting into offices, classrooms and a showroom. Along with a busy working week we have endless planning with architects, engineers and builders preparing the place to open this summer.