Making a name for yourself is a tough business, and as a female, unfortunately, it can be still be even more challenging feat. Thankfully a growing number of women are rising to the challenge and beauty guru and expert waxer, Ellen Kavanagh is one of them.
Ellen opened Waxperts salon back in 2008 and developed a range of products from there giving the women, and men, of Ireland a whole new way to stay silky smooth.
Taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us, Ellen filled us in on how she started the business, her advice for new entrepreneurs, and her fashionable secrets, as well as who’s closet she’d love to raid and her favourite place in the whole world.
The number of women running their own businesses in Ireland has increased, what do you think has encouraged women to do so as of late?
I think the fact that it’s more visible through social media and press that other women think “yeah, I could do that or similar”. Also the supports are much stronger now, in particular Going for Growth, which is a female mentor-based program and has several groups within from pre-revenue to established, and a separate one for rural Ireland called Acorns. It’s fantastic support for women in business.
Which other Irish women in business do you admire?
Louise Phelan from PayPal has been an amazing mentor for me. Oonagh O’Hagan from Meaghers Pharmacy, Ruth Monahan from Appassionata and Pippa O’Connor-Ormond are all good pals of mine, super businesswoman and all doing very different things and all mothers too!
Regardless of how well you know someone it’s important to support others. There’s enough success for everyone so it’s better for all of us to help one another.
Waxperts is an excellent example of entreprenurial success, who did you turn to for advice beforehand?
No one. Only because I had no one really to turn to. Back at the very, very start it was my clients that encouraged me to go out on my own. They really believed in me and that made me believe in myself.
Who would you want to play you in the film biopic of your life?
Janey mac, I don’t know. I’m 37 so who’s around that age? Gemma Arterton maybe?
And what film could you watch over and over again?
White Christmas starring Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby. We grew up with it and it just never gets old.
As part of the beauty industry, what are your three desert island beauty essentials?
Waxperts Wonder Pads. They are the best little multitask for face and body. Great on spots, bumps, bites, ingrowns, prickly heat and more.
Also Waxperts Beautiful Body Oil, it’s an easily absorbed lavender-based body oil that’s simply fab.
Then a FRESH Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15 in coral, because you could use it as a blush too.
You are one very fashionable lady, what would be your most treasured item in your wardrobe?
That’s a tough one! Maybe my wedding shoes. They’re Manolo Blahnik and a silvery gold.
Aside from this, what are the other three things that you would save from your house in a fire?
After my family and our dog, my jewellery, my handbag and my phone.
We all love a good fantasy – if you could raid any celebrity’s wardrobe, whose would it be and why?
Olivia Palermo rarely puts a foot wrong with fashion. Or Miranda Kerr.
How has social media helped your business?
Social media allows people to become part of the story, the brand and the people behind it. It’s helped us grow our business both in Ireland and abroad. We use our accounts socially and we interact with our followers.
Each platform – Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat – has a different audience and they all work in different ways but they support each other.
It helps that we in Ireland have a ferocious appetite for this stuff and we’re all quite nosy so we love watching other peoples daily lives.
What one business tool would you recommend start ups to avail of?
Get involved with you local enterprise board. Go to business networking events, and start reading and learning everything you can about building a business or brand.
Winning at Image Business of Beauty Awards, how did that feel for you, and your team?
In 2015, I won the Beauty Innovator Award and it was amazing. We have such innovated products and it’s one of our core values so to win that was just brilliant.
Then in 2016 we won Best Front of House, which was incredible. Being a waxing-only salon we can sometimes be overlooked for salon awards as we only do one treatment.
So to scoop that award meant so much to our entire team who work so hard to look after every client that visits Waxperts. I was extremely proud of the team winning that.
Where is your favourite place in the world and what makes it so special?
I love Las Vegas. My business partner Trish and I go every year and we have the best time. We don’t stop laughing from the moment we set off. We go for a work conference so technically it’s work but we like to work hard and play hard.
Weirdly, we both really switch off and relax when we’re there – which is unusual to hear about Vegas but we’re not there to gamble or party all night. So there is another actually chilled side to the sin city!
And what about your favourite guilty pleasure?
Ah, I don’t believe in guilt being associated with pleasure. Life’s too short. Enjoy the things you love and dump the guilt!
If you could invite four people – living or dead – to the ultimate dinner party, who would they be?
My dad, Ronan, he passed away when I was 16. Ava Gardner, I’d say she has some stories to tell. My business partner Trish, she’s my best friend and we just have the best time together. And sure I couldn’t leave out my mam, Kit, she’s 80 next year and if I’m half as good as a mam as she is, I’ll be happy.
Tell us your favourite quote of all time.
“What’s meant for you won’t pass you by.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
In relation to my career, “do whatever you like but make sure you’re the best you can be at it.” My mam gave me that.
To whom did you last say “I love you”?
My little four year old son, Cooper.
As a little throwback, what did you want to grow up to be at age 10?
And what is it now?
I adore the job I do. I’m very lucky.
To purchase any Waxperts products or book a treatment, visit waxperts.ie, or stop by the salon at 13 Patrick Street, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin