LONDON, United Kingdom — Have you heard of Gwenelda? If not, it’s time to download their App and book your first appointment with a beautician, who will introduce you to the wonderful world of mobile beauty that is sweeping Europe and the US, after having great success in Asia.
Daniela and Barbara, full time working mums and ladies on the go, knew about mobile beauticians but couldn’t find any services that would cater for demanding and busy ladies; so they created their own, and the yummy mummies, fashionistas and jetsetters of London are loving it! A high quality manicure or blow dry from the comfort of your home, while you run through the last rehearsal of your presentation, is just what you need to get you in the mood to conquer the world!
Barbara says: “Gwenelda is an Indian American name that means princess, but more importantly, Gwenelda in my head is the name of a lady, not necessarily beautiful, but a lady that knows what you need and how to take care of you! In a world where we’re running around, working, taking care of others, it’s nice to have someone to come and take care of you, occasionally.”
The main clientele of Gwenelda are the working women, over the age of 25, in London. “For the moment we are catering mainly to woman and offer services for men as a package (i.e. his and her massages),” explains Daniela while Barbara adds: “We will look into opening up to that world as well but feel it requires a different focus and marketing angle that we need to perfect with the ladies first.”
This mobile beauty experience sounds like an interesting world, so I asked to join the Gwenelda team on a day of treatments around London. Wish me luck!
First Stop: Blow Dry
There is nothing like being on time and the first beautician is even 5 minutes early … she’s German. We then make our way to the client’s house, an Italian working mum in her early 40’s. While I’m preparing my notebook and my camera, I soon realise that the two ladies have already exchanged names, instructions and even hair style tips.
Although it’s Carmen’s first time with this particular client, she knows exactly what she needs to do and the client feels at ease and can keep working, while her hair is being styled. “I’m travelling for work today to Copenhagen and I need a blow dry,” Beatrice explains while Carmen suggests some of her favourite products to use, specifically a volume spray from TIGI Bed Head. “I work independently but I also work twice a week at a salon,” explains Carmen who has 10 years of experience providing colour, cut, blow dry and make-up to men, women and kids.
“My clients are usually mums that don’t have the time to go to the salon or prefer the privacy of their own home,” says Carmen, who prefers the flexibility of providing in-house and in-office services rather than working at a salon. “I upload my schedule weekly on the Gwenelda App and that’s it, it’s really easy,” she tells me, and it is equally useful from the clients’ side, as all the body, facial, hair and nails treatments are available at your fingertips.
Those customers who prefer not to use the App can also book online but Beatrice highlights: “Most of my friends are over 40 and not all of them have the same approach with Apps and the Internet as a 25-year-old. The 40 year olds are used to going to the hair salon. It’s more like a treat for them where they can relax and be pampered.” This dilemma of home vs salon is a challenge as well as an opportunity that Gwenalda will continue to address: “We understand that the salon experience is different and many people will prefer it to having someone come to their house for personal reasons,” say Gwenelda’s management team.
In a blink of an eye, the blow dry is finished and the first client is done. “Thumbs up, now the key questions is: How long will it last?” Beatrice says that a Gwenelda’s blow dry usually lasts 5 days, so fingers crossed!
Second Stop: Mani & Waxing
Soon after the first appointment, I rush back onto the streets to go to the next appointment close by. Upon my arrival, the Brazilian beautician, Marilia is already there and the client recognises her from a previous appointment, so the atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly. The beautician sets up all her equipment with an impressive collection of nail polish on the table ready for the manicure and an arm waxing.
Kathi has used Gwenelda for blow dries in the past: “The hairdresser showed up at 8am, which was brilliant because you can’t expect such an early appointment at the salon,” she says. “On another occasion, I got styled at around 8pm, which was also very convenient, after I put the kids in bed.” She then continues: “Also, once I had a mani & pedi with a friend, we had two beauticians coming at the same time. Again, it was brilliant as we even started to watch a movie and drink some wine while being pampered.”
The idea of booking one beautician for more services like a manicure or a facial seems a good idea. “A one stop shop as opposed to sourcing multiple people for all your beauty needs,” states Gwenelda’s management team.
Our main differentiating factor is that we recruit mainly well rounded beauticians that can do multiple things.
And their clientele is aware of this differentiator: “What I like from the beauticians is that they can easily cross through services. Once, my husband was around and felt like he also wanted a manicure and the beautician didn’t hesitate,” recalls Kathi with a smile.
We soon move into choosing the nail polish colour. The beautician remembered the colour the client had last time, so she recommends a few shades of similar colours to then go for “Bahama mama”! Right… I think to myself, as if I would even know what that colour is … As the manicure is finished, the client proudly states that her manicures with Gwenelda lasted 2 weeks… definitely time to make an appointment with them, as my manicures last 5 days max!
And for the waxing? Marilia tells me that for the bikini wax or under arms she uses coconut wax, gentle to the skin but removes all the hair and it smells of coconut. For arm wax, she uses the roller with hive wax.
In no time, I realise that the second appointment is over, again with a very happy client arm waxed and displaying a perfect “Bahama mama” nail polish!
Third and final stop: Mani & Pedi
We get to the third client, who happens to be from Portugal and although it’s her first time using this service, there is immediate familiarity between her and the Brazilian beautician, Marilia. What is more, the client, Catarina is super happy because she will get her “Brazilian” mani & pedi. Did I miss something? I thought a “Brazilian” was something completely different!
Apparently for the Brazilian mani, you need a full clean up of the cuticles for a better finish, and then, the beautician goes over the edges with the nail polish to cover the entire nail without leaving any gaps. Finally, with an orange stick and cotton, the excess is removed leaving no traces of the nail polish, very impressive! “In Brazil everybody does it like that because we don’t want any gaps,” the beautician proudly exclaims.
After this express treatment, the client goes for a creamy nail polish in light pink for her pedi. She’s very happy with the outcome and mentions the combos that Gwenelda offers, referring to the combination of treatments you can book. But as you will never make all clients happy, I’m sure that Gwelenda will take on board the client’s feedback that they should add the option to customise those combos.
“This is a business that is generated primarily via word of mouth. You will trust a beautician to come to your home and do your hair only if she has been referred to you by someone else, so that is what we are spending most of our time on at the moment,” says Gwenelda’s management team. To address this issue Gwenelda offer £10 off for your next treatment if you make a referral and also allow you to buy gift cards for your friends and family. They are aware of the fierce competition but also of the growing demand for excellent service as many women are moving away from salons and into mobile beauty.
After spending a day with mobile beauticians, I can confidently say that mobile beauty is the new new big thing!
Courtesy of: Barbara and Daniela at Gwenelda | Website: www.gwenelda.com.