Carmen McNamara owns the award winning Australian clinic; Skin Fairy. A loyal Timely customer with 15 years of experience in the beauty industry in Australia and London; we talked to Carmen about building a successful business, finding work-life balance, and her favourite Timely features. You don’t want to miss Carmen’s story!

Making business magic with the Skin Fairy

Your business is extremely well known in Australia. Has that growth been steady and continuous from the get-go?

In the beginning, no one really knows who you are until you establish a name for yourself, but it’s definitely been a whirlwind and pretty continual growth since we opened in 2014. It hasn’t really slowed down and it’s really humbling and overwhelming at the same time because I’ve got a lot of expectations on myself. The Skin Fairy name is very well known, but now we’re known for other things like our results and our culture, which I’m proud of.

What was the inspiration for the name Skin Fairy?

My client Kylie actually called me her skin fairy, so I thought I’d just change my Instagram to that, and then it became my business name!

How do you find work-life balance, being a business owner, mum, wife, and friend? 

I have a lot of support and help, so I can delegate now that the business is bigger, and I prioritise my time. I just do the best that I can within that day, and I’m very thankful that I have a lot of help with my son, and my team’s really amazing so I’m able to do different things now.

It’s often hard to be present with someone or a situation fully because humans are always thinking about the next thing, but I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the past year. With my team, I make sure I’m engaged and present when I’m with them, because if you’re a leader or owner of a business, that’s really, really important. 

What strategies can you share for reopening your clinic after lockdown?

Our strategies changed every week to be honest, because the date that was set to be reopened kept changing. We just wanted to stay engaged on social media with our clients, and I wanted to stay engaged with the team. If you’re getting updates from the Government it’s worthwhile to jump on your social media and say, “Hey we haven’t got an update,” or, “This is happening and this is what we plan to do, but we can still offer you x, y, z..”.

We were really active on social media to let everyone know what the game plan was. I think that that was a good strategy so that when we opened again, it wasn’t a big surprise and we could get bookings coming in.

It was the same with staff; keeping open communication and making sure they always knew what was going on. We had weekly Zoom meetings and were still doing training sessions online, and we were still busy managing clients, creating content, and doing admin.

What helped you to maintain a positive perspective during that time?

You just have to stay strong and stick to your vision and your goals. Being shut down, there were things we had to stop working on, but I just chose not to let it get in the way of what we wanted to achieve. I’m not saying that there weren’t bad days; the team was very, very distraught at the beginning, because their job is their certainty and identity. But we wanted to stay strong and support each other through it.

If you don’t have goals as business or as a team, find some or make some up and try to focus on those positive things.

Is there anything skin therapists who want to start their own business should know?

I definitely had to learn everything from scratch; I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning. But if you’re passionate enough, you learn and get better at owning a business every day!

If you want to be in business, you need to be ready to work seven days a week. How good do you want something to be will be the time that you put into it really. But it’s hard work, really hard work.

How do you make your days run smoothly now?

We have daily catch-ups and one on one meetings, but every Tuesday we have a weekly ‘power meeting’, where we talk about everything going on and what’s coming up. If there’s anything happening or changing, we talk about it, and all the girls read their notes prior to the clients coming in so they’re on top of their appointments. If there are any client reactions or any issues with someone’s skin, that’s also discussed with the whole team so we can best help the person get a great result. 

How do you help your staff members to be their best?

Other than the one on one meetings and constant education, we have a Mentoring Program that we do in the clinic, where the senior therapist spends time with the newer therapists. There’s also always constant communication, so even though I don’t see seven columns worth of people and bookings, I pretty much know everything that’s going on, and I can just pull someone’s client notes and have a read to keep up to date and make sure everyone is accountable.

What’s your favourite Timely feature to use right now?

Most recently we’ve been using SMS campaigns to communicate with our clients, which I love! Everyone’s usually on their phones, so we get a lot more engagement than with email. We’ve been using SMS to keep clients up to date on what’s happening with the clinic, but we also like to let people know when it’s our birthday or when we’re celebrating something else, like Mother’s Day, to encourage people to book in the special women in their lives, or treat themselves!

The great thing about Timely’s SMS is that it’s so personalised; you can select and target specific clients based on lots of different filters, like people that have come in the last 6 months or VIP clients.

Tell us about your exciting new online video consultations!

Video calling is another amazing feature of Timely that makes our job easy! We only started virtual consults during Covid; we had never done it before. In the past I’ve said it’s not proper practice to do virtual skin consultations, because there’s so much information that’s needed. Since Covid, I’ve changed that stance because you’re not always able to see clients in person. We’ll definitely keep hosting the virtual skin consultations; they’ve been so well received, we’ve been inundated! 

The team also really loved the variety because they’re always in the treatment room, so it gave them a different chance to share their knowledge. I think it’s made going back to work easier for them as well, because they were actively engaging and giving advice and talking to their clients throughout lockdown anyway.

Do you have any advice to help business owners create content?

If you have a team of more than one person, there are systems you can put into place to gather good content. We have Dropbox folders of all our before and afters, so it’s a great idea to keep those all together. You could talk about the benefits of your products, create videos, or basically anything that will help your clients or be interesting to them.

Just get on there and create as much content as possible and if you mess up, just post it! People need to see the real you. Don’t hide who you are, engage and show people what you’re doing.

What inspired you to start your Look and Learn Shadowing Program and will we see more education from Skin Fairy in the future?

Yes, eventually! I took my inspiration from the hair industry because there are so many people I look up to in the hair industry; they share their knowledge so well and I just want our business to be open and welcome to other therapists. Collaboration is the key to success and we get to share our passion for what we do and how we do things. The clinic has been successful with results and things like that, but there’s so much more to it. 

The girls are superstars; they get to do their thing and share their knowledge. A lot of people that have come into the clinic and taken part in the Shadowing Program are just lacking confidence and they don’t have a lot of support, so they get a lot of inspiration from the Program.