We’re back again with another success story! This time, we sat down with Shireen Khan, who completed her Level 2 Beauty Therapy, Level 3 Beauty Therapy and Level 4 Laser & IPL Certificate with us. She successfully opened aesthetic clinics throughout London and is now working on building an aesthetic empire.
Shireen is the founder of Hannah London, an award-winning medi-spa located in Collinsdale and Harley Street. She also owns Canova London, an aesthetic clinic in Mayfair. Not only is she thriving as an entrepreneur, but Shireen also runs her charity, Fosters.
An Unexpected Start in the Beauty Industry
Hi, my name is Shireen, I’m currently running 3 successful clinics in London. My beginning in the beauty and aesthetics industry was spontaneous. I actually studied Law at university and was really into the tv show, CSI, I wanted to catch the bad guys.
Coming up to my second year, I had the opportunity to become a police officer. I thought, ‘Yup! Forget the boring office stuff and bring on the fast cars.’ I quickly realised the role was not what I envisioned, covering one of the worst boroughs in London, as a Muslim woman, I decided it wasn’t something I could do long-term. It’s nothing like you see on TV, it’s long hours, traumatic scenes and constant disrespect from the people you are trying to help.
After my stint as a police officer, I decided that I wanted to start my own business, I’d always had an entrepreneurial side. So how did I decide on beauty? Well, I was frequently asked about my skin and appearance and realised I could make money from my beauty tips. I asked my dad to contribute to my savings and took out some loans to round up some capital to open a beauty salon. That was the start of Hannah London.
The Mistake of Starting a Beauty Business with No Beauty Experience
So when I opened my first beauty salon, Hannah London, I had no commercial beauty experience. I didn’t think that would be a problem as I’d be hiring experienced therapists, right? Wrong. How could I know if the therapists I hired were doing a good job? I needed to understand the ins and outs of the treatments we were offering.
I realised this pretty soon and decided I needed to qualify as a beauty therapist. I started googling beauty colleges, and luckily, Ray Cochrane popped up, so I gave them a call. Speaking to the director, Xubin was so helpful! I’d originally called up only knowing I wanted to learn beauty treatments, I didn’t know anything about Level 2 or Level 3. I told the school to give me some time as I was debating with another school, but in the end, I picked Ray Cochrane Beauty School.
Choosing Ray Cochrane Beauty School
Choosing Ray Cochrane made sense as they ticked my boxes, and the price was reasonable. As a new business owner, my budget was very tight, but it was an investment. I was happy to find that class sizes were small! You’d think that because the price was affordable, they’d have to make up for that in numbers, but no. I remember asking Xubin why the classes were so small, and he said it was so everyone got the attention that they deserved.
All the staff provided me with in-depth information about the courses I was interested in and advised me honestly. Despite not being formally enrolled, they took so much time to help me. I could only guess as a student, I’d receive even more help which was the case.
Xubin also knew I owned a salon, so he gave me thorough business advice and information, which helped me consider aspects I hadn’t previously. I learnt about special treatment licence, predicted treatment trends, and more. Not only was I achieving my beauty qualification, but I was also getting these business insights!
In the end, I’ve completed Levels 2,3 and 4 at Ray Cochrane, so it’s safe to say I enjoyed my experience at the leading London beauty school!
Moving into the Aesthetic Industry
When I first opened my salon in 2019, we had nails, waxing, and threading. However, we realised these treatments didn’t offer us a good profit margin, and it was better for us to move towards aesthetic treatments. We introduced laser and more machine-based treatments that were coming up.
I was fortunate enough to have experience using Instagram and could see that influencers were THE rising big marketing tool. We reached out to popular influencers and PR companies, and that was when the Hannah London business started booming. We had a signature flower wall that was all over Instagram. Clients wanted to get treatments at Hannah London to say that they’d been and taken a picture in front of the wall! We had celebrities visiting us and numerous praising reviews, it was time to open my next salon.
Creating a Global Luxury Aesthetic Brand
My business had only been running for two years, but at that point, I knew I wanted to expand into central London. I ended up in Harley Street, London’s medical and aesthetic hotspot. My brother qualified as a doctor, so we could offer botox and fillers, treatments that cemented us as an aesthetic clinic brand.
I’m proud to say I’m at the peak of my aesthetic career, working with my new company, The Luxury Aesthetic Group. After working in the industry for many years, I realised the largest cost in opening clinics and salons was the fit-out. With the Luxury Aesthetic Group and the network I’ve built around Central London, we are moving into Luxury spaces and implementing our bespoke aesthetic treatments inside them. So they provide the space and clientele, and we provide the therapists and equipment.
We are operating out of The Lanesborough in Hyde Park and are expanding to Eden Rock, St Barths and Patina, Maldives. I’m excited to see the Luxury Aesthetic Group in luxury spaces, hotels and salons.
Advice to Future Entrepreneurs
I didn’t come from a business background or have family who had business experience. So, there are many tips and tricks I had to learn for myself.
Firstly, market research will help you in terms of understanding what the industry needs and wants. I didn’t do my market research and wasted time and money. Knowing your chosen industry like the back of your hand is so important! How could I explain to my clients the benefits of our treatments if I didn’t understand them myself? How would I know the best equipment to use without doing research? These were all things I became aware of during my time at Ray Cochrane.
Secondly, building a trusting relationship with your clients. In any relationship, building trust is key whether business, romantic or familial. Similarly, as an entrepreneur, you have to build that trust with your clients. To build trust in the beauty industry, remember that knowledge is power. Whether it is the theory or practical knowledge, you don’t want to be sitting in consultation with a client that knows more than you. These treatments are life-changing and pricey for your clients, no doubt they’ve done their research. You need to be able to confidently and honestly answer their questions in an attempt to manage their expectations.
Finally, you have to keep up with the trends! Consumers follow beauty trends, and it’s your job to predict these trends and adapt quickly to implement them. When I first started, it was influencers and flower walls. Now it’s TikTok and minimalism, who knows what it’ll be in a year!