Ellen Kavanagh is the brains behind Waxperts — not only the salon in Dun Laoghaire (represent!) but also the brand in general, which includes her bespoke wax, and the multitasking Ingrown Hair Pads. Born and bred in Rathfarnham, she studied beauty at Coogan Bergin College of Beauty Therapy part time, and returned to do the Comité International d’Esthétique et de Cosmétologie (CIDESCO) course. “I knew I had found my future,” she says.
As regards her business model, it’s pretty simple. “I am always thinking of the business from the clients point of view, first and foremost. They’re the ones getting waxed and I want it to be the most amazing wax they’ve ever had.”
I’ve got a fairly high pain threshold, and haven’t found being waxed to be too taxing — but I gotta say, my Waxperts experience was pretty amazing. I found myself actually getting sleepy towards the end of my full leg/bikini session. I had to know more about the brand — and how in the world I could possibly want to snooze during a leg wax — and so asked Ellen some Qs; here are her As…
Was there a specific ‘Aha!’ — or more like, ‘Ouch!’ — moment that lead to your developing Waxperts Original Hot Wax?
When I began working for myself, I simply couldn’t find a wax I felt was good enough for my clients. Naively, I just thought “I’ll make my own!” and that was the start of it. I had been solely waxing for 3 years full time — I’m 10yrs waxing this year! — so I had a good idea of how I wanted a wax to perform and what qualities it should have.
How does one even go about developing one’s own brand of wax?
I tried and played around with absolutely every wax on the market. So I had a clear idea of what I didn’t want! Then I researched and found a chemist to work with me formulating the technical side and then I sourced a refinery to produce the wax.
There was some back and forth, mostly to get the colour and fragrance right. We hit on our unique formula and ingredients pretty quickly, so I knew after testing a few attempts that we had perfected it. I figured if I could create a wax suitable for even the most sensitive Irish skin type, pale and red haired, it would suit everyone. And it does. It’s lower temperature, which means it’s more comfortable for clients and the composition of it means it removes coarse or fine hair in one go.
We launched our second hot wax, Rosie Pearl, earlier this year and I’ve been creating that for around a year. It was trickier but so worth it! It’s an ultra thin film wax that sets on application but remains flexible. It’s ideal for experienced waxers and warmer treatment rooms or climates. Again, there is nothing like it on the market and it’s been a huge hit. The Waxperts range has grown but we are very careful not to bring out products just for the sake of it. We focus on innovation and gaps within our own market and take it from there.
I found my experience of the Original Hot Wax to be super pain-free, and also was completely chilled at the end of the treatment. How is that even possible?
The lavender scent throughout the range sets the relaxing atmosphere. It’s not about ripping someone’s hair out. We want to out the ‘treat’ back in treatment. Waxing is the number one treatment in salons so we aim to make the procedure as amazing as possible for client and therapist.
What lead to the development of the Ingrown Hair Pads?
Again, it came from clients that had issues with ingrown hairs. Although getting regular Waxperts waxes helped the ingrowns improve, some clients had stubborn ones or had them on areas where they shaved instead. We tested tons of applications, like lotions and masks, but we knew it had to be easy to use daily. That’s when we decided on the pre-soaked pads.
Also, what are other uses for them, if readers don’t suffer from in-grown hairs?
The pads are pre-soaked with salycilic acid, rosemary and panthenol. Salycilic is used widely to treat acne, so they work great on breakouts and spots as well as helping to clear blackheads. Upper arm bumps can be tackled easily just by using the pads on the area daily. We get tweets from people telling us new uses they found for them all the time! They’re magic!
Any advice for future entrepreneurs?
> Find something you absolutely adore. You’re going to be working and thinking about it 24/7 and if you love it, it won’t feel it’s work.
> Trust your gut. From the moment I planned Waxperts salon I knew it was all about the brand. Having faith in that helped me grow the business solidly.
>Help others. We work hard helping and supporting our stockists so they in turn can grow their business. In fact, one of our Galway stockists has taken the distribution for Poland and we’re helping her start that new business back in her home city.
Full leg wax: €40; basic bikini: €20. See waxperts.com for more information.
Waxperts Ingrown Hair Pads: €9.95 on waxperts.com