Welcome to part 4 of the Real Women, Real Business series!
This series is about understanding the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of quitting a job and starting a business.
Before I left my corporate job, I was so in awe (and still am) of women who had taken the leap and set up their own business. I wanted to know how they came up with their idea and what gave them the courage to finally go for it.
This week’s interview is with the CEO of an eyelash salon and training academy, and also the co-founder of an online magazine!
If you love what you read, here are the other interviews in the series for you to peruse at your leisure!
- Interview 1: Ellie Frost, Brand Strategist, and Business Coach
- Interview 2: Rachel Creeger. A comedian, writer, and director
- Interview 3: Laura Peli. Executive Career Coach
- Interview 5: Louise Winter: A Modern Funeral Director
- Interview 6: Georgia Gallone. Digital Marketing Consultant and App Founder
An interview with Monika Wawrzyczek, founder of Mystique Lashes, and co-founder of Bien Magazine!
What is your business?
I am a founder and a CEO of Mystique Lashes in Coventry and now also a Mystique Lashes Training Academy. I am also a co-founder of Bien Magazine.
Mystique Lashes is a business that focuses on eyelash extensions and making women, mostly, feel amazing. I focus on delivering the best treatments for my clients in the best possible way so they can relax and enjoy their time in my treatment rooms.
Mystique Lashes Training Academy was created this year and it focuses on delivering my original and accredited educational plan to train new eyelash extensions artists.
I also work and arrange workshops for already trained specialists to improve their knowledge and practice and provide bespoke mentoring services which enable others to start their own businesses.
Mystique Lashes has actually been nominated and is in the finals of Makeup and Beauty Awards 2018.
With Bien Magazine, we focus on improving people’s lives by providing them with easily accessible advice on the subjects of life, that is not always that simple.
We focus on Dating, Relationships, Personal development, Children, Healthy living, Lifehacks and Weddings.
Here we connect with specialists and mentors to provide the most accurate solutions to life troubles and offer advice on many subjects.
What was your previous job?
Previously I worked in a large care company, I worked my way up within the company, started at the bottom and ended up working as a manager and managing around 60 staff. We looked after 40 elderly residents with dementia.
What made you decide you wanted to leave your corporate job?
I wanted to be my own boss for years but never had the courage or money back up to do so. I was fed up with people telling me what to do, especially if I didn’t agree with their judgments.
One day I received a very upsetting email, which was work-related – manager’s job is no smooth sailing. That was the moment when I just had enough. At that stage I already started Mystique Lashes and was working at home in my treatment room after hours, to be able to train in my new craft.
With Mystique Lashes as a back up, I just left within few days of making the decision and never looked back.
How did you decide what business to set up?
I was always interested in beauty and pursued it while I still lived in Poland. When I moved to the UK, ten years ago, I had to leave beauty as it wasn’t bringing much of an income in a foreign country. That is when I started my career in care.
I tried different things and businesses along the way but found that certain ones just weren’t for me. I was very lucky because my family always supported me and tried to give me different business ideas.
One day my work colleague introduced me to eyelash extensions and I was hooked. I felt that my corporate job was draining me and I wanted a job that I could love.
I trained in eyelash extensions and was doing them after my 9-5 job and on the weekends to better myself. I found that I was good at it so I carried on practicing and improving.
Was everyone supportive of your idea?
I am very lucky because I have the most amazing partner, who always supports me. Also, my family is my rock, even though they are so many miles away.
There was the income uncertainty but everyone knew that I will make it work because I love what I do.
There were, of course, doubters trying to worry me about the future, but I shut them out and concentrated on the positives.
It’s very important to lean into people that are positive and are there for you.
Did you have an ‘emergency fund’ to tide you over while you set up your business or did you start it on the side while still at work?
I started while still at work, but I kept a fair bit of money on the side as a security blanket. I’m happy to say a blanket I never had to use. In my mind, this money was a backup and not to be used unless of a huge emergency.
I tried to forget about the money and to earn as much as possible.
Obviously the setup costs were there, like for any business, but I was able to cover most of those while still in employment.
Did you have to get any outside investment to get going?
Did you take any courses or qualifications?
I have a beauty background but had to lean into my family’s knowledge of SEO, web design, planning a website. I took eyelash extensions courses, learned a lot about PR, best practice and social media on my own. I also took a course in Adult learning to be able to train others in eyelash extensions.
Did you have any particular fears about starting a business and if so how did you get over them?
I was so driven and desperate to get out of my corporate job, that the fears just couldn’t take over. They were there, don’t get me wrong, but my passion for success was stronger.
I also surrounded myself only with positive people who supported me mentally, my family and partner were amazing at that.
Three months into having my own businesses, my partner decided that he wanted to become self-employed too. Which he did and now he is a very successful handyman.
A week after he left his corporate job we found out were expecting a baby!
That was a shock and at that point, we were worried a bit about how we will make it work. But we remained positive, worked hard and the rest is history.
Our son Neo is now 9 months old and I wouldn’t change anything about our lives. I feel I can actually spend more time with him and enjoy my career at the same time.
What was the hardest thing about setting up the business?
Probably the hardest thing was staying on course when things got hard. Basically not backing out and going back to the corporate world.
It’s very difficult when you don’t know how to do things, that are needed for your business, like a website or a design. You have to then get out of your comfort zone and find the solution. Sometimes you find professionals that are not very good, but you learn from it.
It’s hard initially to be constantly under pressure and in mental discomfort, but it pays off.
Did you make any mistakes when you were setting up?
I think everyone makes mistakes at the beginning of their journey.
I hired someone once for an SEO job, where we spend a fair amount of money monthly, just to find out that it didn’t bring any results, at all.
It just wasn’t going to work, but starting it, we were told that this was the only way. We ended up spending quite a bit of money on something that just didn’t work.
Sometimes things are not just smooth sailing, but you adjust the course and carry on.
I actually also wanted to start different businesses along the way, while still employed, but they just didn’t work. I tried so hard, but things just didn’t click sometimes.
I think you just have to be ok with failure, certain things will not be for you or will not work, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to give up.
How long did it take before you made enough for a full-time income?
I think it took about 6-7 months after I left my job, it wasn’t easy initially, because people didn’t even know I was here doing what I’m doing. But with hard work and dedication the word of mouth spread and now I’m busier than ever.
How do you manage your time?
In the beginning, before the little man arrived, I worked mostly 6 and sometimes 7 days a week. I had to practice my new craft and I was still in a management role, which was extremely time-consuming.
These days I work less, but still have to respond daily to all training inquiries, emails and book my lovely clients in. I spend a lot of time with my son and I don’t think I’d be able to do that if I was in my old corporate job.
We work hard with my partner to ensure that we get sufficient time off, however, I do believe that when you work for yourself, the work is much more pleasurable but you do put in more hours at times.
Do you ever procrastinate and how do you deal with it?
Sometimes when I have to do something that’s difficult, I find myself not wanting to do it. The best way, ever, to get things done is just doing them.
Before your brain starts telling you that it’s going to be hard, you go for it and get it done. I find this is the best way to get results with anything in life. If you overthink things, you are less likely to actually do them.
I also run a list of things that are important and need doing, there is no better feeling than crossing off big jobs off that list!
How do you market your business? Word of mouth/types of social media?
I believe word of mouth is very important but also showing your work to the world. Social media is a great platform to present yourself and show others what you do and stand for.
What is your favourite thing about having your own business?
My ultimately favourite thing is being my own boss. I don’t have to ask permission from anyone and I can do things my way.
I used to dread mornings and going to work, now I get up every morning feeling happy. You can’t put a price on that.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to women who want to start a business?
Just start! Make a small step, decide and just go for it. However small the step, just take it.
The longer you leave it the more frightening it will feel. But when you make that first step, you might be onto something amazing that will change your life. Do not be afraid, you can absolutely do it!
If you want to find out more about Monica, Mystique Lashes and Bien Magazine you can find everything you need below.
Mystique Lashes – https://www.mystiquelashes.co.uk/
Mystique Lashes courses – https://www.mystiquelashes.co.uk/p/courses
Bien Magazine – https://www.bienmagazine.co.uk/
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