Chantal Welvaert, Scratch Nail & Beauty Salon
The world of beauty is bold, vibrant, colourful and, best of all, rewarding. There is nothing more powerful than that feeling of making another individual look and feel their best.
The opportunities available in the beauty world are vast – from nail technician and aesthetics to salon owner and Fashion Week facialist – the sky truly is the limit! If you are thinking of embarking into the beautiful world of beauty yet are feeling a little unsure of what to expect, sit back and relax as Creative Nail Technician of the Year and Scratch Nail & Beauty Salon owner, Chantal Welvaert talks about how she got started and how she’s overcome her struggles and failures to get to where she is today.
Chantal, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
"When I was growing up I always had a love for beauty. I have always been so interested in it and I knew I wanted to have a career in this industry. I left high school with only five GCSEs, completed a two year beauty therapy course and did a nail course in the evenings. I then began my journey by working full time at Scratch while holding down an evening job behind a bar to earn some extra money. I started building my client base and after a few years I found my passion in nails. I also went back to college and completed a teaching course as I thought about becoming a lecturer. Then my journey really began, when at just 23 I was given the opportunity to take over Scratch! This was a huge decision to make at the time, but that was when I really started to push myself. I stopped going out and put all my focus into the salon and my career. After owning Scratch now for six years, I now have an award-winning nail and beauty salon with seven therapists."
What made you choose the beauty industry as a career, and how did your journey into this industry begin?
"I have always had an interest in the industry, and I like to make people feel better and look good. I did my work experience for one week at Scratch and through that I was offered my own nail desk! I liked the idea that you can take this career as far as you want to, and I have proved you can do that."
When did you open your salon, how long was it before the dream became a reality, and what was it that inspired you to be a business owner?
"Owning Scratch hasn't always been easy, but I always knew I wanted to have my own business - I just didn’t think it would happen at 23! My dad has a very successful business, and I feel like growing up it was instilled in us to work hard, but most of all to be happy!"
What's your favourite colour of nail polish?
"My favourite colour is ESSIE High Maintenance!"
What do you prefer wearing, bold eyes or a bold lip?
"For me it’s all about bright lips! Red lips!"
How difficult or easy have you found owning your own business?
"Owning a business isn’t always easy; even though on the outside people often assume it is. I don't switch off… ever! I'm on call constantly and I'm always updating social media platforms, promoting the salon, and thinking of new ideas and ways to get new clients through the door. I have a team of girls around me who I wouldn't be without; we are like a work family. We get on so well and work great as a team."
What would you consider has been your most significant career accomplishments to date?
"Winning the award at the salon was my biggest achievement and being recognised by the local MP. Receiving a letter from the House of Commons when we raised £1,700 for cystic fibrosis was a great honour too. Also, having the opportunity to take part in the UK Nail Comp at the NEC – all huge career highlights to date."
What have you done professionally that is not an experience you'd want to repeat? Have you gone through any failures in your journey and how did you overcome them?
"Failure is probably one of the aspects in life most people are afraid of. One of mine is buying lots of retail products that didn't sell. At the time this really bothered me, but I have learnt that not all retail products I buy will sell. So now I have become a bit more cautious on what stock I buy to sell."
What is the most embarrassing outfit you have ever worn, which at the time you thought looked great?
"Going through a stage of wearing gym stuff all the time and getting asked constantly, ‘oh have you been to the gym’ when I hadn't!"
What's your favourite inspirational quote, or what do you turn to when you need some motivation on those tough days?
"TOO GLAM TO GIVE A DAMN! Sometimes when it’s been a tough day I often think this in my head."
Who has been your inspiration in life? Who did you look up to and why?
"My inspiration has been Marian Newman; she is a world famous nail artist. She has featured in Vogue and produced nails for Dior and Louis Vuitton - working all over the world. She has just produced her own book called Nailed It, which is very interesting and worth a read. At the back of the book she lists some products she uses and a lot of them we do use at Scratch!"
How important is your salon team, and what advice do you have on picking the right team members and keeping harmony within the salon?
"Finding staff can be hard, and finding the right therapists can be tough! We have very high standards at Scratch in customer service and treatments, and we all have to be working on the same level. I often arrange nights out or pamper nights for us all to get together outside of work. It’s very important to me that we all get on. There are seven of us and we are so close. We all know each other’s roles and help and support each other day in day out."
How have you made your salon a success? Any tips on helping others?
"I believe I have made my salon a success by not standing still. It’s too easy in business to get complacent. I'm there at 7am most mornings and I don't leave till 8pm most evenings. I’m always pushing the salon by having open nights, updating the website, social media platforms, and going on regular training courses so we stay up-to-date with treatments. We are having a salon birthday party in August celebrating 15 years and the theme is red! We can't wait for the bash! We have invited all of our clients to say thank you for their support over the years."
If you could describe your salon and team as a TV show, which would best describe you and why?
"Scratch is defiantly the hub of Oldswinford! It’s always buzzing and there’s a great atmosphere that makes for never a dull moment. We could write a book with the amount of secrets we hold! I would love it if there was a fly on the wall documentary, as we would make a great TV show! We would be like Real Housewives or something, The Real Nail Technicians of Stourbridge!"
For those up and coming in the industry, what pearls of wisdom can you give them to help them on their journey?
"My advice to anyone is that if you have a dream, follow it - and if you work hard, it pays off! Don't let anything stop you or hold you back. I am turning 30 next week and have been in the industry for 12 years. I wouldn't change anything I have done; it has led me to now. Scratch is continuing to grow and goes from strength to strength."
Finally Chantal, what’s next for you in your personal life and career – any big goals on the horizon?
"What’s next? I recently got married in June, so next on the cards is to start a family, but I still remain determined to carry on my career. I often think about the possibly of setting up a training academy or maybe a Scratch 2. I will defiantly be putting the salon into more awards so we get the recognition we all deserve. Watch this space!"