Feeling more Rowan Williams than Michelle Williams? You’re not alone: searches for DIY eyebrow grooming have risen by 429% during lockdown. With two passable bleach jobs and a debatable brow tint under my belt, I’m now crawling through lockdown 3.0 with a renewed longing for the reassuring alchemy only achievable by real-life beauty therapists.
Self-image and confidence are tightly bound up in each other - for me, more so than I had probably realised. Hairstylists, nail techs, faithful waxers/personal confidantes: all played a central role in the creation and maintenance of our sense of self. In the early days of lockdown back in 2020, we bought a box or two of home dye to keep the roots at bay for what then looked to be a few weeks of disruption. But as the weeks turned to months, and our understanding grew of the scope of the COVID crisis, the realisation dawned that we would be pressing pause on our outsourced beauty routines for the foreseeable.
As for the service-providers at the core of the beauty industry, they found themselves unable to accept clients for months and faced a distinct lack of financial aid. Beauty therapists were left to watch on as men’s grooming services were given the go-ahead to open (and close again) with no definite end to lockdown insight. With the government announcing Government granting a newly formed, sector-specific team dedicated to supporting Personal Care just last week, hope is on the horizon for the beauty industry.
We’re all loyal users of Ruuby, the beauty concierge app, connecting you to salon services carried out in your home, of which Archer is founder and CEO. We caught up with CEO Venetia Archer to discuss how she pivoted their business model, the importance of touch therapy and her vision for a post-COVID world.
Hi Venetia, what’s giving you the blues right now?
The UK beauty industry has been a thriving pillar of the UK economy, contributing more per annum than the car manufacturing sector. 17% of beauty businesses have been forced to close since COVID, which is deeply unsettling.
As the founder and CEO of beauty concierge app, Ruuby, how easy was it to pivot your business model in response to COVID?
We tried and tested a few things - some which worked, and others not. We launched an e-store, which has been a great success, expanded geographically into the Cotswolds (this worked too) and introduced online classes (not so successful!). Startup hustle is core to our business DNA and I was super proud to see how quickly we could iterate.
A common feeling right now is loneliness and for many, the lack of physical touch can be incredibly isolating. As a leading figure in an industry dependent on human touch, what role do you think hands-on treatments can play in mental wellness?
I think we can all agree that moments of self-care can really brighten up one’s day. Nothing beats a massage or a facial from a true expert when feeling down or tired, and I think we should all remember to cater for a little time for ourselves when we can.
Do you foresee a huge return for the beauty and wellness industry when things ‘go back to normal’?
Yes! We have already seen amazing glimmers of this already when we have had periods of ease of lockdown. “When will hairdressers reopen” was one of the most googled terms of 2020, and I have no doubt that people will be more than ready to bring their beauty and wellness treatments back - no one is safe with an at-home wax kit!
In a post-COVID world, do you predict a greater interest for beauty treatments which involve ‘touch therapy’ and if so, which services are on your wish list?
I really do. I think this extended period without them has demonstrated the true value of beauty and wellness services on day to day basis. I can’t wait to book in for my post-lockdown facials. Beyond treating the skin (which is a great benefit in itself), the hour I have to myself to be quiet is really missed.
And finally, what’s bringing you hope?
Despite the hardships of the past year, I think every one of us has learned a lot. We’ve been offered a unique opportunity of an (enforced) slow down, which has allowed us the time to contemplate what does and does not serve us.
What To Do Next:
Share the self-care and treat a friend to a Ruuby voucher here.
Stop doom scrolling, download the Ruuby app and start planning future treatments now.
Find mood board inspiration, beauty news and competitions over at @ruubyapp.
- Stay tuned for a Ruuby prize in our big Blue Monday giveaway coming soon...
Which beauty service are you missing? Join the conversation over on our HANX Life forum here.