Channelling your alter-ego, self-empowerment and ‘through the keyhole’ style tours of our skincare shelves… Wanna know what it’s like to take your IRL business online during a global pandemic? Join us as we take five with Dr Lauren Hamilton, founder of Shoreditch’s most Instagram-worthy aesthetics clinic, Victor & Garth.
HEY DR LAUREN, LOVELY TO E-MEET YOU! LET’S TALK AESTHETICS: V&G IS VERY MUCH THE OPPOSITE OF TRADITIONAL CLINICAL SPACES, AND MORE LIKE ‘YOUR BFF’S GORGE FLAT ’. DID YOU HAVE THIS VISION IN MIND FROM THE VERY START OR DID IT EVOLVE ORGANICALLY?
Well, that’s exactly what I was trying to create: a sense of home through the clinic. It’s so calming, compared to when you walk into a super clinical room and you’re already anxious about the treatment you’re getting done. At Victor & Garth, you can sit back, and actually relax. It definitely was part of my vision - it came to me and I just knew and I had to create that. It’s so great to bring non-surgical treatment to Shoreditch, rather than seeing young professionals having to head up to Harley Street. East London, and the clinic, feel like my second home.
YOU HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF INDULGING THE ALTER-EGO: WHAT’S THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THAT?
It was all about trying to find self-empowerment and self-love, and feeling more comfortable in having a different side to yourself and really showcasing that while trying to unite the two! We definitely have a holistic approach, you can come in wanting ‘just one thing’ and leave with a list of other things to consider: your mental and physical health, skin conditions… With my clients, it’s definitely a friendship, it can feel strange saying that, but my clients are from different backgrounds, all ethnicities and all ages, and yes, they all feel like friends to me. It’s like you’re going on a journey with a patient, the opposite of the stereotypical vision of ‘get your botox, pay and go.’ My goal is to get those life-changing results for clients, but this is built on a foundation of confidence, and empowering them with the tools to maintain the results and delve deeper into self-care and wellness.
IT’S A LOCKDOWN THING. IS THERE AN INHERENT LINK BETWEEN FEELING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF AND ACTIVELY PRACTICING SELF-CARE?
Definitely, lockdown has shown people all the little things they used to do but took for granted - like getting your nails done or even going to get a medical pedicure! They can feel so simple and like ‘throwaway moments’ but they can really impact you in ways you don’t even consider until those moments are taken away. I was surprised when a patient said to me that they felt like our time together, was their time to be pampered. But it’s so true.
LET’S GET DIGITAL, DIGITAL. PIVOTING YOUR BUSINESS DURING LOCKDOWN: HOW EASY WAS IT TO MAKE THAT TRANSITION A REALITY?
So, for me, I had to close the business and I did this a little earlier than when the official lockdown as I could see (from working in the hospital) the direction we were going in… I just wanted to be super safe. I took some time to be with family, actually use my maternity leave and it wasn’t long into lockdown that I realised there was something I could do to bring my service online. I had to pivot towards digital skin consultations, and to be honest, I was a little hesitant to do this online at first - “Could I actually see the client’s skin through Zoom or Facetime?” But it’s worked really, really well! I’ve now started using Get Harley (the brand I’ve partnered with to create bespoke skincare routines for patients) online skin consultation room, which is so much slicker.
SO, YOUR DIGITAL SKIN CLINIC IS THRIVING: BUT HOW DOES DOING IT ONLINE COMPARE TO THE CONNECTIONS YOU MAKE IRL?
I still feel that connection, but yes, it’s a lot more different! The benefits are time, for both the patient and I: they don’t have to travel, or work it around their schedule as much, everyone’s now able to physically show me their bathroom shelf and the products they’re currently using. That’s really, really helpful, there’s no guesswork or trying to decipher what’s in their routine. In some respects, it’s worked well and is a great way to reach those further afield, especially in the current climate. It’s about thinking big, I don’t want to be a chain but I want to bring what we do to as many people as possible. I’m the founder and main person behind Victor & Garth, but I’ve got my hub of fellow founders, leaning on your network really helps as it can be quite lonely when it’s just you.
SPEAKING OF NETWORKS, WHAT’S YOUR EXPERIENCE WITHIN THE WELLNESS SPACE/ARENA, AS A BLACK BRITISH FOUNDER.
So, I think another part of me wanting to create Victor & Garth was so that I could really welcome everyone and be truly inclusive. I’ve had experiences in the past where I’ve walked into a salon and they’ve not been able to treat me, for example, my skin was ‘too dark’ for their laser machine. I always wanted to create something where I am at the heart of it because I understand, and its key that my patients know that’s what I strive for.
WE LOVE HOW YOU KEEP IT CANDID OVER ON THE V&G INSTAGRAM, HOW DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS PART OF YOUR BUSINESS?
When you see people you admire or patients you recognise liking your posts, it really makes a difference. Those little things, when you’re a small business owner, seem SO big! I really like to think about what I’m posting and the captions, too - I don’t want to churn out loads of images and text like it’s nothing. Everything is really considered and tells a story. You’ve got to keep that in mind and not be swayed by people posting three times a day, although sometimes you can feel pressured to believe that’s what you should be doing.
FINALLY, WHAT TUNES ARE KEEPING YOU MOTIVATED WHILE YOU WORK?
I don’t know if I can stand the traditional clinic style of music. It’s usually something like Bonobo… Giles Peterson...Benji B….My patients will ask, “what is this?” and leave with a new playlist.
Thanks, Dr Lauren. We’re giving you the chance to WIN a HANX sexual wellness bundle, featuring our natural condoms and silky-smooth lube and a Victor & Garth skin consultation*, just head to our IG feed to enter. Join the conversation over on our HANX Life forum here.
*IRL or online, whatever works for you. :)