BlogAsk Alissa: On Owning Your Own Beauty Boutique

Ask Alissa: On Owning Your Own Beauty Boutique

Written by E-QIP on November 16, 2017


Please introduce yourself and describe your role in your business. My name is Alissa. I am the owner of the Brow Bar. I started my business at 22 and developed the concept by myself. Aside from my employees who do the services of eyebrow threading & waxing, I do everything else myself. I research new products, I do all of the buying and logistics (shipping & duties), and I manage the employees. It's become so overwhelming that I have had to hire my mom to help out!

How long have you been in business? 8 months.

What inspired you to start this business? I was never the entrepreneurial type. I'm very creative. I like to read, write, draw, and I love fashion. My grandfather came to Canada from Uganda with nothing except his experience as a mechanic. With 5 kids to support, he began buying property and started a few businesses. He was the OG entrepreneur of the family. The apple didn't fall far from the tree because my mom eventually started her own business in textiles, and then I started this. Being an entrepreneur means taking risks, and that was never my style until now.

I never knew what I wanted "to be" when I grew up. In fact, I always hated getting asked that question. I know there are not many jobs for creatives like myself out there unless you are extremely talented.  That scared me, so when I thought of this idea I ran with it because I knew I would never have another opportunity like it. Retail is an extremely hard industry, but when you have trendy products that are hard to get, it's a no-brainer. 

How did the idea for your business develop? I realized there was a gap in the market for a cute eyebrow place with good customer service. Most other places are like a factory: go in, do the brows, leave. There's no service! I also had an online clothing store--a hobby, which wasn't bringing me any income whatsoever--so, I came up with this unique concept of a boutique with a brow shaping service at affordable prices. A lot of big cities like NYC, Toronto, Vancouver and LA have places like this already, but there's nothing like it in Montreal! They have businesses that fuse 2 industries making it twice as profitable because they can tap into different demographics. There are coffee shops with a clothing section, salad joints that also sells plants, and the list goes on.  For my store, I bring in beauty products that aren't sold in Canada, so I virtually have no competition. 

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What made you choose your current location on Monkland Avenue? I moved to NDG a year and a half ago. Previously, I lived in the West Island, but I hate the suburbs. Most of my friends live in the NDG area, and I've been hanging out here for at least 5 years before I finally moved. Monkland is so special. It's a busy street with lots of foot traffic. There's a mix of different types of people: rich, poor, and a mix of nationalities. A lot of people who live here lead very healthy lifestyles. There are organic food stores, yoga studios, and a little bit of everything for everyone. 

What has been your most satisfying moment in business? My most satisfying moment was when I met Katherine Garbarino from @KGMTL, and she came to the store. She's a lifestyle vlogger on Instagram who has amassed a huge following in the past 8 months. She talks about fitness, food, fashion, beauty and skincare. What differentiates her is her style of blogging. She is REAL--if she doesn't like something, she says it. She explains products, the benefits of certain foods, etc. in a relatable way. Most of my success is owed to her actually. Every time she tags or mentions my store, I sell out of the product almost instantly. 

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most? I really admire stores like CAP Beauty, Lemon Laine, Credo Beauty, Sun Potion & Deciem's The Ordinary. CAP, Lemon Laine & Credo are beauty stores similar to mine but have been around longer. From the decor to the products, everything is on point. Sun potion and Deciem are two of my suppliers. I am really lucky to work with incredible companies who value integrity and honesty over money, and this is reflected in my own business. It's good vibes all-around, and it's a blessing to be in business with people who are truly genuine. 

Le Brow Bar has been a E-QIP service partner for more than six months now. E-QIP students can receive 10% off on products and services with their student cards.

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