There are many things we love about Ellen round here: her business smarts, her passion for what she does, her friendly, girly vibe and that fact that she has made, eh, ‘intimate’ waxing a lot easier for lots of us. (Seriously, her miraculous waxes don’t hurt at all -we’ve been know to fall asleep on the table, hard to believe, but true!)
Tell us the Waxperts story My name is Ellen Kavanagh and along with my friend and business partner, Trish O’Brien, we own Waxperts Wax. We are both fully trained beauty therapists that specialise in waxing and solely do that treatment. We are also the only Irish depilatory wax manufacturing company. We are competing with the biggest global wax brands successfully and are growing every week. Recently we joined with Aston and Fincher distributors in the UK and later this month we will be in 27 massive wholesale stores of theirs throughout the UK as well as their online store.
The story began in 2008 when I began working for myself unexpectedly. I rented a room one day a week, in a physical therapy clinic. Luckily I had, and still have, the most loyal clients in the world that supported me. With their encouragement and through word of mouth my client base slowly built and Waxperts was born. As fate would have it, the couple that owned the clinic relocated to the country and I took over the lease, and we are still here over 4 years later.
I couldn’t find a wax that I really loved, so naively perhaps, I decided I’d create my own. Then at the beginning of 2012 we decided we would supply the wax as a wholesale product for other salons to use. We had been approached constantly over the years with salons looking for the wax so we knew there was the demand there. With help from the Dun Laoghaire Enterprise board we obtained a small grant to help us launch in the UK market and last October we headed to The Olympia Beauty Show in London. We had gained some great PR in the run up to it and had featured on many UK beauty sites, blogs and print magazines. We sold lots of product and made some great connections.
Our salon in Dun Laoghaire is still busy waxing away and we have a fantastic team of four Waxperts there. We hope to continue to grow and expand to the US soon, where we have lots of interest in the wax.
You create the products – tell us about that? What’s the process? I’ve had a crystal clear vision for the brand since day one. I’m not afraid to work with people better than me to get the product exactly how I want, and that’s what I do. I have the best chemist in the world that deals with wax working with us. We created Waxperts Hot Wax and Strip Wax. Both lavender based waxes, with superior flexibility that is unique to us. They are made with Irish skin and hair types in mind and offer a much less painful waxing experience. Our retail range has been a real departure from our comfort zone but I’m so excited about it. Our Ingrown hair pads are truly amazing!
What have been the peaks and pitfalls? To be honest, the biggest pitfalls or speed-bumps I’ve had have been in my personal life, but as an entrepreneur you have no time or choice to do anything other than pick yourself up and keep going. When I look back it’s been very hard but I’m proud of myself for getting through it. The peak, personally, has to be the birth of my gorgeous baby boy Cooper this April. He’s just a delight! Professionally, it’s becoming Ireland’s number 1 wax and hearing from happy waxers from all over the world that use the product!
Any ‘high five’ moments? So many! You have to acknowledge the smallest success to keep you motivated for the next goal. So when we wake up to an email or tweet from someone loving the wax we’re high fiving! And when you get those big calls from salons wanting to order? It’s tears of joy as well as high fives!
What’s the plan for the future? We launch our first retail product this month and we have an entire range to follow. It bridges the gap between salon and supermarket home waxing products, so we’re very excited about that. Then for trade we have some amazing collaborations coming up, and expansion to the US and Australia.
How do you market your company? For the salon we have actually never advertised! We made it on word of mouth. Now social media and blogging has taken over from that so we engage a lot on Twitter and Facebook. I have always had a clear idea of the brand; it’s my baby, so for me the marketing is the fun part!
If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing? I’d love to have been a Home Economics teacher.
What are your favourite beauty products? I cannot and will not leave the house without blusher, and I love Bourjois Rose D’Or. Tom Ford is my go-to-guy for fragrance and like the rest of the country I’m a Cocoa Brown Tan fan.
Music you’re listening to right now I rarely listen to music anymore, I’m hoping I’ll return to it. Once Christmas arrives it’ll be Christmas tunes non-stop at home though!
Last film you watched Behind The Candelabra- Michael Douglas and Matt Damon were amazing in it.
Best advice you were ever given “Do what you love, it doesn’t matter what it is, but be the best at it” – My Mam
What advice would you give to your younger self? God! Where would I start?! I’d tell her, ” Be brave, trust your gut instinct and BE HAPPY!!!”
Photography by Ailbhe O’Donnell