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The Journey of a Solopreneur

Published: February 03 2019

When we sat down this year and started to plan out our own content calendar, we really wanted to do something unique and a more in-depth than your typical "top 10 marketing mistakes you are making" types of blog posts.

From this desire, we landed on creating a video series that spoke to the challenges and success stories of entrepreneurs and business leaders in our community - straight from their mouths. 

Checking in with real people. Real businesses. Real stories.

And since we haven't quite run out of "CSEK" puns, we named the series "CSEKING IN".

In this first episode, we start to explore this concept and bring in Meredith Hansen with Illuminate Skincare and Esthetics to talk about her journey as a solopreneur. We hope you enjoy it. If you have any feedback on what you would like to see and hear in these videos, don't hesitate to reach out here, or leave a comment in the youtube comments.



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Video Transcription

Nikki: Hi! Nikki Csek here with Csek Creative, we’re really excited to be launching a new video series. It’s called “Cseking In” and we’re going to talk to our clients and some businesses in the community, and we want to take a peek into their entrepreneurial window and see what we can learn.

This week our very first video is going to be with Meredith Hansen with Illuminate Skincare and Esthetics. What we’re really curious to find out with talking to Meredith, is learning what it’s like to be a solo entrepreneur and how she attained her first customers, and what it’s like now that she’s a seasoned business owner. 

Thank you very much for joining us, here today we have Meredith Hansen in the studio and she’s with Illuminate Skincare and Esthetics. She’s going to give us a peek into the window of her business.

Meredith: Thank you for having me!

Nikki: Thank you for coming. So Meredith, can you just let me know how long you’ve had Illuminate Skincare and Esthetics?

Meredith: I’ve had the business in Kelowna for about 9 years, and then I was self-employed/business owner in Victoria before I moved back home to Kelowna, and opened up Illuminate Skincare and Esthetics. So, it’s been about 13-14 years in total.

Nikki: So being in business isn’t for everyone, and you would’ve been an employee prior to?

Meredith: Yes.

Nikki: Ok, so what inspired you? What made you want to do this?

Meredith: Because I wanted to have control of how I was able to service my clients, how I was able to book my schedule, and the level of service that I wanted to provide, I wanted to be in control of that. So, pretty early on into my career, I decided I was going to have to go out and do it for myself. 

Nikki: So you have your studio in your home, it’s a beautiful studio, I’ve been. You don’t have a business brick and mortar, nine to five.. Is this intentional?

Meredith: Intentional? Yes. Intentional, but it’s also so that I can provide the level of service I want to without the demands or stress of having a commercial space. 

Nikki: So how did you get your first client? 

Meredith: Through the fact that I grew up here, so networking! It was because I had a circle of influence or people that knew me. When you go out on your own in a business like I do, you kind of call on your friends and your family to help support you and suggest people come your way, and then you do the best of job you can and hope for the best!

Nikki: So you’re obviously passionate about skincare, and I love when I hear you talk that everybody has skin, so everybody is your client! But, in business did you know more about being in business, or did you learn ‘how to business’ as you went?

Meredith: I learned how to business as I went, which has also been a part of the bonus of being so small because I can make mistakes and I have a little bit more freedom that way. But, yes I’ve been totally ‘winging it’ from the get-go to be honest.

Nikki: So, it’s you! You wear all the hats. You clean the linens, you book the appointments, you negotiate the payments. There’s a capacity, there’s only so much of Meredith to go around. That’s your ceiling, that’s your glass ceiling. So, are you at capacity in the amount of clients that you can see?

Meredith: I’d like to say no, but I am fairly booked so I guess in some ways yes and some ways no, but it’s an ever-evolving clientele base, so sometimes people move or their budgets change, or that kind of thing. I never want to say that “no” I’m at capacity, and there’s always room to grow. I’m also starting to niche my business to shape it to be a very specific type of person, who wants very specific help with their skin. And so, that starts to narrow and specialize. So, I don’t feel like there’s a ceiling because I feel you can always grow, but in a roundabout sort of way.

Nikki: Then I’m curious, would you consider your business successful? Financially successful?

Meredith:  Yes, absolutely.

Nikki: What’s next? There could be a fork in the road, does Meredith keep doing what she’s doing for the next two years, six years, ten years? Do you have a business succession plan?

Meredith: Well, I have a lot of it in my mind. Once again, I’ve been ‘winging it’ from the beginning so I have ideas, and I guess right now I’m just trying to see how my life directs me. Yes, sometimes I think I’d like to get bigger. I get inspired by people like Csek Creative, and all the other wonderful businesses in Kelowna. It’s just trying to decide what works best. I also like to maintain a bit of balance in my life. I do know life is short, I do want to be able to take vacations and “work to live” not “live to work”. So I’m an interesting business owner that way, I do believe in balance and so yes, I do think that my business is going to evolve. Exactly what that looks like? I’m not sure, but I have some ideas .. do you want me to share those?

Nikki: Yes, absolutely! 

Meredith: I do have ideas of possibly making a commercial business out of a home business and opening a place for people to come and be able to purchase all of their skincare needs with me. However, I don’t see myself opening a business where I have other skincare specialists. 

Nikki: So almost a shift from the commodity being Meredith, to the commodity being product, and you get to do that shift because of the relationships that you built?

Meredith: Yes, but being more specific in the sense that I wouldn’t want it to be like a retail store, where’s it’s like a cosmetics store only. I still would have the benefit of Meredith and my knowledge, and my advice, but just allowing it to be a little bit more so that people still can come in and also shop.

Nikki: So probably, a couple more questions from you if I can, again thank you so much for coming in and sharing with us. What advice would you give someone starting out in this industry?

Meredith: Find what your passion is and don’t be afraid to niche from the beginning. Because in skincare and esthetics there’s a lot of services we offer, and in hindsight I would’ve specialized right off the go.   

Nikki: Again, solopreneur, you’re with customers all day long. Where do you get your mentorship or your coaching through business, like how do you know if your going in the right direction?

Meredith: Well, you’re one of my mentors, other business professionals, I go to networking groups - that’s how we met. I like to network with people who have like mindedness with me and bounce ideas off of them. I do have some business mentors, as well as a business coach who’s specific to the spa/skincare industry. So they kind of help you wade through the ideas, and they’re helping me find my direction of what I want to do.

Nikki: Are you doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing?

Meredith: Absolutely.

Nikki: Meredith, thank you very much for spending time with us today, and thank you for ‘Cseking in’.