We’re heading straight to Extensions by Ell as soon as we’re allowed!
I have always been a late bloomer. My appreciation for beauty being one. But as I’ve gotten older and more fascinated with it- slightly higher maintenance if anything- I’ve learned that as women we each have that one – or maybe two – beauty rituals that instantly make us feel better. Even if we have nowhere to go (COVID we’re looking at you), it’s a ritual that we do for ourselves because it makes us feel good. For me, it’s a tan. For others, it’s getting lashes or acrylics. But for Ell, it’s hair extensions.
After going to the same salon for four years, Ell’s motivation to start Extensions by Ell (@extentionsby_ell) rooted in her decision to simply switch salons. “I sat there and was so amazed by how many people were happy after seeing their transformation.” Plus the insane Range Rover the owner pulled up in. “I’d never been in a job where I truly enjoyed it and always struggled with my bosses, so my mum, being a true Capricorn, told me I should be my own boss.” After going through a harsh breakup Ell had her ‘f*ck it’ moment and decided it was the time to start her own business.
Like all start-ups, the road to success is never a smooth one; they all have to begin somewhere. “It took me hours to do everything,” said Ell. “I had clients sit at my house for 6 hours while I did their hair, and some of the time having them come back after falling out.” It took her months before she felt fully confident in what she was doing but truthfully, due to the breakup, extensions were just a creative distraction. With no intentions of knowing where it was going to go, and with doing her own promoting, marketing and social media, everything started to naturally fall into place. “For me it was all about learning, making mistakes and researching as much as possible. I’ve also discovered how important it is to make friends with people who do the same thing. Instead of seeing them as a threat, see them as an opportunity to learn and create a support bubble”
Since the start of the pandemic the beauty industry has seen the real brunt of it, so I was initially curious to know how Extensions by Ell survived, not knowing that it was a product of the pandemic. “I don’t know any different. I started my business in February and have built it through the pandemic, so can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when things go back to normal”, says Ell. “Obviously it’s frustrating when you have to close in a week’s notice with 100 clients to message about their booking. It’s not nice to go from having a full month pay to having no clients and zero income.”
Despite the hardship that 2020 has given (and now 2021) Ell tries to not let anything she can’t control affect her, but the lack of guidance given by the government is impossible to ignore. “I feel like they [the government] have just forgotten about the beauty industry. We’ve had minimal support, it’s so unfair. There’s no certainty about when people can go back to work, the whole thing just feels like a constant roller coaster.” But, ultimately, if the pandemic hadn’t have happened, Extensions by Ell wouldn’t have been born. “As hard and as frustrating it is, there are people dying and more important things happening in the world to worry about.”
With the virtual existence we’ve all had to adapt to, learning how to function a business via social media has been another product of lockdown and a demanding challenge to arise to. But Ell has certainly got creative with it. “I just make sure that I’m constantly posting, whether its doing games on my stories or posting tips, I just want to stay in people’s minds.” However, understanding the importance of what an online presence can do for a business is something that Ell has discovered over time. “I spent so much time and money on branding that I actually have someone who makes content for me now, something I wish I did at the start.”
One look at Ells Instagram, you can immediately tell that everything she does comes from a place of passion and love, being the grounding factor as to why she thinks it’s become so successful. But underneath all that, she holds a stamina that is hard to find in young entrepreneurs. “Naturally I’m quite a motivated person so since starting my business I’m constantly doing something productive or else I get bored,” says Ell. Whether its scrolling through Pinterest, looking for content inspiration, watching extension videos on YouTube or planning the year ahead, the drive and tenacity to create herself the life she dreams is second to none. “My P.Louise diary is my best friend and helps me to stay on track with my goals”, says Ell. “I always refer back to them and like to envision where I want my life to be, how much money I want to make and try to come up with ways of doing it- even if it’s insane.”
There’s a saying that goes: “You get what you work for, not what you wish for”. With one virtual conversation with Ell, she is the walking epitome of the phrase and great a inspiration for women who are wanting to start businesses of their own. “If you have the financial stability to start something, then do it! It’s amazing what you can achieve when you’re really passionate about something. It’s better to try it and for it to not work out than to not try at all. Don’t let the setbacks stop you.” And for the future? “I’ve planned out so many things I want to achieve and have really worked on how I’m going to achieve them”, says Ell. “This time has allowed me to be more creative with my ideas and run a business that has my aesthetic and vision. It gave me more time to manifest my goals, but also the stimulus to create them.”
Despite the drawbacks that Ell faced in 2020, the essence of commitment and positivity that she ejects is contagious. You instantly get inspired by her words and the business she has created for herself. And as she says, “The comeback is always stronger than the setback.”
Head to @extentionsby_ell to view some major hair goals
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