With an expansive career in the beauty industry, Nicky Shore, founder of OFF & ON is no stranger to the face-paced, competitive world she works in. This infectiously upbeat and clever business woman manages to juggle the pressure of business with an enormous smile on her face. Yet Shore is happiest wearing a pair of Hunter gumboots on the family farm which she shares with her husband, sons and beloved horse, Flossie.. Sarah Simpson talks to this beauty trailblazer.
With the launch of three OFF wax bars around Auckland, and a fourth opening in Wellington later this month, Shore is a beauty trailblazer. Bringing fun and humour to the not so pretty business of hair removal, her sister company ON Browhouse, is changing lives. A cosmetic brow tattooing bar offering the unique treatment of 'browography', both companies boast an enviable reputation in the business, here's her advice on career, and how she juggles it all.
ON Browhouse Britomart, Auckland.
What’s a typical working day for you?
Each day is different. Usually a balance of focusing on developing the business, mixed with a healthy dose of the day to day troubleshooting. Regardless there is always a lot of talking. I make a lot of work calls on my drive into town and generally base myself in Britomart for a couple of hours to do emails and then try to designate time to work on the important stuff that the day otherwise swallows up. There is always a meeting or two – operational, PR, interviews, retail, training, logistical and finance. I spend a lot of time talking with our regional manager for Auckland and Kelvin my husband, on bigger projects I am working on - at the moment it is our Wellington launch. I try to visit each branch every week, even if just to say hi and drop off some doughnuts (I am a notorious food pusher). The hardest part of growing bigger is not being able to spend time at the coalface as much, but I am aware that I need to be working on the business and not always in it - also my reception skills are getting worse.
What do you love about the beauty industry?
It is dynamic, progressive, innovative and in many ways untapped, so always an opportunity to grow. This is not an industry where you can stay stagnant and the biggest rewards come from the risks you take. It is not only about how you make people look, it is really about how you make them feel...and that for me is the nugget.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere - and Google. I read a lot and try to stay as relevant as I can. I love taking things and trying to find the right context, or positioning for them. Sometimes a seed of an idea will come from being in a restaurant, talking to a client, with friends or listening to what someone may say in the bathroom. I often think about ideas or concepts on the drive home and they evolve over time.
What are your favourite beauty trends right now?
Authenticity – I think there is a beauty movement about realism, being oneself and as a result smart beauty solutions. For example, I am pretty happy non-contouring is now a thing.
What sets you apart from other brow tattooing options out there?
There is an incredible breadth of talent and options for brow tattooing or feather stroke, microblading - which is a good thing. There needs to be the choice and an aesthetic for people to choose from. As this category has evolved, I think we have too. What we love to focus on is the restorative work – it is more challenging but also very rewarding. We actually love looking after the problem brows such as alopecia, hormonal issues, age-related hair loss or post chemotherapy treatment. This is rewarding from a skill perspective and how it makes people look and then feel.
OFF & ON, Auckland
How do you stay competitive?
I try to really stay focused on our concept, our customer and our team. If you spend a lot of time looking at what others are doing it can be easy to become reactive, and go off your path. I really just want to make sure that we stay relevant for our customers, excite them and that we deliver consistently on results, care, service and experience. Likewise, our team need to feel exactly the same, so we invest our time and energy into these areas.
What has been your career high to date?
Opening the doors at Newmarket that very first day… we made $22 and I spent a lot more than that on wine on the way home.
What is your advice for women wanting to embark on a new business venture?
Don’t wait for it to be perfect before you do, If you have a great concept with a strong point of difference and guiding principles you can fix and learn the rest as you go (you will make mistakes, in fact, you must). Ask for the right help, and understand that cash flow, not turnover is king. Lastly be brave and stick to your point of difference. Don’t try and be all things to all people.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Enjoy life more, you haven’t got a mortgage or kids to feed yet.
What keeps you so grounded?
Home – the people in it and the place itself including the mud and animals. I am more 'me' in a rural setting, so this brings me balance and I think keeps it real (there is nothing more real than cleaning up three types of poo by 7am) It would be exhausting to try and pretend I am not disorganised, always running, usually with a food stain of some sort on me. I am lucky to have an amazing family and friends, awesome little boys and Kelvin my husband is my rock.
Can you share some future plans for OFF & ON?
Yes. We are opening OFF & ON in Wellington this September. And we're beyond excited. Being from the far south it feels like the start of taking OFF and ON home.
Photography of Nicky Keryn Sweeny