With trends constantly changing and new salons opening, making a beauty business last can be tough. One that has surpassed the test of time – three decades of operation, in fact – is Chez Moi, a popular beauty haven in Far East Plaza. We chat with LI HUIJIA, who has helped her mother run the business for the past 10 years.
Tell us how Chez Moi started.
My mum, Chan Soke Hong, started the business in 1989 as a one-man-show in a small one-room salon at Hotel Royal Newton. At the start, she relied mainly on word of mouth to get her clientele. As things grew, she was able to move into bigger spaces, until we finally got our permanent shop at Far East Plaza in 1998. The business continued to expand, and she started to offer more body-care treatments like hydrotherapy, slimming and even hair regrowth and scalp care in the last two years.
I started helping 10 years ago. Before that, I was working in a publishing firm – totally unrelated! She was looking for someone to help manage the business at that time, so I decided to explore this option, and we’ve been running the business together ever since.
30 years is a long time – congratulations! What do you think sets Chez Moi apart from other salons?
It’s really about the bonds we forge with the customers and our staff. When you treat your customers like your own tribe, they trust you, and stay with you for a long time. When you also treat the people you work with like your family, they’re willing to work harder and stay longer, and this reflects well on your business too. That being said, we’re not a big chain. Chez Moi is a family-run business where both my mum and I are often at the shop, so we know all our customers and we’re able to maintain the cosy service. Sometimes our regulars will pop in randomly for a chit-chat and that’s perfectly okay with us!
Good service aside, we also have to constantly upgrade ourselves and our offerings as well. Things change so quickly nowadays. That’s why we focus a lot on training – both for ourselves and our staff. We spend time researching the latest trends and treatments so we can share them with our customers.
What have been some of the toughest challenges?
Manpower is always an issue. We’re lucky that we have managed to train some really good therapists who stay with us for a long time. These days, our customers are also getting more informed; the internet is such a vast and easily accessible resource! In order to keep up with them, we have to work even harder to stay up to date with the latest industry knowledge.
In 2015, we opened a branch in Buona Vista. While it was a bigger space, we were not informed that the building was slated for a major renovation just six months after! Moving out was a challenge, as was relocating our staff and informing our customers, and then dealing with the general aftermath. But we’re grateful that our customers have stayed with us even through that.
What do you like most about your job?
It’s really about being able to reach out and help people feel better about themselves. Also, the multi-faceted requirements of running a beauty salon mean that I’m never bored. I’ll be planning a treatment one minute, reading about the latest beauty trend the next, and then a customer will come in and we’ll have a catch-up.
How do you choose your therapists?
We select them based on their attitude. If they’re willing to learn, we’re willing to train them. Of course, they still need to have a diploma in beauty-related services so that they’re armed with general skincare knowledge.
Once they’ve been selected, they’re all personally trained by my mum to provide the same quality service. We also arrange for training from professional trainers attached under the skincare and machine brands we use in our treatments. While it’s rather time-consuming, it ensures that our therapists get a good foundation, and that they can actually grow during their time here. We also send them on overseas learning trips so they can further upgrade their skills.
What’s your most sought-after treatment?
Right now, it’s a toss-up between our Cellu M6 Alliance Endermologie body treatment, and the M6 Mobilift Face treatment. We’ve also recently brought in the REVI Tohki Porcelain Skin treatment from Japan, and it’s been getting very good feedback. Our customers love how the natural botanical enzyme peel gives their skin lots of radiance with no downtime.
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