In the heart of Montana Park, Pretoria, a small but inviting salon stands as a haven for those seeking exceptional nail artistry. Meet Brigette van Huyssteen, the dedicated owner of HNB by Brigette van Huyssteen. With her infectious passion and unwavering commitment to her craft, Brigette has established herself as a trusted name in the industry.
Brigette’s warm smile and infectious laughter create an immediate sense of comfort as clients enter her salon. With extensive knowledge and an eye for detail, she transforms each visit into a personalised and transformative experience. From stunning nails crafted with meticulous care to tailored designs that reflect individual styles, Brigette’s expertise knows no bounds.
Beyond creating beautiful nails, Brigette’s true joy lies in empowering her clients. Witness the remarkable transformation as they leave her salon, radiating confidence with their newfound beauty. Brigette’s genuine passion leaves a lasting impact on all who encounter her artistry.
Join us for an insightful Q&A as we delve into the world of Brigette van Huyssteen. Discover the inspiring journey behind her thriving salon, HNB by Brigette van Huyssteen, and explore the unwavering dedication of a business owner who strives to leave a lasting impression – one set of beautiful nails at a time.
What inspired you to start your own business, and how did you get started?
I grew up in a household where my dad was one of South Africa’s top competitive cyclists. He has more titles to his name than I can count on two hands. Additionally, my mother has been my absolute inspiration. She owned her own Hair Salon for as long as I can remember. I believe the combination of both influences made me challenging and hardworking.
Settling in one spot without pushing myself to be better or the best is not in my nature. I am determined to work tirelessly to achieve the perfect set of nails. I won’t ever be satisfied with mediocrity.
How long have you been in business?
I have been in the Beauty/Nail industry for 12 years.
What challenges did you face when starting your business, and how did you overcome them?
I definitely know I dodged most harsh challenges by at first working in my mother’s salon. I’m grateful for the kickstart. It did take a lot of capital, time and disappointments to get to where I am today. It humbles one to have gone through various challenges. I had, and still have an awesome support system of friends and family supporting me in every way possible.
How did you come up with your business idea, and what sets it apart from others in your industry?
Since I was 12 years old I used to help out in my mother’s salon on weekends and holidays. I might also have told my mother that I was done with my homework and studying just to wash a client’s hair. Wink-wink.
I fell in love with the beauty industry from a very young age. I started out doing nails after completing a range of courses just as something extra. But it grew on me more and more each day. It became my absolute passion to see women feel so confident and beautiful after having their nails done. I’m definitely an energy type of person and the energy of an empowered woman is just something extraordinary to experience, and a new set of beautiful nails shows just that. Having such a deep love and passion for what I do is definitely what I think sets me apart from others although I also do believe all nail technicians out there share my passion and love for the industry, since the job is very hands-on and there is no way you can not do it wholeheartedly.
How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals as a small business owner?
It does get tough… Product pricing fluctuates and escalates almost every month and to keep up is hectic at times.
Having to deal with load shedding also has a huge impact, not just financially but also emotionally with the stress of keeping clients calm, running late for your next client because it takes time to connect generators etc. But having such awesome relationships with my clients is truly a blessing and makes it easier.
How did you trade during lockdown?
Luckily my little boy was born during the hard lockdown, so I was okay. But, what came after was absolutely devastating. I did however produce custom-made press-on nails for clients. I would sit until 4 am, getting orders done while rocking my baby in the crib with one foot, all while making nails. This allowed my husband to deliver them first thing in the morning.
For extra income we made jewellery out of nail acrylic. I will forever be grateful to the clients that supported that initiative. It kept us going.
What skills and experience have been most valuable in running your business?
Definitely people skills. I have done some psychology studies which I think helps people feel they can offload during an appointment with me, although I don’t think most people know about my studies. Haha. I also believe in having a good sense of business management. And most definitely being artistic and spiritually open. As for experience, practise, practise and more practise. You can only gain so much knowledge doing a course. Being a nail technician is definitely more about heart and passion than theory.
How have you adapted your business to changes in your industry, such as new technology or market trends?
I never stop doing workshops and courses on new products and trends.
How do you balance your personal and professional life as a small business owner?
At first I wouldn’t say there was any balance. My clients are so dear to my heart. Whatever they go through, I take home with me. Fortunately, I have a loving and understanding husband who can comfort me if needed or offer advice where needed. I also share another business with my husband where we supply and install fire detection, suppression and safety equipment. He has been the glue that has contributed to the success of that business. Over the years, I believe we have learned to cope and find a balance in managing everything.
What have been some of your biggest successes and proudest moments as a business owner?
I think my proudest moments are when the photos after every set of nails turn out great. It feels like every set becomes my proudest moment, haha. I have achieved quite a lot during my years in the industry, including magazine covers, being featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, and participating in fashion weeks. There are so many moments; I’m just incredibly blessed beyond words.
How have you built and maintained relationships with customers and clients?
I’m currently fully booked for 2023, with a slot open here and there, so I’m in awe of my clients. I’ve lost clients over the years but a spot always gets filled. I don’t know if it sounds weird but I have so much respect and love for every client of mine. I get to do their nails, but I learn so much about being a good mom, a good wife and a good friend. I admire every woman and what they achieve, I celebrate all changes for the good and I just adore and love, love, love every beautiful soul supporting me every month.
How do you market and promote your business, and what strategies have been most effective for you?
I’m mostly into social media marketing, particularly Facebook and Instagram. I’m not entirely sure about what I’m doing or how a “Reel” works, but I’m getting there, haha.
How do you measure the success of your business, and what goals do you have for the future?
I believe the time and value I dedicate to each client is what measures my success. I never settle in one place. There is always more to come from me. And right now, something exciting is brewing… I can’t wait to share it with you! It has been a passion of mine for so long, and hopefully soon I’ll get to share it all around South Africa!
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
I know it’s scary, and some days might feel like you’re getting nowhere. It took me three years to build a client base of two clients per day. I thought I was on top of the world and that things couldn’t get any better… 12 years later, and I’m fully booked for a year. The sky is the limit. If you put your whole heart into it, you’ll achieve everything you want and more!
How have you dealt with setbacks or failures in your business, and what did you learn from those experiences?
Yes, I have. They are not my proudest moments. I closed down a bigger salon with more services about a year and a half ago. It was for the best, and I had to downscale significantly. Initially, I wanted to leave the nail/beauty industry completely, but my husband pushed me and recommended the space I’m currently renting. It’s SO much smaller, and I downscaled from a salon with a full staff of ladies to just me. However, it was the best decision for my mental health and professional growth.
What impact do you hope your business will have on your community or the world at large?
I just want to make women feel as beautiful as they truly are. I don’t think a person on the street sees what I see when working with these women. They are gold, solid gold, baby! They should always feel that way. I know that a beautiful set of nails boosts their confidence, and that’s enough for me. With the right amount of confidence, anyone can conquer their own world.
How do you stay current with industry trends and continue to learn and grow as a business owner?
Definitely by taking workshops and courses whenever a new trend is making the rounds and new products are launching.
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