Sisters Rowan and Ellis Williams knew they were taking a big risk when they opened their first Liverpool salon – but six months on and it seems to be paying off. Tony McDonough reports
Many small businesses were hit badly during the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, few more so than the beauty sector which almost ground to a halt during lockdowns.
Not only were salons forced to close their doors, but strict social distancing rules meant that mobile practitioners who normally visited clients in their homes were also prevented from earning a living.
Liverpool sisters Rowan and Ellis Williams can certainly testify to the unprecedented economic shock of the pandemic. Both are advanced eyelash technicians, providing semi-permanent eyelashes and lash perming. Ellis is also all a nail specialist while Rowan offers expertise in aesthetics and skin care.
They had separately worked at a number of salons in the city as well as being mobile. Both saw a hit to their incomes during the pandemic but, like the best entrepreneurs, they saw the changing world as an opportunity to pivot their own career.
Six months ago they joined forces to take the plunge and open their own salon – SIST•E•R, which is located in Rose Lane in south Liverpool. Among the soft teal hues and pampas and dried floral arrangements in the salon premises is a sign which reads ‘Sisters are doing it for themselves’.
Both admit launching a new business was a nerve-wracking prospect. But, so far, the risk is paying off with steady growth in its regular client base. Ellis said: “When we applied to take over the shop earlier in the summer of 2021, we knew that it was a huge risk to commit to a premises whilst the pandemic was still ongoing.
“With the prospect of winter and further lockdown measures, we worked morning, noon and night to have it refurbished and open. It wasn’t just myself and Rowan. We had the best team helping us to bring our vision to life. We’d committed to it and both knew that we had to make it happen and opening our doors is our biggest accomplishment to date.”
SIST•E•R has welcomed other nail technicians and makeup artists who are self-employed at the salon, ensuring that their clients can enjoy a range of services under one roof. There are currently two makeup stations and a nail station available to rent.
Rowan added: “Having both worked in the beauty industry for years, we always knew that we wanted to work together but couldn’t have imagined owning our own salon. The pandemic presented opportunities and when the space became available, we went to view it and it was perfect for us to make that next step forward together.
“We just needed a little push and self-belief. We’re sisters and will always have each other and that was our goal for the salon – to create a sisterhood, and somewhere where our clients feel right at home.”