Brow game strong! How a high school drop out went on to become Australia's eyebrow queen
Melanie Marris is fast becoming Australia’s eyebrow queen.
In just four years the self-taught brow stylist has gone from small time beautician to one of the most in-demand people in the country.
Thanks to word of mouth, Melanie's went from a one-woman business to managing a team of eyebrow stylists, while running two ultra-stylish boutiques with her name on the doors.
At only 27-years-old, she’s well and truly boosted Perth and Melbourne’s eyebrow game and is already planning to expand to Sydney and Adelaide.
Melanie is part of the reason eyebrows have become a beauty focus for women, rather than an afterthought.
But how did a self-trained high school drop out end up becoming one of the most business savvy young women in Australia?
For Melanie, success came down to determination, hard work and a bit of good timing on social media.
“If you had’ve asked me four years ago if I planned to have three shops I would’ve laughed at you… it’s been very hard work, but it’s been incredible”.
“I never thought I would even have a staff member. I left school in year 10 with no business background… I’ve had to learn as I’ve gone along and financially I’ve done it all on my own,” she told Yahoo7.
“I started in Perth because I didn’t have any money to move. I saved up and started my business in Maylands and it has grown from there.
“At the start it was more of a hobby for me. I used to do all of my friends eyebrows and word started to spread”.
Melanie is proof of the power of social media. Soon after starting, she went from helping out her girlfriends to getting more appointment requests than one person can handle.
“Amen to social media, that’s all I can say. I was getting up to 100 messages a day when it was just me – I was blown away but I kept thinking, ‘how am I going to do this?’
“That’s when I decided this was going to be something and I had to train someone. Now I’ve got ten (staff)," she said.
As high fashion models and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Cara Delevingne started to show off their fuller brows, Marris saw the opportunity to break the mould with her strong brow game.
“I am self-taught when it comes to brows, I have done a diploma in beauty therapy but I developed my own method when it comes to styling,” she said.
While Melanie charges more than a standard beauty salon (up to $65AUD a session), she is confident her customers get what they paid for.
“If someone goes to just a regular salon they’ll spend up to $25 on an eyebrow wax, but often they don’t leave with the result they want,” she said.
“Along with educating our clients, we teach them how to fill in their brows, where to tweeze and trim and where the hair should grow to”.
Every appointment is no shorter than 30 minutes to assure her customers get exactly what they want.
And while her waiting list may continue to grow because of this, it’s not something she plans to change.
“It can be very hard with a wait list as I know I may lose customers, but I think it’s worth the wait,” she said.
Melanie’s clients range from 12-year-olds to those in their late 70s and some travel far and wide for the service.
She felt it was a great way for people of all ages, shapes, and sizes to boost confidence.
“I have people all over Australia come here – they fly from Melbourne, Broome and all over.
“I’m very flattered by it”.
But as her business continues to grow, Melanie said she is still learning to place trust in her staff and take a step back.
“That’s been my biggest challenge – it’s something I’ve had to learn as at the end of the day it’s my name that they’re using,” she said.
“But with the level I want to expand, I have to let the control side of me go”.
Fortunately she said finding staff that shared the same work ethic wasn’t as hard as she first thought.
“All my staff are long term, I mentor them in a way which gives them confidence and makes them really good at what they do,” she said.
“I love training them and watching them grow – they come in with no idea how to wax and eyebrow and within five months they’re rocking it.
“I’m lucky these girls are so dedicated.”
Her clients have also welcomed the staff too – proudly sharing their eyebrow creations on social media.
And they seem to love nothing more than being the star of Marris’ own social networks for a few hours.
Thanks to sharing photos of her work, she’s gained more than 20,000 followers in four years.
“There were people doing brows before me, but not like me. I created a large Instagram and Facebook following and gained hype around my talent,” she said.
“Thanks to social media I have not had to resort to spending money on advertising. I have built my clientele through word of mouth”.
Her popularity online has also allowed her to launch a cosmetic brand ‘MJM’ along with a YouTube channel of brow tutorials.
It’s also put the ‘eyebrow game’ into the spotlight which means competition has also grown – something she welcomed.
“I think it’s unhealthy to focus on competing with other people,” she said.
“I think it should motivate you and keep you on your toes to work harder and to better yourself.
“But eyebrows are a niche art form, everyone who does it has a different style”.
And while Melanie may have taken the long, hard road to get her brow game on point, it’s hard to find a better example of how far someone can go when you truly find your niche.
“Never say ‘I couldn't do that’ or ‘that isn't possible’, because I am living proof that it is!” she said.
“I hope I can encourage just one person to take the leap like I did and grow both mentally and physically into a successful entrepreneur”.
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