One-product grooming businesses blossoming in city’s Yaletown district
By Noa Glouberman
A new type of business is taking over one of Vancouver’s trendiest neighbourhoods.
While spas and salons offering a range of esthetic services still abound, niche beauty providers, each with a single stylish offering, are quickly laying claim to Yaletown – and beyond. Among them:
•Pure Nail Bar (manicures/pedicures);
•Blo Blow Dry Bar (hair styling);
•Pure Smile Studio (tooth whitening);
•Noir Lash Lounge (eyelash extensions);
•Bombay Brow Bar (eyebrow shaping);
•Stripped Wax Bar (body hair removal); and
•Rouge Make-Up Lounge (makeup application).
Look below the surface and you’ll see just how much these B.C.-born-and-bred businesses have in common.
“We each do one thing, and we each do it really well,” Joyce Poon, founder of Vancouver-based Noir Lash Louge, told Business in Vancouver. “For us it’s semi-permanent eyelash extensions. That isn’t an added service – it’s our only service.” Rather than limiting sales, singularity is Poon’s secret to success.
“We’ve been able to concentrate on becoming the last word on lashes,” she explained. “It also lets us offer an unparalleled level of service for hundreds less than a high-end salon, because we don’t have to worry about training and equipment and extra space for anything other than eyelashes.”
Ravy Mehroke, who opened Bombay Brow Bar’s doors down the street from Noir during the 2010 Winter Olympics, agrees. “We have a major brow obsession – it’s all we do,” said the commerce graduate, who’s fielded several offers to open additional brow bars across Canada in the six months she’s been in business. “Some startups wouldn’t survive with one product, but we followed a tried-and-true model that let us focus exclusively on eyebrows and becoming experts in providing that service.”
The business plan Mehroke refers to was executed in Yaletown in 2007 by Judy Brooks, whose Blo Blow Dry Bar, co-founded with daughter Devon, has expanded to 11 Canadian and U.S. locations – including storefronts in South Granville and South Surrey’s Morgan Crossing area – in the space of three years.
“When we first opened there wasn’t anyone else in North America doing no cuts, no colour, just blow-drying hair, so we figured we’ll just build our own business to fill that niche – and create an amazing brand and culture while we’re at it,” Brooks said. “Our success was so immediate that others soon followed.”
Poon, for example, who launched her lash lounge out of a leased space adjacent to Blo in Yaletown, has closely trailed Brooks’ lead, opening a South Granville location near the blow-dry bar in April 2010 and, as of last week, announcing a third Noir in Morgan Crossing.
“In business it’s always smart to look at something that’s working and say, ‘I’m going to align myself with that,’” said Brooks. “In this case, imitation really is the highest form of flattery because it’s allowed us to support each other, work together and share ideas and even a client base, because someone who enjoys Joyce’s service is likely to enjoy ours as well.”
Having recently handed Blo’s reins over to new management (see “Fast-growing Blo loses founder” – issue 1084, August 3-9), Brooks now plans to spend more time providing business-consulting services to niche-beauty newcomers.
One such up-and-comer, Susan Vu, opened her first Stripped Wax Bar – offering body hair-removal services – on Yaletown’s beauty block in late June. She, too, opted to follow the single-service plan because of its proven success.
“Seeing Blo, Noir, Bombay and the others succeed in this neighbourhood, we knew this wasn’t going to be a failed venture, that we were going to hit the ground running,” she said from her Hamilton Street space. “We’ve been busy from Day 1.”
Vu is no stranger to entrepreneurship; she opened her first retail fashion startup, Boudoir, in April 2008, and takes a keen interest in the business side of beauty.
“The single-service model works well in this industry for several reasons,” Vu said. “For one, it lets you train experts who don’t have to switch between tasks like spa or salon estheticians do.”
To that end Vu’s “strippers,” Mehroke’s “brow sculptresses,” Brooks’ “hair cadets” and Poon’s “noir stars” are thoroughly trained before they’re permitted to work on clients (in many cases, new hires are already established estheticians).
“They become really, really quick at that one technique, without sacrificing quality,” Vu added. “That means we can see more clients in one day and, as a result, keep our prices a lot lower than a spa.”
Like her predecessors, Vu’s sights are set on rapid expansion. “Yaletown was a market we absolutely knew we had to get into, and I wouldn’t have opened my first location anywhere else but here, but there’s tons of potential for growth in this business,” she said. “From here to Toronto – everything in-between is up for grabs.” •
Beautiful business tips
It sounds simple: create a company around a singular beauty offering. Not so fast! There are other components to the single-service business plan.
•Location: set up shop close to businesses that complement your own.
•Decor: a bigger space isn’t always better in the niche beauty biz, but avoid the dark, dungeon-like setting of many esthetic services of the past (translation: keep it light, trendy and hip).
•Expertise: train your staff to be experts in providing your service.
•Consistency: give clients the same experience every time they visit.
•Accessibility: make your service quick, easy and affordable, without sacrificing quality.
•Marketing: enough can’t be said for social media. Make Facebook, Twitter and other tools a part of your daily to-do list.
•Branding: from signage to verbiage, create a look and feel that can’t be mistaken for any business but your own.
This article from Business in Vancouver August 31-September 6, 2010; issue 1088
Business in Vancouver (www.biv.com) has been publishing in-depth local business news, analysis and commentary since 1989. The newspaper also produces a weekly ranked list of the biggest companies and players in a wide range of B.C. industries and commercial sectors, monthly features and industry-focused sections that arm its subscribers with a complete package of local business intelligence each week.
| Image: Elianna Lev |
Published: August 27, 2010
Eyebrows weren’t my strong point until I checked out, or rather, experienced, Bombay Brow Bar
There was a point last year where three women in my life separately told me I needed some work done. It had nothing to do with personal growth from within. No, it had to do with my eyebrows.
These women were all professionals when it came to aesthetic—a make up artist, an aesthetician and a hairdresser—so I trusted their judgment. It’s the same thing when my architect and design friends come over and critique the layout my living room and my furniture. Rather than take it personally, I trust and value their expertise. (FYI, as a writer, I totally critique your emails.)
The thing is, I don’t really care about eyebrows. Unless they look like caterpillars or are shaped like sperm, I certainly don’t notice them. And I’ve definitely never put any thought into mine. They’re usually covered by my bangs.
Then I discovered Yaletown’s Bombay Brow Bar. I was in the same business class as its co-owner, Ravy Mehroke, and was impressed by her passion, commitment and drive toward building her empire. Which, essentially, was about all things eyebrows.
So I popped in there recently to lose my eyebrow virginity.
Bollywood bourdour threading in the heart of Yaletown
The shop itself is a Polly-pocket-sized Bollywood boudoir. All lavenders and pinks, chiffons and silks, you certainly don’t feel like you’re in Vancouver in there. A flat-screen TV continually showcases poppy Bollywood dance-offs, and delicious chai tea is served on pewter trays.
I was paired with Karen, a warm and motherly “brow sculptresses.” She asked if I’d like an arch or just some basic shaping. Since I’d never done this before, I was a bit nervous and wanted my commitment to be minimal. I opted for shaping.
Next she asked how I’d like it done: wax, tweeze or threading. I’d experienced tweezing and waxing on different parts of my body in the past so I decided to go for something new. Threading it was. I had no idea what I was in for.
One-third helicopter, one-third dental floss and one-third lawnmower
First, Karen outlined the tops and bottoms of my eyebrows with white eye pencil, as a guide to where she would be trimming.
Next she threaded and twisted some floss-like string between her teeth and fingers. Then, she got me to pull on my forehead and eyelid and she went to work.
The procedure was one-third helicopter, one-third dental floss and one-third lawnmower. It tinged just a bit but if Karen noticed I was uncomfortable, she’d stop, get me to stretch my skin tighter, then go back to work.
Karen wound down our time together with a mini eyebrow massage, in which she rubbed rosewater into my newly shaped brows, which were slightly red. Then she applied a bit of makeup and I was complete. It was all done in less than five minutes.
Karen held a mirror up to my freshly shorn brows. I was astounded by how precise her work was, given how quickly it was done. They looked so clean! So shaped! So refined! My aesthetically minded friends would have very little to critique now. I actually wanted to tell them to try this place out, because not only did I now feel like and look like a real classy lady, I had a really fun time doing it.
Perfectly sculpted brows are a beauty essential for every lady, not just for brides-to-be! That’s why TNIB is thrilled to feature Ravy Mehroke, the President of Bombay Brow Bar in Vancouver with eyebrow essentials especially for brides!
TNIB: Why is a good eyebrow look important, especially for brides?
BBB: Having the perfect brow look is uber important! It’s a fantastic way to complement your facial features and to enhance your natural beauty. Well-shaped brows can easily change the way you look, take years of your face, give you immediate eye lift and It’s especially important for brides because it’s their big day and they deserve to look beautiful in every way. Besides, bad brows = bad memories.
TNIB: What is the current trend in eyebrows? Thicker? Thinner? Etc?
BBB: Big, beautiful, shapely brows are sooo hot right now! Not only do they tend to look more natural but they also add a touch of sexiness to your look. This brow look is currently being sported by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Brooke Shields and Megan Fox.
TNIB: Does this trend hold true for brides?
BBB: Eyebrow trends are always changing but ultimately, we always recommend working with your natural facial features and face shape to find the perfect brow look for you. Eyebrows that are too thick, too thin, not long enough or unruly call so much attention to them that they can actually take away from your prettier features. Well-shaped symmetrical brows allow other pretty features, like your eyes, to really stand out. Bride or not, you always want to rock perfect brow!
TNIB: What should bride’s do before the wedding to prepare for the perfect brow look?
BBB: Especially for brides, we suggest coming in two to three months before if a complete reshape is desired or at least 2-3 times before the big day. This gives the bride enough time and regrowth to work towards the ideal shape for her brows. With a little bit of patience and planning, you brows can look absolutely stunning for your big day. We also offer a brow service for men, a good idea to include in your hubbie-to-be’s prewedding day grooming if his brows need some major taming.
TNIB: In addition to threading, what should a bride do to perfect the brow? Eyebrow pencils, etc?
BBB: You can truly raise some eyebrows on your big day by being prepared with a brow makeup kit that keeps your brows looking perfect all day long! A good brow kit should include the following:
1) A brow shadow help fill in unsightly gaps to give you a finished brow look. Tip: If you have light brows, the colour should be 1-2 shades darker than your natural brow colour OR if you have dark brows, it should 1-2 shades lighter
2) A brow brush to apply the brow shadow for a natural finish
3) A brow wax to keep those brow hairs under control
4) A brow highlighter to lift those gorgeous arches
TNIB: I would love to come to the Bombay Brow Bar but I am not in your area. How do I pick a good eyebrow shop in my area? What should I look for?
BBB: We highly recommend going to a beauty place that specializes in eyebrow shaping. Also, look for a professional eyebrow service that maintains a high level of hygiene and sanitation and who use a 3-point technique to determine your brow shape. Most importantly, the brow professional needs to be rocking perfect brow look themselves!
About Bombay Brow Bar:
As Co-Founders and brow-obsessed sisters, Amy Minhas, and Ravy Mehroke are on a serious brow mission-to bring serious brow perfection to women all over the world in a modern, girly and fun way. Together, we fight evil brow-shapes and overly tweezed brows so women can rock out with perfect brows 24/7! Armed with a license in Esthetics, and a degree in Business and HR, we are helping stylish mavens get their brow-groove back!
It was probably fate that I met the owner of Bombay Brow Bar, Ravy Mehroke, at the REACH Magazine mixer a few weeks ago. I knew of BBB as the new place to go to in Yaletown to get your brows did, but when she invited me to come in to review the place, I realized she had probably spotted my unruly brows from a mile away!
Bombay Brow Bar is – and looks like – a gem. Adorned with purple/gold walls and chairs, and a big screen showing the best of Bollywood, you get one whiff of their Chai tea and immediately you’re imported to India. Reena (who is coincidentally Ravy’s sister-in-law) gave me some bottled water as I waited for my signature service, “bombay brows” ($23 value). When it was my turn, I was seated and given a brow consultation from Navi.
I knew I had a lot of hair, but I never knew that brow arching was such a science! Navi told me that my right arch was in the wrong place and that some of the hair on the end should have grown longer (instead of plucked away during my teen years!)
When she determined the shape, she went threading away (tweezing and waxing are also available) and both eyebrows took no longer than 5 minutes. Oh, by the way, this was my first threading experience EVER!
Stretching the skin for maximum hair removal!
I thought to myself, why am I slaving away plucking my hairs out one by one?! Threading is awesome! Painful, but FAST. After that, I got treated to a calming forehead massage with some cool rosewater gel, and then a bit of fill in – not with an eyebrow pencil, which I despise – but with an ashy shadow. Really natural looking. See?
After that I was all ready to go for my event that night. Navi and Reena both said to come back 3-4 weeks to let the hair grow out, which (like waxing) is even less frequent than I do plucking, so how can you resist?
The staff was really nice to let me take photos of the place for my review.
BBB also sells their Chai tea and sparkly bangles at the front desk so you can be bombay-chic 24/7.
Bombay Brow Bar
1056 Mainland Street, Yaletown
Vancouver, BC V6B 2T4
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm
On Twitter: @bombaybrowbar
On Facebook: facebook.com/rockyourbrows (LOVE their tagline: “Rock your brows”)
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Tuesday, We welcome you:)
Hope your week is off to a great start. Yesterday, I had the privilege of doing makeup for Ravy Minhas Mehroke (yet again:)
It seems as though once a week Ravy has an event or photoshoot of some sort and I am grateful to be her go-to makeup artist.
Ravy is a busy girl! She is the owner of the successful Bombay Brow Bar in Yaletown, Vancouver. They seriously ROCK at doing eyebrows.
Here’s a couple looks I’ve done with Ravy.
Top 2 photos taken by Go Lucky Photography
Be sure to visit the Bombay Brow Bar if you live in Van. This is were Frieda Pinto gets her brows done when she’s in town!!!
Frieda Pinto and Karen the Brow sculptress
If you can’t make it out to Vancouver to get your brows done, you can always shape them up at home. Here is an eye guide to how the ideal brow should look. Use a pencil to map out the points a, b and c. The middle point is the highest arch. If you tweeze, do it by a window in natural light so you can see everything:) Sometimes shaping can take a couple months, if your brows are not at your desired shape. I have had to grow in my brows a few times and start over because of a tweeze happy episode.
I also like to trim my Bert brows by brushing them up, then trim some hair, brush them down and trim some hair. It makes them look neat and clean.
Once you have shaped, tweezed and trimmed, it’s time for brow makeup. (optional)
When picking eyebrow tones, always go a bit lighter than your brow hair. (like if you have black brows, get a dark brown-never black) Use light strokes with an angle brush to fill in any spots. As you age, your brows actually get shorter, so ladies, you may need to be filling them in a bit on the ends to match the ideal eyebrow.. But again, the key is finding the right color, and a light hand. To keep them in place you can use a brow wax, and for an inexpensive option, use clear mascara (works awesome!!)
Are you comfortable doing your own brows? Where is the best place to get brows done where you live?
Have a perfectly shaped day!
Overplucked eyebrows? Check. Nazi threading lady who killed your brows before your BFF’s wedding? Check. We’ve all had nightmare brow experiences at mega threading salons. But Ravy Mehroke and the talented Brow Sculptresses at Bombay Brow Bar reinvent the brow defining experience, by transforming all those sad memories of botched eyebrows into fabulous, perfect sculpted brows.
5 Reasons why you need to switch from a mega-threading salon to Bombay Brow Bar:
- Bombay Brow Bar uses the 3-point technique to determine the ideal shape that will suit your face. That means you won’t have the same generic eyebrow shape as every other girl out there.
- $23 gets you an eyebrow consult, almost pain-free threading, an unbelievably relaxing rosewater brow massage, make-up touch-up, chai and gossip – all in clean, plush, Bollywood-inspired surroundings.
- High-quality, consistent servie. The Brow Sculptresses actually listen to what you say. Whether you want to clean-up your au natural look or define your brows, the Sculptresses are there to listen and recommend the best look for you. No more mismatched eyebrows, pointy arches or over-threaded/over-plucked brows.
- Their selection of brow make-up, glosses and stunning jewelry by celebrity fave designer, Amrita Singh.
- It’s in Yaletown, baby.
1. Brows Before Sculpting 2. Brows Afer Sculpting
Here’s the skinny: book an appointment online or just walk into their fabulous Yaletown location, where they’ll great you with a cup of yummy chai before seating you on a plush pink chair. Next comes a consultation before they whip your brows into beautiful arches that frame your pretty eyes.
You’ll be gorgeous in under 10 minutes.
Bombay Brow Bar
1056 Mainland Street
Story By: Manjot Bains | Photos Credits: Bombay Brow Bar & Sukhi Ghuman Photography
Ravishing Ravy is raising eyebrows in Yaletown with her boutique, Bombay Brow Bar. Her and her stylish crew skillfully sculpts and shapes so you could get that sexy arch. You get plucked and pampered…and it’s all painless. With a Bachelors in Business and serious Beauty, she’s bringing this traditional threading technique to the masses.
Say hi to Ravy.
Ravy Mehroke aka Ms. High Brow
What do you do?
It might be hard to believe but I fight evil eyebrow crimes 24/7, such as uneven brow shapers and OCD tweeze-rs! As CEO and Co-Founder of Bombay Brow Bar (BBB), I have an over-zealous brow obsession, a desire to make women feel good about themselves, and a passion for everything and anything that includes Brows, Beauty and Business. With a Bachelor of Commerce in hand, beautifully arched brows, and an awesome Brow Team, I’m building a brow-obsessed community starting with Vancouver!
How long have you lived / worked in Yaletown?
Best place to get lunch:
hmmmm….so many yummy places…but my fave lunch spot is Earls! I’m soooo in love with their new Prawn Dynamite Rolls!
Best place for dinner:
Glowbal Grill, of course. The best steak in town. Hands down.
What’s the one thing about Yaletown that only a local would know of?
Marinaside…so beautiful and calm….love it!
One word to describe Yaletown:
*sigh* just one word? I would say TRENDY!
Who was your first celebrity sighting in Yaletown?
Luongo. I heard he lives in YT. So cool.
What’s the one thing you like about Yaletown?
The Yaletown Community! Everyone and everything in Yaletown rocks! it’s great to be able to work and live in a neighbourhood team that supports you. There is no better place to be…
What’s the one thing you don’t like about Yaletown?
Living right beside the Fire Hall and constantly waking up to ear-piercing wails of the fire fighting trucks…Arrgghh!
You wish Yaletown had more of:
Green please! Grass, flowers, plants..did I say grass?! There’s just not enough of it…
You wish Yaletown had less of:
No more stone parks please!
What is Yaletown missing?
A cool Indian restaurant that is not over a bridge or on Davie St.
Favourite memory being in Yaletown:
Sitting in Blenz, staring at the people walking by, and dreaming of a rad business idea that has finally conceptualized to BBB. xoxo
Want to win free Brows…from Bombay Brow Bar? Here’s how:
1) Follow @bombaybrowbar and @yaletowndotca
2) RT this link–> http://bit.ly/dnR4Ei for 1 entry
RT and Follow @bombaybrowbar & @yaletowndotca for a chance to win 1 free Bombshell Brows service
Contest ends Tuesday August 10 at midnight. Good luck to all those that enter!