One Year On with Soul Retreat

We’re chatting with one of our Scottish entrepreneurs this week for our One Year On series. Edinburgh based Spa, Yoga and Wellbeing business Soul Retreat is run by Co-Founders & Directors Charlene and Chelsea. WIth almost thirty years experience between them they specialise in the aesthetic treatments of waxing, makeup, manicures and lash treatments as well as holistic therapies such as Jin Shin Jyutsu, reiki and reflexology, to help balance wellbeing and energy. Find out more about Charlene and Chelsea’s business idea and how they have found their time in business so far.

What is the nature of your business and why did you choose a Start Up Loan over other types of finance?

The nature of Soul Retreat is to provide organic and cruelty free services within the health and beauty industry. As much as we provide hairdressing and beauty services, our emphasis is on promoting a healthier lifestyle to our clientele. To encourage more awareness on how to take care of ourselves, our earthling companions and our planet. We put focus on physical and mental health by providing classes in yoga and workshops in mindfulness. We use products that are organic, cruelty free with recyclable packaging where possible for all our hair and beauty services. We are revolutionising the world of beauty with our holistic approach.

We chose a start up loan over other types of finance purely because the amount we were looking for greatly exceeded what was ‘safe’ according to other lenders. We needed a loan of around £50k, we had no savings of our own at this initial stage and no property to secure a business loan against. Other lenders such as the bank considered us as a great risk and never allowed us a thought. We fell upon Transmit loans on Google who could lend us up to £40k unsecured. It was exactly what we needed and we managed to raise the rest of the money through crowdfunding.

What has your business achieved over the last year? What is your favourite success story to date?

Our business has been trading for just 7 months and it is doing incredibly well. We have a wonderful team of reliable staff who have been here since we first opened and aid in the growth of the business. The local community take full advantage of our services and seem to like our presence. Thankfully, we’ve never struggled with bringing people through our doors, the hard part has been dealing with what goes on behind the scenes and all the learning of new skills that’s involved with starting a new business. Our favourite success story to date must be that by our 6 month mark we had reached our first £50k and celebrated by taking our staff to dinner. And within the 7 months of trading, our Facebook page has reached over 750 followers and 40 5 star reviews. All these little successes have been celebrated because they have provided a clear picture of exactly where our business has the potential to go. We have built a brand that people are beginning to recognise now and we feel very proud of that.

What have you learnt from the first year in business? Is there anything you would do differently?

We have learned A LOT in our first year of business and our biggest learning curve has been to fully understand the contract we agreed to with our landlord! We agreed to a lease that meant we had to fully insure and repair the property excluding external damage leaving the premises fully in our responsibility. Our premises had been empty and out of use for 18 months so we had a surveyor come in to examine the building and inform us of anything that could be risky. Had there been anything detrimental we could have discussed with our landlord and come to another agreement. Sadly surveyors do not check gas/boiler or electrical safety and it turned out that we had to replace our boiler within the first 3 months of trading. It had been condemned. We had not budgeted for that and it was certainly a stressful time! If we could have done anything differently it would be to take a closer look at our agreement and made relevant alterations.

Would you recommend a Start Up Loan from Transmit Start-Ups to other businesses? How beneficial was the free business support?

We would highly recommend a start up business through Transmit Start-Ups. Michelle was exceptional in her role and took her time with the application process to get it just perfect for submission. She kept us in the loop the entire time and kept us reassured through frustrating moments. We couldn’t have got here without her help at Transmit. We also had access to free business support and gladly we haven’t yet had to use it. Knowing it’s there if we ever do, makes for a comforting safety net.

If you could give one tip to a new entrepreneur, what would it be?

There is simply not just one piece of advice we could give to a new entrepreneur so I must say what we feel will be of the most help.

  • Get crystal clear on the business idea and the business goal – this will act as a reminder of WHY you are doing it all during the harder times.
  • If you want it bad enough, never give up. Remain consistent in your actions. As the saying goes, ‘when one door closes another door opens’. Be prepared to take another route in a situation if things don’t go according to plan. When our business was in the ideas process, we knew how much money we needed but we couldn’t see any options on how to find it. With persistence, determination and the vision in mind, somehow other options presented themselves out of nowhere and here we stand today.
  • Finally, if you need any help, feel the fear and ask for helping anyway. Courage is rewarded. And if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

If you’re now feeling enthused by Charlene and Chelsea’s story and fancy looking into the next steps to setting up your own business, register with us now!