Beauty & Brains with @ElwynnandCass
On today’s 20th edition of desIGn LIVE, I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Katelyn McCullough of beauty concierge Elwynn & Cass. Most of us in service-based businesses can identify with challenges like communicating value, pricing yourself, or providing an extraordinary experience for our clients that keeps them coming back. Safe to say Katelyn an expert in all three of those categories.
Here’s some of the highlights from my interview with Katelyn!
What is a Beauty Concierge? What is Elwynn & Cass?
A: Elwynn and Cass is a beauty concierge service, focused on beauty planning. Essenitally making it a really easy process, start to finish, to book your hair and makeup: based on style, needs, budget, where you’re located and then I will I find the best artists suited to you for your event.
How did you get started? Have you always been interested in Beauty?
A: If you asked my parents, they would have been shocked to tell you I was interested in the beauty industry. I gre up a tom-boy and I would rather play sports that play with makeup but as I grew older I realized how much the way you present yourself changes the way you feel.
Growing up, my family went to many special events because my dad is an attourney, and my mom and I always struggled to find people for hair and makeup. I have naturally curly hair, and most people don’t know how to work with that… Basicially we created a service we needed.
Your business started with an airstream…What gave you the idea to make a mobile beauty bar?
A: Kind of the first iteration of our biz was the EC Style Bar- a mobile beauty bar where we could bring the services to the venues. Many venues didn’t have ‘getting ready spots’ so this was a good solution. But as the business grew, people wanted more of the concierge service than just the airstream, so that’s the direction we went.
When did you know it was time to ‘pivot’ and rebrand from just the beauty bar to being a full-service beauty concierge?
A: So Elwynn and Cass — Elwynn is my mom’s middle name, and Cass is mine, both from close family friends. We love the personalized touch of our name. It was always Elwynn and Cass in E.C. Style bar, but we wanted to make a bigger umbrella.
We knew it was time to pivot when more people started to ask for conceirge services instead of the airstream. It began to also cause some confustion. Now the airsteam is an ansilary thing and the conceriege service is in the full business. You want your business to be something you feel fully confident in and what you enjoy as well, becuase your brand becomes an extension of you, what you believe and what you stand for.
Your business runs on a lot of trust… what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on trust?
A: A lot of what I do is based on trust and I go through an extensive process before I bring someone into the mix on behalf of my clients. I’ll have the prospective artist do trials on me or my friends, I’ll stalk their social media, but the most important thing is their communcation. If for some reason everything seems ok, but in my gut it doesn’t feel right, it’s all about trusting my intuition.
How do you communicate your value to a potential client?
A: I really like to base our pricing off a percentage model. Sometimes, I have referral fees set up with the artists, but a percentage across the board for pricing makes things easier.
I always reiterate to my clients that it is all about quality. If they ask ‘can it be cheaper?’ I will always say of course it can, but you get what you pay for, and I want you to be really happy with the end result. Often times brides will pay a good amount of money for food, venues, photography, florals, etc. that we want to make sure beauty is up to par.
As a morning person, what’s the first task you try to accomplish before everyone else is awake?
A: I started this about midway last year to keep my sanity. I wake up on average probably at 6:30 in the morning. I wake up, come downstairs, make my tea, water, or smoothie, and try to sit and enjoy the first 30-40 mins of the day. Sometimes I will scroll through instagram and just see what everyone is up to.
I don’t look at emails until 8am. Unless there’s a pressing event, I just don’t answer emails before 8am which has really helped me in batching my time. (*Try Boomerang for gmail to send emails on delay!)
I really like to batch my emails and make sure I am giving them the right attention, and being clear in my message back.
What do wish you would have known in your early years of running your business?
…To have more patience. A lot of my business comes from referrals and relationships. It might not be for a year, but more often, I go into it now to form good relationships. I am just an impatient and competitive person in general, and I have to remind myself that we are still pretty young businesses. There is still plenty of time to build and grow.
A friend of mine said it and it something I love, but it’s all about coming from a place of abundance over fear. If you’re fearful of not getting another inquiry, you start making decisions that are more stressful and harmful to you or your biz because you’ll get burned out.
What do you think you are BEST at in your business?
A: Communication. I really crush it at communication. I am timely. It doesn’t have to be within 5 minutes, but I will get back within 24 hours.
In the wedding and event industry, hair and makeup artists are notoriously horrible at communication. If I can help to corral all of those kittens, I am solving a pain point for my clients and making their lives easier, and less stressful.
If you could do one thing BETTER in your business, what would it be and why?
A: I think taking time for myself so I can better serve my clients. I need to be better about stepping away to take a break and not keep running on fumes.
That’s why I have gotten to batching my time better. I will only answer emails morning, sometimes midday and at night, so I can give every message the attention it deserves.
Who in your industry do you look up to the most? Why?
A: That is really hard to choose just one person… there are quite a few wedding planners I look up to. @SimplyTroy in Orange County is an absolute gem. He’s always wanting to grow and he is so kind, no matter what he is so kind. He is so warm-hearted and willing to tell you anything. There are no ‘trade secrets’ or anything, he just genuinely wants to help.
It always comes back to helping people in the end.