Today’s blog is featuring an interview with modern #bossbabe Milah, owner of Milah’s Mobile Spa here in LA. For over a year, I’ve been following her work on Instagram and have found intrigue in her success as a mobile esthetician. Being new to running a business in a highly competitive market, I’m finding that the more connecting I do with others, the less alone I feel in my failures, successes and listening to advice from other women making it on their own has been so encouraging. I was curious about Milah’s story and wanted to hear her tips and advice on surviving and thriving in the beauty world. I’ve got 21 questions for ya.
1. How long have you been an esthetician and what inspired you to become one?
Four years. Honestly, I had been a cocktail waitress for seven years and was super over it, but I do really like people. Someone mentioned it at one point, but I didn’t give it much thought. Later on I had a friend who had a lash studio and didn’t want to do it anymore, so she wanted to train me. It seemed like a great opportunity to do something different and be able do my own thing/be my own boss, so that was my main motivation. And when I think about it, I’ve always been into beauty so it just made sense.
2. Give a brief timeline of your career so far as an esthetician.
When I went to school I already knew I wanted to do lashes since I had done some training previously with my friend. I just needed the license, and ever since I’ve been doing mobile services. It works for me. I’d like to have my own place at some point, but not right now.
3. What made you choose mobile services as your primary business operation?
I wanted to work for myself, there’s a low overhead, and I don’t have to pay rent! I’ve mastered the set up and breakdown. I appreciate creating my own schedule because I can make time for my baby and other things I have to do.
4. What kind of treatments do you offer? Has that changed over time?
I do lash extensions, facials, waxing, and teeth whitening. This year I started microblading and I took a class that cost me $3,500 to learn. The first thing the teacher said was: “ladies, this business is like drug dealing.”
5. Are there certain times or seasons that it gets slow/busy for you? How do you handle the ups and downs?
Not really. Honestly, lashes are so addicting, once people get them they’re hooked. So there’s really no slow or busy season with what I do. It’s consistent for the most part.
6. What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I like to travel. I was in New York for two months, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic in April. That’s also the nice part of being my own boss – I have the option to do that and take time off. When I go other places I have homies I can crash with and I try to book clientele wherever I am. I also like to dance, cook and eat!
7. What are the biggest hurdles you’ve had to cross so far in building your business?
Just sticking to it and staying committed to myself/my business.
8. What keeps you motivated?
I never want to work for someone else again (hahaha)!
9. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Every boss chick that I know – whether it’s friends, clients, other business owners, or just women doing their thing. That’s inspiring to me.
10. How did you build a successful customer base?
Because I worked in the hospitality industry as long as I did, I really understand the value of connecting with your clients and treating people how you want to be treated. I pride myself in building relationships and being as helpful/easy as possible. And of course, providing quality work. I haven’t invested hardly any money ever, it’s mostly all been word of mouth and Instagram.
11. When did you feel secure in your business – financially and mentally.
I feel insecure about it still sometimes, like I can always be doing more. The thing about social media too, is you’re constantly comparing yourself to other people and their work. It can fuck you up or boost your motivation depending on how you look at it… it’s good and bad.
12. What sacrifices have you had to make to be successful?
Because of how my business is set up, I really try to stay true to last minute, late night calls, even when I’m tired. It’s a niche. You can’t walk up to a spa the night before your morning flight for last minute lashes. The other night I was out to dinner for a friends birthday and I get a call about this random Instagram model with like, three million followers needing lash extensions tonight. And I’m like its 11 o’clock at night… but I’m going! And I left her birthday party. I’ve gotten random phone calls that ended up being great money. For example, I got to this house at 1 am in Hollywood and was there working until 4am. Seven hundred dollars later, it’s worth it. So I guess my sacrifice is sleep!
13. Have you had moments of self-doubt or fear, and if so, how do you come out of it?
I struggle with that. Some mornings I’m one hundred percent into it and other days I feel in a funk. A lot of this industry is very ‘Hollywood,’ which I feel I am not. I can think of a few times I’ve come in contact with someone who was pretty well known that I had the potential to work on, but I didn’t want to be too in their face and give them my card. That’s the difference between you and the next esthetician over there – she doesn’t give a fuck. She will get that client because she doesn’t care about being in their face because she doesn’t care what they think. You just have to be confident in what you do. If I bring my fear into every situation, that will show in my work and clients can feel that.
14. What are some mistakes you’ve made along the way and how did you learn from them?
It’s all trial and error. You have to set boundaries because people will take advantage of you. With what we do too, we’re working on peoples faces which is so personal! With lashes, people can get reactions sometimes and that can be scary. You have to be on top of people signing waivers because it covers you and your license. I’m constantly learning and trying to be better.
15. What has been your most satisfying career moment so far?
Just being able to help women feel more confident, beautiful and empowered. I have a lot of clients who are new moms, or they’re pregnant and it’s much easier for me to be able to go to their houses to provide my services. It makes their life easier and they feel beautiful after.
16. What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Lashes are easy marketing, because your work is so visible.
Me: Totally. That’s what I’m finding with skincare, is that it’s not that instantaneous result that people recognize upon just meeting another person. They aren’t able to see the progression of their skin clearing and so in that aspect, it’s harder.
17. Describe your typical day.
Mostly I focus on just organizing and scheduling my clients in a way that correlates with LA traffic (hahaha).
19. What are three pieces of advice you would give to newly licensed estheticians just starting out?
Work, work, work!!! Stay committed, focused and find your lane. Practice makes perfect and keep learning. I cannot emphasize that more.
20. How do you handle the lows when you have them?
I’m so lazy! It’s horrible. That’s personally my biggest problem in working for myself. I’m really beating myself up about it currently. I could be doing so much more but I get too lax.
Me: I can relate to that, and I think that’s the hardest aspect of being in business for yourself is you really have to be motivated. That’s what I’m learning the most right now too. I have to be ON every minute, of every day. If I’m not doing that I feel like it’s going to fall apart.
Milah: Yeah, and when you work for other people you do commit those full eight hours to that person. Then you go into your own business and when you slack off it’s like, am I not as equally committed to myself?!
21. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Wake up and breathe, think, smell your business and be confident in what you do.