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Friday with Natasha: Why I started LeSalon

By Jess Marais, August 3 2020

Why I started LeSalon

It took me five years of studying and two years of training to become a lawyer, but once I got there, I absolutely loved it. I felt a sense of pride and achievement to be part of highly reputable firm. The hours were long, but there was a strong sense of community amongst my colleagues – work hard, play hard. I specialised in the niche area of film and TV. It was fantastic to see such a visual end product and know that I was a part of that process.

During my career in Law…

…I fell pregnant with my first daughter. At that time, I was surrounded by women making difficult choices and compromises around childcare. For many, with the cost of childcare topping £1200 per month in London, continuing to work was not an option. Once you leave the workplace, it can be very hard to get back in. Women face a range of obstacles: they can lose confidence; there are often logistical constraints; and there is outright discrimination.

A difficult crossroads…

After the birth of my daughter, I knew I wanted to continue working but I also wanted to be able to see her for at least a couple of hours in the day and be able to put her to bed. Leaving the office at 5.30pm, whilst not a fireable offence in and of itself, does not give the best impression if you’re looking to progress in your career – at least not at my firm. There is no right answer – it’s a very personal decision and every woman feels differently about the choices they make. For me, I knew that not having a significant amount of time with my daughter was something I would later regret. Understandably, the nature of my work had to adjust and as a result, my enjoyment of it diminished.

Soon enough, I felt like I really had to justify any time I spent away from her. I realised that alongside wanting to earn an income, I’d also need a job where I felt I made a difference to the outside world – something my role at the firm didn’t provide. Whatever my next steps were going to be, I wanted to support women working alongside their family obligations and choices. I fundamentally believe that knowing you have the ability to bring in an income and provide for your own basic needs and, if applicable, your dependants, even if it is just a contribution, is vital for a sustained sense of self-worth.

My inspiration for LeSalon…

Female lawyers often maintain a polished appearance, with many aspiring for Meghan Markle’s Suits image. Blow drys and manicures were a must. However, long office hours plus having children to get back to meant it was difficult to get to a salon. Finding a mobile beauty therapist was tricky, unless recommended by a friend, as I always worried about the quality. Whilst chatting with some freelance therapists, I recognised how challenging it can be for women who need the flexibility of working independently from a salon. It takes, on average, two years to build up enough clients; taking cash payments can be uncomfortable; scheduling bookings is a challenge; and in addition, there are concerns about safety.

An idea became reality…

That is where the idea for LeSalon was born. The vision was to be a company that provides women with the opportunity of flexible work, a sustainable income, training, support and a strong community. In addition, we wanted to provide clients with quality beauty services delivered conveniently to their office or home, both inside and outside of traditional salon hours.

Jess Marais

Jess Marais

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