Natalie and Robyn, the founders of Inspiring Beauty Academy

How two brave women started the Inspiring Beauty Academy

The story behind the Inspiring Beauty Academy out in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs is just as inspiring as its name. It’s the tale of two women with a passion for massage and beauty, of setbacks and injuries and redundancies, and two paths that eventually converged into a successful beauty academy in May this year.

The rapport between the founders of Inspiring Beauty Academy is obvious.

“I haven’t met anyone else with whom I have as much mutual respect towards,” Robyn says when I ask why they partnered with each other.

Natalie agrees. “We clicked. We had the same ideals, and passions. There’s definitely a large element of mutual respect, and I knew Robyn would support this venture 100%.”

“I could see there was a gap in the industry,” Natalie says. “There were no other beauty training facilities in the area. The only option was the big institutions in the city, and what I call conveyor-belt training.” She pauses, and with her next words it’s clear how much she truly cares for all those she teaches. “Many of the students who needed that one-on-one attention really struggled. So when Kerry offered me the opportunity, I took it.”

Of course, the first thing Natalie did was ask Robyn if she’d like to partner with her in starting up this school. It wasn’t an easy choice for Robyn, however. “I was in a stable job, and I had my family to think about. I knew what I wanted to do, but there’s always that fear of the unknown.” After much agonising, she decided to take the plunge. “And having done this, I know I wouldn’t be able to work in a role like my previous job again!” she concludes.

Not that running their business has been easy. Getting funding was one of their biggest challenges.

 “We went to so many banks,” Robyn says. “Some didn’t get back to us, while others wanted a lot more paperwork and detailed proposals.” She laughs. “All we had was a scrap paper of our costs!”

“So it was incredibly encouraging when we talked to Carly from ANZ, and she was genuinely enthusiastic about what we wanted to do,” Natalie says. “ANZ were doing their $2 Billion Lending Pledge to lend to small businesses, and our loan was approved.”

Both of them agree that despite some hairy moments, they never had any doubts. “Though we’ve been on a huge learning curve, everything’s flowed really well,” Natalie says. “Sometimes you just have to say ‘It is what it is’. Face the problem, and then move on.”

Seeing how far they’ve already come on their own journey, it’s time to look at how they see themselves in the future. Do they have any plans for growth, to become a more personalised rival to the big academies in the city?

“Not at all,” Natalie says. “We don’t want to be the next big school. Our goal is to keep it small and boutique—but saying that, we want to have students graduate from our academy and have others see them and say, ‘I want to train where they trained!’ And we want to be viable and sustainable, of course.”

“We wouldn’t mind being able to employ another trainer as well,” Robyn adds. “That would leave us free to focus on marketing and compliance.”

“And stop working six days a week!” Natalie says emphatically, and they both laugh. “I miss having normal hours and five-day weeks!”

“Me too,” Robyn agrees. “But you know what? I don’t regret a thing.”

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