Irish Women In Business: Eavanna Breen Of Akina Beauty And Laser Clinic
For the latest in our series of features focusing on Irish Women in Business, we caught up with Eavanna Breen, owner of Akina Beauty and Laser Clinic on Lower Leeson Street, Dublin.
Eavanna tells us all about how she got involved in this area, what it takes to start up a business and her hopes for the future.
What was your background before getting involved in this business?
I grew up in Portmarnock, Co. Dublin and having done my Leaving Cert at the very young age of 16, I wasn’t quite ready to go to college. I took a year out and went to Paris where I aupaired and on my return I put myself through college by working three different jobs at once. I finished my college course and went straight into working as a therapist and have been doing that 24 years now.
Did you always have an interest in this area?
I always knew this was what I wanted to do, I knew I wanted my own business from a very young age and I was always very interested in health, nutrition and looking after your skin, so it was a natural fit to be able to put the two together and open a beauty salon back in 2006.
What was the inspiration behind opening your own business?
Having worked for someone else for a number of years while I learned my trade, I got to the point that I knew I was going to go as far as I could go working for someone else. I needed a new challenge and the time was right to go out on my own.
I had been approached by a Dublin hotel to open a spa in the hotel, but in the end it wasn’t a good deal so I backed out. But the wheels were in motion at that point to go it alone, so I took the leap and haven’t looked back since.
What were your goals for the business starting out?
I wanted to be recognized as being the go to beauty and laser clinic in Dublin. I wanted our clients to trust that we would take the very best of care of them in a relaxed and friendly environment.
Bringing the most up to date knowledge, treatments and innovations into the treatment rooms was also a goal. We have achieved this on many levels but as with any business, we are continually striving for perfection and our goals and aims are changing constantly.
Did you ever expect it would turn into such a successful business?
Naturally I had doubts about the business, but I had too much invested in it for it not to be a success.
How did you get to this point you are at today?
We got here with hard work, continuous training, being adaptable to change and a very loyal client base. I was nervous about the move to Leeson Street but our clients have been great and have followed us, which is a real testament that we are doing something right. It has been heartwarming to see how stubborn they are in their loyalty.
How did you find building up a business from scratch?
It was harder than I ever imagined it would be, there have been some very tough and challenging moments when I wanted to pack it all in and run away to some remote Pacific island and there are still some days when that is very appealing, but I guess that is life.
My husband is my rock and without his support I would not be where I am today. My own family gives me incredible support also, I come from a family of seven children and we are all a great support to each other. We were all instilled with a drive to succeed, so we all have the same work ethic and are on the same page when it comes to supporting each other.
What is a normal working day for you?
I usually get up between 6 to 6.30am and workout, then get the kids up, fed and ready for the day ahead. Once I’m in work my day changes all the time, as it depends on who is booked in and for what. I love the variety that the job gives me and working with people can be so rewarding, when you truly help someone with an issue that has been bothering them whether it’s excessive facial hair, acne or a nail infection it makes you feel like you have made a positive difference to someone’s life.
I usually book out at least one hour to catch up on paper work, emails etc. On days that I am not working late, I head home, spend some time with the kids and then head out to horse ride. Horse riding is my time, it helps to de-stress me and lets me leave the work day behind.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Definitely staffing is my biggest challenge, it is difficult to find staff that have the right qualifications, experience and attitude for the work that we do at Akina. Thankfully, I have a great team around me at the moment that I am very happy with but it has taken some time to get there.
What has been your best moment to date?
It’s hard to say what the best moment is because we have had so many throughout, but it was great to be nominated twice as Facial Therapist of the Year and to receive the title on one of those occasions last year.
What do you think makes your business unique?
We have a wealth of experience - between us we have 74 years of experience and that is in a small team! We are results driven and concentrate on providing our clients with solutions to whatever issue they may have. Our clients can be assured that we are on top of all of the latest innovations for example we were the first clinic in Dublin to treat nail infections, which affects 30% of the population at any one time.
What comes next for you as a businesswoman?
I am continually up-skilling so I will continue to do that. I want to get established on Leeson Street and we are introducing a Doctors Clinic in September.
What is the best thing about the work you do?
The reward of a happy client is definitely why I do what I do. I also love the variety of what we offer. Having your own business also gives a little bit more flexibility so that comes in handy when you have children.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
If I am obsessing over a problem, my Dad always says to me “this will not be a problem next month, so stop sweating it”. Being mindful and focusing on what you have to deal with at any given moment in time is the best remedy to deal with the challenges life can throw at you.
What advice you would give to other women hoping to set up a business?
Get help with your business plan, Enterprise Ireland are a great source. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.