Building Bristol’s first sustainable salon from scratch with Fresha

Essential Maintenance is Bristol’s first vegan beauty salon, well known for its sugaring treatments and sustainability ethos. We caught up with owner Rebecca Porter to find out how she used Fresha to grow her salon from a fresh startup, into a six-figure business featured in Vogue.


Sugaring and sustainability

Sugaring is an ancient Egyptian form of hair removal using a biodegradable sugar paste. Rebecca explains: “It's so precise that it picks up even the shortest, softest hairs. So we tend to get a lot more coverage and even better results than waxing. Plus it's great for the skin because there's no heat, paraffin, preservatives or chemicals in it.” 

Inspired by Rebecca’s love of nature, her team’s commitment to sustainability is admirable. “We measure the waste footprint of every product we use, we recycle 100% of our plastic waste and of our PPE, and we use biodegradable gloves,” she explains. As a result, Essential Maintenance only sends around one bag to the landfill per week. Which is great news for their clients, who can enjoy their treatments knowing they’re supporting a sustainable business and positively impacting the environment.

Rebecca began her career as a teacher. But after becoming a mother in 2015, she decided to open her own beauty business – and used Fresha to do it from the very beginning. Since then Essential Maintenance has gone from strength to strength, outgrowing its premises every two years and expanding to a team of five. “Bristol is a really good place to start a small, independent business. I've had so much support from our local community,” Rebecca says.

Getting booked and making sales without lifting a finger 

Rebecca admits that at first, she was unsure about clients booking their own appointments. “Leaving it up to them – that was quite scary!” she says. “But it turned out to be so useful. It cut so much admin time for me, and every minute counts when you’re a solo business owner. I also got more bookings as a result.” 

"Life is a whole lot easier with Fresha. Now, I couldn't live without it.”

As many of her clients are time-poor and prefer not to have to pick up the phone or pop in to make a booking, Rebecca quickly realised the power – and convenience – of Fresha’s online booking system. “It handles all of our bookings, all of our cancellations, sends out emails and reminders, and then asks people for reviews. Life is a whole lot easier with Fresha. Now, I couldn't live without it,” she says. 
Bookings come through while I work in the treatment room, which increases my earning potential. And as the business has grown, we see bookings coming in when we are closed overnight. Even at 4am!”

And it’s not just bookings that happen overnight. Essential Maintenance effortlessly sells gift cards and memberships online through Fresha. “Often we open up in the morning and realise we've made sales overnight. People love giving our gift cards.”

Changing the game with upfront payments and memberships 

Rebecca’s clients pay a 50% upfront payment online when they book, a feature that Rebecca calls “revolutionary”. Each client is more committed to turning up to the appointment, which has drastically reduced the number of no-shows.

“Our clients never complain about deposits, because we make it clear that we don't have access to their details. And they love that they don't have to bring their purse or wallet to the treatment, since their card details are already saved.” 

There’s another bonus to upfront payments: Rebecca’s retail sales have gone up, since clients are splitting their treatment cost over time and have more to spend on products at checkout.

Rebecca also recommends making use of Fresha memberships, especially in quieter months. Clients get a great deal by buying a block of treatments up front at a reduced price, and the salon secures multiple bookings weeks in advance. 

“We ran a really successful membership promotion in January. It brought in £1,000 in revenue and really helped boost our sales for that month.” 

Using Fresha reports to plan ahead

“I spend probably 50% of my time in Fresha reports, using the information to analyse how the business needs to grow and develop.” 

Rebecca uses Fresha’s analytics reports to figure out which are her best-selling products, which months are their most profitable, and which therapists are hitting their targets. “I spend about 50% of my time in Fresha reports, using the information to analyse how the business needs to grow and develop," she said.  

Essential Maintenance currently has four treatment rooms and a team of five therapists, and they’re recruiting for more. Rebecca uses Fresha’s sales-by-service report to decide which treatments to prioritise and train new therapists in – she can view her most popular services in a couple of clicks.


From fresh startup to being featured in Vogue

In 2020, Essential Maintenance featured in Vogue magazine as the go-to Bristol salon for sugaring treatments. Rebecca smiles at the memory. “When I started this business, I never thought I'd be featured in Vogue! So that was pretty special.” 

In seven years of business, Essential Maintenance’s turnover has grown from £8,000 to £120,000. “We’ve grown phenomenally. And Fresha is absolutely essential to that growth. I wouldn't look anywhere else.”

Feeling inspired? Sign up to Fresha for free and see how the #1 beauty and wellness booking platform can help you hit your business growth goals, just like Rebecca. 

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