It was a privilege for Dr Victoria Manning to join us at The Aesthetic Entrepreneurs to talk about her experiences of running her very own aesthetic clinic. Launching the highly successful River Aesthetics clinic in 2012, with her business partner Dr Charlotte Woodward, Victoria has gone through an impressive entrepreneurial journey and continues to smash her barriers and excel in the industry. Here Richard Crawford-Small discusses all things ‘entrepreneur’ with her.
Explain your journey from full-time job to aesthetic entrepreneur.
I was a GP by background and was still working as a GP pretty much up to three years ago. I was doing part-time general practice, part-time aesthetics and also working in a prison. But I felt I wasn’t giving my all to either job. So, I thought to myself, “What do I enjoy more? What do I actually want to end up doing?” It wasn’t looking after prisoners. And I don’t regret it. Now, when I go to work on a Monday morning, it doesn’t now feel like work, and I love it.
What’s one thing you would have done differently along your journey as an entrepreneur?
To be honest, the first two years I wouldn’t change.
At the start we did everything. We didn’t have any machinery. We didn’t have any staff. From making cups of tea and booking appointments to greeting patients and taking money. It wasn’t until we opened our second clinic that we actually employed staff.
This step-by-step fashion meant we didn’t overstretch ourselves. We made sure we actually had money coming into the bank before we expanded.
Did anything unexpected occur that really helped to push you?
About four years ago, at the start of the thread revolution, we got in there early and found our niche in thread lifts. I then got involved with Sinclair, with Silhouette Soft.
I treated Meg Matthews’ makeup artist and she did amazingly at recommending us. Once we found that Meg Matthews was interested, Sinclair agreed to sponsor it and help with the PR. Luckily, The Sunday Times got hold of it, interviewed me and videoed me doing the treatment. It went viral and, after that, my phone was ringing like crazy. I think having Meg Matthews as an ambassador was what really put us on the playing board.
How did you manage the process of expanding your business?
We started in a small clinic in Lymington but we were getting a lot of interest in London. Unfortunately, people in London really do not want to go to sleepy Lymington for a treatment. So our hands were kind of forced to move up to London and it was probably the best move we made.
Initially, we rented a room, like everybody does, on Harley Street. But we only stayed there for six months because it kind of felt like we were in a brothel. It wasn’t the right thing at that time.
Following that, we were actually invited to join Grace – a very elite women’s health, lifestyle and medical club – as their aesthetic partner. It was a big step financially, but the PR we got from it was great and we got a lot of international people flying in for thread lifts. Making that leap is a huge risk, but paid off for us.
How do you find working in a partnership?
I’ve been with my business partner [Dr Charlotte Woodward] for five or six years. It’s been great for me as I think it’s really important to be able to share the ups and downs from work. I think this is why we’ve done so well as we’ve had each other to share any issues with.
You hear such horror stories of people in business together who fall out, so it’s great to actually find someone who is aligned with your ethos is but has varied skill sets. That’s what makes it work.
What advice can you give other entrepreneurs starting out?
Believe that you can do it.
When you fail, don’t give up. Get up and try again because you’ll be stronger.
And the last thing; enjoy what you do because the minute you stop enjoying it is when you should sling in the towel. As I said, I don’t dread going to work. I love it and I look forward to it.