Interview: Story brings new look to aesthetics industry
With a mission to present a fresh face for the aesthetics treatments industry, Story is the new brand in the marketplace that is looking to expand its clinics into select areas around the UK having recently launched its first two outlets.
Darren Williams, co-founder of Williams Harding Consulting, is working with Story to help it deliver on its underlying objective of creating an unintimidating and transparent environment that goes some way to counter the bad reputation that the industry has garnered over the years.
Doing the right thing
“Story has been created to help consumers feel good about themselves through aesthetic treatments. We want to be honest with the patients about what can be achieved. Sometimes we won’t give treatments if we don’t feel it is the right thing to do, he says.
The proposition involves various skin treatments revolving around fillers, injectables and lasers that “bridges the gap between the beauty and medical industries”. “It’s very service-led and has ethics and safety at its heart,” says Williams.
Story is uniquely placed because it has been created to compliment the Harley Academy – the leading aesthetic treatments school that trains to Level Seven, which is the highest standard of aesthetics. Both operations share the same co-founders that includes a triumvirate of doctors – Dr. Tristan Mehta, Dr. Marcus Mehta and Dr. Emily MacGregor.
This scenario provides an element of vertical integration because trained practitioners from the Academy can be employed by Story with the knowledge that they have the best qualifications.
Wellness growth fuelled by Covid-19
The Wellness industry is already large and Williams predicts it will grow further on the back of Covid-19 as people spend less on holidays and going out and instead focus on feeling better and doing something for themselves.
“There are aspects of themselves that people want to change. We’ll focus on the ‘why’ they want to do it? And also be mindful of doing it properly. We want to avoid those horror stories that we’ve seen and also bust some of those myths around the industry that involves the extreme examples where people have had too many (and sometimes badly performed) treatments. This is the opposite of what Story wants to do,” he explains.
Too often treatments have been driven by the Instagram generation and fleeting trends whereas Story is instead focused on the individual and their specific requirements. This involves taking a holistic approach involving finding out why they are seeking treatments.
Expanding the Story
In order to bring this philosophy to more people Story has recently opened two outlets – in London’s Marylebone and in Southwell, Nottinghamshire (where Dr. Marcus is based) – and is on the lookout for further sites as it rolls-out the proposition. Williams sites Marylebone as a perfect site as it sits in a quieter area of a major city. Other suitable locations in London would be Dulwich Village and Hampstead.
These sites reflect a move towards more localism – partly driven by Covid-19. “We don’t need high density city centre units as we don’t need the footfall. We just need to be in the right neighbourhood with the relevant demographics,” he says, adding that each site (which could be multi-level) requires room for two or three treatment rooms.
Williams is hopeful of the potential for the roll-out as he draws on experience gained at Hotel Chocolat, which he joined in 2008 during the financial crash and helped build out the brand’s presence. With a similar scenario right now as a result of Covid-19 bringing a glut of vacant units onto the market he is positive about Story taking on some of these empty outlets and “reimagining the retail space with an energetic, new brand that can breathe new life into these vacant stores.”
As part of the model there is also a retail element, with a variety of brands stocked in the clinics including Alumier, Albee, Emepelle and NeoStrata that generate modest sales at present. The bulk of these sales are made by customer following their treatments and on the recommendations of the practitioners. The plan is to extend the reach of the retail offer by selling online (via the website www.mystoryclinic.com). There might also be the possibility of own-label goods as Williams says “never, say never”.
Hear Darren Williams speak at our free Future of Customer Engagement event on 18 November. Find out more and register here
Words by Glynn Davis
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