Limited time offer: No repayments on business loans for the first 6 weeks. Offer ends June 30. T&Cs. Apply now.

Meet the solopreneur running a successful beauty therapy business from her home

Donna Skavlos brings a cosy, personalised service to clients at her home-based beauty salon. Find out how funding from Prospa is helping her make business happen.

After four decades in the beauty industry, Donna Sklavos has gone from managing bustling salons and pampering celebrities, to crafting an intimate and personalised experience at her home-based sanctuary, Donna’s Beauty Cottage   

At a glance

A couple of small business loans and a line of credit have helped Donna Skavlos from Donna’s Beauty Cottage to:

  • Pay for stock to meet the festive holiday demand
  • Plan for the upcoming rebuild of her ecommerce store
  • Prepare to purchase a new car for the business

One of Donna Sklavos’s clients is a 94-year-old woman called Jill who comes to her home in Baulkham Hills in NSW every six weeks for a facial. “She’s amazing,” says Donna. “She always says to me, ‘Doll, don’t forget to book some time after my facial so we can go and have a drink at the pub.”

It’s this camaraderie and cosy, personalised service that keeps clients coming back to Donna’s Beauty Cottage – sometimes for decades. “I’ve made lifelong friendships from people just being clients,” says Donna. “I love meeting people and they’re always happy to see me as well.”

A nudge from Grandma

It all started 40 years ago when Donna’s grandma told her she should be a beauty therapist. “She was a force of nature,” says Donna, who was working as a fashion assistant at the time. “I used to beautify her all the time, so she booked me into a beauty course.”

At her first job out of college, Donna landed in a bustling salon in North Sydney where her clients included TV presenters and crew. “It was really nerve-wracking when you’re just out of beauty school and you’re doing facials on lots of the Channel 7 and Channel 10 people,” she says. “You have to learn fast.”

After working at a number of other salons, grandma stepped in again and encouraged Donna to start her own. For seven years she ran a busy salon with several staff in Parramatta, but soon realised it wasn’t for her.

Becoming a solopreneur

Since 2004 she’s run the business as a sole trader from home, bringing many earlier clients with her. “People love coming to you at home,” she says. “They’ll come here in their car, wearing their slippers, whereas if they’re going to a shopping centre, they have to dress up more.”

Donna also finds it much more relaxing to work from home and is making more money without the overheads of a commercial salon. “You’ve got rent, superannuation, workers’ compensation and staff salaries, all of which eats into your profit,” she says. “And I found that my clients always wanted me to do their treatments anyway, so working on my own works well for everyone.”

As well as offering beauty treatments, including speciality facials, Donna also sells a range of skincare and mineral makeup including gift boxes that she delivers locally or posts – sometimes to as far as Denmark. And retail is an area she’s keen to expand. “Typically, my services make up around two thirds of my income, but at Christmas, products take over in a big way, especially the gift lines,” she says.

How Prospa helped

It’s this big Christmas rush that Donna needed help with when she first heard about Prospa. “I spend around $15,000 at this time of year on stock and most of that isn’t in my account, so it can be stressful finding the funds to pay for it,” she says.

She found Prospa online and was initially sceptical. “I found getting loans as a sole trader was a nightmare,” she explains. “Traditional lenders want you to give them a kidney! It was such a headache.”

But after speaking with a Prospa Lending Specialist, she was pleasantly surprised. “It was the easiest process I’ve ever experienced,” she says. “I opted for a small business loan initially, uploaded my bank statements and the money was there within 24 hours. It was so quick and easy.”

Donna – who prizes customer service – was also impressed with how she was looked after by the Prospa team. “I love that you get to talk to a person who understands you and your business, which is so refreshing,” she says.

Since her original small business loan, Donna has refinanced a couple of times and now has a Business Line of Credit with Prospa.

In addition to using the funds to buy stock, she also has the option to draw down on the line of credit to buy a new car for the business next year and rebuild a robust online store to grow the retail side of her business. “It’s like having a safety net and it helps me manage my cashflow,” she says. “I can keep using the Line of Credit whenever I need to, without going through another application, so it’s so easy. Prospa has helped take the stress out of trying to finance my ongoing business expenses.”

Making even more new friends

Some people get bored of being in the same industry for so long, but Donna is just as excited by working in beauty as she was when she started out 40 years ago. She’s keen to continue as a sole operator, making new friends along the way.

Customer service is the one thing she believes more small business owners need to focus on. “As a customer, I find that many businesses no longer want to help you as much they should, and if they did, it would keep you coming back to that business rather than going somewhere else.”

No doubt 94-year-old Jill would agree.

Need funds to take advantage of a growth opportunity? Ask Prospa about a funding solution today.

The information in this post is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. Nothing contained in this post constitutes advice or an endorsement or recommendation of any kind by Prospa. Any links to third party websites are strictly for informational purposes only. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information as at the date of publication, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information for any reason, including due to the passage of time, or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.