In honor of Women’s History Month, DBP is spotlighting some of the neighborhood’s women entrepreneurs and the businesses they run — including Johanne Brierre, founder and chief brand architect of NY Beauty Suites.
NY Beauty Suites provides flexible spaces designed for licensed beauty professionals who wish to work in a professional setting, have access to business resources, and grow awareness of their brand. We spoke with Johanne about how she started the business, how it helps aspiring “beauty-preneurs,” and what is in store for the future.
DBP: Tell us NY Beauty Suites’ origin story. How did it get started?
Johanne Brierre (JB): NY Beauty Suites started during the pandemic when one of my family members told me just how negatively the beauty industry was being affected by COVID regulations. She noticed that independent beauty professionals were being let go from traditional salon settings and cut off from the resources their business depended on. That’s how the idea of providing co-working space for beauty professionals to work at started. I presented the idea to a landlord who had 2,000 square feet of space available at 495 Flatbush. He was on board. Soon after, I launched the pilot, I created six suites, and within a month I had a waitlist with over 40 small beauty-preneurs. That’s when I knew this was really working – and in January of this year, we were able to expand to our Downtown Brooklyn location at 81 Willoughby.
DBP: Why Downtown Brooklyn?
JB: I chose to come to Downtown Brooklyn for a number reasons. First, I have a personal connection with this neighborhood; I used to attend George Westinghouse High School. But also, once the landlord at 495 Flatbush saw how successful NY Beauty Suites was turning out, he offered me another location in Downtown Brooklyn. I was admittedly anxious about it at first. I mean, a small business like this in Downtown Brooklyn? Would I survive? Thankfully, because of the help we received from Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, those fears have been put to rest. We’re so grateful for all the support — getting the word about us out there on social media, attending our ribbon-cutting event, having us on the Make It in Brooklyn: Business Resilience Series webinar… you guys are amazing.
DBP: How can an independent beauty entrepreneur apply for a co-working space here at NY Beauty Suites?
JB: It’s simple: go to our website and apply and request a tour. From there, one of our team members will reach out. We have a range of services, from hair and makeup artists to waxing and styling. Or just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DBP: Why is it so important for beauty professionals, especially women beauty professionals of color, to have access to flexible co-working spaces?
JB: It is extremely important because Black women are the ones who have made this into the billion-dollar industry it is today, so they deserve better access to professional settings, a prime location, and the resources needed to compete in the market. It’s our time now to help each other thrive in this industry that we built.
DBP: NY Beauty Suites hosts virtual and live events where attendees can learn directly from beauty professionals. Can you speak on the impact that has on aspiring beauty-preneurs?
JB: Yes – we hold information sessions where new beauty-preneurs can learn about content creation (which is crucial in today’s world), grants and loans, and networking opportunities — just to name a few things. We think it’s important to have a sort of central educational hub where we can teach them how to establish and market their brand or how to partner and cross-promote with organizations like the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership so that they can be taken more seriously in the industry.
DBP: What advice do you have for up-and-coming women entrepreneurs?
JB: To someone who is just starting out, no matter how small, it’s important to get your legal paperwork in order. It’s important, because it will allow you to protect your personal assets, your business assets, you can scale your business better, promote your brand, and it gives you credibility. Have a bank account for your business in addition to your personal bank account. I would also recommend having an experienced mentor in the industry, a trusted confidant who can give you insight and advice. Begin networking before you launch your business so you can begin building a clientele with whom you can test your products and services.
DBP: What’s next for NY Beauty Suites?
JB: Expansion. We’re growing fast. We’re also looking into the development of an app which will not only give us more exposure and connect us with more beauty professionals, but it will also help those beauty professionals connect with clientele more easily. We would love to have 5-10 locations in the city or in the tri-state area. Big things are coming!
Johanne’s mission to provide up-and-coming beauty professionals with the space, tools, and resources they need to thrive in an ever-changing market place makes her an invaluable asset to entrepreneurs. Learn more about NY Beauty Suites here, and stay up-to-date with everything happening in Downtown Brooklyn by subscribing to our newsletter.