I first saw Andy Rouillard on stage doing a presentation. He is one of the three founders of the Hair Removal Expo along with Gill Morris and Mat O’Marah. He has a very engaging style and instantly put everyone at their ease. He also has a great sense of humour as you will discover…
Andy also runs Axiom Men’s Grooming salon in Basingstoke, North Hampshire and has been hailed as “Britain’s top male waxing specialist” by the Men’s Health grooming editor. He is also an award-winning international educator and travels all over the world with the Axiom Wax Academy training school.
1. Why did you become a wax expert?
I was working part-time as a massage therapist and my male clients kept asking me if I knew anywhere that would wax them. This was nearly 15 years ago, and at the time there were very few salons outside of the big cities that had thrown open their doors to chaps. I had no real interest in joining the beauty industry (I had every intention of becoming an osteopath) but I decided that if no-one else was going to do it then I might as well do it myself! The waxing quickly took over from the massage, so within a few years I’d left my day job and set up the Axiom Men’s Grooming salon in the basement of a local barbershop, and decided that pulling hair out of people was far more exciting than osteopathy.
2. How did the training career start?
Basically, I’m not very good at keeping my mouth shut if I think things can be done a different way! But I also believe in the maxim “be the change you wish to see”. In the mid-noughties I was a member of an online forum for therapists called Salon Geek, and we’d all help each other out with tips and advice on various treatments that we specialised in. As male grooming began to grow in popularity, I started to get requests from fellow therapists wanting hands-on training in men’s hair removal techniques. There were no certificated training courses specifically geared towards male waxing back then, so I decided to write my own. It coincided with Habia (the standards-setting body for the hair and beauty industries) writing new National Occupational Standards for intimate waxing, so I was fortunate to get involved with that, and am proud to say I was the first trainer in Britain to offer accredited classes under those standards. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to train around the world and have worked alongside some amazingly talented and passionate people – I’m very proud of our industry and working with other therapists certainly keeps me inspired.
3. What makes your services special?
As a trainer, I’m still managing and working in my own salon every week, so that enables me to keep up-to-date with techniques and customer trends. It ensures I’m always giving my students the best possible advice, not just on practical skills but also on new products, marketing and retailing, for example. It keeps things real in the classroom, as I’ve generally “been there and waxed that”! On the flip-side, this also means I am constantly learning new stuff from fellow therapists and pick up tips from other salons that improve the way I do things at my own place.
4. Did your company prepare a Christmas marketing campaign and what did you do?
I’m quite lucky in that the fellas tend to keep up with their monthly de-fuzzing all year round, so this year I took a slightly different approach. It’s a well-known fact that a lot of chaps leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute (sorry boys, but it’s true!) so I decided to take some of the pressure off by having a selection of gifts at the salon that my male clients could buy for their friends and partners: gorgeous candles and diffusers from Jonathan Ward, skin care and shave kits from Baxter of California and The ShaveDoctor, beautiful organic bath and massage oils from Jane Scrivner… Let’s just say there are going to be some very happy people opening their presents on Christmas morning!
5. What’s your preferred way of communicating with clients?
I’ve always said: guys Google. We don’t tend to sit in the pub with our mates discussing options for pubic topiary over a pint and packet of pork scratchings. When looking for grooming services, the majority of men will start their research online, so a good website with answers to frequently asked questions is a must have. When it comes down to actually booking a treatment, male customers in particular appreciate the convenience and discretion of being able to book via a website, an app or by email. Any salon that isn’t online in this day and age is pretty much invisible to the vast majority of potential male clients.
6. What’s your biggest challenge in 2015?
It’s a busy year! I have a salon re-fit planned for the first quarter of 2015, which I’m looking forward to and dreading in equal measures. I’ve been working on some new skin care products with Outback Organics that I’m very excited about, designed to help waxing clients prevent and treat the most common post-wax niggles. And we’re also rolling out the new Facial Waxing For Barbers, education programme – tackling tufts and taming tendrils in the barbershops of Britain, one monobrow at a time!
7. What’s your hidden talent?
I can spot a stray hair at 50 paces, does that count? When I’m not waxing I’m a bit of a cake addict, so I can whip up a pretty decent Victoria sponge.
8. What is your proudest business achievement in 2014?
I’m especially proud of The Hair Removal Expo that took place in November, which I co-founded with Mat O’Marah and Gill Morris. It was a huge risk as the format was something very new and different for the UK beauty industry: a paid-for conference dedicated solely to hair removal education and networking. There were a few pre-show nerves but I’m pleased to say all the hard work paid off. It was a great day with lots of fantastic seminars that brought people together from all over the UK (and further afield!), and plans are already afoot for the next one. Watch this space!
9. What’s your oddest request?
I once had a guy ask me to wax a lightning bolt into his chest hair. I also had a customer who lost a bet and had to get the letter “W” waxed into both bum cheeks as a consequence…
10. What’s your favourite piece of business advice to pass on?
In no particular order: plan ahead, spend time on marketing, treat your customers like royalty, invest in your ongoing education, help others, switch your phone off at night and take a holiday. Work hard, but never be so busy that you don’t have time to pause and enjoy life.
You can book a treatment or a training course with Andy here
TreatNOW is recruiting a range of health therapists, stylists and beauticians for a Spring launch. No fee, no booking system, just bookings!