The Business Of Beauty: Alarna Longes + Philippa McCaffery (11/04/13)
What do women want when it comes to beauty? The answer always came instinctively to Alarna Longes, CEO and co-founder of Clearskincare Clinics, but she took it one step further by creating the new-age beauty salon, ‘the skin and laser clinic’.
Together with business partner Dr. Philippa McCaffery, she has grown her brainchild Clearskincare Clinics from 1 to 22 clinics in just over six years, employing a team of over 100 women and performing over 3000 treatments a week. It is now one of the largest skin and laser clinics in Australia, delivering high-quality and affordable skin and laser treatments for acne, acne scarring, pigmentation, sun damage, anti-ageing and laser hair removal.
“We wanted to create a clinic which was totally unique in our approach, creating a friendly relaxed environment which offers intensive skin and laser treatments and making them extremely affordable’, says Longes of their mission. “I love that this business boosts people’s confidence and makes them feel good about themselves. My goal is take Clearskincare Clinics to the world.”
Born in Sydney, Longes started her career at McDonalds at the age of 15 (a training she still credits for her understanding of the importance of systems) before embarking overseas armed with a Bachelor of Media and an ambition to study acting in the theatre. A passion rather than a long-term career goal, Longes worked in part-time roles in the UK to allow her the flexibility for her training and auditions.
Her entrepreneurial spirit was ignited while working in these small businesses to support her dreams and upon returning to Sydney to start her career in media she took a job as a casual receptionist. Little did she know this job at a skin and laser clinic would be the beginning of a successful journey in the beauty industry where she would work her way from casual receptionist to CEO.
‘When I started with Philippa I could see the potential in what she was doing immediately. We were in a tiny medical centre, with no computer and no marketing material and yet we were fully booked till 7pm every day,” she says. “ I knew this was a business I had to be a part of and see where I could take it.’
Longes’ get up and go attitude, flair for marketing and intuitive operational skills combined with McCaffery’s clinical passion and business experience formed a strong team.
Clearskincare’s greatest achievements to date include the discovery and introduction of SGA (Permanent Pimple Removal) into Australia, offering acne sufferers a drug-fee alternative to permanently rid pimples and acne and a new concept called ‘SKIN GYM’, a monthly membership for their clients allowing access to all their skin treatments for a low monthly fee. “It is really important to Philippa and I that everyone can have access to these amazing treatments. We understand how bad skin can affect peoples’ lives and these treatments can change that’, she says. “I want people to come into one of my clinics feeling they have had the best available treatments and enjoy the best possible experience, and without walking away feeling like they’ve overspent”.
An inspirational mother to three sons, Longes had her first baby while opening her first clinic and believes motherhood has propelled her business acumen.
‘It made me much more focused on setting up strong systems and management tools which helped to keep the business on track when I wasn’t there,” she says. “I believe it gave me the confidence to open more clinics after I successfully ran Clearskincare Bondi Junction without having to be there all the time.’