Joanna Keller is more than a lash technician. She is a makeup artist, stylist, creative director, teacher, mother, business owner, and an integral part of Vancouver’s buzzing beauty industry.
Joanna has gone from independently lashing out of her Gastown loft to managing and leading a full-blown beauty Beautique of strong, creative, and business savvy women.
The beauty business hasn’t always been a walk in the park, but Joanna has always made it work. When she moved into her stark white studio in Chinatown decorated with cozy white and pink accents she never dreamed that ??? years later she would be faced with the idea of closing up shop completley due to a global pandemic.
Q: What was your initial reaction to the mandatory shut down of non-essential businesses?
JOANNA: I really had no idea that it would be this big of a deal – maybe I was in denial. I thought it wouldn’t be long, maybe a few weeks. I was shocked at the outcome. A month Into the shut down I was like “damn, this is actually for real and is going to have some long term effects.”
Q: When you first had to shut down due to COVID-19, did you receive any government support or rent decrease?
JOANNA: I eventually did get CERB and a 40k loan that’s was provided by the government and I am very thankful because I don’t think my business would have survived without it. As far as a rent decrease- sadly, no.
Q: How do you feel like Vancouver/Canada has been doing with supporting local small businesses?
JOANNA: I think we are doing our best and I am thankful for what we have and that we now have the ability to work again, even with changes and restrictions. I think all-and-all BC and Canada are doing a good job – it’s not perfect but it could be much worse.
Q: What were some of the ways you were able to cope with the stress of owning a business through the shutdown?
JOANNA: I worked as hard as I could every day, so I could sleep at night knowing that I was doing everything that was is MY control. I told myself that as long as I do what I can, the rest will fall into place – I just had to be positive, keep the faith and tell myself what’s meant to be will be. I also had some fun cooking and getting outside in some nature when the weather was nice.
Q: How has your business changed since re-opening?
JOANNA: This is a tough question because so much is still unfolding and we are changing and adapting every day. It’s literally a different business. I’ve had to downsize substantially. I’ve moved my studio and have reduced services while introducing some new systems and protocols.
Beautique thrives on wedding and tourism in the summertime. Without either of those things we are surviving solely on our core regular clients that have been extremely loyal. It is because of them that we have our doors open, Many lash studios have permanently closed, so I am very grateful.
Q: Have your clients reacted positively to re-opening?
JOANNA: Our clients who have returned are soo happy to see us up and running – they love the new space and have expressed that they much prefer our new location to the old one. Most of our clients feel bad for what we have had to go through and are also extremely supportive.
Q: Where have you felt the most support?
JOANNA: Friends, family and my Boyfriend are always the support system I lean on. I speak to them every day, but, I would have to say I found the most support in fellow business owners who were going through the same thing that I was/am. The companies I have partnered with – Lashsnob and my friend Faye Smith – and last but not least my amazing commercial lawyer, Silas, who helped me weigh my risks and navigate me through the legal stuff while being very supportive.