I’m Lynsey and I founded Le Keux in 2017 after wanting my own business for years! I’m now the proud owner of a thriving salon and events venue, a cosmetics line and Queen of my online tribe the ‘Keuxties’.
I am head over heels in love with business and get a real kick from helping others leap from unhappy jobs to fulfilling self employment.
Entrepreneurial from a young age I’d always found ways to make money. I remember discovering a bead shop near by Granny’s house and realising that if I spent 20p on beads I could turn them into earrings I could sell for £3. This was so exciting to me and I eagerly made jewellery to sell at craft fairs. I even turned my little sisters play dates into an after school club, charging parents £1 to ensure the kids all did their homework. I guess all of that was Le Keux in the making!
At 18 I desperately wanted to go straight into a business but I didn’t know what in, or how to go about it. So I went to university to study Business and Management instead. I can’t say that taught me a great deal that lead to what I do now but it was a blast and I made lifelong friends there. It also got me to London, where I’d always wanted to live, and a year in industry doing Project Management and Events for the Mayor of London. From here I fell into a career. It made sense to apply for jobs after uni, and I went for promotions after that, ending up specialising in business analysis and process improvement. I loved the process of entering a department within the organisation and discovering how to improve systems, re-organise teams and making savings. It all made so much sense to me and I eagerly took a Diploma in Consultancy, did my PrinceII Project Management qualification and learnt a lot. I did enjoy it but after an awful bully of a boss (who by the way I did get a Bridget Jones style resignation moment with… but that’s a different story!) I finally decided I had to answer the screaming voice in my head and start my own venture. I’d also just got married and the bug for events management hit me!
Le Keux Events was then born; I’d organise ticketed burlesque nights and Dirty Dancing themed nights. Guests would then ask where they could get their hair done and learn to dance like the performers, so I thought…. well I’ll sort that for them! And the business grew into a mobile event packages service.
I taught myself how to style hair and take pictures, I started to collect props and clothing I could supply to customers and travelled the country every weekend attending events, festivals and customers homes. All whilst maintaining a full time career. I was… exhausted, I mean utterly burnt out. Something had to give. So with the support of my partner I quit my job and that was it! It may seem in hindsight a brave move but it was the only option for me, I had to be happy and fulfilled and business is the only place for me.
Having all of my time and energy available for the business was like rocket fuel… within a year I had my first venue. I was hungry for growth and this is where my career history made all the difference. Everything in my business was built on a process, and tested to make sure it was the most efficient way of doing things. I knew if I was going to scale, all aspects of the business needed to be operable by someone else; from how to answer the phone, process a booking and buy supplies – everyone needed to do it the same way, every time, and with the heart and diligence that I would, after all it’s still my baby. If my customers asked for something, I’d go above and beyond to deliver it for them we grew organically from word of mouth and our social media profiles.
Healthy profit margins meant I had investment money building up. Always one for additional opportunities (and listening to what my customers wanted every day) I developed Le Keux Cosmetics, a line of beautifully packaged make up and brushes for a modern pinup look. Launched at a fabulous party in our Birmingham venue our range has seen great success since, stocked in boutiques in Europe and America and sold direct online. The range has tripled in size and we have more products in the pipeline! Most recently I have also developed a subscription parcel where customers can pay a small monthly fee to get our products and other accessories straight to their door. This is growing month on month too.
With my Birmingham venue thriving I took the decision to open a second branch in 2014 in Leeds with my sister at the helm. We opened with a bang and our northern fans were so excited to have a branch closer by.
This year was full of so many new and exciting growth for the business, but my personal life took a dive. After years of unexplained pains I collapsed at work and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. They found a huge cyst on my ovary and endometriosis. I had an emergency operation and was put on a medication plan. It was heartbreaking as we’d already been trying for a baby for several months… and I was suddenly faced with infertility. We continued trying the following year with no success. We were referred to the IVF clinic after my husband was found to have multiple fertility issues too. To say these were the toughest years of my life would be an understatement. We suffered loss, failed IVF and more and more bad news as we progressed into private treatment and more tests were done. I remember leaving a consultation being told we had less than 20% chance of conceiving, even if we opted for the most complex of ICSI IVF treatments that would cost us more than £10,000. Armed with a new diet plan to try, we both cut out gluten, sugar, alcohol and caffeine and waited for my next cycle to begin treatment. I was stressed, sad and exhausted whilst putting on a happy face and burying myself in work as a distraction. But my cycle never came… six weeks later whilst walking the dogs nausea came over me. Petrified because we’d lost a pregnancy before during IVF I finally forced myself to take a test. There it was… a big fat bold line. And my 20 month old is a beautiful, bright and joyous little girl now.
I learnt so much from this experience… That we’re not in control of everything, that life can hit you with a tonne of bricks with no warning… and that miracles can happen. During all of this I ploughed into my business, after all this was a place in my life I could drive forward, but inevitably the sadness and roller-coaster of infertility played it’s roll on my mindset and my motivation. I’m so proud that through all of this the business stayed alive, carried on delivering and looking after our customers. Bills were met, wages were paid and my team and Birmingham branch are stronger than ever. I can put this all down to the people in my business and the systems I had in place. Even when I wasn’t available my team had processes to refer to, standards to keep to and clear expectations to meet. I knew at this point that franchising was the way forward for the business. If our branch could run well without me there all the time, our model is strong and other people will be able to do it too.
Skipping forward to this year I’m excited to be back to working on the business full time. We’ve had some big changes this year, all of which have been designed so that my business works for both me and my customers. We all have a life outside our work, for me being a mum is one of those things. I knew I wanted to grow my branch network all over the UK and that it made sense that Birmingham, nearest to me would be the one branch we kept as a venue so that I’m always at the forefront of our service delivery and pioneering our business model for others to replicate. Our Leeds branch is now mobile, serving customers across Yorkshire and beyond. Our fabulous Northern team serves brides and hens throughout the region with makeovers, styling, photo shoots and more. All new Le Keux branches will be opened by Franchisees herein.
Today I happily work with my team on the business, and less in it (well I still do work in from time to time, because I love it so much!). I spend most of my time marketing, developing new business streams, leading my team and finding new opportunities across my brands. It’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a huge future for Le Keux and I can’t wait to find the special individuals who will join me in the next chapter.
I’d love to hear your story, and all about your goals to start your own business… You can arrange a phone call with me here or we can chat on Whatsapp too!