Keeping lounges as safe as a client’s home

    Heart Evangelista

    NÉW Lounge felt like it started from scratch once again, and opened a new business in a world that people no longer knew.

    Rachelle Bravo, chief executive officer at NÉW Lounge, said it was not about having the best products and services anymore, but about how good and fast it can adapt to the demands of the situation.

    In an email interview, Bravo said adapting to the drastic changes brought about by the pandemic is a fool-proof way of surviving and thriving. With everyone being told to stay home day in, day out, the goal is to make the lounges as safe as a client’s home.

    The overall aesthetics, which once ruled how an establishment is visited, now took the back seat to health and safety awareness, Bravo said.

    “Now, we shifted on educating customers that they can still enjoy the same guilty pleasures of looking and feeling beautiful without having to hold their guard down in this pandemic,” she said of the brand which thrived as it addressed the lack in quality semi-permanent lashes in the local beauty scene.

    According to Bravo, things can be done safely as long as protocols are strictly followed and everyone cooperates. “Never underestimate empowered women; they fearlessly adapted and welcomed us back with open arms last August 2020,” she said.

    “Whether you like it or not, it was time to move on, transition, and apply the best possible strategies to make sure that you do not become forgotten or irrelevant,” she added.

    NÉW Lounge focused on finding solutions to the major problems of business owners during the pandemic.

    Bravo pointed out everyone was scrambling to find the perfect balance between opening the brand as well as prioritizing the health and safety of employees and customers.

    Looking back, she said she knew that she made the right decision by investing heavily on safety protocols and making sure everyone strictly followed every step, process, and instruction down to the last detail.

    “Our employees absorbed and put to heart all our new processes,” she said, noting that the successful reopening of the lounges depended on correct execution.

    All the eyelash and nail specialists underwent safety training and were given strict instructions on the changes in handling clients and in monitoring themselves daily.

    Bravo said everyone is learning amid the pandemic, such as “choosing to value lives over any business gains.” People may have been living in uncertainty for a year now “but we believe that science and technology is on our side and we would just have to wait for a few more months or a year at the most,” she stressed.

    She added: “We consider ourselves lucky because we were actually in the process of investing in digitizing our business, being three years young when the pandemic struck.”

    The business had to quickly move to cashless transactions, online meetings, and training, relying heavily on advancements in technology to move forward.

    For Bravo, it is a blessing to have an online presence well established before the pandemic started. “We were able to gain the trust of the biggest names in the celebrity and influencer circles in the country,” she related.

    With half of the face covered, the eyes have gained a whole new spotlight in making sure customers still have an avenue for self-expression.

    “We are fortunate that this pandemic did not ask us to cover even the eyes,” Bravo said.

    “It is what is left of what people see of us and the attention to making sure that your eyes are more beautiful and presentable is stronger now more than ever.”
    After the initial shock, Bravo began preparing for reopening as early as the business is able to.

    The business established recovery phases in three-month time frames, taking time to study the next strategies, quickly crossing out what does not work as well as fully embracing new skills.

    “We can say that we are doing good despite our share of losses brought about by the performance of the economy,” Bravo said. “We are very proud that we did not close down any of our existing lounges and even went further to break the odds by opening some more in key cities nationwide.”

    Clients can expect more lounges to open across the country, reaching more Lash Dolls along the way. There are also plans to explore untapped markets and feasibility studies continue to ensure the expansion plans go strongly as planned, with or without the pandemic.