Larry and Simone Ferguson show off their trophy at the Northern Ireland Hair & Beauty Awards in Belfast's Europa Hotel last week where they won in the Cosmetic Clinic category.
A Derry couple are just made-up this week after their make-up business won the Cosmetic Clinic of the Year prize at the annual Northern Ireland Hair & Beauty Awards ceremony in Belfast.
Filtered Aesthetics, which is based on Derry's Waterloo Street is run by Simone and Larry Ferguson, beat off some strong competition from beauty clinics in Bangor, Belfast, Holywood, Magherafelt and Newtownards to win the award that was presented to the duo at the Europa Hotel.
What made this achievement all the more impressive was that this was the first time the award has gone to a Derry-based beauty clinic.
The clinic has come a long way for the Ardmore-based couple since they set up business back in August 2018 and, as Larry says, it all began with a birthday present.
He said: “Simone gained her aesthetic qualifications in the summer of 2018. Aesthetics was something that she always had an interest but life was so busy that trying to get the courses and pay for them was tough.
“She turned 30 in 2018 and I bought her the initial courses as a birthday gift. She started immediately working from the spare room in our house treating clients working around her full-time job and family life.
“My role in the business did not start until the summer of 2020. As Simone's and the business popularity grew there was a fair bit of back of house operational things such as orders and invoices that needed attention and as Simone was busy with other things I decided to 'lend a hand' and never left.
“Before the business was set up Simone was actually working as a nurse in Altnagelvin. She had worked there since qualifying as a nurse in 2010 and worked as a ward sister in the Acute Medical Unit (Ward 41). Simone made the full leap into full time self employment in 2019 working from a log cabin turned clinic.
“My background is a bit different. I have a degree in business and I am a qualified school teacher. I worked in various schools in Northern Ireland and then got a job working in the North West Regional College.
“When we were in lockdown working from home in 2020, I decided to put my business degree to good use and helped with accounts taking the pressure from Simone and now continue in my role as Business Manager.”
Since the business began three years ago, both Larry and Simone have seen it grow and the expansion of it does not look like stopping any time soon as the hunt is on for new premises to accommodate the ongoing growth and success of Filtered Aesthetics.
Larry added: “At the start it was Simone, a diary and pen in the back room of our home. But as popularity grew more space was needed and we purchased a cabin at the side of our home and turned it into a clinic with reception and treatment room.
“We also needed admin staff as Simone could not do both anymore as the diary was full. As well as this we had two other nurses working with us.
“As word spread the one treatment room was not enough so the cabin needed redesigned to incorporate two rooms and small reception/waiting area. Space was tight and luckily we found where we currently are.
“At the minute we are at 18 Waterloo Street in Derry city centre. We have a reception, office and two treatment rooms more admin staff and the diary and pen method is a thing of the past. We now have an online booking system has everything we need to run the clinic efficiently and effectively.
“This is not our permanent address however. Space is again becoming tight as our nurses client lists continue to grow.”
The award was no doubt a massive boost for the business but Larry is especially pleased for Simone as the prize is a reward for all her hard work.
He continued: “This award means so much to us both. I am especially pleased for Simone. She puts so much effort into her job and nobody sees the dedication I see at home.
“She stays up all hours reading about various treatments or any conditions that clients may have so she can be well informed when it comes to treating them so their safety is ensured.
“We feel that's the benefits of having these treatments carried out by medical professionals as they would have good medical knowledge so that conditions can be managed well and the treatments do not exacerbate their conditions.
“I have seen her late at night even chatting with clients on social media about treatments or any worries they may have.
“As for the business its absolutely fantastic that after just three short years in business we have been recognised as the best in Northern Ireland.
“It's a great achievement but a great responsibility to for us to ensure we keep the same levels of service and community engagement. This is not a time to rest on our laurels. This is just the beginning.”
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