CHICAGO DEFENDER OF THE WEEK: Entrepreneur, Mimi Paino, Owner of Divinity Luxe Beauty Bar

Going to a beauty bar is not just for beauty; you go for the ultimate experience and enjoyment. Mimi Paino has paved her own way in the beauty industry with her passion and work ethic. Her motto is, “Always put your best face forward to love the skin you’re in!”

Tammy Gibson (TG): Tell me a little bit about yourself and your business?

Mimi Paino (MP): I am a wife, mom, and entrepreneur. I took my years of corporate and management experience and infused it with my passion and a vision to be a full-time entrepreneur. I worked in the corporate arena because that is what I thought I was supposed to do. That’s what we were all taught to do. You go to school, get a job, work for a company for 40 years and then you retire to live your best life. At that time, that was my mindset, and I was absolutely miserable. I would sit at my computer and ask God, “Is this what you created me to be? This can’t be.” I was secretly praying for a way out.

In 2009, when the world was tossing around words like recession, I was released from corporate, and it was then that I was given a chance to figure out what it is I wanted to do. What did I want to be when I grow up? What is that Mimi wants to do? I didn’t know the path ahead, but I knew I would never punch another corporate clock again. I never wanted to give another company the power to snatch the rug from beneath me. In hindsight, I had given everything I had to a company that just cast me to the side when the recession happened. It was an awful feeling, and I gave it my all, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I became determined to find a way to find my passion and make it my paycheck.

I became a licensed Esthetician in 2010. I spent the first seven years of that career change being a sponge, perfecting my craft, and working my way to managing other day spas. At the start of 2017, with the help of my amazing support system, my husband and I opened Divinity Luxe Beauty Bar, which is now a luxury day spa that offers expert eyebrow shaping, eyelash extensions, make-up, full-body waxing, and skincare.

TG: What inspired you to be an entrepreneur, and what led you into the beauty industry?

MP: I have always had a passion for all things beauty. Ever since I was a little, I’ ve always been a girly girl, getting into all things, fashion, and beauty. It is just a part of who I am.

Back when I was in corporate America, I was performing freelance make-up services, so that totals my years of experience in the beauty field for over 20 years.

TG: What does a typical day look like for you?

MP: A typical day consists of, what I call, a 13-14 hour superwoman juggle. I care for my home unit first, and I ensure that our children are sound in their own schedules. Still, then I wear another hat, where I’m a business owner, where I have to operate a fast-paced beauty business, but then I wear another hat where I’m a service provider where I’m providing services for my client base. So I’m not only behind the scenes ensuring that we operate efficiently, but I’m also doing the back office, and I’m also caring for my family at home. It may sound like a lot, but honestly, it is the only thing I know how to do.

I don’t know how to do anything else but make it happen. I think it’s just a special quality that we have as women, that we just do it all and we don’t complain.

TG: We wear the “S” on our chest, don’t we?

MP: We may not wear a cape, but that “S” is on our chest!

TG: What qualities do you look for in your staff to make your business successful?

MP: I look for rock star team players. A rock star team player is someone who offers amazing customer service. Because our business is built on stellar customer service and coming from corporate, I recognize that’s the hardest skill to teach. I can show you the techniques; I can’t teach you how to love people. I look for rock stars who give stellar customer service, with a moldable skillset, and they are 100% team players.

TG: What are your most popular services for women when they come to Divinity Luxe Beauty Bar?

MP: Our top three services are expert eyebrow shaping, eyelash extensions, and make-up.

TG: What keeps your client’s coming back to Divinity Luxe Beauty Bar?

MP: I believe that clients keep coming back for the experience that we provide. I teach my staff always to remember that clients will drive past a thousand people who offer the exact same services as you do just to sit in your chair. It’s not because the service is amazing; that just a plus, but it’s all of the elements of what they experience when they arrive. That the energy that they feel is warm and welcoming from the moment they walk in the door. I believe it creates bonds with clients. In most cases, we will hear more about their day-to-day life than their own families. It’s more than just a service, it’s an experience, and I genuinely believe that’s why people come back to Divinity Luxe Beauty Bar.

TG: If you could recommend one service to splurge on at Divinity Luxe Beauty Bar, what would it be and why?

MP: Lashes are a girl’s best friend. I would say ditch the mascara and hop on the lash extension train! Lash extensions look natural, gradually shed over six weeks, are lightweight, and are hands down the best lash enhancement option that there is.

TG: What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the beauty industry?

MP: The biggest challenge is keeping up with the ever-changing trends. That is a challenge. You can’t get too comfortable in this business. You have to always be willing to be a sponge and learn new things. Another challenge we go through in this industry is how taxing it is on our bodies. Physically, we stand on our feet for hours non-stop, a lot of us neglect our ourselves, we don’t schedule breaks, and we don’t take lunch. So learning how to balance and take care of ourselves and our clientele can be a challenge.

The most rewarding part is me being able to be a part of my client’s most important life moments. From graduations and weddings, I’ve been a part of so many of these intimate occasions, and to me, being chosen to be a part of these special moments is such a gift.

TG: What are the ways your business give back to the community?

MP: We not only offer shadowing opportunities for aspiring youth but, we also give back during prom season. Annually, we give away free services to teens whose parents may be experiencing life-altering circumstances or financial hardship.

TG: Where do you think the industry is heading during this pandemic, and are there any changes you will be making?

MP: The pandemic really stopped us all in our tracks and made us all re-evaluate how we are servicing clients and our practices in general. It’s forced us all to figure out a way to pivot our businesses. Leaving most of us unprepared for this kind of set back as we are hands-on; we can’t social distance and service clients. It’s forced us to become more creative, using new ways to help sustain. Personally, I have used this time to learn how to offer our retail on our website as well as create a “virtual make-up classroom.”

Moving forward, since we work very hard to stay in compliance with state sanitation regulations, we are going to continue to offer that promise. We will be making extra efforts to space our clients out, make additional sanitation efforts, and continue our no guest policy to reduce the number of people in our facility.

At the end of the day, yes, we want to go back full force, but the health and safety of our clients and staff are most important.

TG: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own beauty bar business?

MP: Educate yourself, invest in yourself craft, and find a mentor. I feel the biggest mistake that people make nowadays is jumping from square one to twenty overnight because it looks so easy. Many who have come before you, didn’t show you the labor, you just saw the fruit. Believe me; the temptation is in the fruit, not the labor. No one shows you all of the struggles. We only show you the good moments. So, I encourage people when they come to me for this advice, educate yourself, invest in your craft, find a mentor, and work under somebody who has done what you are trying to do. It’s easy to open a business. Opening a business is not the hard part, but achieving a level of retention and growth is something you have to take the stairs to get. A miner doesn’t just stand in front of the mine waiting for jewels to pop out; they go into what seems like the darkness; doing something most of us wouldn’t dare do, and they get down and dirty doing the work to get the reward. You see, there are no elevators to success; you have to take the stairs.

TG: What is your favorite poem and quote that motivates you?

MP: My favorite poem is actually one that was recently sent to me as encouragement. It is by John Greenleaf Whittier called “Don’t Quit.” I’ve read it every day since we’ve been in quarantine.

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is strange with its twists and turns

As every one of us sometimes learns

And many a failure comes about

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—

You may succeed with another blow.

You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out—

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell just how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit

For all the sad words tongue and pen,

The saddest are these “It might have been!”

My favorite quote is: Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Never give up.

Find out more information about Divinity Luxe Beauty Bar at https://www.divinityluxebeautybar.com/.

 

 

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