Uptown Beauty Lounge ignores the construction to bring latest procedures to city core

Waterloo Chronicle  |  Link to Article
By Bob Vrbanac

Most people would have looked at the construction in Waterloo’s uptown core last year and saw the challenges.

Marci Matejcek, owner of the new Uptown Beauty Lounge, saw the opportunity.

“That was a little bit nerve wracking, but I really loved uptown Waterloo,” she said. “Having a storefront location on the city’s main street was always something that was appealing to me.

“We were about to open up in a different location and that fell through, and I was just about to resign my lease when I saw this listing and I said I had to go down there and look at it.”

She was targeting a move to the uptown for years after turning a successful home business started four-and-a-half years ago to one with a growing client list that provides the latest in beauty services. Those services include eyelash extensions, permanent makeup and the area’s first blow dry bar with blowout, updo and hair extension specialist on site at the 4 King St., S., Waterloo.

“I fell in love with the space,” said Matejcek. “My last space was nothing like this.”

The lounge has been open since Dec. 1, moving into the former Fitness & Swim store when people were still worried if the uptown core would even be open to traffic for the Christmas rush due to LRT construction. But ever since she opened her original business called Lash Out she wanted to bring a more social aspect to the beauty business with a welcoming space that would not only bring people in but encourage them to stay.

“I had a few different ideas,” said Matejcek. “The concept evolved with the space, and I listened to my clients a lot and I wanted it to be different.

“The beauty industry is huge and there are so many places around. I didn’t want to compete, I wanted to be unique in a way and be complementary to what’s out there. I didn’t want to take business from everyone.”

She totally redesigned the storefront space, taking advantage of the great bay windows facing King Street that bring natural light in to a historic building. The lounge features a seating area with soft leather chairs and welcoming treatment rooms in the back.

“It’s a little more of a high-end feel,” said Matejcek. “My vision for this is like being a lounge in Manhattan and other city places in the uptown.

“I wanted people to walk in and have that elite vibe to it with prices geared to Waterloo Region, not Toronto or New York.”

Some of the services she offers are only available in high-end beauty bars in Toronto or the GTA, and she has invested a lot of training in services like eyelash extensions and permanent makeup applied to the eye brows that are considered cutting edge.

The problem is a lot of salons will jump in on a trend without having the training in place to provide it. She’s seen some disaster stories come in her store of people who thought they were getting a safe and healthy experience but ended up with regrets.

“I’ve been asked to teach lashing and I really wanted to do it so it doesn’t get a bad name,” said Matejcek. “I’ve taught more than 100 students how to do it, and I got involved with permanent makeup, which is now exploding as well, called microblading.”

It’s also known as cosmetic tattooing, and microblading gives a more permanent shape to the eyebrows, but if the work isn’t done right it can lead to disaster. With more than nine courses on the process Matejcek considers herself one of the local experts.

“It’s scary because I’m trying to educate people because everybody is doing it, and it’s not something you can learn in a three day course when you’re cutting into people’s skin,” she said. “They have no experience and are just tattooing people’s faces. The consumer doesn’t know if they had the proper training, and if it’s done incorrectly it is permanent.”

In addition to the latest in beauty services, she wanted people to have somewhere to get their hair washed and blow dried. There is also a complimentary self-service nail station.

“We just want to encourage people to hang out, that’s why we call it a lounge,” said Matejcek. The space is ideal for weddings and wedding parties getting ready for the big day.

In the end she said it was a bit of a leap of faith that the traffic would be back when the construction was finished and that a new business in a construction zone wouldn’t be lost in the shuffle. The Uptown Beauty Lounge held its official grand opening last Thursday and it was swamped with loyal clients and new ones signing up for the latest packages.

“We talked to a couple of other business owners on the street about their experiences,” said Matejcek. “I also talked to a few friends to get their opinions and definitely my clients to kind of gauge if they would follow me. My really dedicated ones have followed me from two home locations, to my first storefront to this one. There’s a lot of loyalty.”

For more information on Uptown Beauty Lounge, visit uptownbeautylounge.com.