What I've Learnt: Natasha Pilbrow, Founder at LeSalon

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo
Natasha Pilbrow, MySalon

In 2014, busy lawyer Natasha Pilbrow met Jean-Michel Chalayer, and together they set about creating LeSalon - a business to help women live and work flexibly on their own terms.

It launched in 2015 as a sleek app and website that lets people fit beauty treatments around hectic schedules, while empowering therapists - or Salonettes - by allowing them to work flexibly.

The treatments offered through LeSalon are on-demand, totally accessible services that can be carried out anywhere - home, hotel or office. All the travelling professionals are certified and insured, and the costs are affordable. Natasha and Jean-Michel hope to revolutionise the beauty service industry and create "the salon of the 21st century."

We heard from Natasha about the challenges and opportunities that faced her throughout her career.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

I have many daily habits and practices in place that I think help both my productivity and wellbeing, but if I was to highlight just one it would probably be my 'Daily Calm' session.

I am a big fan of the meditations on the Calm app - I find Tamara Levitt’s thoughts and insights often give me a different perspective on my day. Life is so busy and there’s such a constant stream of to-dos, so I find incorporating the ten-minute meditation and reflection into each day really helps my overall mood and stress levels.

What's been your luckiest break?

When I was finishing my law degree I met a leading entertainment lawyer (after bombarding him with emails) who invited me to come and do an internship at his firm. I specifically wanted to go into entertainment law which was an incredibly competitive arena, but the internship led to me completing my practicing certificate with the firm, and working there as a solicitor for nearly ten years.

It was a meeting that changed my entire professional life.

What's your best failure?

I’m not sure it was my best; but my most significant failure was with my A Levels, which I didn’t do well in. I didn’t put in as much effort as I should have but it still came as a shock when I got my results. I was determined not to let the set back define me, and worked very hard afterwards to ensure it wouldn’t hold me back.

What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?

I’ve made multiple investments financially and with my time that have paid off in the long term - I think it is often about having the patience, stamina and determination to see it through.

A property investment I made about ten years ago is a good example for me. I invested in a buy-to-let home - for many years it involved a lot of hard work with zero ROI, but I held out and kept reinvesting every small amount of profit back into it. Ultimately, when I came to sell it I made a great return on my initial investment.

How would you describe your work/life balance?

A work in progress! My priorities are my family and work, and I work hard to schedule my activities each week so that I’m focusing on all that I need to in relation to these aspects of my life. This does mean that everything else is somewhat neglected, but I this is how things need to be at the moment and I am happy to compromise.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

'The Power of Habit' by Charles Duhigg is brilliant. So much of our life is shaped by our daily habits and having an understanding of how you can control them is really interesting. On a cumulative level, small changes in your daily habits can lead to monumental changes in your life.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

You shape your own life, and anything is possible with a clear set of intentions and focus. Don’t beat yourself up or compare yourself to others - everyone is on their own journey so focus on creating and building your own path.

The years pass quickly so take full advantage of all life has to offer.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

I feel like I have had two very separate working incarnations - my first in private practice and then my second as co-founder of LeSalon. As a lawyer, the biggest influence was undoubtedly the senior partner who I worked for, a larger than life character and brilliant lawyer.

I learnt a lot about the nuances of negotiation from him, plus he really allowed me to develop confidence in my own professional abilities. With LeSalon, it is my co-founder Jean-Michel - his level of competitive spirit, dogged determination and drive is in another league to mine.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I have a dream about owning a small restaurant - I love cooking and experimenting with recipes! I just wish I had more time to do it.

What does success look like to you?

Being able to recognise what is ultimately important to you (and that may not be what “conventional” success looks like to others). I really admire people that are able to work out what happiness and fulfillment really means to them individually and follow this path - irrespective of what others might think.