Written by Kim Harris
In 2020 Tamara Dowe took a massive leap of faith and opened Brow Republic and Lash Bar in Stockland Shopping Centre Hervey Bay.
The challenge was amplified with tenacious timing delivering the onset of the Covid pandemic which held challenges for even the most established business. The Beauty industry was hit hard by restrictions.
The salon sits amongst the ‘Big Boys’ in retail Kmart, Coles, Cotton on, Lorna Jane. Many would not be so brave to risk it all and jump with no parachute. Tamara is building an empire and staring fear in the face in pursuit of the dream of a better life for her family and employees which she affectionate calls her ‘sisters’.
Tam’s journey has not been an easy one, nothing has been without sacrifice and constant hard work.
Tamara pays above award wages, offers opportunity to single mums to work flexible hours, upskills staff to reach their full potential.
Tamara hasn’t got where she is by cutting corners.
She knows poverty, pain and leans into business with her heart open.
Tamara Dowe candidly tells her journey to Alive Readers:
I’ve been in the beauty industry since 2008 when I first completed a beauty course at a college in my hometown of Toowoomba. After a relationship breakdown, I was suffering from domestic violence abuse which led me to move to Hervey Bay with my three boys. I got a job at a beauty salon in Stockland and fell in love with performing brow treatments and the reactions I got from clients who loved my work.
Because I moved to a town where I didn’t know anyone, I felt isolated but enjoyed work and being around clients and colleagues, and I made friends through work.
After about three years at that job, I was struggling to juggle the kids and working, in particular my son Archer (diagnosed with Autism when he was two-and-a-half). The day-care centres couldn’t have him for more than a few hours a day because that was all the carer funding allowed. I was still having to pay the full day of day-care fees even though I wasn’t getting the full day to work.
It didn’t make sense! It was costing me more in childcare fee’s than my five-hour shift could earn.
I loved my job and what I did, but I needed to find a way to make everything work. I needed to find a way to support us financially and provide something stable for my boys.
I approached Stockland Centre Management because I was familiar with the centre. I presented management with my concept and one lady really helped me in every aspect of getting my business off the ground.
Meanwhile, I was taking clients at home and perfecting my craft.
It took over a year to get into Stockland. I had to go back to TAFE for six months to complete a diploma in salon management.
I needed to purchase everything from ground up, my home became a storage unit for of all the salon equipment. My kids and I went without.
I got behind in my rent and we were on a strict food budget.
With my first pay I bought a trolley full of groceries and I paid my rent in advance; those moments stuck with me.
I was excited to give the women (and occasional men) of Hervey Bay a City Style premium experience, consistent service with exceptional quality treatments. Brow Republic and Lash Bar offers extras that you won’t otherwise find in regional salons like a hot towel and refreshment, comfy weighted blankets and phone charging stations.
I wanted to build a communal area where people can chat to the person beside them and not feel alone. I built my own tribe and community, something I always craved and knew others did too.
We opened in July 2020. It was during covid, but I had this planned prior pandemic, so nothing was stopping me, but it was challenging as a new business.
A communal area in covid seemed pointless so adaptation and innovation was called for. I made it work and clients weren’t phased. I think they longed for community.
I spent countless late nights working on marketing and doing Facebook lives and giveaways. Sending out promo boxes with gift vouchers and products to promote the business to get clients through the doors.
Once in the door I knew I could blow them away with our work and customer service.
I’m thankful to all my clients who spread so much positivity about the business. Every now and then I have a ‘pinch me’ moment when I see a new client sitting in the waiting area. Like, WOW, people love us and are supporting us. I did this, this is real!
The master plan was to expand after many clients asked if we are a franchise and I thought perhaps it really could!
Why not? The idea worked and we have a constant flow of satisfied clients.
When Brow Republic and Lash Bar was voted 3rd best new business on the Fraser Coast, I decided to start working on the next chapter and dared to dream even bigger.
I approached Grand Central shopping centre in Toowoomba. I visit Toowoomba regularly and had a small handful of people there who wanted to help me grow the business. It felt right.
My best friend since high school Bek is the Toowoomba store manager. It still feels right.
Grand central is a large shopping centre and the complex already leased to an existing business somewhat similar to Brow Republic and Lash Bar, so consequently the board was denying my request for a lash and brow bar.
I was required to make a presentation and outline a direct comparison, proving that The Brow Republic was different. I could offer a service that was valuable and not the same.
After many challenges, The Toowoomba salon was approved.
I went back and forth to Grand Central meeting with leasing executives to secure the site.
Opening the Toowoomba store December 2021 was a great achievement. Toowoomba is running smoothly now and fully booked most days.
It’s time for salon number three in Bundaberg!
The newest Brow Republic and Lash Bar will be in Bundaberg’s most popular shopping centre ‘Hinkler’, due to open December 2022. Extending our signature luxe pink and gold fixtures, next level service, cosmetic tattooing and a focus of empowering women.
The philosophy of ensuring my staff and clients feel special and valued consistently has never left my mind. Bundaberg will be no different.
I will keep on supporting regional communities, listening to your lives while I work on making you feel gorgeous at each and every visit.
I will have three stores and three young sons! My next goal is to stop renting and buy a home to call our own, and save and offer my boys the opportunity to go to university to provide freedom and choice.
Treat Yourself Babe,