4 Boxes to tick by 40

By Mini Latif 6 Jun 2017 2:43:12 PM

So today l'm in Fiji on vacation and l turn 40.

As l do on all birthdays, but particularly on new decade birthdays, l like to do a stocktake on my life. 
You know, ensure l have ticked enough boxes to be what we are all in pursuit for… Happiness. 

Mini Sarkissian
On my 10th, l was super duper happy to be entering double digits age and hoped to God that people would stop treating me like a kid!
On my 20th, l was tres excited that l officially left childhood, teenhood and made it to the all aspire ‘Adulthood’. Still hoping to God that l would be treated like an adult.
On my 30th, l celebrated in my parents homeland of Cyprus and loved every moment when my cousins called me Mini’cik - ‘cik’ at the end of a name is something you usually do for little kids and so the irony of life began and my obsession of growing up pretty much ended there. Since then l have immersed myself in life and not cared too much about achieving an age milestone. Funny that!
At 30, l gave myself a decade to tick a few boxes. These boxes seem to be quite popular with most people and yet for me l felt was a struggle - every box just had so much heart ache to get ticked. But here l am, 40 and ALL my boxes ticked! Want to know what my boxes were? Well keep on reading then!
• Own a successful company. After 8 years and over half a million eyebrows completed, l can confidently say now that my business Ottoman3 is successful. Yep, glass of champagne for me. 
• Travel the world. Now this is partially ticked as apparently l need another 40 years to get anywhere close to the whole world.
But l have made a great dint in my passport and l love my alone time when l get to reflect.
Beyond that, my travels have inspired all of the products l have ever manufactured, right down to the bristle heads of our brushes. No matter what product we have at Ottoman3, when l hold one l am taken back to a place that made me go… l need to make this for my Australian lovers (of Brows!).
• Marriage. Yep now this probably needs more than a box, as it is not only a tick, but an ongoing work in progress. Marriage to me at 10 was all about the wedding day, at 20 was all about the guy, at 30 was all about the life style l wanted to live with a partner and now at 40 it is so much more. It is about friendship, respect, kindness and pretty much the art of negotiation. They say marriage is a job and l can certainly say it requires so much work. But by god, l had the most glamorous wedding day, the guy l had a crush on forever, a lifestyle that has surpassed my expectations and now a home that is busy, full and complete.
Love is home now.
• Motherhood. I never thought too much about this one as l kind of expected that l would just have a kid one day. The other boxes above seemed so much more difficult to get. But when Skylar came along 16 months ago, my heart grew out of my body and my stress levels toppled to heights unprecedented. Wow - just wow to being a mum to this kid. Daily l look for signs or similarities of me or my husband in her. But honestly, Skylar is her own person and she is just so ‘nice’. I have said this many times, but l made my own sister and we just hang out. My crew is complete. 
So that my friends were my 4 boxes to tick by 40. All ticked, so now what?
I decided no more boxes. Too stressful. Now l simply live. I still have many aspirations, but not boxes. Boxes were a set up for perceived failure. The truth is, if l didn’t tick one or any of those boxes, l know l would still be happy today. How do l know this? Well aside from all the things l can control, a few things happened whilst l was busy making lists:
My parents are both still living and living well. This makes me happy.
My brothers are both on standby for any Mini emergency great or small, so l have never really been alone. This makes me happy.
My cousins are residing all around the world and l can pick up and continue our friendship at any moment, because we just get each other. This makes me happy.
My girlfriends are so cool, they still want to hang out with me even with my highly strung, controlling personality. This makes me happy. 
My health is good. This makes me happy.
Mini Sarkissian
So my gift to myself today is to stop & smell the frangipanis in Fiji and celebrate a life with boxes ticked and a life to be lived well. 
Thank you for my blessings. 
Fab at 40 - Yes, yes l am. 


The 80/20 Rule - in Business & in Life

By Mini Latif 17 Sep 2015 11:33:11 AM
You’ve heard the saying a thousand times “Apply the 80/20 rule and you’ll be right”. 
Well l am here to say in business, the 80/20 rule has boded me well. It probably took a couples of years after launching Ottoman3 that l came to the acceptance that l was unable to make everyone happy, whether it be the customer or my team. Trust me when l say l put my heart and soul into trying to get that 100% perfection in decision making. 
As your business matures, other things naturally grow: Your Team and Your Customer Base. The more people you deal with, the more considerations will need to be made when changing anything internally or externally. Therefore, this ratio of 80/20 is one that simply means ‘majority rules’. 
It is that simple, when poised with that difficult decision about perhaps adding a new service or product line, consider the ‘majority’ of your customer when in development and design as it is truly and l mean truly impossible to satisfy 100% of the population.
But when it comes to life, does the 80/20 rule still apply? Why should it it not? After all, majority rules right? 
Today l was given these odds at 7 weeks pregnant. I was told due to the slowing heart beat of my frail foetus, that chances of miscarrying are 80% . Immediately my mind zoned in on that 20% of glimmer of hope. My body will not let me down, it never has. I have all the health any 37 year woman needs and this 20% is basically going to be my life line. In a week l am to have another ultra sound and at that point l will know 100% which direction this pregnancy is going. 
I walked away from the hospital with a mix of faith, hope and then like a thunder bolt, my analytical side of my brain took over. In business, l would always go the 80% when having to make a choice in direction. Today l did not get asked a choice, l got told my odds. Since then, l have been walking around in wonder as this is my first pregnancy what to expect. What really does a miscarry entail? Would it come to me in the middle of a meeting or walking down the aisle of Coles? Suddenly, l felt like a walking time bomb. With my belief in numbers, then l was to accept that a miscarriage was inevitable. 
I wrote this blog 14 weeks ago. I have kept it hidden in my drafts and thought that it was time to revisit it. 
As l said, a week later l went back to get another scan to see our destiny. That one week wait was a humbling experience. It was time for my husband and l to unveil our truth. With tears in his eyes, the doctor said that this was the reason he went into medicine. Our baby was the 20%! 
Fast forward to now and as l am 22 weeks pregnant and very happy to say all scans, pokes and probes have come out all cleared and we are now just another ‘normal’ pregnant couple. 
Mini bump
So l am left with the dilemma about 80/20 rule and l am left to think of it this way. You cannot have the same rules for business and life. I certainly do not have the same relationship with me friends & family as l do my work colleagues and business associates. As those relationships are different, so is my mindset for the way my decision making is done. In business it is often a safer bet to go with the odds and aim to satisfy your 80%. In life, aiming for the 20% is where the extraordinary gets delivered. 
Thank you for reading,
Mini Sarkissian 
Baby Sarkissian
Baby Sarkissian 2
Baby Sarkissian 3

Let's Talk About $10 Brows

By Mini Sarkissian 11 Aug 2015 3:59:33 PM

If only l got a dollar for every time someone said to me “That other kiosk at my local shopping centre only charges $10!”. I seriously would be opening up my 4th Brow Bar with all the proceeds!

We all know the cliché ‘You get what you pay for’. However, it honestly is so much more than that. I committed years ago when l started this blog to be frank and honest about what it’s really like to run a beauty business, warts and all. So here l am to unearth for you how you get $10 Brows in todays economy where NO small business can sustain a successful operation whilst under charging so lowly.

So how do they exist out there you may ask as many salons do? I would even say any price points for Eyebrow Threading $20 or under is what l would define as deathly low.

To put us all on the same page, we charge $28 at Ottoman3 for Eyebrow Threading. In the 6.5 years since we opened our doors, l have only ever put the price up once. Our opening price was $25 for the first couple of years. On the odd occasion l may do sales and promotions that can reduce the price, but these are limited offers to reward our regular clients.

In 6.5 years our rent for all our stores have gone up 6.5 times! Now, we are starting to get into the crux of it all.

You see, to operate a Brow Bar, there are some key operational costs that are non-negotiable. In the prime locations we are in across our Highpoint, Watergardens and Melbourne Central stores, we not only have some of the countries highest rents to pay, we have annual rent increases. This costs must be fixed to our price points and if we were to charge at $10, we would barely be able to cover just this one line item. Next time you are in the shopping centres, have a look around where these brow bars are located and you will often find them in lower traffic areas or blind spot locations which often help in getting a lower rental rate and perhaps help justify the $10 price point.

For all small business owners or those aspiring to be, salaries are the most tricky of them all. One is to ensure that your team is not only being paid the industry standard and or above, but that their rights are in line with the Industry Awards & National Employee Standards. At Ottoman3 we invest a lot of time and money to ensure our team are looked after fairly and even have a 3rd party agency that we have contracted to protect our staff of their employment rights.

Over the years l have had the privilege to meet and interview some very interesting people who have since become our Brow Artist or Masters and others l have wished good luck in their future endeavors. You can imagine that the Brow world is fairly small, especially with Eyebrow Threading and we have quite often interviewed people who have worked or currently work at many of our competitors.

My corporate background has taught me the art of negotiating when it comes to salaries, so it was quite a surprise to me when l first started Ottoman3 that people would ask in the interview what the hourly rate was. We have since learnt how to deal with that situation, but the one that stumbled us the most, was when people flat out asked us if they could get paid cash. We have employed over 100 Brow Artist over the years and l am proud to say as loyal Australian tax payer, l have NEVER paid any of my Brow Artist cash and go through the torturous monthly activity of entering Superannuation and paying tax on every dollar l spend l salaries.

Just today we received an online job application stating that if the job was cash in hand, she would attend the interview, if not, she would give it a miss! Needless to say, she did not get an interview.

Yet the one request that had me at my knees in utter shock was when we started to get asked if they could work for a lower rate or even free, if we would just simply sponsor them for a visa.

For anyone who has gone through a visa application of any sort and in any country, you will know the complex nature of it and expenses involved in the process.  Why we would happily sponsor someone we have known for precisely 4 minutes and had no history with is still a concept l cannot get my head around. When the audacious requests are asked, l just as audaciously respond with the question “Why, do you know a company that would?”.

“Yes” has been the response to every one of these questions. I have been told on several occasions that they would be paid cash in hand from our competitors, so it only seemed normal to them to ask us such a question. As for Visa’s, we have also been told that our competitors have had them work for free in return for giving them sponsorship into the country.

Into our 7th year of operation, we are now looking to sponsor one of our longest serving employees as her master skills are irreplaceable and l can tell you first hand, this process is HARD.

So we go back to the concept of paying staff cash in hand versus paying them salaries that pertain tax and superannuation. Beyond that, the workload involved playing by the rules in this country means that 6 people are involved every single fortnight to just do our payroll. So ironically, payroll is an added operational costs.

I will not dwell on using good quality material and product in our stores when it comes to services, ie: high quality aloe vera gel, antibacterial thread, thoroughly sanitized tools on each service etc… these too are added costs to service that are inevitable.

There are many places l can save dollars in order to reduce to the price of our services and that my friends would mean consequences in return. Such things like saying goodbye to our prime locations, under trained staff who are at work for the cash and not the passion of brows and most likely rusted tweezers that have hints of the previous clients blood on them. This ladies and gentlemen is how you get a $10 Brow.

In the near future we will be looking to increase our prices for the 2nd time in 7 years. I hope you can understand the need for this and respect that in return we will continue to deliver our passion for your Brows each and every time. 

Mini Sarkissian xoBLxo

xo Beauty Lover xo

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