A Brooklyn beauty business gets a fresh face with a little help from NYC

By Faye Penn

Molly Lamb, founder of Skin by Molly, says she’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit. “My mom owned a jewelry store in Atlanta when I was growing up. It kinda runs in the family,” says the Brooklyn resident. “I like to be independent and not have a set schedule all the time. When I set my mind to something, I know I’ll do it.”

So in 2013, when Lamb decided to leave music PR to pursue a career as an esthetician, she immediately started out working for herself, renting a room a couple days a week inside a Williamsburg massage studio. The next summer, when she added a cheeky “Shiny Hiney” butt facial to the menu, it caught the attention of local and national media, and a wave of new clients, and in 2016, she opened her first storefront in Williamsburg.

Skin by Molly continues to thrive. Through WE NYC (Women Entrepreneurs NYC), an initiative of the New York City Department of Small Business Services, Lamb was able to crowdfund $10,000, interest-free, to purchase a microcurrent machine to offer even more services. Today, the 33-year-old operates a second location in DUMBO, with the goal to open a third in Brooklyn and eventually expand outside of New York City. Below, Lamb talks about her journey and advice for other entrepreneurs.

Seek out mentors and coaches. I call them expanders — people who are doing what you want to be doing. They’ve been in your shoes, and they’re telling you, Yes, you can!

What made you want to be an esthetician?

I’ve always loved products and going to get facials, so it was just kind of a natural transition for me. It almost didn’t occur to me that something I enjoyed in my personal life could become my job. In 2012, I got my license at the Aveda Institute in Soho, and never looked back.

The spa industry really attracted me because it’s something where you’re nice. You’re making people feel good and comfortable; they leave feeling so happy. I realized that made me feel good!

How did you learn about WE NYC’s crowdfunding opportunity and how did it help?

I learned about it from my friend, Massage Williamsburg owner Rachel Beider. The $10,000 loan was amazing because there was no interest and they gave me plenty of time to pay it off. Adding a microcurrent facial was helpful for the SEO on our website because it attracted people searching for this service. It’s helped to inspire me and my employees to learn a new type of facial. Expanding your menu is a great way to not get bored as a practitioner and keep regular clients coming back while also attracting new customers.

What are you most proud of?

Having two locations in such a difficult and competitive city and having an employee who’s been with me for three and a half years — my first employee — makes me feel great. They’re things I’m really proud of.

What’s one of the biggest challenges of owning your own business?

Learning the logistics of running a business! A lot of small business owners don’t really go to business school. That’s been one of the hardest things for me: learning how to be more of a numbers person, which is not really my brain.

Having employees is one of the hardest things, too. Being this kind of mentor and guiding light, and hiring and training and having to give quarterly reviews and feedback while still running the business, is probably the hardest part.

What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs?

Seek out mentors and coaches. I call them expanders — people who are doing what you want to be doing. They’ve been in your shoes, and they’re telling you, Yes, you can! It’s important to have those positive influences in your life. New York has a lot of resources. SCORE is great too. Rachel Beider has three locations and does business consulting. She’s someone I really consider to be an expander because she’s been in my place, but she’s ahead of me.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; set realistic goals and be very patient. It doesn’t have to happen overnight, and it probably won’t. Aim for slow-but-steady growth.

Photo by Alex Tutiven.