Salon rejection convinced trans woman to start beauty business with ‘empathy’ for all

Jessica Hillis

A trans woman, who launched her own mobile business after being “shooed out” of beauty salons, says she hopes to encourage others to create their own inclusive companies. 

Jessica Hillis recalls, with a nervous laugh, the trauma of being refused service at salons.

Hillis, from Upton, on Merseyside, tells PinkNews she was turned down for treatments at both a beauty salon and hair extension shop about six years ago, in encounters she will never forget.

“I was shooed out. They told me there was nothing there for me because I wanted to have parts of me waxed, like my chest, as it was early on in my transition.” 

A trans friend suffered similar treatment after she overheard salon staff “giggling about her in another room”, Hillis revealed. 

“Straight away, you aren’t comfortable and won’t go back there.”

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The beauty fanatic says her experiences, which she stresses “aren’t indicative of the whole area but due to a few bad apples”, damaged her confidence at a time when “you’re already terrified just to go out and function”. 

She eventually found salons that were more welcoming, but the experience of being refused service is what led her to go to college and train in beauty. 

‘I would never turn anyone away’

Her mobile salon – Obsidian Beauty – fills a gap in the market, she says, and she just wants “people to be comfortable”. 

Obsidian Beauty, which serves Liverpool, The Wirral and Chester, offers waxing, brow shaping, facials and spray tanning to people in the privacy of their own homes.

“I would never turn anyone away and that’s just the reviser of what happened to me,” Hillis says. “That’s the reverse of what happened to me, I would never feel comfortable turning anyone away. 

“I’ve lived both sides of the coin and there’s empathy and comfort that I can offer.”

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, she said: “I wanted to make sure there was a space where everyone can go and feel comfortable, especially people who are pre-surgery, who may feel dysphoria about their bodies.”

The business should be fully up-and-running by the end of September and Hillis has some advice for others who have been in her position. “If you’re not comfortable, don’t keep going back. Find someone who will accept you,” she says.

She hopes sharing her story will inspire others to start their own businesses in support of inclusive spaces. 

“Always be yourself and don’t take rubbish off people, you don’t need to in this day and age.” 

Anyone interested in Hillis’ services can contact her through Obsidian Beauty Wirrall’s‘ Facebook group.

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