HARLEM — For Seven Brown, the five years of owning Harlem Skin and Laser Clinic is an anniversary she's surprised — and delighted — to have reached.
“I didn’t think we were going to make it,” she said Thursday.
“As a business owner, that’s supposed to be the gold standard. It feels like an accomplishment.”
But the real story, she said, is how she has thrived as a black business owner in Harlem as the neighborhood’s demographics and climate for small businesses changed amidst development.
Some new businesses struggled to make it past two years, she said.
“Harlem is not an easy place to do business,” she said. “This is serious… It’s tough.”
She said her skin-care business, the first full-service one in Harlem, has thrived.
In five years, she said, 10,000 customers have used her various services — from individualized clinical facials to waxing to acupuncture.
On an average day, 90 customers flow through the doors of the chic beauty clinic, she said. Last year she was profiled in The New York Times as being a part of "Harlem's beauty boom."
“We are comparable to the services downtown,” she said.
In celebration of her anniversary, Brown is offering a “year of beauty,” in which customers pay $1,000 for 12 facial or body treatments done monthly. It normally costs $125 to $350 for one.
She said her business did not have access to the capital many new business ventures usually start with.
Instead she reached out to friends, family and locals — instead of crowd-funding, she called it “neighborhood-funding”— and opened in a 100-square-foot space on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in 2011.
Now, she’s in a 1,500-square-foot “mindful beauty” oasis at 2119 Frederick Douglass Boulevard.
In part, Groupon helped bolster her business.
The coupon app, along with aggressive marketing, she said help her grow clientele.
“It saved the day for us,” she said.
What’s next? Brown said she is now going to undergo some rebranding, roll out an app, increase memberships and upgrade customer service.