In a country famously known for top quality brands like Rolex, Lindt, and Victorinox, an enterprising Pinay braved the odds by opening U’nique Personal Grooming by Demee right in the middle of Switzerland’s financial hub. Ildeme “Demee” Mahinay Koch, or “The Goddess” as many clients call her, says “grooming people” is her passion.
From Dubai to Switzerland
Koch was already enjoying success dealing with luxury beauty products at a consultancy company in Dubai when she decided to move to Switzerland to be with her then future husband in 2007. “It was hard to leave a good career and to move from a people-friendly environment to an almost aloof one. I also got used to being around modern and forward-thinkers in Dubai when it comes to fashion and beauty. I really felt the culture clash,” reveals Koch. Upon arriving in Switzerland, she immediately enrolled herself at the Swiss Business School to get an MBA. After graduation, she applied for a senior management position at a company only to be advised that she can only be a management trainee for the time being. During this time, she was already married to her Swiss fiancé. Koch felt all the more driven to succeed. She decided to go back to that one thing she loved doing –making people look good –and started her grooming business.
“I saw that there is a gap in the market here in Switzerland. Grooming services here are not yet that complete and sophisticated. In the Philippines, customers are warmly welcomed. Here you are just a number. I felt there is a job for me to do,” enthuses Koch.
Koch opened U`nique, her first personal grooming concept in May 2010 in Zürich. She would later realize that there is no short cut to success in any business.
The road to success
Although she had the full support of her husband, Koch would experience loneliness and discrimination. She says that at first it was not easy but later on she made many friends, some of whom helped her out in her business. Eventually she became pregnant with her son Oliver. “He is one of the main reasons why it has been easy for me to overcome my loneliness. He makes me more determined in the business,” shares Koch. Thanks to Koch’s vision combined with her amazing energy and charm, U`nique is now a talk of the town. Koch describes U`nique as a “grooming lounge,” prettifying and pampering clients from head to toe. U`nique offers services like hands and feet grooming, waxing, facial massage, eyelash extension, to name a few. It is the first in Zürich to offer nail grooming services to kids.
The place has been praised for being the first one to have sinks attached to the floor for feet grooming purposes. U`nique has been featured in a few magazines and has been a beauty hub from young to adult professionals, models and pageant winners and contestants. Women who come to the salon are treated like queens. They are served champagne and some appetizers with live music in the background. “My clients stay longer in the salon because I like to connect with people. In fact, some of my clients have done their business transactions here,” says Koch adding that the place is also a good venue for parties and business.
According to Koch, it took them almost a year to start the grooming service. She and her husband found the place through a friend. They had to do some upgrade and renovations that included adding personal touches to the interiors –from the chic wall colour down to the cozy upholstered chairs. Koch is thankful that business and government transactions in Switzerland are very systematic. She had no trouble at all registering her business.
Koch hopes to offer more services and open more branches. “The real hard part of the business is finding the right people. I learned that I must not be too Filipino, not to be too lenient. Be a little bit tough or you will be abused. Adjust to your environment but never lose yourself,” says Koch.
Koch adds that having a realistic dream as well as knowing your limits are among the keys to success.
“Every business starts with an idea. Be reasonable to your family and relatives especially when helping them. Never forget yourself,” finishes Koch.
U’nique Personal Grooming by Demee is located at Langstrasse 187, 8005 Zürich, Switzerland. Call +41 44 5588 252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was first published in the 3rd edition of The Filipino Expat Magazine. Read the magazine HERE.