Koncept Studio: Meet the 24-year-old Leeds salon owner who is shaking up the beauty industry

At just 24 years old, Isabella Gilmartin has a strong sense of what she wants from her business.

Sunday, 31st October 2021, 11:45 am

She's the owner of Koncept Studio, a unisex salon and creative space on Kirkgate that is shaking up traditional ideas of beauty.

Koncept offers nail and brow treatments, makeup, aesthetics and facials, but it doesn't stop at the treatment for Isabella's clients.

Read More

Read More
TuffShop Woodlesford: Workwear superstore opens in Leeds as owner grows business...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Isabella Gilmartin at Koncept Studio. Picture: Steve Riding

From featuring local artists on the salon's virtual gallery, to hosting wellbeing workshops and networking opportunities, Isabella is carving out her own community.

The Guiseley-born beautician studied fashion at university before working as a brow artist at salons across Leeds, but she struggled to find a permanent home to grow her brand.

"I was disheartened with how rigid the industry had started to feel," Isabella told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"To me, the idea of beauty and wellbeing had so much more to offer than I was seeing. Clients should be left feeling uplifted with an enhanced sense of wellbeing and peace.

A piece of the artwork in the salon in Kirkgate. Picture: Steve Riding

“That’s when I started brainstorming about how I could bring my interests into the industry.”

After a successful pop-up event at the Corn Exchange, Isabella opened Koncept Studio in March 2020 - one week before lockdown.

Despite months of closures, the salon has blossomed into the creative space that Isabella envisioned.

“I’m big on the senses,” Isabella said.

The salon's makeup artists at work. Picture: Steve Riding

“People always comment on the smell of the salon and the music is very important.

“The aesthetics have art-gallery vibes - it’s a bright, open space with lots of symmetry and we have a virtual canvas where I share work from different artists.

“I often visit art galleries, it’s something that triggers the wellbeing senses for me, so I wanted to bring that in.

“The idea is for people to leave feeling great from the treatment, but also inspired by the space.”

Isabella is now working with Female Magik, a community collective for women in the North, which recently hosted a wellbeing workshop to take clients "on an experience" through tarot readings, facials, hand massages and input from a motivational speaker.

Having a unisex salon was an important part of the business plan; Isabella hopes to break down the stigma of who can enjoy beauty treatments.

She added: “Having a safe space and a community of like-minded people has been a major factor in my own wellbeing.

"I wanted to provide a place where any and all are welcome, challenging the traditional industry norms and helping our clients shine a light on their own unique beauty."

The beauty industry has been hit hard by the financial impact of Covid-19 and Isabella hopes to share her success with budding beauticians and creatives in Leeds.

Koncept Kollege was launched in the height of the pandemic, offering courses in barbering and makeup art.

“I like that I can steer the business into creating opportunities for others," Isabella said

“Through networking it's been interesting to see the doors that have opened, meeting people I would never normally have come across.

"I'm so excited for the future and to continue to spread our message - that Koncept is a place for art; a place for beauty, and a place for mind, body and soul."

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.