New Year, New Journey
New growth and the possibilities of pure potential are some of the most inspiring aspects of starting a new year. Upon entering Gabrielle Harvin’s new entrepreneurial undertaking, The Elle Lounge in Covington, her enthusiasm and style do not disappoint as she walks us through her journey and looks forward to a blossoming business and family life.
Enterprising Woman Gabrielle Harvin chose the name, The Elle Lounge, for a variety of reasons. Not what traditionally comes to mind when imagining a lounge, her establishment is actually a beauty bar. “I wanted to playfully get across that our salon is about both beauty and relaxation – our motto is ‘Make Yourself a Priority’ and the décor encourages that.” Elle also holds a double meaning, being the last part of her name and a nod to the first letter of “lash,” which is her personal specialty. Her haven, which houses a staff of Licensed Estheticians experienced in lash extensions, eyebrows, skin care and spray tans, immediately grabs attention with the contrasting color scheme of bright pink blooms on a bold green blanket of twisting vines. “I just love floral themes, and the palette is inspired by the Beverly Hills Hotel. It’s unique…a little modern, a little Boho. It’s fun and different than other salons.”
Gabrielle grew up in Lafayette and met her husband Clay, who is from Covington, at ULL. “Clay is a St. Paul’s boy through and through. I followed him to New Orleans where I graduated from John Jay Beauty College’s Esthetician Course. Growing up, I didn’t know what esthetician meant, but I began doing makeup for weddings and Mardi Gras balls and loved it. I took the first job that would have me – a small boutique on Magazine Street. The owner taught me about lash extension and sent me to school. I learned about the beauty industry, studied skin care, completed extensive hours and was one of the first to graduate in my class.”
Making the Northshore Home
When Clay’s job brought the couple back to the Northshore, Gabrielle was left to build a new client base from scratch. After a year in a small Mandeville salon, the ambitious beauty decided to strike out on her own. “I rented a 200 square foot suite, and my business just blew up. At the time, there wasn’t a certain eyelash specialist over here, so word of mouth spread, and I was quickly booked two months out. That gave me the confidence to expand into this location.”Gabrielle shares her beauty philosophy, “There’s no certain look I try to achieve. Everyone is beautiful in a different way. I bring out their unique features in a natural way. After a session, it’s most rewarding to see them light up when I hand them the mirror. That confidence takes their look to an even higher level.”
Ups and Downs
2020 was a paradoxical year for Gabrielle – both exciting and frightening, and filled both with flurries of activity and planning alongside a global shutdown. “I had just signed my new lease, and two weeks later we were quarantining. I was panicked, but we just pushed through. Construction began in July, we had our wedding in August at The White Magnolia in Kentwood, and I was finally able to open in September. As soon as restrictions were lifted and women could go to the salon again, we got a rush of existing clients and new ones, so it actually turned out great.”
Gabrielle says her business has grown to be like family, including the clients she sees regularly and the team of talented estheticians she’s assembled. But she’s also focused on growing the Harvin clan with Clay. “We’re doing IVF to start a family. I want to be open and have a voice about it. I discuss it with my clients, and we make a connection over fertility issues. My mom, Camille, had me at 19 and raised me by herself. It was just the two of us. She instilled in me the determination to never give up. She’s extremely supportive, and that means so much to me when going through business and personal challenges. I look forward to following her example with my children.”
The Journey Ahead
Always planning, Gabrielle has her sights on a second business location and a new residence. “We bought a large property in Folsom and want to start a ranch. Clay grew up on farm and was on the tractor with his dad every weekend. I never thought that his dream of returning to that lifestyle would be mine, but it is now. We’ll make it a forever home and picture building gardens and having goats and cattle – a place where we can open the back door and let the kids run and play. Having that work/life balance with people we love in a beautiful location – we can’t imagine anything better and can’t wait to see what this year brings!”
The Elle Lounge is located at 69305 Highway 21, Suite 900 in Covington. For more information, call 985-888-1000 or visit vagaro.com/us04/theellelounge. Follow The Elle Lounge on facebook or Instagram.