Have you ever wished to have your makeup or hair done, but you’re too busy to go into a salon or find it too extravagant to splurge on? Enter Sponge – a site which offers professional on-demand beauty services at a reasonable price, including hair, makeup and eyelash extensions, to your home, office, hotel, event – wherever! Diane Younes had the brilliant idea to start the service within a month of moving to Hong Kong… find out how and why from our catch up with her.
Tell us what it was like growing up?
I was born in Paris and grew up in London. When I was 16 years old, I moved to New York. I have also lived in Montreal and now in Hong Kong. Growing up in London, I felt like I had the best of both worlds: I was in a big city, but it felt like a big village. I went to a French school in a very French neighborhood in South Kensington, London. It’s filled with French bakeries, restaurants and libraries stocked with French books. I was also able to travel in Europe often. It was wonderful.
What got you interested in makeup and how did the idea for Sponge come about?
I have always been fascinated with makeup. My father’s family is Lebanese and I grew up admiring how women in Lebanon do their makeup: bold brows, black liner and smoky eyes. I started trying to replicate their makeup at a very early age, and the rest is history.
I had the idea for Sponge within a month of moving to Hong Kong. I was looking for an apartment, and I was surprised by how expensive rent is in Hong Kong. At the same time, I looked around for good quality beauty services to keep up my beauty routine I had in New York, such as hair, makeup and lash extensions, but I couldn’t find any that offered reasonable prices. I put two-and-two together, realising that salons and spas in Hong Kong charge high prices to cover their rent expenses. If you take away the need to have a salon or spa – and thus take away the obligation to pay high rent – you have an on-location beauty service. The idea for Sponge was born. It’s been crazy ever since!
What do you think is the hardest part about running this business?
I believe the biggest challenge in being an entrepreneur isn’t actually dealing with the logistics or running the business. Entrepreneurship can truly challenge who you are on a personal level – you will be tested in a way that you haven’t ever been before: your patience, your confidence, your motivation, your leadership. It is a crash-course in life – one that no degree will prepare you for.
Right Image: Grey Chanel Leather, Silver Beaded Small Flap Bag, Black Pedro Gracia High Heel Sandals
What has been the most rewarding experience for you?
Hearing from clients that Sponge is ‘amazing’, ‘a fantastic experience’ and that the Sponge experts do ‘some serious magic’. Nothing compares to hearing this kind of feedback we’ve received from clients.
What advice would you give to any up and coming entrepreneurs?
There are many articles you can read and workshops you can attend to learn about how to launch a business. Launching a business is the easy part; growing it is the hardest part. Prepare yourself for what comes after the launch and have a game plan.
As make up is all about colour, expression and applications – which fine artist do you most admire?
Edgar Degas. He is known for his paintings of dancers. Although I walked out of my very first ballet class at the age of 4 because the tutus weren’t for me – true story – Degas’ depiction of ballet dancers always intrigued me. They look, to put it in simple terms, happy.
Black Givenchy Antigona Duffle Bag, Green Pedro Gracia Satin Lace-up Boot
What is the biggest difference in make-up applications when it comes to faces of different ethnicities?
Beauty trends are very different across regions, and even across countries. Wanting to achieve a bronzed makeup look versus a paler complexion is definitely one of those differences.
If you have to pick a time in history to travel back to, what would it be?
When Coco Chanel designed her first suit. I would have run to buy the first one!
Describe your style in 3 words
Can I use 4 words? Whatever I feel like.
What is in your make up bag?
BECCA Ultimate Coverage Complexion Creme foundation (I’ve been using this for the past 5 years), Benefit Cosmetics POREfessional primer, Guerlain Terracotta Bronzer (I don’t ever wear blush, I only use bronzer), Bobby Brown Instant Full Cover Concealer, Benefit Cosmetics Goof Proof Brow Pencil, BECCA Light Chaser Highlighter and Skindinavia Makeup Finishing Spray (as recommended by one of our Sponge makeup artists who was right in saying that this is the best product to keep your makeup looking fresh even when it’s very humid outside).
How do you like to unwind and what are some of your go-to hangouts in Hong Kong?
After a stressful day, nothing compares to lifting weights to loud music. Otherwise good food and good company do the trick. Order the ‘One Meter of Bliss’ tray of cold cuts and cheese at La Brata and you’ll know what I’m talking about!
Who’s a girl-crush of yours?
Queen Rania of Jordan. The causes she fights for, her style – everything.
What’s next for you?
Growth! And no ballet classes.