Entrepreneur: Ellen Pino and Cassie Starns
Photography by Brian Baiamonte
COMPANY Avant Tous Beauty Bar and Spa
WHAT THEY DO Full service luxury spa
ADDRESS 13438 Magnolia Square Dr., suite C; 8210 Village Plaza Court, suite 1A
NEXT GOALS Open a third location and explore franchise opportunities
FORGED IN FRIENDSHIP
Born out of a desire to bring advanced skin care techniques to Baton Rouge, Avant Tous Beauty Bar and Spa opened in 2014 with a mission to empower women through head-to-toe spa and beauty services. “I just felt our community was missing such a critical piece of the beauty world,” says founder Ellen Pino, who in 2016, teamed up with long-time friend Cassie Starns to expand the brand and open a second location. Over a glass of wine with friends, Starns and Pino discovered a perfect complement in one another, with Starns specializing in business management and customer service, and Pino’s entrepreneurial spirit propelling the brand and vision.
GUIDED BY FAITH
The friends turned business partners approach their company as a ministry rooted in their Christian faith. “If we can be a blessing for the 30 minutes you are here, that is what it is all about,” Starns says. As the only full-service luxury beauty bar in town, offering everything from nails to massages, facials, airbrush tans, medical skincare, microblading, and hair and makeup artists, they strive to create high-end experiences in an environment that is approachable and fun. “Some of our services you can’t find anywhere else in Baton Rouge,” Pino says. “We take the time to find and develop specialists for every service we offer by investing tens of thousands of dollars in training.”
Weekly Facebook Live video streams, regular events with other local businesses and constant contact with clients are just a few of the ways Pino and Starns foster customer loyalty. “Staying relevant and ahead of the curve is the biggest challenge in this industry, and staying relevant means becoming a part of people’s lives,” says Pino. With every service, the Avant Tous team of about 20 employees are seeking to build relationships. The company’s client concierge helps maintain those connections by proactively reaching out to busy clients to help with booking. “With people’s lives so crazy these days, there is so much value in real connections,” Starns says.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
With two successful locations, Pino and Starns now have their sights set on opening a third in the Baton Rouge area and hope to eventually create franchise opportunities. “I think it is bred in me to want to strive bigger and better and to try something new and different,” says Pino. The friends say they find fulfillment both in “pouring love” into customers and being role models for their children. “For our children to be able to see their mom in a leadership role and building up other women, I think that speaks volumes to our kids,” says Pino.