Story by Jack Murphy
Djuna Day is a licensed medical esthetician and laser technician. She is the owner of Bluebird Laser in Toronto, a hair removal clinic with a focus on meeting the needs of the trans and queer community. Djuna originally made her living as a carpenter and furniture maker before pivoting her career and taking a laser tech program at a small local college. She opened Bluebird in late 2019, just before the pandemic began.
What inspired this pivot in your career from carpentry to aesthetics?
After beginning my transition in 2013, I wanted to find a way to spend more time within my queer community. I began to wonder what I could do for a living that would allow me to spend my days with more trans folks. I thought about my own journey, the people that had helped me along the way and about the things that were hard for me during that time. When I went looking for hair removal services, there was only one person in Toronto doing this for trans folks, and she was about to retire. I got to know her and she became my mentor as I changed careers. She made it possible for me to make the jump from school to working on my own.
Why did you start your business?
That wasn’t originally my plan. My initial plan was to go to work for someone else for a little while to get my bearings in this industry. But nobody would hire me.
I applied to numerous clinics and had over a dozen interviews after finishing school, but didn’t get a single job offer.
I’ve had very few poor experiences since coming out as trans, but in this case, after being turned down again and again, I couldn’t help but believe it was about my transness. It was a hard reminder that this is still a very cis-normative, hetero-normative industry.
I got down in the dumps for a bit, but then picked myself up and began Bluebird. It has been a success since day one, and we have grown straight through the pandemic.
What were the first steps you took to open your clinic?
I rented space in my mentor’s clinic, one day a week at first. And I rented a laser. I put up a fantastic website that I had worked very hard on, hired a great digital marketing person, and let the algorithms do their thing. It didn’t take long after that.
When did you know it was time to expand into your own space?
I had pretty steady growth from day one. I expanded to two days a week, and then to four over the first year. And then we went into a nine-month pandemic lock-down here in Toronto and my business was closed.
It was during this time that I rented and renovated my own space. It turned out that the middle of the pandemic was a great time to sign a lease! There were lots of spots available, and landlords were willing to talk. And I had time to do all the painting and renovations myself.
That time was actually a blessing! When the lockdown finally ended, I opened with two treatment rooms, and all the client hours I needed.
Bluebird has not only grown into its own clinic, but you’ve also hired two staff members. When did you know you needed to hire?
Well, the short answer is that when I was working five days a week and still running a waitlist, I knew I had to grow. It was just workload, but I couldn’t stay on top of it anymore. And I can’t say no to a trans woman who wants to finally remove her facial hair. To serve more folks, I had to grow. I now have two fantastic staff members, two laser machines, and we’re shortly going to max out the space we’re in. As long as there are people coming to us, I intend to keep growing.
How do you create an atmosphere that feels welcoming to your clients?
I think, to start with, making sure that our clients see themselves in our branding is very important. So much of the imagery in the aesthetics business is hetero-normative, cis-normative, and gender normative. It’s not welcoming to folks who don’t see themselves as part of this. I needed it to be clear that we were not like these other places. I hired a queer animator, and she knew exactly what we needed. She created the fantastically diverse lineup of people that are on the website now. They have basically become our brand. The illustrations on the website make it clear to our clients that they are coming to a place where they’ll be welcome.
And secondly, we ourselves are deeply immersed in the community we serve. Our staff are all trans women, and are also clients. Our clients know that they come through our door, they don’t have to explain themselves. We see them. We are of the community, and for it.
What motivates you to do the work you do?
Our clients are why we do this work. Many of our trans clients come to us at the very beginning of their transitions. Hair removal, and particularly facial hair removal, is one of the very first things that a newly out trans woman often wants. This can be essential in order to be seen by others for who we are. And it can be essential for ourselves: It’s hard to look in the mirror as a woman, and to imagine possibilities when you see a beard on your face. So clients come to us often at the very beginning of their transitions. These are very tender times. Over the year that we typically see a client, we often get to see them just explode with energy, and blossom.
It is magical to watch a client set themselves free. To be present for this feeds my soul.
It’s really just selfish! But this is why I get up every morning. To help set souls free.
What would you like to see change moving forward in your discipline’s space?
I hope the Canadian public health care systems will come to cover the work we do because it will mean we can help more people. We have so many clients, but the folks we see are only the ones who can afford to come. I wrestle with this fact every day: that there are people who can’t afford to come to us.
Why did you decide Jane was the right system for Bluebird Laser to use?
Primarily I chose Jane because I really love the charting capabilities it has. We do lots of charting here! It’s essential in order to make sure our clients get the best treatments every time they come. I used to write my client’s charts by hand prior to using Jane because my previous booking software’s charting features didn’t meet my expectations!
Jane made it easy for me to create my own charts and readily share them with the rest of us in the clinic. It means we can give our clients the very best care each time we see them.
What are some of your favourite Jane features?
I think my favourite feature is your technical support! When I call with a question about how to do something, I quickly get a live human on the phone (!!!). And the person who answers is usually able to solve my problem. I love this! It’s so rare in this world of “chat-bots” and “service tickets”.
I also like how flexible the language is in Jane. When I was setting up Bluebird’s Jane site, I was able to rewrite all the language the way I needed it to be. Almost every word is customizable.
Language is tribal, and using the right language is really important in making sure our clients know that they are coming to the right place.
If you could choose one superpower what would it be?
It would be to serve everybody and to have enough space to bring in all the trans people. It frustrates me the way my clients have had to exist on the waitlist. But I’m fighting that, we recently cleared our waitlist in the last month!
If you’re not already part of the Jane community, welcome! We’re so glad you found us. If you’re in search of Practice Management software to help run your Aesthetics clinic, we’d love for you to meet Jane. Take a virtual tour, book a demo with one of our lovely support staff, or sign up here! Or, check out what our customers are saying about us in the jane.app Community Forum. We can’t wait to chat.