Brogan Hodgson, 23, and sister Alessia, 20, have just opened Sorelle, a beauty salon in Darlington. They tell Jenny Needham how they made their beauty dream come true

Working with family can be notoriously tricky. But in the case of Brogan and Alessia Hodgson, it has all worked out fine. Beautifully, you might say.

The sisters have just opened Sorelle, a beauty salon in Darlington, and are looking forward to a successful future together. “To open a salon was always the dream, but now I’m lucky enough that I get to do it with my sister,” says Brogan.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. “We argued so much when we were setting up. I thought it would be disastrous, but as soon as we opened the doors things settled down and it works really well,” says Brogan.

Beauty is in the family – the sisters’ mother worked for a skincare brand when they were growing up. Older by three years, Brogan was the first into the business, joining Saks Academy before continuing her training at Cocoon salon in Darlington, where she worked with a short break at Clarins.

Alessia decided she wanted to follow the same path as her sister after leaving school and also joined Saks Academy before moving onto an apprentice role at Rockliffe Hall.

Once they decided to open their own salon, the search was on for a new home and a property in Duke Street seemed to fit the bill. “The building was a blank canvas, but we had so much fun turning it into what we wanted,” says Alessia. “Pinterest gave us lots of ideas, and Niche Living, from Barnard Castle, came up some great décor designs.” The name Sorelle was chosen because it means “sisters” in Italian, where Alessia’s name originates.

The salon offers a full range of treatments, with Aromatherapy Associates skin products. “We believe in all-natural products for skin as it works so well for us both,” says Brogan. “They use the purest essential oils and their treatments are effective, yet luxurious.”

Treatments include Lycon waxing, which Brogan swears by, and St Tropez tanning “because it gives such even golden coverage,” says Alessia, “For great lashes, HD and Nouveau are everywhere in the press and their products are fantastic. We wouldn't have gone with anyone else.”

If they ever find time to practise their treatments on each other, Brogan opts for a facial. “I love products that leave my skin glowing,” she says. “My two favourite facials are Crystal Clear Microdermabrasion, which removes dead skin cells and instantly brightens your skin, and the Inner Strength soothing facial from Aromatherapy Associates. It has a gorgeous double cleanse and two masks so your skin really benefits from the treatment.”

Alessia loves the Aromatherapy Associates Mattifying Treament. “I have always suffered from bad skin, so it's lovely to have a facial that improves and calms my skin instead of doing the opposite. I used to shy away from facial treatments for that reason,” she says.

And because they always need to look their best, top of the sisters’ day-to-day list are manicures and pedicures. “We wear flip-flops in the salon so I always have to have my toes perfect,” says Brogan. Lash extensions are another must. “LVL lashes last up to six to eight weeks. They curl, volumise and lengthen your natural lashes and they look amazing. If you’re going away, it's great not having to worry about mascara.” “We are both very fortunate that we are both trained in such fabulous treatments and get to do one another's,” adds Alessia. “And mum’s, of course…”

Mum Beverley is also involved in Sorelle. “She shares our passion and is amazing with clients,” says Brogan.

Growing up, the sisters say they didn’t steal each other’s make-up; that trait came later. “It’s more now that I notice Alessia has pinched things from my make-up drawer,” laughs Brogan, although Alessia says she doesn’t wear much, preferring to concentrate on making sure her skin and brows are looking good. “I don't spend a lot of time getting ready. I try to keep it quite simple,” she says. “My motto is, less is more.”

Now that the salon is up and running, the stress of planning and decorating has been superseded by the challenge of making sure all their clients walk out relaxed and happy. And when it all gets too much, at least they can give each other a stress-relieving massage. “I always feel like a new person after having one,” says Alessia. “It’s definitely the treatment to help deal with the stress of opening a new business.”

Sorelle is holding a launch night for Microdermabrasion Crystal Clear Facials on the May 10, including demonstrations and champagne.

Sorelle, 32 Duke Street, Darlington DL3 7AQ


T: 01325-468000