Ready for a hair-raising revelation??? We’ve snagged an exclusive chit-chat with Chloë Wurm of Pretty Kitty Waxing! Unravel the behind-the-scenes secrets, glide through their smooth journey, and maybe even book a slot to meet the wizards of wax themselves. It’s the bare truth you won’t want to miss!! positive vibes and community unity awaits.
Hi Chloë, can you share with us the inspiration behind Pretty Kitty and its name?
I will reveal, I don’t have a background in business, but I do own some cute cats. Honestly, every day I come home from work, see my cat Boston and the first thing out of my mouth is “Who is the prettiest kitty in the world!?” (Spoiler alert: she is). The best part about the name is calling up government hotlines or receiving banking information as Ms. Pretty Kitty. Pretty decent drag name if I do say so myself.
In all honesty, I also wanted a name that was fun and bubbly and introduced terms for body parts that aren’t necessarily gender-specific. Bodies are beautiful, and normal, and should be talked about more. Maybe if we had fun names – we would! So Pretty Kitty is a place where EVERYbody feels welcome. We’re putting the “personal” back into the personal service industry.
Before opening Pretty Kitty, what were some of the challenges you noticed that the LGBTQA2+ community faced in the beauty industry?
We all have our own story and the reality is a lot of business models don’t allow space for services to be tailored to every person’s individual story.
I once heard a receptionist ask a client’s name and service numerous times in a confused tone before I realized who they were speaking to. The client was a few years into their transition with a “feminine” name and voice, booking a “male” service. My heart broke knowing how hard they worked to be recognized as female but that this acted as a reminder of a painful journey. When the client came in next, I explained how much time I needed for their service and to book it as any “female” service that allocated the right amount of time so she didn’t need to explain herself to any more people than she felt comfortable.
The complicated part of that story is that it only worked with me. Other staff either couldn’t perform the true service, or in that time frame, or be expected to remember the client’s name in case they ended up with that specific client in their room. The point is the beauty industry is shifting, just like the fashion industry. Sadly, fast fashion exists; restricted sizing exists. But there are always outliers and that’s why slow fashion, tailor-made fashion, and size-inclusive fashion is praised. There is still a one-size-fits-most service industry; mine is just a tailor-made model.
How has your experience in the waxing industry informed the way you approach your business?
I actually think my waxing experience has been the least impactful thing on my business approach. I have always been a perfectionist so waxing came naturally to me. I think all the top businesses have senior technicians that wax to the same level as myself. Or at least I’d hope so! But my approach to business came from somewhere much deeper. My father committed suicide when I was young, and I realized the importance of people knowing how special they are. There are a lot of people who are scared to look in mirrors, and if I can convince one mom to put on that bikini or one teenager that their hair is totally normal or one trans kid that they can wear a skirt – then my real work is done. We’re all special and the fact our body breathes for us every day is what makes it beautiful. All the other stuff is just for fun!
What kind of feedback have you received from your clientele about the importance of having a space like Pretty Kitty?
I think the best feedback I received was 3 days ago saying “The inclusivity language they use on their site for queer folks is SO good.. the website language around accessibility actually made me want to switch waxers”. It actually made me cry (which is a regular pastime of mine). How can a cis, straight woman cry over something that doesn’t actually affect her? My gender didn’t make me feel excluded, but other things in my life did. And if someone out there had made me feel included, I can’t tell you how much it would have meant to me. So I have successfully made one more person feel included. That’s some pretty good feedback.
Can you describe some specific moments or encounters that solidified your decision to create an LGBTQA2+ safe space?
There was a court case involving a trans woman and waxing services in Vancouver years ago. And a lot of clients asked me my opinion, mostly in outrage. But this was the first time I saw the issue from both sides. I saw that from an aesthetician’s point of view adequate service timing, knowledge, and training were required, however, the public didn’t seem to readily know that. And on the other side, a person is frustrated about verbiage. But there didn’t seem to currently be a scenario that bridged those two standpoints openly available to the public. My clientele was well-versed but how could I let others know?
How do you ensure that your stay is trained and sensitive to the unique needs of the LGBTQA2+ community?
Easy, I am the only staff member! I left home quite young and I feel like it took me many years to find where I belonged. Turns out I belong in a cute lobby, doing great services, and connecting to great people. I went into business so I could send thank you cards to clients, express myself in my own clothing, and extend my service times to give more attention to services. The truth is, this isn’t a job to me, it’s my way of life! And for now, I want to thoroughly enjoy it.
What services do you offer at Pretty Kitty that is tailored specifically for the LGBTQA2+ community?
So firstly I have a meet + greet service. This is where someone can come in, and discuss pronouns, their hormones, and their story. Then I can analyze the hair and skin and create a completely personalized service, which they can then use to book a full service. If people are in
a pinch, then I have unisex services; one for the body such as arms, legs, etc., and below-the-belt services for intimate areas. These service times are longer so we don’t run into sticky situations and we can build a rapport so we know exactly how to book you for your future services. They can be completely tailored in the length of time and price.
How would you describe the environment and atmosphere at Pretty Kitty for someone who’s never been?
It feels like sticking it to the proverbial man. It feels like great decor, giggles, a warm hug, and potential swear words all at once (I have a potty mouth). It feels like someone who remembers your name and cares about your day. It feels like being the underdog, except there’s a whole bunch of underdogs and we’re taking over.
Are there any future plans or initiatives for Pretty Kitty to further support and empower the community?
The biggest initiative is building the community’s trust, then we can move mountains. Being a safe space needs longevity and a good foundation and we’re here for the grunt work.
How have you, as a business owner, benefitted personally and professionally from making inclusivity a core aspect of your business?
Oh, personally I am busting at the seams with gratitude. Working with bodies has allowed me to heal my own wounds. I vacationed in Brazil in 2019 and everyone told me to mentally prepare for how beautiful the women were, and how tiny their bathing suits are. While both of those things were true, the best part was a society that praised all body types. Men, women, hair, no hair, ingrown, stubble, cellulite, stretch marks; everything was on show and everyone was still in small bathing suits, if any. Life is just better when more skin tones, more body types, and more genders are represented.
Professionally, it has also been rewarding. Mostly in the sense that while I’ve been trying to build community among clients, I became a part of a community too. The support from small, local, women-owned businesses has been immense. It feels like there’s a real movement in North Vancouver to support and understand our neighbors.
With many businesses striving to be inclusive, what advice would you
give to other entrepreneurs to genuinely serve the LGBTQA2+ community?
Be genuine! Listen to what people are saying and genuinely try to understand what they need. Don’t do it because you were told to show up one month per year for marketing reasons. Do it because one of your friends’ kids might currently feel alienated, or a family member, or yourself. Find common ground and let love flow.
Can you share a particularly memorable story or interaction that stands out since you opened Pretty Kitty?
One particularly memorable moment was actually the night before I opened. We had taken the window coverings down and we were prepping for our last inspections, and every time I turned around and a different familiar face was in the window waving. Everyone came in and picked up a paintbrush, or broom, or cloth. It takes a village, and for the first time, I realized I had one. Now it’s time to spread that feeling.
What role do you believe local businesses like yours play in the broader movement for LGBTQA2+ rights and acceptance?
I think businesses are the front line in normalization. Imagine some people are only exposed to this community through your lens. Your acceptance and inclusion could directly sculpt their understanding and participation.
How can community members support Pretty Kitty and your mission?
Come on down! Share posts, tell people. You never know who is fighting a battle with their identity. Even just facilitating someone to find a safe space is acting as an ally.
Lastly, what do you envision for the future of Pretty Kitty and its impact on the North Shore community?
Everyone feels like an outsider at some point in their lives. I want Pretty Kitty to be a place that makes people feel comfortable in their skin and keeps the body’s positive movement on a forward trajectory. An unspoken group of misfits. We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.
For more information, please visit their website to learn more..
The shop is located at #105 – 175 3rd Street West North Vancouver