I left school at 16 to pursue my passion as a hairdresser. In just three years, I had become a successful self employed freelancer, but my lifelong ambition was always to have my own salon. I can still remember the feeling, when I found the shop I wanted, being thrown out of my bank with a flea in my ear for asking to borrow £20,000. This happened every year for three years until, by working night and day, I had saved up enough to open the original Reflections with my own money.
At this time I had a full clientele and just wanted somewhere they could come. I hadn't considered how I would be able to fit in any additional new clients. But new ones arrived in such numbers, after just one week I had employed both a Senior and a Junior stylist, and six months later opened a second salon in Slaley Hall International Golf and Spa Hotel.
It was four years of amazing experience to rub noses with the rich and famous. I learnt so much about our industry; fashion shows, wedding fairs, golf days for ladies and gents. I worked with coffee mornings, looked after W.I. ladies and even had whole football teams having their hair done. Great fun, but hard work. Running two salons was not easy.
So in 1998 I sold the salon back to Slaley Hall and moved out of my small shop into a much bigger one in Corbridge. It was a huge commitment to buy premises for the first time and I remember thinking "What have I done?". Fortunately, with a brilliant team, it quickly began to grow, and just two years later I had an extension built and the whole salon refurbished. It is now the busiest and largest salon in Northumberland, and we now have clients who travel from as far south as Cornwall and as far north as Lockerbie.
Reflections open the first salon on 13th February 1995
Reflections open a second salon at Slaley Hall in November 1995
In 2005, faced with the dual issue of a growing business and providing recognition for brilliant hard-working staff, I decided we needed an additional salon. So, in December, we opened in the famous Robbs department store, unfortunately just two months before it went into liquidation. But, it’s no good crying over spilt milk; so my fantastic Hexham team and I went into overdrive to re-coup our losses, and, in the reopened Robbs, the salon grew to became as busy as our Corbridge salon. Because the team were fantastic and gave their jobs their all, we had now grown a vast loyal client base and everything was on the up.
As before, renewed success brought fresh concerns. As we had grown and trained and re-invested in the salons we had never lost staff or clients. Where to put newly qualified juniors was becoming a problem, and I didn’t want to make them redundant. And so, as we already covered Corbridge and Hexham, the new salon opened in Prudhoe with a major refurbishment. My idea was to create opportunities and options for as many employees as possible to become managers, assistant managers and so on.
Sadly, over the 2 months after we opened in Prudhoe, the repayment of cheques from Robbs slowed down and, as you can imagine, this created a huge hole in our cash flow. By February 2008 Robbs again went into liquidation. People say having a business comes with its ups and downs and I agree; I've had my share, but this one almost wiped Reflections out.
Reflections moves to a larger salon in 1998
The Millenium Refurbishment
Ultimately what saved us was this; Five years previously I had concluded that I should be running this business, not it running me. Being a hairdresser I had not much experience outside that world, so I decided to embark on a series of business courses to develop my knowledge and skills. My husband and three beautiful children had to suffer Mum running up and down the country, but I had soon developed my hairdressing skills to the highest level; achieving my Master Colour Award status for Wella. I was also doing a full year with business guru Alan Austin-Smith, who I would have no hesitation in recommending, and I had just attended "Renegade Millionaire" with marketing genius Chris Cardell. I was bursting with new ideas and motivation.
I strongly believe that this was the reason Reflections is still here today. I have the best team any business owner could have but without the direction and the things I learnt from those courses I would be unable to direct a solution.
Once again, everyone went into overdrive and we moved the Hexham salon almost overnight into fantastic new premises in Eastgate. Thanks to Dodwell Brothers and a few others we were up and running in our new premises within one week. My Area Manager Diane Laidler, who has been with me from the start, and all my managers and staff, were, and continue to be, an inspiration.
It’s been a long hard struggle to get back on our feet, and this history is a big "thank you" to my fantastic team, my management team, and to you, our amazing clients who have supported us through these difficult and challenging times. In September 2011 we opened our 4th salon in Haydon Bridge and already it is growing and is attracting a lovely clientele.
Reflections opens at Hexham in November 2007
We are now set for a truly amazing future thanks to you all.
Would I do it again? YES, because it has taught me so much, and I have had the opportunity to test every emotion, and my strength, as a business owner, but above all has given me the opportunity to work with outstanding people and clients. Money can’t buy that experience.
Success is not just about luck; it’s also about hard work and determination.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.