Samantha: My Journey - part 2
From apprentice to business owner…
In my previous blog I described how my career in hairdressing started and why I believe hairdressing apprenticeships are so important.
After leaving Sylvia Hair Fashions, my journey continued at Sterling Hair in Haywards Heath. I started as an apprentice, then progressed to junior stylist and then to stylist. I was there for seven years. My first manager at the salon was Charlotte Clayton, who taught me new ways to cut, colour and style hair. I owe a lot to this lady and I’m pleased to say she is now one of my closest friends, somebody I can call upon for advice.
I was also supported by Geoffrey, the owner of Sterling Hair, who taught me many things about owning a salon. At my interview with him and Charlotte, he asked my ambitions in the industry. I said my goal was to be salon owner by the time I was 30.
At 21 I had one of those lessons in life that teaches you resilience. I wasn’t very well. My illness progressed over a year until I got diagnosed. I didn’t let it beat me, in fact my illness made me stronger. For one thing, it taught me how to be persistent with my doctors, as I knew something wasn’t right with me. Every day I got out of bed, got dressed and went to work. Some days, believe me, I really didn’t feel like I could get out of bed. Finally, after lots of tests we finally got to the root of my symptoms, after 6months of medication I was me again.
Although it was an awful time, this part of my life helped make me who I am today – it gave me my determination and my drive to do the things that are important to me. I am resilient, I am woman – hahahaha
By the time I turned 23 I started to get itchy feet. I knew I loved hairdressing but I had never left Haywards Heath and I went through a period of soul searching – I needed to know whether it was right for me or whether there was something else I should be doing with my life.
So, I asked Geoffrey for a three month sabbatical and I went travelling for that three months on my own. I travelled to Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand. I left the UK as a young girl and returned as a woman knowing what I wanted to achieve.
I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. When I got back, Geoffrey had decided to sell the salon and I decided if I was going to get on in this industry it was time I got more experience.
I had three interviews in and outside of London. I thought “this is where I want to be”. I got offered all three jobs after my trade tests. But I knew from the interview which one felt right.
So I went to work for an award winning salon called TH1 in Oxted, Surrey. I really enjoyed working in this salon. It was a beautiful place and the team were fun and passionate. I was pushed to be the best I could be. And I was humbled and encouraged that some of my clients travelled from Haywards Heath so that I could cut and colour their hair.
It was this loyalty and a difficult commute that made me realise I should move back to Hayward Heath. I had learnt that I could be the best I could be anywhere, and most importantly I missed my clients. Thomas, the owner of TH1, understood and he became my mentor and is still on the end of phone for me when I need it.
After a brief stint as a self-employed hairdresser, Sylvia of Sylvia Hair Fashions who said I would always have a job with her, offered me a job – she kept her word – and I started building up my clientele. I was amazed how many of previous clients found me and became regular clients again.
Then, in November 2013, I was approached by two businessmen who had opened a salon in Haywards Heath – Salon 46. The salon had been open for six months but it wasn’t going as well as they had hoped. They wanted me to go and manage the salon for them.
It was an opportunity I would have been foolish to turn down. I joined the salon as manager in January 2014 and within six months I was a co-owner.
And, when the time was right, I took the plunge to buy out one of the businessmen and run it with the other. Other than investing my savings all I had to do was make my dream work.
I have never worked so hard. I learned how to manage staff, pay bills, budget, run a business, choose suppliers… the list goes on. I always worked in the business as a stylist, and I found I loved every minute of it, learning as I went along.
In August 2016, our landlord put the rent up substantially and I wasn’t prepared to pay the rate increase. So my business partner and I decided to dissolve our partnership and go our separate ways.
As if proving my belief that everything for a reason, at the exact same time two salons in Haywards Heath came up for rent! I had two choices move to the Broadway or stay in the centre of town.
And so the Samantha Elizabeth salon was born.... But more about that and an amazing trip I was able to take with my partner Luke, in my next blog.