What does your company do? What products or services does it provide?
London Hair and Beauty Ltd own the London Makeup School and the London Hair Academy. We are based in Shoreditch, eastand train students to become hairdressers and makeup artists delivering NVQs and numerous other courses.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The idea came to me while I was in my 2nd year of my bachelor’s degree in business. We were studying saturated markets and creating niches within them. When I looked at the training industry in this sector, I saw opportunity.
When did you start up, and what support were you given?
The company was incorporated in August 2010. I re-mortgaged my house to finance the business. Initially I did not receive any financial support and I funded the whole thing myself. For the first six months, I was running the entire company on my own before taking on my first member of non-teaching staff to help. It was a much pressured part of my life and makes my mind boggle even now to think about how I actually got through it.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement was never giving up. I launched my business in the 2nd year of my degree, I graduated and went on to do my MBA two years later, throughout that time I was running a fledgling company. It’s safe to say I did not sleep for three years! The money I made was negligible, yet I could see the potential of my business and what it could become with time and just kept at it. I also have to mention that just in four years the academy has become the most highly rated and externally reviewed in the industry. This is an astonishing achievement when considering how strong our competition was and how long our competitors had been around for.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge was the competitors we faced when we started. They were huge multi-nationals with a large brand presence, as well as smaller, well established private companies, and I was met with a barrage of online criticism saying that my business model would not work, and that it was not possible to deliver the short intensive courses that I developed. This was very difficult as brand new business.
The academy now is the fastest growing in the UK and, more importantly, it brought in a much needed, fresh, new approach to the training sector. As a business, we grew 45 per cent last year and 200 per cent this year. We are also Investors in People accredited, and due to our exceptional growth are being nominated for the GrowthAccelerator awards. That is why we’re now supporters of the Business is GREAT Britain campaign, which aims to help more businesses like us, access the support they need.
Our students have gone on to find work in top salons in the UK, beating students from some of the biggest and most well known training academies for salon positions. Many have also launched successful freelance careers.
How would you say you differentiate yourself from the competition?
Our business model gives students the best tutor to student ratio in the UK at 5 per class. We are also the only academy that provides live models during training, making sure students never work on each other like they would at all other academies. We also employ commercially active professionals to ensure that students benefit from the latest knowledge, and get exposed to the industry and its inner workings as it is now.
What has been the best decision you have made to-date?
The best decision I have made to date was to go to university at a late stage in my life. I started my bachelor’s degree at the University of Greenwich at the age of 29. I finished four years later with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, and during this study time I developed my business idea and put it into practice. In fact, my office team are sourced through the university.
Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?
I have quite a few plans in the next 12 months; I see the academy becoming the go to place for beginners and current professionals seeking training. We will soon be operating almost like a further education college but will be private, operating in our very own and exclusive niche market. I see the brand becoming stronger and much more influential in this market.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Never give up, learn from your mistakes, it’s not as complicated as you think and take it step by step. Progress can be a slow process but it’s still progress. In today’s age, online marketing, a quality product/service and excellent customer care is everything. Get those right and you will be successful.
What do you find most satisfying about running a business?
Being my own boss and the feeling of achievement when your business starts to make a difference to the industry it operates within. The satisfaction that your hard work is paying off, and the fact that your entrepreneurial vision was correct. Not to mention the lifestyle a successful business can give you and the amount of lives it affects in a positive way.