Lois Morris set up her unisex hairdressing salon Your Chair Styling with a special quiet room to make the experience as stress free as possible for children with autism and adults with anxiety issues. Here, she shares with us the story behind her business.
Full name: Lois Morris
Name of business and where it is based: Your Chair Styling in Lossiemouth
What did you do before setting up? I previously worked in the public sector but a few years ago I felt I needed a change. After retraining as a hairdresser I worked as a mobile stylist and freelanced within a local barber shop.
What inspired you to set up the business? I’m a mum to six boys and a girl and when my daughter asked me to style her hair in a certain way it was a real challenge. So I decided to do a hairdressing course to learn a bit more and to pick up skills that would allow me to do her hair in ways she wanted. At the same time I wanted a new challenge career wise, although I wasn’t sure which route to go down. As soon as I started the course four years ago I fell in love with hairdressing. It was a real surprise, but I knew almost instantly I wanted to do it full-time and be my own boss. After building up a customer base I wasn’t sure if I wanted to open a salon or not, however as a mum of two children on the spectrum I met with a lot of other parents who found taking their autistic kids to salons difficult. I then realised that I was in the perfect position to offer a solution. I used my own experience and research to set up a business with a dedicated quiet room.
When did you set up the business and what does your business do? I set up Your Chair Styling at the beginning of the year. Once I had the idea to open a salon with a quiet room I sought the advice of Business Gateway Moray. Lorna Willamson actively encouraged me which was a real confidence boost. She helped me put together a business plan and advised me on how to effectively find premises and ensure it complied with legal requirements. We offer standard hairdressing services in our main salon for both women and men but our dedicated quiet room is for customers who may be on the spectrum or have anxiety issues. The walls are soundproof and I use special equipment including quiet clippers so the experience is as stress free as possible.
What have been your high and low points in business so far? The high point is knowing your customers are happy. We have so many five star reviews online which is just fantastic and really lets you know you’re doing things right. The low point would be the setbacks we faced during the renovations which meant we opened later than planned. We are in an old post office so a lot of work had to be done but it took longer than anticipated and my diary was full for Christmas and New Year so I had to continue with my mobile business instead.
Where do you see your business in five years? I want to see it as a real focal point of the community where customers feel comfortable enough to pop in any time. I would like to increase our customers, both women and men, so I can add to the two part time staff members I have at the moment.
What advice would you give anyone looking to start up a business in Moray? Everyone in the town has been so positive which has been lovely so my advice would be to go for it but make sure you do your research. Pop along to Business Gateway Moray and talk through your idea and your hopes for the future. The team have the expertise but also the local knowledge to help you make the right decisions and start life as a business owner in the strongest position.
Find out how Business Gateway Moray can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01343 508 838.
Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.
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