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A mother and daughter who invested their life savings in a bid to bring a touch of glamour to the residents of a South Yorkshire village have seen bookings increase four-fold since July as residents clamoured to chop their lockdown locks down to size.

Experienced hairdresser Anna Wesley and her make-up artist daughter Robyn, were so inspired by the adventures of Joey Essex and friends they drew on inspiration from the hit TV show The Only Way is Essex to launch their Wickersley-based business, The Only Way is S66, after calling on help from Finance For Enterprise to help them unlock the potential in their TV-inspired unisex hair and beauty salon.

Since securing the keys to the premises, the duo has invested more than £60,000 in transforming a former laundrette into a haven for hair extensions, magnificent manicures and even beautiful beards. With ambitious plans to make the Tanyard Shopping centre a focal point for style-conscious shoppers, Anna and Robyn realised that additional financial support would be needed to complete their extensive renovation work, as well as providing a cash buffer during their first few months of trading. 

Recognising that many high street banks are often reluctant to lend funds to new businesses with no previous trading history, the duo began researching alternative ways of raising the finance needed and called upon Finance For Enterprise for help.

Working alongside experienced Investment Manager, Gillian Pickard, helped the duo secure funding to support their business through the Start-Up Loans programme, enabling them to access two loans totalling £16,000 which were used to complete the salon’s refurbishments, including the purchase of an Intense Pulse Light machine which is used in the treatment of acne, hair removal and thread veins, as well as providing the vital funds needed to manage cash flow in their start-up business.

Anna is no stranger to the beauty business. She opened her very first hair salon at the tender age of 21 and she has devoted the past twenty years to building and turning around the fortunes of hairdressing businesses across South Yorkshire. When her daughter returned from spending time working and studying in London, the duo decided to combine their skills and expertise and launch their new business.

From a relatively early age, Robyn identified as transgender. She left home to study at the London College of Fashion when she was 18 and after qualifying as a make-up artist, Robyn began to forge a successful career for herself in the capital, using her skills in the world of TV and film and even spent time working on the hit Netflix series, Game of Thrones. Despite the success she was enjoying in her career, as she began her transition, Robyn felt she lacked the support network she needed in the capital, placed her career on hold and returned to her native South Yorkshire.

Since first opening the doors of the business in 2018, The Only Way is S66 proved to be an instant success, quickly establishing a loyal customer base, who were wowed by Robyn’s make-up artistry and Anna’s sensational scissor skills. It appeared the salon was poised to enjoy a significant period of growth, however, rather than focus upon growing their own business, when lockdown forced the closure of all non-essential retail businesses, their future plans were thrown into jeopardy.

They weren’t alone. With extended restrictions placed upon the hair and beauty industry, with a number of local salons forced to close their doors. With ample space available within their own business, when a nearby barber’s shop was forced to close its doors, Anna and Robyn stepped into to offer a helping hand, enabling two experienced barbers to continue trading.

Since July, bookings at The Only Way is S66 has increased fourfold, and because of their careful cash flow management, the duo are hoping to use their skills to increase their workforce. Today the business employs five members of staff and they are hoping to recruit an additional new apprentice in the near future.

Anna Louise Wesley, Owner of Only Way is S66, said:

“Shortly after Robyn returned from her time in London, we spotted a To Let sign on one of the units at the Tanyard Shopping centre. The premises were in a good location and we felt it offered a golden opportunity for us to combine our skills and bring a touch of sparkle and glamour to Wickersley. Our mantra has always been to create a one-stop hair and beauty shop for all ages and genders and following the introduction of our new barber’s service, I think we’ve achieved just that.

“From my previous experiences of running businesses I knew building a salon from scratch would require a significant investment.  When we contacted Finance For Enterprise, Gillian, our investment manager, talked us through the different options available to our business. We decided to apply for Start-Up Loan funding, which offered fixed low-interest rates, which made the repayments affordable. From the outset, she made the application process simple and straightforward and within a relatively short period of time, we secured the finance needed to help us complete our refurbishments as well as providing us with a lifeline as we came to terms with the reality of lockdown.

“I knew how important it was to maintain healthy cash flow during our first few years of trading if the business was to succeed, although we could have never predicted the impact Covid-19 would have on our business. The funds we secured from Finance For Enterprise helped to provide us with a cash buffer, whilst we waited to find out whether we would be eligible for additional Government support. It proved to be a lifeline and without the help, we received from Finance For Enterprise, I doubt whether our business would have survived.

“Since restrictions were lifted, the business has gone from strength-to-strength. Our new barber's shop has proved to be every bit as popular as our beauty treatments, and we’ve already recruited new members of staff to meet growing demand.”

Gillian Pickard, Investment Manager at Finance For Enterprise, said:

“One of the main reasons why many start-up businesses fail is due to cash flow pressures. As an experienced business owner, Anna was acutely aware of the threat this posed to her business, but unable to turn to traditional high street lenders, she approached Finance For Enterprise to discuss potential lending options.

“As the business was relatively new, she was eligible to qualify for a start-up loan. Unlike traditional business loans, Start-Up Loans, are designed specifically with businesses which have a limited or no trading history and provide a low rate of interest.

“Since receiving the Start-up loan, the mother and daughter wasted no time in completing their renovations, and the support we provided has not only helped the business to maintain healthy cash flow during extremely challenging trading conditions, but they were quick to develop new opportunities with the addition of the new barber's shop, which illustrates how they have been able to successfully adapt and respond to the challenges they have faced in recent months.”

Today, the Only Way is S66 employs six members of staff and Anna and Robyn are passing on their skills and expertise to a new generation of stylists.

Finance for Enterprise is a delivery partner of Start-Up Loans UK, an initiative backed by the British Business Bank and designed to help new entrepreneurs with limited trading history with the ability to secure finance, allowing entrepreneurs like Anna and Robyn, which in other circumstances would be unable to secure lending. 

Since the Start-Up Loans scheme was launched by the British Business Bank in 2012, the programme has helped more than 75,000 entrepreneurs to realise their business ambitions. In Yorkshire & The Humber Start Up Loans UK has provided nearly £55 million to over 6,300 new businesses.

Finance For Enterprise provides a range of tailored loans, aimed at helping SMEs throughout the Sheffield City Region and North East Lincolnshire. The company acts as a fund manager for the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and Start-Up Loans UK and provides business loans up to £250,000.

 

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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