Shanelle Clifton and Johnare Furber set up the Nicer Hair Salon with the support of the scheme which aims to provide business mentoring and funding for people who are unemployed but want to start up a business.
Shanelle, aged 32, said that surviving cancer gave her the inspiration to follow her childhood dream of opening her salon. With a wealth of experience from running a mobile hairdressing operation, the former legal secretary joined forces with her sister Johnare Furber, 36, to set up the business in Cheshire Road.
While Shanelle manages the business and cuts hair, Johnare specialises in hair extensions and styling. And the business is already proving so popular with the local community that it has taken on a nail technician.
The spur to put the sisters’ long-held dream into action came after Shanelle, of Birmingham, battled cancer.
"Luckily, it was operable, and I have now been given the all-clear," said Shanelle, "but it made me to think a lot about my life and what I wanted to do,"
"I love styling hair and always dreamed of having my own salon, even as a child. But as I grew up, I started a family and went into secretarial work and things just kept me back. After my illness, I decided that life was too precious to waste on just dreaming about it."
"Johnare and I are very close and, like me, she’s also done people’s hair on the side while working in other jobs, so it was natural that we would both go into business together."
The Enterprise Allowance scheme is delivered in Birmingham and Solihull by public service provider A4e and was launched in April 2011. Shanelle said: Participants receive access to a volunteer business mentor who will provide them with guidance and support as they develop their business plan and through the first six months of trading. Once participants have demonstrated they have a viable business proposition with the potential for growth in the future, they are able to access financial support.
Shanelle had built up experience by offering her hairdressing skills to help disadvantaged people in a successful community project in Ladywood, and was raring to go.
"The A4e team were really great. ," said Shanelle. "I had already qualified as a hairdresser and had some clients through mobile hairdressing, but They helped me complete the whole process and guide us through all the paperwork, the business plan, cash-flow and the legal side.
"Of course, we were a bit nervous, but our A4e advisor really pushed us to keep going and finally, with the help and financial support of our family and a great many of our friends, we officially launched the salon at the end of last year."
However, she revealed the grand opening of the business was immediately dealt a harsh blow when, a month after the launch, their shop was burgled. "It was such a shock, especially for Johnare who arrived first that morning and discovered what had happened," recalled Shanelle, "They took the till, our printer, a laptop, our products and the cosmetic jewellery and damaged the reception.
"We lost some bookings because the broadband box and the phone went as well, but we were determined to pull things back and managed to open up again the same week. We had clients so we didn’t want to disappoint them."
Republished With Permission