MEET CLAIRE HALL, MULTI BUSINESS OWNER, ENTREPRENEUR AND MOTHER TO LILLEY GRACE
Talk about an Mompreneur, Claire is one of the only women I know who works as much as I do, often juggling several businesses at once while working through the night setting up another. All of this on top of being mum to her beautiful little girl Lilley Grace and a f*****g fabulous hair stylist. Entrepreneurial through and through Claire has successfully set up and run several companies, working through the highs and lows, managing her teams and holding it all together with a big gorgeous smile on her face.
A force of nature with the business mind of a female Richard Branson, here she is in her own words to share her journey with us.
SO CLAIRE, WHAT'S YOUR STORY?
I had a passion for hair and beauty from a very young age and at the age of fourteen, found myself working a Saturday job in a local salon learning the basics of what was to be my chosen career path. I loved it, I was hooked and as soon as I finished school I enrolled for 3 years at Newcastle College studying Hairdressing at the same time continuing a placement in my local area, working in my local shop and also a cafe in Gosforth on weekends. Looking back. I guess from an early age I was always trying to do a hundred things at once! Days off always bored me and I liked to be able to afford my own luxuries. Once qualified I was quickly employed by Regis International 'Trade Secrets' and began working my way through different levels of achievement; Junior stylist, stylist, creative stylist, assistant manager and finally manager of the whole salon team, winning a trip to fabulous Monaco for high performance in colouring hair!
Numerous years passed by working for Regis but the feeling of wanting to achieve more never left me and at 21 I decided to take the plunge and open my own salon. Everyone said I was crazy, I had zero capital and one month's wage in hand. That was it. I worked every hour I could mobile hairdressing, saving every single penny to get my new business off the ground and buy the basic essentials I would need to get by. I signed my first lease in February 2006 and opened the first of my salons on the 12th March 2006. It was hard work and long hours often working from 9 am to 9 pm daily but with the support of my family after six months of trading I added beauty to my list of services and began to utilise every spare inch of space to offer hair tanning and beauty all under one roof. The salon was a great success! I was able to re-fit and modernise the space and it literally went from strength to strength. I am forever proud of myself for taking that scary, dreaded, self-employed leap. My motto was always 'you reap what you sow' I began to have an overflow of regular clients and was able to take on two staff members to help with the ever-increasing workload.
Whilst staffing can be difficult to manage (and was one of my biggest challenges to date) I have an exceptional team of dedicated professionals and I continue to give them as much training, help and support as I am able to give. I am a great believer in investing in people.
The salon progressed from strength to strength and I was comfortably able to employ 2 members of staff to take the overflow clients. Although staff have changed and been my biggest challenge to date, I have an exceptional team who I have given my all to in helping them train and achieve in the best way I could.
Fast forward several years and my good old itchy feet kicked in again. The salon was performing well and I knew it was time for a new challenge. This time I decided I wanted to fulfil my dream of obtaining a teaching degree, I would actually be able to pass on my knowledge and expertise to others! I crossed so many barriers throughout my studies, admittedly I often felt like giving up but with the right family support I was able to finally achieve my dream and prove to myself that I could achieve just about anything if I set my mind to it. Proudly, I graduated and opened my very own training school, the No1 Training Academy Ltd.
Since then I have gone on to open a successful sister salon and a men's room offering barbering services and at the beginning of 2018, I reached another milestone in my career by opening The Retreat SPA promoting health and wellbeing for busy lives.
How do you define success?
I offer a second to none service to my clients and we give 100% every time. Happy clients and motivated learners are my absolute definition of a successful business. When this is the case I feel like I am succeeding every day.
How would your best friend describe you?
Honest (maybe too honest), Trustworthy and humble. Always makes time, even juggling family commitments and work.
How do you handle criticism?
I take criticism as a lesson to learn something from. I would correct 1000 times over whatever it was that was criticised if I was able to.
What’s the first thing you check about your businesses daily?
I always look at the business finances and banking and then my online appointment book. I also check all facebook messages to ensure my clients are being responded to promptly.
What has been your greatest life lesson so far?
Learning not to be too trusting of everyone, not everyone has your agenda or is deserving of your passion. Employing people based on trust has thrown many lessons my way to learn from!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I'd like to be teaching government funded courses, giving me more opportunity to do what I love and share my skills and knowledge with future passionate learners, of course, I would still like to be working in my salons too. I don't think I'll ever lose my enthusiasm for that.
Describe yourself in one word
What have you found difficult on your journey?
Finding the right staff to employ and work with
What’s your top tip for entrepreneurs reading this article?
My motto is Dream, Believe, Achieve, Succeed.
Never give up on your dreams, for every set-back make a bigger come-back with hard work and dedication. Business has its ups and downs but stay focused and keep doing what you do best.
What’s the number one played song on your iPod?
Work Hard, Play Hard - Wiz Khalifa
What do you know for sure?
That I have the best Daughter, Partner and Family who will always support me through my business decisions, helping me achieve all of my goals.
Do you have a book or favourite podcast recommendation for our Female CEO members?
I don't get a lot of time to read, between businesses, my daughter and my family it's pretty full on. My nose is usually stuck in a hairdressing manual or textbook these days!
What do you need to be successful in your profession?
Courage, it won't always be the easy route but if you don't take that step you'll never progress. A pleasant attitude when dealing with the public, enthusiasm for whatever you do and to be a good listener (hair stylists are the best!)
You also need to have the patience of a saint when your clients keep changing their hair colour and length despite your advice - I'm looking at you, Tricia Scott! ... :)
If you want to know more about Claire or have a question about any of her ventures you can drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org at her salon on 0191 4901068 or over at www.hairbyclaireh.co.uk - you can also chat to her via the members forum on The Community page!