Introducing Our February Highstreet Hero: Tori Wiltshire, Founder of Hair Lounge Barnstaple!
As a freelance hairdresser, Tori Wiltshire had always considered running her own business.
But initially, she shied away from this next step, out of fear of being too young, and not having enough knowledge. It wasn’t until Tori’s Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer, that her mindset shifted. Nine years later, the Hair Lounge Barnstaple is a multi-award-winning salon, known as the go-to North Devon destination for curly cuts. BIPC Devon talks to Tori about her small business story…
Why did you start your small business?
“I started the salon in 2014, so I’ve been going for nine years this year. I do all sorts of hairdressing services, but I niched down mainly into curls. The majority of my clientele tends to be curly cuts or curly colors, rather than traditional cuts.
It all started as a bit of a fluke; my friend’s dad, who also rents within my building, kept badgering me to open a salon! I initially said “No”, but he asked me again and with my mum recently being diagnosed, I thought to myself, why not now? My mom will see me start it, and I live at home with my parents, so if it all went to pot at least I don’t have a mortgage or anything to have to pay! So, yeah, I started it and here I am nine years later!”
Finding Your Why
What was the value behind your business that keeps you going?
“I work one-to-one with clients and people really open up to you, there are not many people who get within your personal space and actually physically touch you, so it really breaks down barriers.
I had lots of clients talk about their mental health, and there’s actually a lot of traumas behind curls as well, from bad experiences or people picking on them most of their life.
I’ve done my Barber talks training with Lion’s Barber Collective and my mental health first aid. As a hairdresser you often find yourself supporting people with their mental health as well as their haircuts, it has become a massive part of the ‘big why’ behind what I do. Plus when your hair looks good you feel good! It can really pick you up!”.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced over the last nine years?
“I suppose the biggest one was definitely covid, I know it’s probably a bit of a cliché, but to go into Covid and being locked down, not knowing whether you were going open up again was pretty scary, to be honest…
But I’m pretty on it with my emails and social media, so I was checking in with my client and things, so that really helped pull me through a challenging time. Still having communication with my customers and knowing that they wouldn’t just pick up and leave just because I couldn’t fit them in during the first week back was really good.”.
You’ve won awards for your social media, is that something that you really value in your business?
“Yes, you know hairdressing has really changed. Years ago people would go and see their hairdresser once a week, whereas now people leave much longer times in between their appointments, so you need a way to keep that ongoing relationship with customers. I think posting on social media allows clients to see you and see what’s going on in the salon, so it keeps that relationship fresh really!”.
Any big goals for 2023?
“For 2023 I’m looking into becoming an educator for other hairdressers, both freelance as a social media coach and doing my own curly courses!”.
Building a Business in Barnstaple?
Are you a Barnstaple-based entrepreneur looking for more information and support to grow? BIPC Barnstaple is here to help!
Whether you are an established business owner or are looking to turn your passion into profit, we can direct you to the information you are looking for, via our vast array of online resources and show you how to use them! Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free Business & Information one-to-one at Barnstaple Library today!