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Grant helping salon owner through coronavirus crisis

By Lisa O'Brien | Ironbridge | Coronavirus | Published:

In the space of a few months since opening her first salon in Shropshire, award-winning stylist Brooke Evans has had to battle with flooding and now the coronavirus pandemic.

Brooke Evans

It is an uncertain time for many businesses, but the 26-year-old says she has been lucky enough to receive a £10,000 grant to help keep her salon – Brooke Evans Ironbridge in Dale End, Coalbrookdale, afloat.

"It's been a bit of a struggle," said Brooke, who lives in Bridgnorth.

"I opened at the start of December.

"We had to shut for two weeks during the floods as well."

During the floods, she stayed in her salon for a fortnight with family and had to pump water out of the cellar to avoid the salon being flooded.

And after being able to reopen, only a short time later her salon has closed its doors again due to the Covid-19 crisis.

"It was really daunting," said Brooke, who has three other staff.

"We renovated the salon and put a lot of time and effort into it.

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"I had an email through to say I was eligible for the grant and I applied through the council. It's taken two weeks from form filling to receiving it.

"I guess I fall into the lucky ones. I am very much thankful for this as I did worry we wouldn’t receive anything.

"This will allow the business to stay above water for a few months, allow the time in self isolation to be less stressful and will allow my mind to concentrate on the now.

"I will be using my time to get creative and cannot wait for all this to be over and us to ignite as an industry, and with the local community."

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She says the nerve-racking part is that there is not yet a definitive end in sight for when the lock down might end.

But she says she is determined to keep trading and has thanked the community for their support over the past few months.

"I know I have found when the glass is looking half-empty that we all stick together, and I love that," she said.

"The community are amazing."

Prior to opening her own salon, Brooke worked for renowned hairdresser, Tim Scott-Wright, who she assisted at various session events, including London Fashion Week.

Whilst at his salon she graduated from several advanced courses including from the Sassoon Academy and is a highly-trained hair extensions and long-hair specialist.

The National Hair & Beauty Federation, which is the UK’s largest trade body for businesses working in the hair, beauty and barbering industries, has also carried out a survey of its members to find out how they’re feeling, what they’re most worried about right now and their concerns for the future.

More than 350 members responded – the majority being salon owners.

When asked how they feel about their business surviving, a third were worried, a fifth were very worried and a quarter were extremely worried.

Asked about future plans, 95 per cent were optimistic and said they intend to reopen as soon as they can, with only 2.5 per cent saying they were planning to close their business.

Hilary Hall, NHBF chief executive, said: “The key question is how long the restrictions remain in place. Everyone understands why they’re important for preventing the spread of the virus.

"But from a business point of view, the longer the lock down continues the harder it will be for salons and barbershops to survive long-term.

"Many said they are entirely dependent on being able to get Government grants or loans.

"If the money comes through they could survive, but for no more than a couple of months at the most.

"There are some hair and beauty businesses, particularly larger salons, multiples or salons in London, which have been harder hit because they qualify for less Government support.”

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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