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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Carlisle beauty rooms boss wins Cumbrian business innovation award

A teenager who started in business with £500 borrowed from her parents is still going strong nine years later.

Jane McLeod photo
Jane McLeod

She has now been named ‘innovative businesswoman of the year’ in the Cumbria Businesswoman of the Year awards run by Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

Jane McLeod, 27, employs three staff at Cirrus Beauty Rooms in Carlisle.

She said: “After I left Caldew School in Dalston, I did a beauty course at Carlisle College then worked for a salon in town for a short period. But I always wanted my own business.

“My dad had his own business, Abbey Skip Hire, so I suppose he inspired me.

“I went through the phone book and called up every hairdresser in Carlisle, asking if they had any space they were prepared to let.”

Fortunately Gerald Bowness, who runs Trags Hairdressers in Ashley Street, off Wigton Road, said ‘yes’ and Cirrus Beauty Rooms was born in what had been storage rooms behind the salon.

Mrs McLeod said: “Building it from scratch wasn’t easy. We’ve grown most over the last two years.

“Between 2010 and 2012 the increase in turnover was 72 per cent.

“We’ve used social media, Facebook and Twitter, and Cumbria Women in Enterprise have also been very helpful.”

Her mother, Lesley Kirkaldy, entered her for the innovation award.

The judges were impressed by the imaginative ways used to market the business.

Mrs McLeod said: “There are quite a few different things that I try to do.

“I team up with other businesses to provide a unique service. For example, I team up with a clairvoyant and customers come to get a treatment and a reading. That’s one of our most popular ones.

“I’m constantly thinking of different things to make us stand out. We have to because Carlisle is saturated [with beauty salons] for the size of the town.

“We offer pamper evenings for groups of friends, work colleagues or businesses where people come along as a group, have treatments, socialise and have exclusive use of the salon.

“I do talks for the WI and the like, which helps connect with new clients.

“And we branched out into selling accessories a couple of years back, fashion jewellery and bags.

“That has helped to grow the business.”

Cirrus also does charity work. Mrs McLeod said: “Last year we did a fashion show for Hospice at Home and I did a wax to raise money for Clic Sargent and The Sick Children’s Trust.”

She is planning a ball next year to celebrate Cirrus’ tenth anniversary.

The event at the Crown and Mitre Hotel on October 5 will raise funds for the MS Society, a cause dear to her heart because her father, David Kirkaldy, suffers from multiple sclerosis.

These days she juggles the business with the demands of a young family. She has six-year-old daughter, Lucy-May, and a son Dylan, 21 months.

Her mother, and husband Kevin who works at McVitie’s, take on childcare duties when she has to work long hours and late nights.

Mrs McLeod said: “When my little boy gets to school age I would like to open another salon.

“I would never move [from Ashley Street] because the location is ideal but I would open a second place.

“I want to keep increasing the business.”

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