This week for my Mums in Business series I am excited to introduce Niela who created and set-up The Individualist, an online platform where self-employed hairdressers and beauticians are listed allowing local clients to find them. Niela created this platform when she realised that there was simply nothing that offered this service.
Since starting work in the hair industry at the age of 15, Niela has had two children, become a qualified hairdresser, and created The Individualist. Her story shows that anybody can do what they want to do when they put their mind and hard work to it.
Tell me a little bit about you, your background and The Individualist?
My name is Niela and I am 26 year old mother of two children. I grew up with my mum and siblings. My mum was a single parent just trying to do the best by her children. I started to work at the age of 15 knowing that I had to provide for myself as a Saturday girl in a hair salon as I loved to do hair. By 17 I was an apprentice training to get my hairdressing qualification.
I fell on pregnant with my first child at the age of 19, I was due to finish my apprenticeship but my boss at the time very heavily discriminated against me and said he didn’t want to promote teenage pregnancy. I was told by my former boss if I chose to keep my child my career was over and I was going to be a single mum, going round to my friend’s houses every day and watching Jeremy Kyle. I feel this had a massive impact on my thought process as I had always been highly motivated and driven to succeed. Despite the set back I still managed to finish my level 2 qualification whilst pregnant. I continued to work when my daughter turned 6 months and progressed on to my level 3 qualification. A year later I fell pregnant with my son.
With my son I only took 12 weeks off work feeling a little isolated with 2 kids at 21 was very hard and I needed to feel normality in my life. Luckily, I had a very supportive partner. I got stuck into a new
job and more education studying to be an assessor. I enjoyed what I was doing but something was missing.
My children are now 6 and 4 and around almost 3 years ago I decided to take the plunge and go self employed even though everyone around me said I should have stayed in work and built a client base up before leaving. I knew in my mind I will either sink or swim and went for it. My time during self-employment is my best career move to date.
Running a self-employed hair business made me realise there wasn’t a platform that self employed hair and beauty professionals could advertise on other than social media and I wanted to create a platform
for not just self-employed professionals but consumers who need to find someone, which is how The Individualist was born. The Individualist is an online platform that connects self-employed hair and beauty professionals with clients looking for their services. We list their business on a monthly subscription basis and give support where is needed. Customers can come on to our website and search their location and compare professionals and book in a couple of clicks. The professionals can also transfer their booking process with their existing client base online. It is very early days as its still in the first year, however it is progressing nicely.
What were your motivations for setting up The Individualist?
My biggest motivation for setting this up is to provide an advertising space for self employed hair and beauty professionals. With-in this industry unless you are a salon owner there’s not much support for you.
Today’s professionals want to work for themselves and I felt the correct support systems need to be in place to ensure there’s somewhere to list and gain clientele.
I also want to help customers find professionals. With social media any one can offer services with no formalities such as certificate checks & insurance. No other platform protects the clients like The Individualist does.
How do you balance the business around family and childcare?
Balancing family and work life is always going to be a challenge. I’m very lucky that both my children are now in full time school which allows me the school hours to work on the progression of my platform. I like to switch off work mode when my children come home from school physically but mentally it is very hard, and my mind is always thinking about what else I can do.
Once they are up in bed I spend another few hours getting through my work load and try my best to ensure that I can spend time with my partner too. I tell myself a little everyday will make big progress otherwise I would sit all day racking my brain on how to make it work better. There have been a few times my partner has had to sit me down and say just chill out a little bit, your doing too much! In my
mind you can never do too much however I never want my family life to suffer because of my determination to succeed.
Since setting up the business what’s been your biggest success to date?
I have had a few successes my first would be having 74 professionals listed which I am so grateful for. I also got a feature on hairdresser’s journal international online which was great and just having the mindset to continue with it when everything is working against you! I like to celebrate all the little things that happen as well as ultimately their what keeps me going.
What’s your top tip for Mums who are thinking about setting up their own business?
My top tip would be to decide to commit to it. Setting up a business isn’t easy or glamourous its very hard work, long days and late nights and its very lonely. You must know that success doesn’t happen overnight you have to be willing to put in the time and effort with out losing enthusiasm. I think a big part of running a business is also your mindset and now been too hard on yourself, just learning to roll with it and if things don’t go your way do not change the end goal but change
the plan of action.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Mums in Business series then just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Debbiedooodah, Wonder Adventures, and The Mindset Mum