Indie Of The Month – Stylers
We recently caught up with Cheryl Beer and Carolyn Hepworth, founders of Stylers Hair Salon In Alphington.
Thanks for chatting with us, could you give us a little background on how things began:
At age 14 we’d been plonked in the same English group at secondary school in Okehampton. Bored with Cider With Rosie, we started chatting about our adventures in the horse world.
Ironic, as to this day, most of the staff room chat between us is still horsey! We both ended up at Exeter College doing a two-year full-time hairdressing course. It was old school by today’s standards, with some very experienced and strict tutors. On completion of our first shampoo and set (carried out on practice blocks), the tutor went around and said that not one of us was anywhere near good enough. A few months later we were due to take over the college salon with paying customers, a somewhat baptism of fire! We survived and those skills provided us with a sound base to work from.
On finishing college, we knew we were going to find it tricky to find employment in Exeter. Whilst job hunting together, we stumbled across a little salon in Alphington, closed, but up for sale.
Bingo! We decided if we couldn’t find a job we’d open our own place, so, we set off to knock on the door of every high street bank (yes, back then you could talk to a bank manager!).
Most said that we had no business experience, however, one manager suggested that we rent the salon for a year and go back to him after that time with a track record. He was rather shocked when we returned, having survived, with the deposit and account books.
We were helped by Margaret Thatcher’s enterprise allowance scheme during that first year which offered £40 a week to anyone starting a business for a year. We were later able to train our own apprentices via the youth training scheme, training around 10 school leavers over the years.
That’s how Stylers was born, we never dreamed we’d still be together, 36 years later. Our friendship has never wavered, which is extraordinary, considering we work and often socialise together.
We pride ourselves on running a salon that people enjoy visiting. Over the years we’ve shared many of life’s ups and downs with our loyal customers, some of whom have been with us from the start. We now have two tremendous girls who work for us which allows us to cut our hours slightly.
Outside of work, we still share our passion, we co-own a delightful horse that Cheryl competes on with great success.
What have some of your most notable successes been to date?
We competed in various hairdressing competitions before having family commitments, a highlight being that we qualified for the national final of the L’Oréal colour trophy at the Royal Albert hall in 1990.
What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
Being two of us, we’ve always been able to discuss problems and sort it out one way or another. We have different personalities but we think alike so somehow it works out.
What would you tell your 10-year-old self?
Enjoy life and don’t worry about expectations, live your dreams not someone else’s.
What one piece of advice has stood you in good stead during your journey?
Well, the surveyor back in 1983 said ‘You’re not seriously going to buy this place are you?’. So I guess we don’t listen!
What are the values that drive you both professionally?
Providing a happy place and good service. We always think ‘Would we like to come to Stylers ourselves?’. A young girl having her hair cut recently said to us, ‘I love coming here, it’s always warm and funny’, We will take that!
‘Look after your hair, it’s the crown you wear every day’.
Plans for the future. What does 2020 hold for you personally and business-wise?
Carry on as we are for now. We have great staff, great customers, so looking after them is important to us. Carolyn says she’s happy to continue as long as Cheryl makes her a coffee at the start of every workday, still! We will have to slow down at some point. We both have elderly relatives that may require more of our time in the coming years.
Stylers will continue for many years to come as we are so protective of it and we will ensure it’s in good hands, whatever the future brings.
Written by Stella Nicholls
Horse image by Jay Photos