A BARBER in South Tyneside has cut a dash in boosting local employment for the last six years.
Mum-of-three Kerry McLaughlin always dreamed of launching her own barber shop, after working in borough hair salons for several years.
Exactly six years ago this week, with business start-up cash support, Kerry’s self-employment dream came true, when she launched Finchale Road Barber Shop in Hebburn.
After running the business on her own for two years, Mrs McLaughlin realised she needed to take on staff.
She initially recruited barber Joanne Arrand, followed by Lesley Thornton, as the shop’s customer base grew by word-of-mouth recommendation.
And even with the recession biting, Mrs McLaughlin needed to take on another barber, so Claire Convery joined the team last year.
Mrs McLaughlin, 41, said: “I got a lot of help from Tedco in the early days, who gave me a start-up grant of around £3,000.
“I struggled on by myself for a couple of years, before I realised I had to take on staff, and it’s been good to take on local girls and create jobs.”
Mrs McLaughlin, who describes husband Mark as a “silent partner” in her business, added: “Finchale Road has a range of shops, which cater for the local community, ranging from a greengrocer’s, chip shop, post office, baker’s and, of course, ourselves.
“The row of shops has a real friendly atmosphere, where you’ll always see a welcoming smile from all – it’s got a real community spirit.
“The three girls who work for me are all excellent barbers, who specialise in everything from putting designs into hair, flat-tops and all modern cutting techniques.”
Customers at the barber shop range from babies to their great-grandfathers.
Mrs McLaughlin added: “We’ve found that all generations of a family are catered for, making everyone feel welcome.
“We cater to everyone’s needs and are also wheelchair-friendly.”
Regular customers are drawn from all parts of South Tyneside, plus Gateshead and Sunderland.