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Beauty expert behind the brand, LA Skincare, Beauty entrepreneur Louisa Ashforth (39) is from Aston in Sheffield, and left Aston Comprehensive at 16 to work in the travel industry.
She headed to Jersey as a hotel summer worker and stayed for two and a half years, latterly as a Thomas Cook holiday rep. At 19 she travelled to Indonesia and Australia, where she again worked for Thomas Cook.
In February 2001 she returned to the UK and went back to work in Jersey for Thomas Cook for a further six months before embarking on a new career in the beauty industry. Aged 21 she enrolled on a Beauty Therapy NVQ at Rother Valley College.
Louisa took a job as a PA at Rotherham District General to give herself an income while she built up her reputation at as therapist, and began by performing nail treatments at a tanning studio in Swallownest.
Says Louisa: “My first break came at 22, when I found the salon had a room to rent. I took it on and began offering facials and massage. I named the business Beauty By Louisa and worked there in the evenings and on weekends. I got really busy very quickly; within a few months I left my PA job to focus on the business full-time.”
Her entrepreneurial spirit came to the fore two years later, when nearby premises came up for sale. Aged just 24, she bought the property on a mortgage. “I knew I would find a way to make it work. I’d have got a part-time job cleaning toilets to make ends meet if necessary,” she says. Louisa sold her premises six years later, aged 30, allowing her to take a step back, move into smaller rented premises and throw her time and energy into developing her skincare brand.
When the salon eventually needed more space, she found premises in nearby Aston and after a £25,000 refurbishment, named her salon LA Beauty and Hair.
The salon has a client base of over 1,000, many of whom book weekly or monthly for hair styling, nail and beauty treatments. She employs three beauty therapists and three hairstylists (mix of part-time and full-time roles).
Her mum, Sue, helps too – she is a trained Beauty Therapist and reflexologist
As Louisa’s main passion is the holistic side of beauty, she has created a steam room and relaxation area where clients can rejuvenate and relax around their treatments and spend up to a day at the salon.
Her ambitions for the salon include expanding the treatment range and the relaxation area. An infrared sauna has been installed too.
Despite never having acne as a teen, she developed it at the age of 24. “I can totally relate to how people who say it blights their lives and makes them depressed.
It woke me up at night. Cystic acne gave me throbbing and swollen lumps on my cheeks. As a salon owner it was really embarrassing for me. It looked like I wasn’t practising what I preached!
I began using a range called MD Formulations and it worked for me. But I discovered it contained ingredients I wasn’t happy using. However, the training I received in how these products worked actually inspired a lot of my thinking for my own skincare range.”