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Inspiring Female Founder Spotlight: Naomi Brooks

Naomi Brooks is the founder of The Hair Sanctuary, alongside her extensive work in the hair and beauty industry, she offers coaching and consultancy to female entrepreneurs wanting to scale and grow their businesses. She is a highly sought-after expert, particularly in afro hair and has just launched a pioneering training programme for foster carers, residential support staff and support workers, teaching them the basics of natural and protective hair care and styling for afro and mixed heritage hair. She has also launched an Academy for the hair and beauty industry teaching both the foundations of specialised hair care and also essential tips for black and mixed-heritage styling that celebrates culture and identity.

Article Main Body: (1st person):

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

Sure. I am a hairstylist by trade and have been in the industry since the age of 16, working in a few high street as well local salons before having my own. I love the industry but never found a salon where I could work on all hair types so decided to start my own. The buzz about my salon started to grow especially for afro and textured hair as clients felt safe and cared for when visiting me.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

I started marketing as a leading afro hair salon and we started to get enquiries from all types of clients and noticed the number of foster carers and adoptive parents grew as they sought out somewhere to care for their child’s hair care needs and learn along the way. That is when the idea to run courses aimed at carers came to me and the opportunity to get started showed up from Manchester City Council who have collaborated on the first carers programme.

How did you achieve awareness?

I spoke with industry peers and brands that I work with to share my plans and they supported it straight away. I also have clients who are in the children/ family services within councils around Manchester and they affirmed not only that it was a great idea but also a huge need and helped spread the word within their departments. Then I have an amazing PR team who know who to channel my thoughts and message to the masses to help raise awareness.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

I have been lucky with applying for programmes, grants and initiatives successfully that open the doors with funding to get the training facilities off the ground. I have also built great relationships with sponsors who have donated hair products, tools, equipment and more.

What are the key successes?

The successes are the number of carers that have signed up to attend our courses so far, the stories they share of their journeys and how much the course has helped them and being able to talk about other aspects such as culture, racism and discrimination they face when caring for a black or mixed heritage child.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

The challenge we faced initially was starting up without any capital but I knew I had to start. I had faith it would work out and it did. Slowly but surely I managed to get 2 people onboard to help get it off the ground without the certainty of being paid for their time. All in the right time grant applications were accepted so we could really get to work.

What are your plans now/for the future?

My plan now is to work with more councils across the north west and eventually have this rolled out nationwide and become a necessity for the councils to adopt and hold multiple times a year. I have a big mission to help end hair discrimination and this programme and the industry Academy are going to move this forward in leaps and bounds.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

You don’t always need a plan from start to end. As long as you know where you want to be, just start. Ask for help from those who have done it before you or in business and have faith in yourself and vision and never give up.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Keep moving forward even when you are unclear of what’s next.

Allow room to manoeuvre, don’t be so fixed or rigid in your approach or direction to get to the end goal. There’s many ways to achieve the end result.

You can’t get there alone. Ask for support, build an honest and loyal team and be open and honest with friends and family when you need them.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

Michelle Obama – the first black first lady and she handled the position with grace. She allowed her husband to have his time upfront and supported him fully and now she is taking her space upfront and empowering women globally.

My Mum – Now I am older and can see and understand what she was dealing with at a young age. I truly admire her ability to keep pushing on. I give her grace in everything she does now and did.

Jesseca Dupart – A hairdresser turned mogul who created a haircare line that made her a millionaire. She documented the journey and shared it with her audience and was raw and honest in doing so. She has always given back to the community and teaches others how to do the same.

Rhianna – She does things how and when she likes. She doesn’t feel the need to put others’ needs before her own. Something I am working on myself.

Steven Bartlett – For creating a space on his podcast where his guest feel safe enough to be vulnerable and share things they may have never shared before. This is truly powerful in helping to heal those watching and making them feel seen. Truly amazing

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

Stepping into something new is hard. So is staying where you are. Pick your hard

So much can happen in a year. Give it your all and see what happens

You won’t get different results doing the same thing. You have to move different if you want something different.

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