What inspired you to start Fourteen-A?
Fourteen-A was more of a necessity than an inspiration. I started my career working as a comprehensive school teacher. Unfortunately, following a virus, I temporarily lost my sight, and after 6 weeks and several visits to the Neurology Dept at UHW, I was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
Because of this and my regular relapses, I could no longer teach, and I was keen to try and find something I could do with limited mobility. I trained as a nail technician, and in 2003, I set up Nail Divas. I started as a mobile nail technician alone, but as my business grew, my team grew, too.
While sourcing my own training, I found the local availability for training in nail technology was poor, so I decided to run my own training courses at the Nail Training Academy. Over the years, we had many applicants who had significant barriers getting into college, so I started a not-for-profit ‘Fourteen-A’, and in 2012, the Nail Training Academy and Fourteen merged to become a Registered Charity.
What’s your best success story from a previous client at Fourteen-A?
It’s almost impossible to give just one story. First, a salon owner and hairdresser from Caernarfon, who was diagnosed with MS in her early 20’s. She re-trained with us to continue working. After training with us, she started her own business. Three years later, she practices hairdressing part time, she’s become a fully qualified nail technician, and is about to qualify as a teacher.
Second, a young girl from Caerphilly came on one of our courses, as she desperately wanted to become a beauty therapist/makeup artist, but kept being rejected by colleges due to her epilepsy. With our guidance, we accommodated her epilepsy with minimal disruption to her course, and as a consequence, her confidence grew and gradually she had fewer fits. After this, she went on to study stage and specialist make up is now working as a consultant in special effects.
What advice would you give to people starting work, or their own business, with their own significant barriers to work?
The best piece of advice I would give to anyone starting a business: go with your gut, not with your head- and don’t give up. Success is however a hard slog, but pain is temporary. Whether it lasts for a day or a month, you have to go through it to be successful; and if you keep giving up you’ll never get there.
What’s the biggest challenge when you started your business?
Getting people to take me seriously; the moment I mentioned I worked in the “beauty” industry, peoples’ eyes would glaze over! Despite the number of people who told me not to bother with the beauty industry, as it was already ‘oversaturated’, I ignored their doubting comments and proved them wrong.
What do you love most about running your own business?
The glowing feeling you get when you’ve made a difference to someone’s life. Also, the flexibility of being your own boss.
How can people get involved with Fourteen-A?
Fourteen-A run a wide variety of courses and we can create bespoke packages for individuals and organisations. We can cater for one to one training as well as large classes. Courses can be as short as 4 hours, and as long as 26 weeks.
We are always looking for volunteers willing to undertake blogging for us, fund raising or just administration work so please get in touch if you can help.
You can contact Fourteen-A by email, telephone and social media. firstname.lastname@example.org, 07812 192944, @Fourteen-A on Facebook