Michele Pierre was so determined to succeed that she went back to college at the age of 46, sold all her possessions – apart from her clothes and dogs – and moved in with her mother so she could save enough money to equip her business.
Pierre’s Unisex Hair Salon and Barbers is now open in Middlesbrough’s Dundas Market, part of the town’s Dundas Shopping Centre, and the support of the market’s manager David Harris has been crucial.
“David’s been fantastic,” says 52-year-old Michele. “He’s made it a little bit easier for me to pay in the beginning, because it’s a business where I need to build up the clientele. I’m also getting to know the other stall holders. They’re all really lovely and go out of their way to help you.”
Michele says she had to put her plan to be a hairdresser on the back burner when she was 17 and had her first child.
Amongst the many jobs that followed, Michele was a silver service waitress and – for a few days a year – worked in hospitality for the aviation giant Lockheed Martin at the Farnborough and Paris Air Shows
By 2012 she decided the time had come. “I’d been doing people’s hair but I had no job and I was on income support. I knew I had to go to college because my dream was to open my own salon one day,” says Michele.
“It’s the best thing I ever did. I just walked into college that day. I had no job and no money – nothing. And I just walked in and thought this is the beginning of something.”
During six years at Stockton Riverside College Michele achieved Level 1, 2 and 3 in both hairdressing and barbering.
Although on her way to fulfilling her ambition, her time at college was fraught with personal problems. Both her father and brother died and Michele broke her hip and needed a replacement. “I went back to college and literally hobbled in. You have to have that determination.”
Now her salon is open Michele says she will repay the support she received from her college by offering students work placements. She also wants to help people who do not have a lot of money: “I’m keeping my prices deliberately low. Low enough so everybody can get their hair done. I’ve been in that position. I know how it feels. Everybody can get their hair done and go out feeling a million dollars.”
Her next personal challenge is to learn to drive. She gets up before 5am every day, walks her dogs on the beach and then has an hour-long bus journey to Middlesbrough.
David Harris says: “Michele has overcome so many obstacles and we are delighted to welcome her to Dundas Market. I’m sure her enthusiasm and passion will ensure her business goes from strength to strength.”
The arrival of Pierre’s Unisex Hair Salon and Barbers means there are is a growing number of health and beauty businesses – including a nail bar, skin clinic and chiropodist – in Dundas Market.
“We still have a few units available, especially for traders looking to sell toys, music/games/books or fruit and veg. But, we are always interested to hear from people with an idea for a new business, or who are looking to open a second outlet for their existing business,” says David.
“For new traders who want to test out a business idea, we also offer a small number of Enterprise Units from £60 per week, which equates to just £10 a day, on short term tenant agreements.”
Appointments are available at Pierre’s Unisex Hair Salon and Barbers by calling tel. 07387 907 407, via www.facebook.com/pierressalonbarbershop/ or by visiting the unit in Dundas Market.
Further information about units in Dundas Market is available from David Harris on tel. 01642 232552 or by email. email@example.com.
Picture captions: Michele Pierre of Pierre’s Unisex Hair Salon and Barbers, newly opened in Dundas Market.