When I look back I did not enter the beauty business to be my own boss, far from it I just went into a career that I fell in love with. Let’s take a little look back and starts with my story:
Hello there! and if you don’t know me yet my name is Marianne Williamson. I really did have a fun childhood, memories not knowing anything was wrong but at 8 my mum she was gone, breast cancer. My dad worked in the oil industry and was always working hard as a single parent but involved us much as he could. Interested in martial arts, computer games, films, world culture, cooking, nature oh my goodness I am my father’s daughter. If he had to work at weekends off we went with him to the engineering firm my brother and I playing with with mini cranes (oh the health and safety would have a fit!) and hands in oil, hiding in massive boxes with foam packaging and generally having a great time.
To say I was a bit of a tom boy was probably accurate I didnt know anything other apart from time with my gran and helping her with baking and cooking. I was not surrounded by typical make-up or feminine things I loved playing in the mud, outdoors, nature but I could sit for hours drawing and painting looking at the finest details of things.
My dad remarried when I was 12 and I had a feminine influence in my life. Sadly my dad was killed in a car accident the next year and I look back at how my step mum brought me up. Be my own person, be independent and stand on my own two feet which was to stand me as a mantra my whole life.
I was also painfully shy so started karate at the age of 13, what an amazing time and a great building block for confidence, learning respect for others and achieving black belt at 19 I had developing personally teaching others. Oh was there something there talking to others and have them listening with interest.
My final year at school I spend most of my time in the art department so I decided to enroll at art college but after a year I realised I liked art but as a career I was not so sure. To make extra money I was making money creating jewellery and designing my own branding and packaging. I decided I would do beauty therapy as it was a way to be creative in a different way but I needed more higher education qualifications so went back to college to do some more highers.
Yay! I passed my higher qualifications and was accepted into the 2 year City & Guild Beauty Therapy & Electrical epilation course in 1992 at the age of 20 and one of the oldest in my class. I then realised I loved science and learning after struggling at school but college I found it fascinating biology, physics, chemistry and anatomy. I now know this is where my love of research began and guess what there was also an art class too, I was in heaven I loved it. Two years later I qualified with distinctions and it was time to find a job as a beauty therapist.
A brand new hair and beauty salon was opening in my home town I had to do everything set up the room, find suppliers and this was exciting. Even though after amazing training I had no one to mentor me and guide me so I decided after a year at the age of 23 went to explore my options so I went to the library got out all the yellow pages (days before the internet – omg there was a time no internet!). I must have written to about 50 salons in Edinburgh. I got 2 replies and one was Jenners and I was offered an interview, I had never heard of Jenners but mum was omg that is really posh!
I passed the first interview then had to go back for a trade test. I was offered the job went on the mad dash to try and find somewhere to live, goodness it was expensive. My first move from home was equally scary and exciting. I was starting in 2 weeks and no where to live so my manager let me stay in her spare room while she went on holiday so I was house sitting for my new boss and it gave me time to look for something. I could only afford a room in shared flats and jeez they were grim. But I eventually manged to find a one bedroom flat in not in the best location but hey it was home.
I realised how much I loved working with clients making them feel great, I adored skincare and facial treatments with amazing opportunities going to London and Ascot to name but a few advancing my skills. I was like a sponge give me more! I am still like that today funnily enough. I felt so confident, met Kirsten who took me under her wing the country bumpkin moving to the city. I had never had experienced being part of a big team but I thrived.
After some time I decided it was time to come back to my home town I was ready. Over the next few years I worked in small businesses and a hotel spa and there was a theme I noticed. Setting them up, revamping and building their businesses. From qualifying in 1994 and then working for others I had a light bulb moment. Working for others was my learning foundation to work with clients of all backgrounds was my experience, it was time to branch out on my own it was time for my next progression of my journey.
I forget actually Inner Balance was not my first businesss. In 1998 I set up Therapeutics after training with the Academy of On-site massage doing mobile seated massage while working part time in a small hairdressers doing beauty therapy employed and it was fantastic. Then the opportunity came up to set up the spa at the brand new golf course hotel in Carnoustie. I took the reigns and confidently approached the hotel there was no job advertised so Marianne get off your butt and put your skills and personality forward. I knew I would be perfect and head therapist is what I wanted. I had lots to offer and they accepted. The Golf open came and went but it was soon apparent that I needed to work for myself I wanted to move upwards and advance my career I was driven.
I returned to the little hair salon that I loved working in as they had a great beauty space but they were struggling keeping therapists. So I approached them and said I would come back if I could set up my own business it was time. They said a massive yes! and so it was born the opportunity in 2000 that Inner Balance health & beauty was created. With an additional small retail line but my dream was to have a gift shop to sit along side the treatments.
I went to the business gateway and being advised it would not be viable, I did not listen I submitted my business plan got a £10 weekly grant for a year. I went and opened up a business account. My dad had left me shares when he passed and I thought I know what I need to do to make him proud, so I cashed the shares and set up my business all in aged 28. I ended up doubling my daily projections on my business plan so to the negative nelly that said it was not viable…. ha!
Four years later I had outgrown the hair salon I needed my own shop but what a fantastic start and so it was back to Carnoustie and total renovation of a sandwich shop. I had space my dream of expanding was coming together. I went to the bank took out a business loan and my dream of having my little gift shop and therapy salon had arrived. I also needed to employ staff and that has been a learning process over the years. We stayed at that location for the next 10 years, Ellie our therapist had finished her training in 2013 and a year qualified so I wanted to impart my knowledge to her as a therapist. We fast forward to 2014 and had outgrown that location. Six months renovation project and we were on the move to a shop 3 times bigger and here we are.
2016 brought a little bump in the road being diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer but surgery, chemo and radiotherapy was just what needed to be done, no need to question why it just was and had to be done. Ellie was my rock in the business I had taught her well so I was able to take time to recover and reflect and she absolutely blossomed as a therapist. I seriously looked at my life and knew it was a kind tap on the shoulder to tell me to slow down your not invincible. After meeting my wonderful chemo buddy Henry who encouraged me to start painting again, start studying again I just could not do enough reading and research into holistics and returned to work 8 months later – I know that is bonker but hey I am a determined wee mare! So at 45 I am still recovering in lots of aspects but 26 years since I started my beauty therapy journey I still love it as day one I started my training.
My mission was to train every year and keep my skills and team members knowledge fun and updated. To bring quality treatments, knowledge and create a professional, friendly, real and warm environment for our clients many of which we are happy to call our friends.
It is a special year this year my baby is heading towards her last teen years as we celebrate 18 years since Inner Balance began – its been a journey and a half with laughter and tears. It is not all about me anymore it is about my amazing team and wonderful clients for which I am grateful and thankful for every day.
Loving the journey