A business owner opened the doors to her brand new ‘totally Instagrammable’ salon after her first premises were destroyed in a fire.
Sarah Birch greeted clients at The Hair Wardrobe on Prince Regent Street in Stockton in April – but just four weeks later the salon suffered a “devastating” fire.
The single mom lost around £ 50,000 of shares, leaving her business in shambles.
Go here to read more about Teesside updates, news and reviews
But just four months later, the 35-year-old “finally smiles again” and opened the doors to a new salon on Portrack Lane.
The Billingham wife – who is a hairstylist and hair supplier – has “always been obsessed with hair” and mastered her craft after training in London at the age of 16.
The mother-of-one is hoping her streak of ‘bad luck’ comes to an end after she transforms the abandoned building – which came with a prize of £ 45,000.
The entrepreneur always wanted to be in the hairdressing industry from a young age.
She even started volunteering at salons as a teenager before training in London after leaving school at 16.
Sarah, who has a five-year-old son, went on to become a hair supplier, selling hair across the UK and in salons in the North East.
Explaining how it started, Sarah said: “I have always worked for myself since I was 16 when I left school.
“I turned my garage into a real living room – it was like stepping into a five star salon.
“When I had my baby boy, I even made clients between feedings.
“After I got it, I was really sick and I got the idea to sell hair and not style it.
“I couldn’t walk for about nine months after that because I had an epidural that didn’t work.
“Everything just progressed from there. “
The hairdresser, with 19 years of experience, started her business in 2019 working from home placing orders online.
However, after the business took off and its supply levels increased, Sarah bought a store during the covid pandemic last year.
“I haven’t had any luck at all,” Sarah said.
“I had to keep closing with all the blockages and I lost a lot of customers because we weren’t open and people weren’t getting their hair done.
“We opened properly in April, then four weeks later it caught fire. “
The business caught fire as thick plumes of black smoke filled the air on Prince Regent Street in central Stockton on June 3.
Emergency services witnessed the car garage fire which also spread to The Hair Wardrobe premises.
In the aftermath of the ‘devastating’ fire, Sarah recounted how she lost almost £ 50,000 of shares.
“I had to come home and sell a lot of stuff,” she said.
“I had to beg and borrow from my family to get back on my feet.
“It’s one thing after another.”
She had to “take everything out”, including dismantling all the lights.
“I find the smile”
Sarah’s mental health “collapsed” after losing her business premises, she “couldn’t get out of bed” and decided she “didn’t want to do her hair anymore”.
Taking a completely different path, she trained in the aesthetics that she will offer in the salon “very soon”.
However, Sarah recounted how her team “spurred” her on and she regained her feet and got back to work,
“I finally feel like I’m smiling again,” she added.
The Portrack Lane Lounge, located on Ross Road near Jump 360, opened last week following a major overhaul of the abandoned building.
The owner of the business “decorated it to perfection” with wooden slatted walls, a waiting room, a selfie mirror, massage sinks, a beauty salon and a kitchen.
“It’s a huge warehouse,” Sarah explained.
“There were literally four walls and a concrete floor.
“I literally had to do everything from the electrical to the plumbing to the walls. “
Sarah currently employs two stylists and an apprentice, but she hopes to expand the business to hire more stylists in the future.
She added: “I would like everyone to see what we have done.
“We have a lot of exclusive offers for new customers because after the fire we lost a lot of customers.
“We have lost a lot with the containment and the fire.
For the latest news from your region delivered straight to your inbox every day, go to here to subscribe to our free newsletter