Angels help to lift Jennifer

Jennifer Ashton of Kolours
Jennifer Ashton of Kolours
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Accountancy graduate Jennifer Ashton is showing she’s a cut above the rest, with the help of YABA – the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels.

Accountancy graduate Jennifer Ashton is showing she’s a cut above the rest, with the help of YABA – the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels.

Jennifer came up with the idea of setting up her own hair and beauty salon and franchise business specialising in hair and skin treatments for people from the Afro-Caribbean community, while studying accountancy and financial and business management at Sheffield University.

It began when she couldn’t find a suitable salon herself.

She said: “I started doing my own hair and then started getting a lot of interest from people, either from the African Caribbean Society at the University, or customers at Tesco, where I work part-time as duty manager.”

That led to her offering a mobile hairdressing service and developing a plan for her own business, called Kolours.

She was encouraged to pitch her idea at an event organised by YABA, attended by potential investors and members of the professional services community.

When her idea came top she was offered advice from business angel and mentor Steve Naylor.

Steve said: “Jennifer won because we were really impressed with her business plan. She had a good idea, had done her market research and had some great plans to scale up the business.”

Steve helped Jennifer to focus on the core strengths of her business plan and create an ‘elevator pitch’ – designed to be delivered to a potential investor in the time it takes for a lift journey.

Jennifer went on to beat around 200 entrants in Sheffield University Enterprise Award, winning £2,000 which she is using to get formal hair and beauty skills qualifications at Sheffield College, while looking for premises for the first Kolours salon.

Jennifer said: “My plan is to have self-employed consultants in the salon, and I’d like to also have my own clients. There’s not a lot of competition in this area, because even the top salons have very few people who know how to treat Afro Caribbean hair. People, women in particular, with Afro Caribbean hair visit the salon more regularly than Caucasian people, so it’s a huge market.”

Business Link Yorkshire is staging a series of free events across South Yorkshire in July, aimed at people thinking of starting their own businesses.

The organisation is running evening sessions in Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield covering issues such as getting the basics right, managing money and making a profit and finding and keeping customers.

For more information visit www.businesslinkyorkshire.co.uk/events or tel: 08456 048 048.

Voluntary and private sector partnership that improve the quality of life of local communities through the creative use of volunteer and financial resources will be among those rewarded at this year’s Star Business Awards.Visit www.thestar.co.uk/businessawards for more details and to submit an entry.