Employing 12 people, running a busy hair salon and looking after a five-month-old baby is all in a day’s work for 25-year-old entrepreneur Julie O’Shea.

Owner of Eden Hairdressing, Julie partnered with colleague Laura Cadden of Eden Beauty last year and the pair invested in the refurbishment of the former Xtra Vision store at Broadmeadow Place which they now rent as a business premises called Eden Hair and Beauty.

Her grandmother Margaret and aunt Elma were hairdressers and Julie believes the trade is “in my blood”. As a child she recalls Saturdays in the salon and what fascinated her the most was the look on the clients faces as they left.

“It’s all about the feel-good factor,” Julie told The Impartial Reporter.
Aged 19, she opened her first salon on Enniskillen’s Eden Street in 2012. Eden Beauty operated from the Diamond. Four years later, Julie had grown her staff to eight and had lots of clients who were mothers and needed space for prams.

“I had been renting two premises and paying rates on two premises. We wanted something central that had space for our clients. It made more sense to put everything under one roof,” said Julie. “Business rates are massive, that was another reason for operating from one premises. Because this business is so busy, we are able to keep on top of our rates. The rates are a big thing facing all local businesses,” Julie commented.
She initially approached Invest NI which had no funding available for a refurbishment. Julie and Laura were determined to open ahead of Christmas 2016 therefore a bank loan would not have been possible in the short window they had set aside. They decided to put their own savings into the refurbishment.

“It was a big challenge but it wasn’t a risk because I was confident in our business which had already been established for five years,” said Julie, who cut costs by securing chairs and wash basins as part of her dealings with various product reps.

A desire to “bring city brands to Enniskillen” was Julie’s driving force and she recently secured a deal with the Kevin Murphy range after they contacted her via social media and visited the Enniskillen salon.

Asked if city brands mean city prices, Julie replied: “In terms of prices we do try to keep it in between. By using luxury products we have to charge a little bit more but we can’t go up too high and risk losing clients.”
In order to use the new product range, Julie had to leave the brand she had been using. “That was not a phone call I enjoyed making!” she recalled. However, she is now looking forward to attending the Kevin Murphy Christmas party in Dublin, where she hopes to network with popular Irish bloggers. 

Social media is integral to the business, according to Julie, who operates the Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram pages. “I swear by social media. My business was grown through social media” she explained.
“Before I had my baby, bookings were made via facebook so I would have spent hours replying to customers, confirming bookings etc. When I fell pregnant I decided that couldn’t continue so I got a personalised Eden Hair app which allows customers to book online 24-7. That’s taken a massive weight off my shoulders.”

She added: “You are constantly thinking of innovative ways to make running a business easier and more productive.”
On Brexit, Julie, who says 20 per cent of her customers are from the Republic of Ireland, commented: “There’s so much uncertainty surrounding Brexit it’s impossible to plan for it. We will continue to run our business as normal.”

Her advice to young entrepreneurs is: “Your brand is like having a child. You have to nurture it, watch it grow and hope it won’t get into trouble along the way.” She warned: “There’s a lot of things that kill a business such as not being focused.”

She feels “blessed” to have “an amazing team of highly talented stylists” and believes “the right staff are key to a successful business.”
Describing her leadership style, Julie said: “I always give praise where praise is due. As much as possible I provide opportunities for all of my team to learn, develop and grow.”

Julie described the transition back to work after having her first child, Pippa-Rose, as “challenging.”
“Everyone who has a business will know it’s hard to switch off,” she said. “The only way to manage while being successful is to delegate. I was so used to doing everything myself but I am working on it. I am lucky to have a content baby and a supportive mother and husband (Mark O’Shea).”

Looking ahead, the ambitious young businesswoman commented: “I always wanted to open my own salon but I never thought the business would grow the way it has. I would like to open another branch and I would like to have my own product range.”