How young Lowestoft entrepreneur Millie Rose Stammers defied doubters to build successful business at just 24
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Millie Stammers was told she was too young and inexperienced to set up her own hair and beauty business when she was a teenager - but proved them all wrong. ANDREW PAPWORTH talked to the 24-year-old about how she has become an inspriation to young people.
When Millie Rose Stammers took the bold decision to start her own beauty business at the tender age of 19, many people dismissed her as too young and inexperienced.
But by believing in herself when others doubted her, the Lowestoft resident has today built an ever-growing hair and beauty salon which has won numerous business awards and made her an inspiration to many youngsters – all still at the young age of 24.
And it doesn't stop there – the former City College Norwich student is expanding her salon, Millie Rose Hair and Beauty, while also launching a new training academy to inspire the next generation of beauty therapists.
Her entrepreneurial rise has set an example to her staff – who often say they 'want to be like Millie' – of what a single-minded, hard-working young person can achieve whatever the odds.
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Miss Stammers has always been someone who can cope with adversity.
Having been born in Lowestoft, she and her family moved to the town of Confolens in the Pitou-Charente region of south-west France when she was just 12 years old. She did not speak a word of French.
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'I remember my first day at school a day after we moved,' she said.
'It was really hard. No-one spoke a word of English and I didn't speak a word of French.
'It was a nightmare. I just had to get by.'
At first, Miss Stammers had to get by with just pointing at things but gradually learned the language.
'I think it was one of the best experiences because it taught me you can get through anything,' she explained.
It also inspired a life-long passion in hair and beauty, after she did work experience at a salon in France.
She was particularly motivated by how the industry's goal is to 'make people feel better about themselves', adding: 'It's never the same. You can always further yourself and there is always something new to learn.'
After she and her family returned to Lowestoft when she was 16, she studied for a number of qualifications in subjects such as beauty therapy, complementary therapy and make-up artistry at places such as Lowestoft College and City College Norwich.
Even as she later progressed her career, she travelled around Europe to obtain the best training. She still goes on courses herself to learn the latest hair and beauty techniques.
'You can never know enough,' is her attitude.
'Things have totally changed since I trained. If I didn't keep up, then I would be behind.
'You can always further yourself and you can always progress.'
However it is her business acumen that has really propelled her rise.
She began a mobile make-up business when she was 17 and still at college, travelling to events around Norfolk and Suffolk.
When she started to make more than some people were in a full-time job, she felt she would be best placed earning a living for herself.
The day after she finished college, aged just 19, she opened her own salon on London Road South, Kirkley. She used £4,000 that she had saved from her mobile business over 18 months to pay for equipment and one month's rent.
'When I told people, some thought I was crazy,' Miss Stammers said.
'There were a lot of negative people about. People said I was too young and didn't have enough experience – and don't run before you can walk.
'But I just had no doubts that it would work. I wasn't scared because I knew what I was taking from my mobile business.
'At first it was just me doing the treatment and my mum helping out in reception. I never planned for it to be much more than that.'
But two weeks after opening Miss Stammers had to take on another member of staff, such was the demand for her services.
'I didn't expect it would go so well,' she said.
She gradually took on more people and, after six months, decided to add the hair salon to the business because people were coming into her premises and asking if they did hair appointments.
But there was not enough room at her premises, so she took the risk to move to a unit on the opposite side of the road to allow for more space.
At first, she didn't even have any hairdressers signed up.
She admitted: 'It was a little crazy but I knew it was a good idea. I just wanted to have a go.
'Sometimes you've got to take a risk. What's the worst that can happen? It's a little bit of money – that's it really.'
She quickly assembled a team of six in the salon, which grew to 12 in a year.
Miss Stammers has won a series of awards to mark her success, including the Most Promising New Business prize at the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce Business Awards in 2014.
But she has not stopped there.
In September she set up Industry Hair and Beauty Academy, based in the same premises where she occupied her first salon, to allow apprentices to earn while they learn and gain NVQ-level qualifications.
Salons in Lowestoft have Waveney have agreed to send trainees to IBHA, as Miss Stammers has secured help from the government's Skills Funding Agency so it is at no cost to the employers.
Her ambition is for it to be a 'leader in Suffolk for providing hair and beauty training'.
She added: 'My plan is to expand the academy and help others follow their dreams in the hair and beauty industry.
'I like seeing something grow and build.
'I want to show people that you can do well at anything if you've got the passion in something.'