Falkirk Delivers highlights several women helping revitalise the town centre
Some of Falkirk’s female entrepreneurs have been sharing their stories in the wake of International Women’s Day and its call to make a positive difference for women everywhere.
The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911, and since then women around the world have become more empowered than ever before.
There’s still a massive amount we can do to truly make a positive difference for women - and the full female office team at Falkirk Delivers wanted to use the opportunity to highlight some of the amazing women who are helping to transform Falkirk Town Centre.
They have interviewed half a dozen successful, dynamic, and engaging female local business owners who all have fantastic stories to tell - and shared their stories with us.
“I opened Hairdotcomb 20 years ago with little clue on how to run a business. With lots of encouragement from family/friends/clients, and a lot of hard work, I’ve managed to build Hairdotcomb into the successful shop it is today! Initially I began with 3 staff (I now have 9) and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
Balancing family/work is hard and it takes time to get it right. One thing I’ve learned this year, due to COVID, is that I need to slow down and think about myself more.
My greatest achievement, alongside recently celebrating 20 years in business, is my little girl. I’m lucky to be able to provide jobs for people and I love watching staff develop into great hairstylists, experiencing their career growth, and knowing that I’ve had a part in it. Just like life, running a business is like a rollercoaster - full of ups and downs. I feel it’s important to remember everyone makes mistakes, but you learn from it..”
Hairdotcom; 16 Kerse Lane, FK1 1RQ, or call 01324 624700
Megan and Emma had been friends for several years before they decided to open a creative studio and event space ‘Skapa’ in town together.
Megan said: “My business is called Porter & Bramble, I do hand lettering and design, mainly for weddings, shops, glass murals and custom orders and before lockdown I started hosting craft workshops for kids too.
“One of our biggest challenges to date was having the confidence to take our businesses to the next level and the renovation of the space. Thankfully, we had a lot of family/friends to help and I'm beyond proud of what we achieved with 4 kids running around and a small budget. It's an amazing feeling to see other small businesses use the space we created. Both of us have had some huge jobs come our way since opening and being able to share this with someone is something I feel very fortunate to have.”
Emma said: “My name is Emma, and my business is MOO + BOO. I started out on maternity leave, after not being able to find suitable décor for my baby’s nursery. I made a woven wall-hanging and loved how it turned out, so I decided to practice and add these to my business. After maternity leave, I chose not to return to my Interior Design job and I now offer weaving, macrame, macraweave and arm knitting workshops at Skapa, and throughout Scotland, alongside ready-made and custom fibre art.
“I feel very proud to have built this business from nothing, while raising 2 babies and my greatest achievement is gaining the confidence to teach workshops and open my own creative studio in my hometown. During lockdown I developed a selection of 'home craft kits' and have received some lovely messages on the positive effect these have had on mental health.”
Skapa; 54/58 Cow Wynd, FK1 1PU
“I trained in piercing in 1998 and started the business off part-time to build it up. Within a year I was full time with a large client base and the first woman in Forth Valley to own a tattoo and piercing studio. At that point it was still very much a male dominated industry, especially in this area, and I don't think I was looked on as being a serious business contender. Over the years I have expanded the studio from one artist space into larger premises that now has 3 full time artists alongside a piercing apprentice.
I’m proud that I have kept going throughout these past years and that the studio now has clients who travel to see us - as well as many locals. When I finally retire the studio will carry on and will hopefully be a presence in the town for many years to come.”
Heaven ‘N’ Hell Tattoos & Piercings Falkirk; 193 High Street, FK1 1DU
“I moved from Germany to Scotland in 2009 and decided to pursue photography as my full-time job after having my daughter in 2015. I graduated with an HND in photography in 2018 and have run my own studio since 2017. I specialise in headshots for actors and entrepreneurs alongside ‘Unit Stills Photographer’ on film sets where I’ve worked alongside Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson, and Kate Dickie - to name a few.
“My area is still fairly male dominated, and I often have to shout a bit louder to prove I’m as capable as my male counterparts. When it comes to headshots/portraits, I find being a female photographer an advantage as it is easier for me to relate to women’s insecurities front of the camera and to show them how amazing they are. I have worked hard to make a name for myself and in 2019 I became Scotland’s first (and so far, only) ‘Associate Headshot Photographer’ of headshot guru - Peter Hurley.”
Sonja Blietschau Photography; 3 Dundee Court. Suite 8 & 9, FK1 1PW, or call 07872591980.
“I previously rented a chair for 10 years, from the age of 21, before moving on to owning my first salon in Bank Street Falkirk. I had this for three years before being able to upscale premises to Manor Street and open my second salon HAIR, which has been running for four years this August. I personally reached the finals of the L’Oreal ‘Colour Trophy’ consecutively for five years and collectively won top six salons in Scotland at the Scottish Hair and Beauty Awards. Alongside running my salon, I have a second business, involving Ketones, which I helped pioneer into the UK.
“I’ve raised my two daughters on my own and I aim to inspire others to step into their greatness. I am mostly proud of the fact that I am the change within my family, and I show my two daughters every day that they can reach for their goals, be strong independent women, and that you are who you choose to be, not where you came from.”
HAIR Sarahjayne; 53 Manor St, FK1 1NH, 01324 227180
“I set up Emma Gray photography back in 2009...completely by accident! It all started when I had my daughter Erin. I won a competition from a local magazine to get a baby shoot taken in my home, I studied art and design at college at the time and had to do a small bit of photography, so I invested in a new camera, and some bits and pieces like the photographer had, and started taking photos of Erin myself. Facebook was growing in popularity then so as I posted images of her on my page, friends started asking if I could take some photos of their children, then friends of friends...and before I knew it…Emma Gray Photography was created.
“In 2011 I decided to take the plunge into full time photography and won wedding photographer of the year at The Scottish Vows awards in 2015, 2017, and 2019 - in fact, as there was no event in 2020 due to COVID you could say I'm still reigning champion!.
“I have my own studio in town and every day I am grateful that a hobby of mine has now become a lucrative career. I love giving back and help out in Falkirk High school with their photography students. I also do music photography as a hobby and had the pleasure of working with one of my favourite bands taking photos at the Barrowlands in Glasgow - so owning a camera really can take you places! I can't wait for these lockdown restrictions to lift and to get out to all my weddings again, as I really have missed them.”
Emma Gray Photography; 34 Cockburn St, Falkirk FK1 5BG, or call 07809 749756.