When the pandemic struck in 2020, Tara Warren’s business was affected just like so many others in the beauty and hospitality industry. With salon closures and too many restrictions to make business viable, Tara had to diversify or lose her business. She tells us how she turned her business around to make it pandemic proof.
Tell us more about your business
I’m Tara Warren and I own and run the BASH Academy. I started my business from my own spare room back in 2016 while working full time in a job I didn’t really enjoy. I was a single Mum of two kids and I needed to find a way out of the situation I was in. I felt undervalued and I wasn’t enjoying life much. I used what little spare money I had to do a course in brows and lashes, then another one in setting up a mini salon. I looked at it as an investment in myself rather than a gamble, so that gave me the confidence to start out.
In 2017 I quit my job and went fully self-employed from my spare room, treating people’s brows and lashes, and I really enjoyed all the amazing benefits of being my own boss. The journey wasn’t always straightforward, but I kept working hard at it and eventually my business was big enough for me to set up in a salon so I moved to Number 33 in Benton.
Before long I had a team of six technicians, four tutors and a full-time customer services team working for me!
But then the pandemic struck and I had to close the salon during the various lockdowns. As you can imagine, that was disastrous for my business.
Before the pandemic, I’d started looking at creating courses in the brow and lash industry because I felt there was a definite lack of support and training for the treatments my clients were asking for. So I started writing my own courses and delivering them to other beauty therapists as a side-line in the business.
The pandemic caused unrest for so many. Loads of people lost their jobs, realised that working from home was amazing, they lost trust in employment. And I witnessed a huge upsurge in the number of people wanting to retrain and learn how to set up their own salons, provide brow and lash treatments and work for themselves. So while the salon was closed, I started offering training courses from our premises in Benton and we’ve never looked back.
From starting to offer my own training courses to now being the biggest brow and lash training provider in the North East, the past couple of years have been incredible!
How did you come to be nominated for the Diversity award?
Having worked closely with TEDCO for a number of years, our contact Jeff suggested we nominate ourselves for the awards. We’d never had the time to do it before but I decided to go for it this year. We nominated ourselves for both the Can Do and the Diversity Awards so it was fantastic to have won one of them.
What does winning the award mean to you?
Winning the award has been absolutely fantastic for me and my team. It’s such a boost to have our hard work recognised and we’re all very proud. It also makes me really proud to be a kind of ambassador for people like me – to show that anyone can build a successful business, even in the face of adversity. I’m delighted to be able to tell my learners my business story and show what’s achievable with some hard work and determination.
I always thought the awards were only given out to men in suits with huge businesses and rich family backgrounds. But that’s so far from the truth. The North Tyneside Business Forum Awards really do include everyone from every business sector and every background so it’s a fantastic thing to be a part of.
We really enjoyed going to the award ceremony too – after such a long time having to stay away from people, it was lovely to meet other businesses and let our hair down a bit.
What are your plans for the business?
We are writing new courses all the time and we’re expanding our programmes into cosmetic tattooing, which is a huge area at the moment. We always strive to stay up to date with all the latest treatments so we can pass on those skills to our learners.
I’d also love to open a BASH Academy in another UK city and have been looking into the possibility of franchising the business out.
And then there’s our design for our own tattooing machine – it’s coming along and we hope to make progress with that too.
What do you love about working in North Tyneside?
Aside from feeling so proud to be from the same neck of the woods as Sam Fender, I love the diversity of the businesses in our area. There are so many amazing companies and everyone has their own story and their own challenges. No two businesses are the same and I love meeting other business owners to learn from them and make a really strong support network.
I also love the number of opportunities there are for youngsters in the area too.
For more information about Tara’s business, visit https://bashacademy.co.uk/