A hair stylist has spoken of her pride at opening a studio in Folkestone town centre just a year after setting up the business in her bedroom.
Hollie Arnold has converted a "derelict shell" in Guildhall Street into a modern space for her Blowout & Wave venture thanks to Folkestone Community Works funding.
The self-taught hair stylist says the support has helped her brush up on her business skills and future prospects - helping to successfully build on the foundations she built when operating from home.
Hollie said: "I found Folkestone Community Works online, and it's helped me rent this space and fit it out in a way which reflects my own personality and complements my ever-growing Instagram account.
"I really wanted to get out of my home and have a base to work from. Being here is great because I'm in the town centre which is accessible for people, has good parking and the facilities are great."
The match-funded £3,750 grant has helped her to take on another member of staff - a trained hairdresser - meaning Hollie is both sharing and gaining knowledge.
She added: "I always wanted it to be more than just me, and this is definitely a step in the right direction. We're learning new skills off each other which is great."
Folkestone Community Works funding has also been used to buy products and build the business' online presence with shots of modern hairstyles becoming increasingly popular on social media.
Just like it is for many entrepreneurs, Hollie says it has been a "rollercoaster at times" in her transition from a home-based operation to being based in the town centre.
But looking back on the first six months of having her own studio, there are no doubts that it has been worth it.
She added: "If you are in the position I was in and you have this goal and determination to drive your business forward, then the Folkestone Community Works programme is ideal.
"I think it's great there is a programme like this locally."
Blowout & Wave's services include modern cutting, colouring, braiding and up-styling. For more information, visit facebook.com/blowoutandwave
Folkestone Community Works is an ambitious programme that aims to help hundreds of people into work or training.
It was set up in February 2018 after Folkestone & Hythe District Council successfully secured £2.5m from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund.
The money is helping people in the East, Central and Harbour Wards of Folkestone build businesses and increase employment.
For more information about the Folkestone Community Works project, visit folkestonecommunityworks.com
European Structural and Investment Funds
The project is receiving up to £2.5 million of funding from the England European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) are the Managing Authorities for European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund funding through the Growth Programme, funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development. By investing in projects the funds will help to support innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
Date published: 2 March 2020