EastLondonLines investigates new start-ups in Croydon, starting with hair salon Positive Elements
In the past two years Croydon has become a launching ground for new entrepreneurs and is now a hub of diverse, local enterprise. In 2011 the numbers of start-up businesses in the borough increased by over 10 per cent and at present almost nine in 10 businesses in Croydon are classed as ‘small businesses’, with workforces of less than 10 employers.
“People now want to get on with things and start something new,” says Jeremy Frost, chairman for Croydon’s branch of the Federation of Small Businesses.
“I think the recession has gone on long enough and many people in Croydon don’t want to drift on and have decided they have had enough. The situation is not as bad as people think. Things are moving, banks are lending money in the right circumstances and innovation is happening.”
Elevating Success runs business courses in Croydon and is supported by the L&Q Foundation, L&Q’s community investment fund. Last year, there was a surge in individuals wanting to learn essential entrepreneurial skills and 47 people joined the course. Ten Croydon men and women made it to the final stage of the scheme and are now in the early stages of starting their new businesses, including an Afro-Caribbean snack bar, a homework club for local children and a herbal remedies shop offering nutritional advice.
The course leader, Andrew Brown, says: “Since the recession many people have lost their jobs and want to be their own boss. We have seen a dramatic increase in start-up businesses in our area and more people are now coming to us who have had ideas for a business and now want to know how to do it.”
Margaret Mensah and Joyce Ademasa are two of the rising numbers of women running their own business in Croydon and are recent examples of successful start-ups. In March 2011, the pair started Positive Elements, a hair and beauty course in west Croydon that is now in partnership with Elevating Success. Already Positive Elements has had to increase the number of courses it offers due to such high popularity and now Margaret and Joyce hope to expand their business and start their own school.
The pair have previously worked in beauty salons and both have had experience teaching. “We both decided we wanted to use our skills to do something our own,” says Margaret, “we love working together and we both have our own styles of training.”
But applying make-up and doing facials are not the only skills students learn at Positive Elements. “We have had people come from a range of backgrounds who want to do our course for a number of reasons” says Joyce. “It’s not just aesthetics. The people who come to us learn a skill that they can take away and use in society and for many it is really empowering.”