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Student applies the business of beauty

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Published on 24 January 2018

Lois Fowler in her new salon
Lois Fowler in her new salon

With the rise of Instagram, make-up vloggers and the ‘Kim Kardashian’ effect, the business of beauty has never been bigger – now a Sunderland student hopes her entrepreneurial flair will help tap into this billion-dollar industry with a niche makeup studio.

Lois Fowler has launched LWF Makeup Headquarters in South Hylton, Sunderland, which is one of the city’s first dedicated studio designed specifically for clients who want their makeup professionally applied whether it’s for a special occasion, wedding, party or just to feel good about themselves.

Despite juggling single parenting duties to her five-year-old son Henry as well as completing the final year of her Business and Marketing Management degree at the University of Sunderland, Lois is not fazed by the extra responsibility of running her own business, after spotting a gap in the market.

“This has been a dream for me for so long, to be self-employed and build my own brand, but I would never have had the confidence to do this before I came to university. I feel like I have really found myself here,” explained the 32-year-old, who has been a freelance makeup artist for a number of years.

“There are a lot of mobile makeup artists out there, or those who have a station based in a hair salon or beauty clinic for example, but this is a dedicated studio specifically for professionally applied makeup in the city. I wanted a studio designed for the client to come into a salon-style environment, and get their makeup professionally applied. Professional makeup is a huge industry now especially with the popularity of social media sites such as Instagram. Everyone wants to look their best, and of course there are the media influences on women of all ages such as the Kardashians.”

Business support for Lois’s venture came through the Enterprise Place, the University’s business start-up service, funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) available to all students and alumni of the University. The Enterprise Place offers office space and facilities, start-up and growth courses, and specialist advisers offering support and guidance all aimed at helping you turn a business idea into reality.

Lois said: “The support has been fantastic and I feel very proud that I’ve finally reached this stage. I left school with no GCSE’s and went straight into work with various recruitment agencies in sales roles, working my way up into management, but got stuck in a rut. However, when my son  Henry came along all that changed and I took the opportunity to fulfil my ambition of going to university. This is for him, to show his mum can do this.”

Lois returned to college four years ago, completing an Access to Education course, which allowed her to land a place on the business degree at the University of Sunderland.

She said: “I haven’t looked back since joining the course and enjoy every minute of university. Not just the educational and financial support, but the emotional support I’ve received to help with my confidence has been incredible.”

The idea for the studio came last year when Lois decided to combine her business ideas with the skills she’d developed over the years as a freelance makeup artist, building a regular client base of all ages. She also conducts live makeup tutorials through her Facebook page, with a reach of up to 7,000 viewers.

As well as makeup transformations, Lois also plans to host training sessions on makeup application, as well as selling makeup supplies, from false eye lashes to body glitter, through key contacts and suppliers she’s made over the years.

In between makeup sessions, Lois will be completing her final dissertation before she graduates in July.

“I have a desk in the studio so I’ll be ready to pull out the course work in between clients,” she said. “It’s going to be pressure, but it’s all worth it. This is my second chance, and I want to get a First Class degree. What’s the point in going to University if you’re not aiming high? Everything is achievable!”

She added: “Luckily I have a very supportive family and friends. My mum has been great helping me with Henry and really I guess I’m following in her footsteps, as she graduated from the University in 2013 as a mature student with a degree in social work. She then went on to run her own businesses with support from the Enterprise Place, so it’s been great having her behind me all through this.”

Pippa Christie, Enterprise Engagement Officer, said: “It’s a proud day when you see one of our members take up the opportunity of opening their own enterprise. Since joining us we’ve seen Lois’s confidence go from strength-to-strength. She has shown determination and passion and clearly has an entrepreneurial mind. We have every confidence that she will grow her own successful business.”

For more information about LWF Makeup Headquarters, a Limited Company, contact: 0747 873 7881.

For more information about the Enterprise Place, go to: www.sunderland.ac.uk/startabusiness

The Internships and Enterprise project is receiving up to £2,207,656 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

‌The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. ‌Established by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.