Growing Corby has this month awarded a grant worth £2,500 to Hair Geeks, a specialist hair loss shop run by sisters Melanie Jamera and Alma Gundu, helping them win a NHS contract to supply and fit wigs to people who’ve experienced hair loss due to illness.
Set up in 2012 Hair Geeks, based in the centre of Corby, has helped those with medical hair loss since it opened but now, thanks to the grant from Growing Corby, Hair Geeks has a dedicated private consultation area so customers can choose the right product for them in comfortable and discreet surroundings.
The grant has also funded training on cutting and styling wigs from celebrity hairdresser Trevor Sorbie, ensuring that customers can wear a wig tailored to their individual style.
As well as helping those with hair problems due to illness, Hair Geeks also stocks other hair-related products including extensions, wigs for transgender people, or even for fancy dress.
Melanie and Alma moved to Corby from Brighton and Bristol respectively in 2012. Hair loss is something of which the family has first-hand experience, with Melanie herself suffering hair loss as well as other family members. Upon moving to Corby, Melanie and Alma were surprised by the lack of retailers in Corby providing hair loss products and spotted a gap in the market, driven by a desire to help others like themselves.
Two years into Hair Geeks, Melanie and Alma were keen to expand the business and do more to help people with medical hair loss. The sisters decided to tender for a NHS contract but needed a cash injection to develop the shop and fulfill the contract requirements.
Melanie said: “As Corby’s only specialist hair loss shop we had built up a loyal customer base but knew there was more we could do to help those with hair loss due to medical reasons. The NHS contract will allow us to provide wigs on prescription and the grant we received from Growing Corby has funded the private consultation area, which is a key requirement under the contract.
“The grant has enabled us to enhance our service for people with medical hair loss as well as driving our business forwards. We will be launching the prescription service from March 2015 and we’re looking forward to helping lots more people regain some confidence they may have lost, which is the main reason Alma and I established Hair Geeks.
“As well as thanking Growing Corby, l would also like to acknowledge support we received from Stuart Hartley at the Corby Enterprise Centre, a partner of Growing Corby. They were instrumental in Hair Geeks being awarded the NHS contract; their services meant we had someone behind us who understood the procurement process and this, coupled with our product knowledge, helped us secure the contract.”
Hair Geeks also benefitted from specialist training and advice via Growing Corby’s workshop programme. Melanie and Alma attended the Business Ready and Contract workshop, which helped the sisters gain a better understanding of the direction of their business, particularly around social enterprise and tendering for public sector contracts.
Growing Corby’s next Contract Ready workshop takes place on 29th January.
Anthony Richardson is Marketing and Communications Manager for Growing Corby, he said: “When Hair Geeks presented at our grants panel we knew straight away they were the perfect candidate for a grant. They had a clear need for it, which has helped them win a prestigious contract, and we are confident their business will go from strength to strength.”
The Growing Corby programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and offers support for SMEs in Corby such as market research, grants of up to £2,500, free coaching and an internship service.