Having worked for Toni & Guy for five years, Gemma Norton knew that she wanted to make the next step. "I'd just got married and wanted to start a family in the future, so I wanted a little more," said Gemma, 38. "I wanted something to call my own and put my own imprint on and I thought owning my own salon was going to be like having a party with my mates everyday!"
Some 12 years on, and Gemma hasn't looked back. Now the proud owner of Bijou Hair Salon in Wigan and at the helm of a young team of talented stylists, the Wigan-born businesswoman is loving life. "It's been fantastic," she said. "Once you start seeing the clients come back and make regular appointments, it's lovely.
Offering everything from cuts for both men and women to colours and specialist products, Bijou promises a friendly a comfortable environment. Their other standout USP is Florrie the salon dog, an undoubted favourite amongst customers and the salon's seven members of staff alike.
"It probably took about eight years to get going, but we've got a good team - most of us have been here a long time, which really helps builds those relationships with the customers," explained Gemma. "The girls are amazing, very loyal. We've all grown up together - we're like a family.
"I've cut a few clients' hair hair for 15 or 16 years and we've seen people grow," she added. "We have one client who used to come in as a little boy; he used to absolutely hate having his hair cut and now he's at high school. We have a good laugh about it! It's lovely to see clients and families grow."
As well as establishing Bijou, Gemma has also done hair and make-up for TV and film, and aside from the quality of service, says that what sets the salon apart is its atmosphere.
"We're quite homely and we're open to all walks of life and all ages," she said. "We get a lot of clients who come in with special needs and it's amazing to see them - in some salons, it can be quite overwhelming. We have a lady who comes in who suffers from social anxiety, but she gives us hugs.
"Everyone just feels comfortable."
16 Upper Dicconson Street, Wigan. WN1 2AD