Ilford Business: Chigwell massage therapist Claire Hurst on opening her first salon, Beauty on the Mill

Claire Hurst gets to work on a client

Claire Hurst gets to work on a client - Credit: Archant

Claire Hurst cut her teeth in the Home Office and picked up tips in Thailand – but for the Chigwell beauty therapist, there’s no place quite like home.

Former West Hatch pupil Claire, now 31, is six weeks into running her first salon, Beauty on the Mill. It’s an experience she describes as both daunting and rewarding.

“It was stressful getting up and running,” Claire told the Recorder, “but I feel like it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

“I’m really happy.

“I grew up in this area, so it’s a place that’s close to my heart – and the clientele are great.”

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Like many youngsters, when Claire left school, she wasn’t sure which direction to take.

But 13 years on, she’s sure she made the right choice.

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“I knew I wanted to work with people,” she said. “I wanted to make them feel relaxed and better about themselves.

“I was a bit unsure of which direction to go – whether it would be counselling, for instance.

“I just wanted to work in close proximity with people. I looked through all my options and thought beauty seemed a great call for me.”

Her journey as a massage therapist took her to a chiropractor’s surgery, but the place she really found her feet was a little surprising – in Westminster.

Running a salon downstairs at the Home Office, Claire spent five successful years easing the aches and pains of civil servants.

So it was a tough decision to sell up and quit the country altogether in 2009 – but the experience wasn’t for nothing.

“I travelled for about 14 months, and I was in Asia for about six of those,” Claire explained.

“I learned various techniques in Thailand, just through having lots of massages and different treatments.

“I knew when I got back I would go straight back into beauty therapy.”

True to her word, Claire opened Beauty on the Mill, in Mill Lane, Woodford Green, last month – and it’s already proved a hit.

“It’s been very successful,” she said. “A lot of people are coming on recommendation, which is the nicest way to get clients.

“I just ultimately want to make sure clients leave feeling relaxed and revived and really wanting to book in again with me.”

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