Startup Diaries: Amy Holt, Wig Entrepreneur, on Her Bright Idea

We love Amy's story. She's determinedly followed her passion for wigs, gathering experience in the TV, theatre and film industries (including a stint as a Facial Hair Co-ordinator, possibly the best job title ever!), before setting up her own business making wigs for those suffering from medical hair loss, with the help of the Bright Ideas Trust.

When I was 15 years old, my Mum took me to a performance of The Lion King in the West End of London. I was blown away by the quality and intricacy of the costumes, hair and makeup, and was inspired by the way they came together to produce a visually stunning piece of theatre. This was the pivotal experience that set the precedent for my career.

As I progressed through my GCSEs, I started to think about what qualifications I would need to enter a career in Makeup & Hair design; a degree in Special FX and Makeup Design for the Performing Arts at the London College of Fashion was brought to my attention by the school careers advisor. The course sounded perfect, so I set about obtaining the required grades by completing my A-levels and a foundation degree at Falmouth College of Art.

Whilst studying at university I discovered a passion for wig making. As a result, I undertook a fantastic industry placement with the BBC Wigstore. I loved working at the Wigstore so much that on finishing my placement I applied for a full time position and got the job, where I was lucky enough to be involved with the creation of the infamous 118 118 moustaches and a number of Rory Bremner wigs.

I went back to university to finish my degree and after I graduated I took up the position of Wig Maker and Facial Hair Co-ordinator.

I had an amazing year working at the BBC Wigstore and I learnt a great deal but I was unfortunately made redundant in 2008 due to cutbacks at the BBC leading to the closure of the Wigstore. I decided that the best course of action at this point was to use the experience that I had gained from working at the Wigstore to go freelance. I began working for various wig houses and as a hair and makeup artist across a number of television, film and theatre productions.

After working as a freelancer for four years I began to get a little disillusioned with the industry.

I was no longer content with just making wigs for the film and television industry, I wanted my wig making to make a difference in peoples’ lives.

Having lost both my father and stepfather to cancer, I had experienced firsthand the devastation caused by the disease and felt that my skills could help to ease the pain of people going through the same ordeal. This inspired me to start up AmiWigs.

In my search for initial funding and support I came across Bright Ideas Trust, which is a charity that helps young people in London who aren’t in employment, education or training or who haven’t had the same chances as the rest of society to start their own companies. I applied for support and the viability of my business proposal was then tested over a two month period, ending with an interview with Bright Ideas Founder, Tim Campbell. To my joy, my proposal was accepted and Bright Ideas Trust provided me with the finances I needed to get AmiWigs up and running.

I received £1,500 in investment which bought Bright Ideas Trust a 10% stake in AmiWigs. However I was mainly interested in the business mentor that came with the Bright Ideas package.

My mentor is the Director of Operations for Accenture so he really knows his stuff. He’s been amazing and has supported me every step of the way - I couldn’t have got AmiWigs off of the ground without him.

Through AmiWigs, I now provide high-quality bespoke wigs & hairpieces to both men and women suffering from medical hair loss due to natural balding, skin conditions, alopecia, chemotherapy and trichotillomania. I work closely alongside a number of charities including ‘Look Good Feel Better’ and ‘My New Hair’.

AmiWigs is a young and growing businesses and I hope that in the future I can expand and continue to make a difference to the lives of men and women suffering trauma of medical hair loss.

I would recommend Bright Ideas Trust to any young woman looking for financial support or business expertise in a new business venture - the support they offer has been invaluable to me.

Bright Ideas is a charity that helps young people in London who aren’t in employment, education or training or who haven’t had the same chances as the rest of society to start their own companies and learn business skills that will stay with them for life. It helps by providing funding as well as advice and support from our team of dedicated business mentors and expert advisers. It works with youth organisations throughout London to spread the word about what they do and encourage young people to share their ideas with them. For more information visit: www.brightideastrust.com

This is a guest post by Amy Holt, Founder of AmiWigs Ltd, a provider of specialist bespoke wig making services for both men and women suffering from medical hair loss or natural thinning. Being highly trained and experienced in the wig making industry, it provides bespoke services that are unique to the individual. It specialises in creating tailor-made pieces to fit like a glove, to be comfortable and be an appropriate and realistic colour match. All of the hair it uses is ethically sourced European hair, that is hand-mixed to each individual piece. For more information visit: www.amiwigs.co.uk  

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