So today I welcome the first guest to appear on Beyond the CSHQ, as part of the Independent’s Project.
An honour to introduce to you, Winner of the 2019 Beauty Therapist of the Year award and all-round babe; Charlotte Gerrard, Owner and Beauty Therapist at Charlotte Gerrard Beauty.
As the Pandemic is over a year old, I asked Charlotte to describe where she was at, career-wise when the Prime Minister announced the first National Lockdown.
She says, “I had been Assistant Manager at The Beauty Room in Ellesmere Port for nearly 6 years. I had decided to leave my position there as my boss (and friend) had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Brain Cancer. I was running the salon and working by myself whilst she was in hospital and I just couldn’t do it anymore. The business was running at a loss as I was the only member of staff working because we also had a therapist out on maternity leave. I didn’t want to leave the salon. I adored my job but I knew it wasn’t going to last the way it was going so I handed my resignation to my boss’s husband a month before lockdown was announced and arranged to start renting a room in another local salon to begin on April 1st but Lockdown started March 23rd.”
Charlotte really does adore her job so it must have been difficult to detach emotionally with everything going on. She is extremely passionate about the beauty industry and keeps up to date with career development at every opportunity. Yet evidently, she saw where she needed to take action as The Beauty Room couldn’t continue to operate.
I asked for her first thoughts when non-essential business had to cease operations, she replied,
“I was heartbroken! I was meant to start my own business on April 1st and obviously that didn’t happen. I had left my job and then the salon was sold so I wasn’t entitled to redundancy. I wasn’t entitled to furlough either because obviously the business no longer existed as it was. I wasn’t entitled to Universal Credit or JSA. My boss’s husband had figured out my final wage for March and I had used more holidays than I had accrued thanks to going on a 3 week holiday in January 2020; So I had holidays deducted from my final pay. I had no income for 5 months. ZERO. And I only got £800 as my final pay.”
Like many people, the financial implications of the Lockdowns affected Charlotte yet from those challenges she adds, “I learned that I’ll always be ok thanks to that time of no income.”
Charlotte is one of many people who had to adjust income with expenditure so to come away with such a positive statement there is refreshing to hear. “My family and friends were gutted for me! Everyone’s lives were thrown up in the air though and all you can do is try to get through it.”
Charlotte goes on to say, “My marriage fared much better than I ever thought it would! When lockdown was announced, I honestly thought it would break us. It’s not normal to spend so much time together. Lee was off work too for the whole of the first lockdown. We got on unbelievably well. I realised he is actually my best mate and I love being around him. I think the weather helped too though! We weren’t locked in the house 24/7.”
Charlotte reflects on how she feels she has changed in a year, “I’m so much more chilled. I used to be very stressed all the time. It’s taught me that everything will always be ok and that my husband and I really are a good team. I’ve learned that I’ve wasted a lot of my life doing stupid things and not making the most of every day. My ex-boss absolutely LOVED life. If there was a party, she was at it. And if there was a karaoke machine there, then she was on it! She’ll never get the chance to do all the things she loved again so I’m going to do things for her. Life is so precious. It just took everything I’ve been through to realise it.”
When I asked her how has this experience impacted on the decisions she makes today, she answers, “I’m calmer. I’m a lot more rational. I try to be less judgmental. I think things through a bit more before I make a final decision.”
Charlotte’s advice to anyone in a similar situation:
- Everything will always be ok.
- Friendships mean everything.
- Stay calm! And work your arse off every chance you get.
Huge thank you to Charlotte Gerrard for her time with CSHQ today.