Amy Harris’ career prospects look good – thanks to her dad building her a beauty salon in their back garden.
The beautician, 18, feared coronavirus would have an impact on her career when she qualified this summer.
With fewer jobs, and salons tentatively reopening with strict Covid-19 guidelines, Amy’s dad Andy decided to build her a business – literally.
“Having a salon in the garden was only mentioned two weeks ago – now it’s up!” said Amy.
“It’s great because I felt a lot of stress, I didn’t know where my income was going to come from. I had bills to pay and felt a lot of pressure because when Covid happened my income stopped.”
Amy realises how lucky she is, especially because while unemployment figures have remained stable for most age ranges, for 18 to 24-year-olds it has risen since the start of the year.
Latest official figures show jobs vacancies have gone from a record high of 795,000 in the UK in February to a record low of 333,000 in June, with research suggesting young people were “most likely to lose their job” in lockdown.
The pandemic hit at a critical time for Amy’s beauty therapy qualification at Filton College in Bristol and it led to her being furloughed from her part-time job at a beauty salon near her home in Monmouthshire.
“Obviously the idea is to go to college, get my qualification and get a job,” said Amy, who lives with her parents in Caerwent, near Chepstow.
“But it’s quite daunting for some leaving college now after Covid, as there seems to be less jobs out there for those looking to start their career.”
Like many in the same position, she was naturally worried about whether being furloughed might translate into ultimately losing her job. Fortunately for Amy, mum Becky had a “bright idea”.
“My dad converted their study for my first salon,” said Amy.
“But with social distancing guidelines and new health and safety procedures in mind, we felt that was not safe for my clients or my family for that to continue.
“Mum suggested ‘why don’t we build a cabin in the back garden?’. Dad said ‘yeah ok’ and within a few days, the materials started arriving and now here it is.
“Without my parents I wouldn’t be able to do it, it’s great having that backup and support – I can’t thank them enough.”
The garden transformation cost “a couple of thousand of pounds” but property maintenance worker Andy was “glad to make an investment to his daughter’s future”.
“You’d do anything to help your kids, wouldn’t you?” said Andy.
“My work has dropped off during Covid, so I had a bit more time and people starting out in the middle of this have got it tougher than most – so I’m happy to do anything I can to help.”
The Beautify by Amy salon has running water, electricity and heating, and is insulated to make it “cosy” on those cold winter nights. Crucially, it can also be accessed via a footpath outside the house to make it Covid compliant.
“I want it to feel relaxed and welcoming for my clients as well as safe,” said Amy.