LOCAL hair salon owner Amanda Schwarzrock is celebrating 15 years in business this week, and 23 years at the same salon.

Ms Schwarzrock began at J and R Hair Designers as a 15-year-old apprentice, moving up the ranks to eventually own the place herself.

Her first child was only one month old at the time, so on top of becoming a new business owner, she was also juggling becoming a new mum.

Ms Schwarzrock said it was a challenging but rewarding time, and she has enjoyed watching the salon grow.

“I started my apprenticeship in 1995 and eventually when I was a senior hairdresser I went on maternity leave and my old boss asked me if I wanted to purchase the salon,” she said.

“I decided it to was too good an opportunity to pass up and took over, my son was just five weeks old at the time.

“Luckily for me as I was already working there, the transition was quite easy, the hard part was going from being a business person to working mum, that was interesting but luckily I had a great deal of support behind me.”

Ms Schwarzrock said over the years she has witnessed staff numbers double, the salon move to a new location and undergo two fit-outs, seen two city centre heart re-developments and many changes in hair fashion too.

And in her 15 years of business she estimates having had 62,500 client visits for hair cuts, colours and styles, 162,240 in the 39 years the salon has been open in total, previously under its original owners.

“The salon has only had two owners in its time,” she said.

“And we chose to keep the name because it was doing so well in Mackay, it had loyal customers and I believe that if something isn’t broken then don’t try to fix it. The old owners did such a great job at building the brand, getting it to where it was, I was lucky to be able to take it over and continue building what they had grown.”

Ms Schwarzrock was born and bred in Mackay, growing up on her parents cane farm in Oakenden.

“Yes parents are both cane farmers, so we lived out that way and then I attended school in Mackay,” she said.

“I went to school until 15 and then began my apprenticeship at J and R that same year, at the time it was more a job that I fell into but then I just grew to love it.

“I just wanted a job that would make ends meet because I wanted to go travelling when I finished my apprenticeship at 18, that was my initial plan, but then I just fell in love with the job and making people feel great so I stayed on.”

Ms Schwarzrock said she always had a passion for business, and owning one only seemed like a natural progression, however, she never realised when she was younger that it would be in the hair industry.

“I worked many part time jobs doing all sorts of stuff, I was always quite driven and fascinated with business and eventually that just grew into something more,” she said. “I’m really proud of where we’ve come in all these years, we’ve won lots of awards, the Chamber of Commerce used to run a best in business award which we took out four in a row.

“We’ve also done a lot of hairdressing competitions and taken out various awards for colour, bridal, fashion and cutting over the years, and we won a national PH award from Schwarzkopf.”

But with the ups came downs as well, changes in the economy, proving a challenge, but nothing the salon couldn’t overcome, Ms Schwarzrock said.

“It was definitely not something I could have done without the amazing support of my husband (a Hail Creek fitter) and rest of my family,” she said.

As for the future, Ms Schwarzrock said she doesn’t plan to expand to another store.

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