‘At the age of 57 years old, I said to myself, if you really want to do it, then just do it. I’ve realised that age isn’t a barrier, it’s only yourself that’s the barrier.’ These are the inspirational words that Lesley Woodcock told us when we interviewed her last month, and frankly we think they are great! Here’s Lesley’s story of how she successfully started her own business, later in life.
Chillax with Lesley is a Holistic Therapies business, where Lesley offers Aromatherapy, Reflexology and Ear Candling all from a unit in The Box inside Runcorn Shopping Centre. The business has been up and running since January of 2016 but already Lesley has gone through quite a journey to get to where she is today. Before setting up in business, Lesley worked for 22 years as a Civil Servant in Kent, although originally from the Merseyside area, before returning back up North where she planned to take early retirement alongside her husband. But of course, after some months spent recovering from a big move, she began to look for work and found a job as a hospital receptionist in The Walton Centre.
‘In January 2016, I came to a crossroads because my contract at The Walton Centre was coming to an end and the choice was either to look for another job or to finally put a plan into action for starting my own business. I thought if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this now, so I took a deep breath and jumped in, and the rest, as they say, is history.’
Whilst Lesley was living in Kent she trained and qualified as a Reflexologist back in 2008 and then qualified in Aromatherapy in 2010. She began to establish herself back then, but due to a lack of time found it difficult to grow the business. ‘Back in January 2016, after many conversations with my husband, we decided that now was definitely the right time to go for it and start my Holistic Therapies business up again.’
‘Once we made the decision, I contacted the management at Runcorn Shopping Centre to enquire about availabilities in The Box. I viewed the space, and at that point it wasn’t ideal! It’s an old store room next to the café kitchen, but I decided to take it. With a bit of imagination and a lot of hard work, some carpet and decoration, we’ve managed to create a welcoming and calming treatment room.’ And Lesley didn’t hang about when it came to renovating her new treatment room! All of this work was done within a week with the business officially opening on the 28th January.
She got into contact with The Women’s Organisation after Runcorn Shopping Centre put her in contact with us through the work that we had done to support other independent business women who have units in The Box. Lesley then began working with Business Adviser Mike Marsden who she says has been ‘Invaluable.’
‘Mike has given me some great ideas and pointed me in the right direction regarding the availability of free advertising in particular. But more than that, he has given me the confidence to move forward. He’s provided me with a guiding hand and helped me to produce a business plan so I can see where I need to be and look at ways to get there.’
Although the business is still in its infancy, things are going well for Chillax with Lesley as she’s received lots of interest and positive reactions. Currently she’s working very hard at promoting the business and making sure everyone in the area knows she’s there! But considering how quickly Lesley got her business up and running, we can’t be surprised that’s she’s already thought about the future of Chillax with Lesley;
‘Eventually I would like to move to new premises and have something that is a bit more user-friendly. But as I grow, I still want the values and ethos of the business to remain as they are now. I want to be able to keep my prices at an acceptable level, there are lots of people out there who aren’t on high wages or have a low income and I believe it’s important that they are able to benefit from Holistic Therapies too.’
For now though, Lesley is reaping the benefits of being her own boss after many years of working in different organisations; ‘I love having the freedom so I can dictate what I want to do and when I want to do it. I don’t have anybody pressuring me or looking over my shoulder.’ – We think it’s clear that self-employment is definitely the life for Lesley and it just goes to show that you can become your own boss at any stage of your life!
‘If somebody would have told me 18 months ago that I would be running my own business, I’d have laughed! But it has always been a dream of mine that up until now seemed impossible. I’m a 57 year old woman, who with the support of my husband, has started this adventure a little later in life, but it’s such a thrilling experience – I wouldn’t change it for anything!’
If you’ve been inspired by Lesley’s story and would like The Women’s Organisation to help you start up your own business, then get in touch with us! You can ring us on 0151 706 8111 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find out more about Chillax with Lesley by visiting her website here!