Harold Hill’s Heavenly celebrates first anniversary - and owner Maria hopes to inspire others

“If I can do it, absolutely anyone can.” That’s the message from the Harold Hill mum-of-two whose beauty salon has just celebrated its first birthday.

For Maria Hayllar, 39, Heavenly’s anniversary came at the end of a long journey that began when her husband fell ill in 2005 and was unable to work.

“I didn’t want to go onto benefits,” said Maria, “so I enrolled at Havering College.

“As a mum and an older student, going back to college and was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.”

But the hard work didn’t end there. “After college, I couldn’t actually get a job, so I offered my services voluntarily,” Maria explained.

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With the help of Yvonne Bendall from the council’s business team, Maria drafted a business plan and went before a board in Brick Lane to apply for funding.

“It was a bit like Dragons’ Den,” she said. “I literally had not one penny to my name and I had to explain my idea to all these men in suits.

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“Against all the odds, they said yes.”

Since its opening last year, Heavenly has expanded its services and employed four staff - and the Petersfield Avenue salon was dolled up on Saturday June 2nd to mark its first year in business with a celebration for customers and staff.

Now Maria hopes her story will inspire others.

“I can’t believe little me has done all this from nothing,” she said.

“To any women like myself, I want to say: if I can do it, absolutely anyone can. At college I was on benefits because we had no income. We’ve got a business out of absolutely nothing but hard work.”

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