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The Vanilla Room in Hornchurch celebrates 20 years of cuts, colour and blow-dry

PUBLISHED: 15:02 11 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:02 11 November 2015

Angela Watkinson MP  joins Vanilla Room owner Kerry Larcher to celebrate the hair salon's 20th birthday

Angela Watkinson MP joins Vanilla Room owner Kerry Larcher to celebrate the hair salon's 20th birthday

Archant

An independent hairdressers in Hornchurch, which says having cut over 250,000 heads of hair, has celebrated in style its 20th anniversary last week.

The successful business story of the Vanilla Room, on High Street, Hornchurch, has grown from 41 year-old owner Kerry Larcher’s “passion for hairdressing” since she was 13 and working as a Saturday girl in a London salon.

“That’s all I ever wanted to do,” said Ms Larcher, who opened the Vanilla Room aged 21.

“This is a big achievement. There are hardly any independent shops in our area and certainly not that have been here for 20 years.”

Ms Larcher, who lives in Brentwood, described her business as “a family based local employer”, which provides customers with “a quality experience” and “empowers” residents with jobs.

Hornchurch and Upminster MP Dame Angela Watkinson, who visited the salon on November 5, said: “The Vanilla Room is a shining example of local business providing great customer service, job opportunities and apprentice training for over 20 years. Hornchurch should be proud.”

The independent business, which now employs about 50 people and serves more than 450 clients every week, first opened in 1995 on the premises of a former “iconic” salon in North Street with only three members of staff, including Scott Dale and Jenni Cooper, who still work there today.

Within three years, the business had grown so quickly Ms Larcher invested in a second shop a few doors down the road and in 2005, The Vanilla Room moved to the bigger shop on Hornchurch High Street.

From the very start, the salons had computerised booking, “which no-one had heard off then” said Ms Larcher but which enabled The Vanilla Room to record the number of cuts, blow-dries, and hair styles made over the years.

She is also keen to take on work experience pupils and apprentices from the area and train them in-house to “inspire” them to pursue a similar career.

“I am the mother of all the apprentices here,” she laughs.

She was on the floor before the age of 18 in small salons in Upminster and Hornchurch and decided that was where she wanted to work.

The Vanilla Room will be celebrating its 20th anniversary throughout the months with events, competitions and prizes to watch out for.


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