‘My bank laughed at me – but King Charles made my business dream come true’

Since its launch in 1976, the Prince’s Trust charity hashelped more than a million young people from disadvantaged communities gain essential life skills and job opportunities. OK! spoke to three woman with inspiring stories who owe their business success to the King.

If you want to hear more about howKing Charles has helped change the lives of people up and down the country then make sure you come back tomorrow for more.

Victoria Lynch, 45, set up Additional Lengths with help from The Prince’s Trust in 2003. She lives in Stockton- on-Tees with her partner Shaun and their children Presley, 18, and Josie, 13. Here, she tells her story…

“Twenty years ago, when I first tried to get my hair extensions business going, I asked the bank for a start-up loan. I went to the appointment smartly dressed and armed with a business plan I’d put together by myself. But I was laughed out of the door.

At that time there weren’t many women in business and hair extensions were a very new beauty innovation. The male banker certainly hadn’t heard of them and he looked at me as if I was crackers. He just didn’t believe my idea could succeed.

Luckily, The Prince’s Trust did believe in me and thanks to the initial support, my business, Additional Lengths, has grown over the years and is now worth millions. I first became interested in hair extensions in my early teens.

I braided the hair of an Afro-Caribbean family friend into neat cornrows and learnt to use hair extensions.

I was born in one of the most deprived areas in the UK and grew up on a council estate. There was drug use and riots. I was more practical than academic and left school at 16 with a C as my highest GCSE grade.

Taken seriously

The bank rejection in 2003 was deflating but it didn’t put me off. I felt sure hair extensions were going to be big. There was a branch of The Prince’s Trust in Middlesbrough and I’d heard they helped businesses, so I applied to their Enterprise scheme.

I think they could see how passionate I was about my idea and it was great to be taken seriously. I was thrilled when I was awarded a £500 grant plus a £1,500 interest-free loan. I used the money for essentials such as setting up a phone line, website and card payment machine.

Victoria’s business is now worth millions

I spent a few thousand pounds I had in compensation following a car accident on stock. I sent flyers about my hair extension products to local hair salons and sat in the little spare room at my parents’ house, praying for the phone to ring. At the very end of the first week, my first order came in. It was only worth £15.50 but I was over the moon.

There was so much to learn about running a business and I feared it would go under when only my second shipment of hair extensions turned out to be yak hair rather than human. But I made it work by incorporating those hair extensions into the training programmes I was running.

When I had my son Presley in 2005, I was back answering customer emails three days later. After my daughter Josie was born in 2010, I was breastfeeding her at my desk. But I was very lucky to have the support of my partner, Shaun, who I’ve been with since we were both 14. I now employ 27 staff from the local area and the business is continuing to expand in the UK and Europe.

Contacting The Prince’s Trust was the best decision I ever made. The charity really understands communities, that people like me need support to level up. I’m proof that you don’t have to have qualifications or come from a high-flying family to succeed. As long as you’re prepared to work hard, you can realise your dreams.”

For more information and to check out Victoria’s business, visitadditionallengths.co.uk

If you know a young person who needs support, or if you would like to donate to The Prince’s Trust, visit princes-trust.org.uk


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