Have you ever had your hair cut out in the sunshine, surrounded by dancers, DJ’s and an Elvis impersonator?
If the answer is no, head down to HiLites Hair Salon where Alison Irish has turned that dream into a reality.
Like many, Alison always dreamed of owning her own hair salon. But like everyone else, she thought it would never be more than that. Just a dream.
Until one day, out of the blue, her husband got talking to a local estate agent who happened to have everything that she was looking for.
‘I think I would have fallen in love with it, whatever it had looked like’ Alison admits while she describes HiLites, the hair salon that she now owns.
She sits in her leather black chair and talks proudly of how she accidently landed in a position that has completely changed her everyday life.
Alison uses the passion and love that she has for her hair and beauty salon to raise money for charities and local causes close to her heart.
Alison and the team at HiLites organise a wide variety of regular events for many charities. All the way from outdoor haircuts, and summer balls to car boot sales. They hold extravagant functions but also allow for the less adventurous to join in and support the causes.
Employee and friend Jo, says that she too enjoys the big events but likes the variety of functions that they hold. ‘This year we did a pub quiz which was really fun. It’s just bringing something different to the table’.
Alison adds ‘whether people donate two pounds or 10, they feel like they are helping, although they may not want to run a marathon, or climb a mountain’.
They choose a new charity every year in order to raise money and awareness for a number of different causes. The process of choosing who to support each year comes from the local needs and the clients that they see on a daily basis. ‘If we had a client that was suffering from pancreatic Cancer then we would do that. If I know something about somebody who was local that would influence the choice’.
The team at HiLites all work together to put these fundraisers together. In a recent car boot sale, the HiLites team all woke up at 5 o’clock in on a Sunday morning to help out. ‘I think that in itself is testament to how much everybody wants to pull together and I am really proud of the fact that we can do this as a team’.
For the girls, the feeling is mutual. Jo, 25, says she loves coming into work every morning. ‘I don’t feel like I’m going to work. As soon as I’m here we just have a laugh’.
‘Me and Holly want to put her up for Mayor of Portsmouth.’ Jo says as she motions over to Alison across the salon. ‘With Alison, it’s not like oh my god, it’s the boss! She’s our friend she’s just another one of us’.
Alison brings this generosity to the everyday workplace too. She feels that salons can be intimidating places and that a lot of people leave these kinds of places not feeling good about their new hair which is why she builds relationships with her clients and understands their lifestyles before going for the cut. ‘People don’t ever leave the salon unless they are 100% happy with their hair, it’s all about making them feel good’.
One of her clients described her as a generous woman who genuinely really does care. ‘She helps me feel good about myself, you can’t say that about everybody these days. We need more people like her’.
Last year HiLites raised money for MacMillan, they have also fundraised for Prostate Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Diabetes and many others. This year they managed to raise £5706.76.
‘That’s a lot of money but it’s not as much as last year’ she says to me as she proudly holds her previous awards.
The team are not yet sure what will come next year but Alison hints that the charity of choice may be along the lines of mental health. But as she reiterates, HiLites are a team and they are yet to make a decision together.