Success Stories

From medicine to ‘hair-up’: one salon owner’s unusual journey

It’s a long way from putting patients to sleep to caring for their hair. But that’s the journey one creative salon owner has taken.

For 20 years Roger Tackley was a consultant anaesthetist at Torbay Hospital. It certainly meant he spent many hours sitting at the ‘head-end’ of his patients. But then he was more concerned with their health than with their hair style.

But even as a teenager, Roger had a passion for hair. It was just that, first time around in his choice of profession, the ‘sensible’ route won out over the ‘creative’. As Roger says: “Medicine is, of course, an intellectually and emotionally demanding profession, and I certainly enjoyed it. But it doesn’t give you many opportunities to express your inner artist.”

So when Roger, still working full-time as a consultant, started taking evening classes in hairdressing, it may have amused his colleagues, but he was returning to his early enthusiasm. He started to work part-time in a local salon, and when the chance came to buy the business 7 years ago, he made the great leap from one profession to another.

Here’s how he explains the difference in satisfaction he now gets: “As an anaesthetist, you see your patient before the operation, and have to win their trust quickly. But you generally don’t see them afterwards, even when it’s all gone well, and so you rarely get a ‘thank you’ for your work. It’s very different in the salon.”

But running his own business far away from the administrative comfort of the NHS has been a shock to the system for Roger: “There’s a lot to think about – employment law, training, health and safety. And it’s a very competitive environment now. It’s getting harder to differentiate what you offer from everyone else.”

Roger has a particular passion for ‘hair-up’ work, and refreshes his knowledge and skills on courses and studying the specialist magazines. “It can be a challenge keeping all the salon balls in the air, but I have no regrets about the choice I made. I love it”.