They say behind every great man is a great woman (Well at least according to Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox!). Jason Shankey Salons have taken over Northern Ireland and although originally associated with male grooming, they have expanded into female styling and beauty in 2014.
Although her husband’s name is the one you hear, Brenda Shankey is the lady running the day to day operations of the salons. Brenda is the epitome of a businesswoman- focussed and straight-talking whilst still being a caring mother and loving wife. As well as running the salons, Brenda has also recently followed one of her other passions in the form of mindfulness therapy to inspire others to be the best version of themselves.
We talked to Mrs Shankey about her journey behind becoming the managing director of a well known brand and how her early motivation led to where she is now.
What was your school/university experience like?
I went to an all girls secondary school in Derry. It was mainly run by nuns so it was quite religious and strict! I enjoyed school though and participated in everything from choir to debating team, public speaking and drama . I was head girl in 5th year which gave me great opportunities and challenges. I then left after 5th as I was not very academic and wanted to pursue my career as a hairdresser.
What was your first job?
I was 14 years old and I worked every Saturday and Sunday at my uncle’s corner shop. I then had a Saturday job as a hairdressing trainee until I left school at 16 where I started an apprenticeship at Harvey’s hair studio in Derry.
How did you “make it” to where you are now?
I stayed 4 years in the one salon then I moved to Belfast at 19. I got a job in Hair Traffic and then at 21 progressed in salon to being a teacher of hairdressing. I stayed there for until age 24 where I then left to teach at Belfast Met. After 3 years there I met my husband. He then opened Jason Shankey Male Grooming. I joined him for a while, part time, until it became so busy I had to leave and work full time for the family business. Then when our two brains got together the collaboration seemed dynamic and 17 years later we have had 5 salons and a product brand in House of Fraser! We have had some up and downs- a testament to things not always being easy but now our brand is very well known and loved throughout our homeland. Our brand has expanded massively- we now have women’s hairdressing, beauty and sunbeds!
What is the hardest aspect of your job?
Staff! We have an amazing team that work for us but I think any business owner will admit that it is hard to please all of the people, all of the time.
Best moment of your career so far?
Winning Belfast Telegraph Business Woman of the Year in 2011
What inspires and motivates you?
I seem to have an inbuilt natural energy which inspires me daily. Apart from the basics of mortgage and living to pay for, my motivation is people being happy and looking fabulous. Look good and feel good!
If you could own any business in Ireland, what would you like to own?
Chain Reaction Cycles.. Phenonomonal success world wide.
What advice would you give to talented people who are looking to succeed in their chosen profession?
Be patient, have manners, have respect for your team, offer great customer service, follow the rules of the company, look your best, and SMILE!! It should make you happy not feel like a chore.. When you are happy anything is possible and always believe in yourself don’t listen to critics or let them hold you back! Be the best you can be!!
It’s clear to see why Brenda Shankey has become such a successful business-woman. She is likeable, friendly and a pleasure to be around.
For more about Jason Shankey salons, visit their website: www.jasonshankey.com
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