All good things come to an end and knowing when the time is right to move on is essential.

This has been a hard decision to make, something coming out of lockdown I realised I needed to do, yet procrastinated on for a bit.

By Christmas 2021 I knew the time was right for me to move on. Change is scary but also can be very exciting, so I am leaving the business I have been running as a partnership for 15 years. The training school currently known as Allen and Walden will continue, but I am moving on and developing my other business interests and passion,, so the “Allen” half of the Allen and Walden duo will be no more.

The story of our Allen and Walden partnership started way back in 2005 when I started to hatch a plan. It was based on a dream to start a new way of training adults who wanted to return to study, but did not want to be stuck in a college of further education in a large group of mainly 16 year olds. These women needed something that would fit around family life and, for many, they needed to carry on working to earn a living.

The first time I voiced this dream was in 2006, while staying in a hotel room after attending the horse of the year show with Jenny Walden. Jenny was a fellow colleague from North West Kent college where we both worked, we both had horse mad daughters who we treated to a night away and the experience of the horse of the heart show. From the start when I told Jenny my vision she was keen to see where this dream would lead and said she was in.

2006 was the year that Gnarls Barkley had his hit Crazy – and I can remember being called crazy at the time as some friends and family really did think I was mad giving up a secure, well paid job teaching in further education. “I think you’re crazy” was the first line of the song and kept going around in my head BUT that didn’t stop me. So, Jenny and I started doing private training courses together while we both continued working and teaching at college.

By early 2007 I had my picture, alongside one of my students featured in a glossy magazine Woman and Home, it was an article about changing your life and starting something new. This was before social media, so a magazine mention was epic and helped launch our business, then called Allen and Walden professional therapy training.

We took on our first business premises and completely renovated that in 2007, not realising that we were about to be hit by the massive international banking crisis that started in USA and quickly escalated to the UK. By Sept 2008, the UK was experiencing its deepest recession since the second world war. Strangely and fortunately, unlike many other businesses this did not hit us too badly. Who knew so many women in banking wanted to change direction and realise a long-lost dream of becoming a Beauty Therapist or Complementary therapist? Many got a retraining allowance alongside a redundancy package so it was a win win for us.

Over the last 15 years in business, we have experienced many ups and downs with the economy, have seen 7 prime ministers come and go, we started trading under a labour government and now have a conservative prime minister.

We have had all the uncertainty of Brexit, followed by the Covid pandemic with a total lockdown of the UK and our business starting 23rd March 2020 and we remained in and out of lockdown until summer 2021 and even then we still had many restrictions in place for close contact.

I do not need to try to explain to any of you how tough the last few years have been, but the pandemic hit the Beauty industry very hard. I campaigned hard and long for us to be reopened when other businesses (like hair) were able to reopen but we remained closed. I even had a short appearance on our local ITV News slot.

On a brighter note, during our partnership years, we have seen some very happy occasions. 2 Royal weddings Prince William to Kate Middleton, Prince Harry to Meghan Markle and we also got to host the 2012 Olympics in London. Yes, I did take my daughter to Greenwich to see the show jumping.

We Celebrated VE day as a nation, and I got to have a socially distanced party outside with neighbours in the middle of the pandemic.

We later celebrated the Queens platinum Jubilee and then sadly later, her death and state funeral.

We now have a king on the throne and have a coronation to look forward to.

There have been so many changes in Britain, on top of all the business and Industry changes we have seen over the years.

Jenny and I have had 4 business premises, (4 different landlords to negotiate with) the current one in Collaboration with PJS- Beauty Salon equipment. It has been a pleasure sharing office space with the CEO of PJS Paul Matthes and his team, and it has been a bonus to have all the latest equipment at our disposal plus Paul’s expertise.

Since starting Allen and Walden I have watched my own daughter finish school, then college, and grow into an amazing young woman and fabulous Therapist and teacher in her own right. She is now married, a mum to a beautiful 14-month-old, with number two on the way. I am so lucky that I get to be a very hands-on nanny and love the new energy becoming a grandparent gives you.

I have had the pleasure to teach so many lovely students over the years, and been inspired by so many amazing women who have gone on to develop their own careers within the industry. Many of whom I am still in touch with.

I have learnt loads over the last 15 years in business, good stuff, bad stuff, made mistakes and as ever with the benefit of hindsight, now know where I wouldn’t go wrong again (but there will be new mistakes ahead). We never stop learning and striving to do things better.

As an entrepreneur there are always ups and downs, you have to stay ahead of the game, work with other like minded people, and never be too proud to take advice.

Well lately I’ve been doing just that, my future is looking rosie and my new business is going from strength to strength.

On top of my teaching and Therapy skills, I am constantly undertaking new training and development. I have some great new Aromatherapy resources that I will be sharing with you soon and I will be rolling out new courses and workshops in 2023.

I am still very much enjoying working with my clients on a one-to-one basis but will be adding more group programmes soon too.

Flying solo shows you just how strong and capable you are, in business or in life. Never underestimate how capable you are in life and what you can achieve once you put your mind to it.

I love a bit of Disney (films as opposed to theme parks) and Walt Disney was a man of great vision and inspiration who once said:

 “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

We are all evolving and should keep moving forward and not looking back over our shoulders. The best is yet to come.

Well, here’s to the next chapter and I hope you will follow me on my new path and journey.


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