Charlie and her Beauty Zone business

Charlie is a young woman who lives in Rotherham. She has a passion for beauty and real skills in beauty therapy.

I always enjoyed doing make-up, people loved coming for my massages, because I’m so good

On leaving school she studied hard and achieved several beauty therapy qualifications.

Charlie and Beauty Zone

At first Charlie volunteered as a beauty therapist and offered her treatments to friends and family. Charlie has autism and when she decided to progress her interest into a career, she found that despite her obvious talent she was not able to get any opportunities.

I looked for a salon job and nobody would take me on or give me a chance because of my disability, even though I am hard working. Therefore, I thought I might as well set up my own business

Charlie’s Beauty Zone is a beauty therapy business based in Rotherham.

Charlie offers a fantastic range of treatments including manicures, pedicures, tinting, makeup and massage. She offers her services to the public but also does tailored work with carers and other people who may find it hard to access mainstream beauty therapy.

It is nice to see people with disabilities enjoying a bit of pampering, because I think it doesn’t matter if you have a disability, I think you should always have a bit of pampering, get rid of stress. They just come to me because they know they can be nice and relaxed, if they want to talk they know I’ll listen to their troubles, it’s like they get a bit of counselling, but they know it won’t go any further, it stays in the room… I’m very professional in my job and they know they can trust me

What helped?

Charlie began to work with Speakup a local self-advocacy service in Rotherham. People at Speakup introduced her to Harry at Community Catalysts because they thought he might help her to turn her passion for beauty therapy into her own business. Harry from Community Catalysts offered Charlie help and advice as her idea developed into an enterprise.

Even though every company should let someone apply for a job with autism I’ve found I’ve always struggled to get a job, so soon as I mention autism, they say what’s that. So that’s when Annie (at Speak Up) put me in touch with Harry and then we looked at the business thing

She has had lots of help from family and friends, both practical and personal.


Charlie is clear that setting up your own business can have real challenges and be stressful as a result. It can also be hard work and sometimes unpredictable.

It is hard work, I love the business, but sometimes people can text you one minute, like on a Sunday wanting me to work, I can’t do it

Achievements and impact

Gaining her beauty therapy qualifications was a real achievement for Charlie.

Finishing my level 3 in beauty. Because when I was younger, when I did my level 2 got told I wasn’t capable of doing it they said it would be too difficult, but I always like a challenge

She has built up a strong client base and this is growing all the time. The high standard of her work is evidenced by how many regulars she now has returning for treatments. Charlie has gained skills and confidence along the way.

I can put a lot of things down on my CV, I can put management down I can put reception down, I can put bookings down. I have more confidence because, it’s just shown that I can actually work in a salon

She has also had a positive impact on carers and disabled people in her community who use her services.

Parents and carers often find it difficult to take time out to treat themselves and many would never feel comfortable going into a Beauty Salon, as they would feel intimidated by the environment. Charlie now spends a full day once a month at the Forum premises offering beauty treatments at a very reasonable cost. Her customers have reported back that they find Charlie very easy to get along with and the fact that they can book to have treatments in an environment they are familiar with, makes a huge difference. Working with Charlie has been incredibly beneficial to us, the Forum are looking forward to a long-term working relationship with Charlie – Andrea, Rotherham Parent Carers Forum

The future

In the future Charlie is hoping to have her own beauty therapy shop.

I’m hoping I can afford to run a shop instead of being at home because, then as soon as I walk out of the door, I know that this is my responsibility. I just want to work for myself… to be the boss… because I know if I work for myself, I can do things when I want.