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Durham hairdressing site locks in national business award


Sep 16, 2021

A one-of-a-kind hairdressing directory that launched during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic has been named a UK Small Business of 2021.

Stylebook Directory is an online directory that allows customers to find a stylist based on their preferred hairstyle. Launched last November by Sarah Yorke, the business matches customers with local stylists and is the only directory specific to the hairdressing industry.

Barbers, trainees and hairdressers can sign-up to the directory for free to promote their salon, build a portfolio to attract clientele or hire new staff. Future development of the website is set to include an online shop where users can buy haircare products. Sarah hopes that future investment will also allow her to create a Stylebook Directory app and broaden its reach from the North East to cover the whole of the UK.

The idea had been in the pipeline for nearly a decade but only came to life during lockdown when the industry came to a halt. Sarah, who lives in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, was inspired to launch the business after she had a haircut that went wrong. She decided to use her extra time to set up the directory to help customers avoid disappointing haircuts, allowing them the ability to select their stylist based on portfolio pictures.

Now Stylebook Directory has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2021 awards, which celebrates firms across the UK. The business was selected in recognition of its innovation and determination to launch during challenging conditions.

Sarah wins a mentoring session with Steven Bartlett, founder of Social Chain and a new star of the BBC’s Dragon’s Den. He’ll offer advice on how to expand a digital business and the best ways to seek investment.

Sarah Yorke, director of Stylebook Directory, said: “When you explain the concept to people, they are baffled that it hasn’t already been done. I’ve worked in the hairdressing industry for nearly 30 years so understand how difficult it can be to find a stylist who will give you the haircut you want.

“We launched at the end of last year and, while it has been incredibly difficult, we’ve seen positive signs with over 1,000 images already uploaded by hairdressers for clients to browse. We’ve also had the website promoted in magazines and have even had celebrity stylists like Andrew Barton support us.

“The goal now is to find an investor so that the business can begin to scale up. That’s what we’re keen to get from the mentoring session as we hope Steven can provide ideas on how best to approach expansion.

“It’s still early in the journey but taking on a team to allow us to compete globally is the dream. I still can’t get over the fact we have won the award. It’s reassuring to know that people believe in the idea and it can only be a step in the right direction.”

Gareth Oakley, managing director of business banking at Lloyds Bank, said: “While many businesses were adopting new techniques to survive during uncertainty, Sarah took a leap of faith and launched Stylebook Directory.

“It hasn’t been an easy journey for her but the creativity and innovation behind the concept make it an extremely exciting business – and a standout winner. It’s businesses like Stylebook Directory that will inspire other budding entrepreneurs to put their ideas into action.”