Founder and owner of The End Hairdressing, Lisa Wilson, shares her inspiring story of managing single parenthood and running a business, all while living with a breast cancer diagnosis
When Lisa was 17, she left home to experience the world and quickly began a hairdressing apprenticeship, later opening her first salon in Brisbane at the age of 23. Soon after, Lisa unexpectedly started a family, but continued working for the next five years raising her daughter alone.
Before long, Lisa settled into a relationship on the Gold Coast and had another daughter. For the next 15 years Lisa assisted her partner with the family business, whilst raising the children. When the relationship ended, though, Lisa needed to get back to work in order to support herself as a single parent. She sought to up skill, but faced difficulties returning to work (a struggle many mothers have, despite the experience they possess). However, this wasn’t the end of the challenges she was to face.
Due to the difficulties of finding employment (and driven by caring for her children), Lisa (aged 48) chose to start a business in 2013, securing a small hairdressing salon called The End Salon, in Mermaid Beach.
Lisa bravely took on the challenge to build the business from a non-existent client list into a success and worked hard to upskill before working on the floor. As Lisa described, “I don’t half do things and needed to learn quickly… I wouldn’t even pick up a blowdryer until I was ready.”
During this time, Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she fiercely advocates for raising awareness, showing support, and spreading hope and love to those with the diagnosis, through honest conversation. As Lisa frankly told me, “I don’t think what I did was extraordinary — you do what you have to do in order to survive and early diagnosis is so important.”
Since then, the family has grown; her eldest daughter now has three children under seven years of age. Lisa is actively involved in their lives and has her youngest daughter at home, who is in full-time study at university. If life wasn’t busy enough, in 2018 Lisa took on the task of rebranding the business as The End Hairdressing and relocating it to a new address in Mermaid Beach. With responsibilities to family and employees, the stakes were at an all-time high; but as Lisa would say, “Failure was not an option.”
The highs and lows didn’t stop there. In 2019, The End Hairdressing was a dual finalist at the Australian Hair Industry Awards (AHIA’s), securing a Boutique Design Award nomination at the AHIAS’s, while Lisa’s apprentice, Logan Cook, was also a finalist in the Apprentice of the Year category. The dual nomination is quite an achievement and The End Hairdressing was the only Queensland salon in the Boutique Design category.
The application process was dramatic to say the least, with Lisa in hospital just two weeks before the deadline, delaying the submission until moments before applications closed. Not to mention, during this time Lisa lost half of her staff due to a family relocation and change in career. Overcoming these challenges helped put Lisa and her team on the map for their next great adventure.
In September, 2019, Lisa attended New York Fashion Week with Elite Hair Education, working beside Prema Hair, Anti Collective and under the creative direction of Franco Gobbi, for the fashion brand KAIMIN (a New York-based fashion house). Throughout the magical experience, Lisa thrived alongside the team producing hair creations for KAIMIN’s runway show — a brand that has been worn by the likes of Lady Gaga, Bjork, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, to name a few.
Today, the salon continues to shine and uphold Lisa’s dedication to education. This will persist into 2020, with Redken QLD educator, Brendon Kahl, partnering with The End Hairdressing to provide industry education on the Gold Coast.
Chatting to her team, including senior stylists Scott Carter and Alyssa Watts, and apprentice Tara Haskell, it is clear they benefit from their work environment, set by Lisa’s example of resilience, self-belief, and willingness to keep learning.