On July 8, Louise Smith opened Beautify Me in Havant, inspired by the beauty treatments she had given others during her time in a women’s refuge.
Her commitment to helping other women find an outlet is what won her this year’s We Can Do It award for Best Business, sponsored by Gunwharf Quays.
Louise, 39, says the salon has been booming since she opened the doors alongside business partner Kimberley Clark.
She said: ‘Things have been going really well for us – we often find ourselves fully booked each day which is great news.
‘I really didn’t think I would win the award for Best Business because there are so many people at the We Can Do It awards who are so deserving of prizes.
‘It was lovely just to be nominated in the first place.'
While in the women’s refuge, Louise wanted to make a difference to the lives of other women.
She says doing something as simple as their nails can be enough to brighten their day – and give them someone to open up to about what they are going through.
‘I’ve been there, I know how bad things can get,’ Louise said.
‘Little gestures like that can make a big difference to people though, it's not nice being in a refuge and so I was determined to try and put a smile on these women’s faces.
‘When people come in, I share my story with them and that often makes them open up about the things they’re going through too.’
Louise’s experiences mean she knows the tell-tale signs to look out for that might indicate someone is being abused.
But above everything else, the salon staff and its customers have become a family, all looking out for one another.
‘Everybody knows everybody else now,’ Louise said.
‘It’s such a wonderful atmosphere in the salon – we absolutely love what we do.’