Business start-up loans, mentoring and support

Mary Corrigan promotes her services for alopecia sufferers, with finance and support from Newable's Start Up team

Alopecia, the condition where hair is lost in patches, affects 23% of people in the developed world, at some point in their lives, yet relatively little is known about what causes it. After successfully treating her own symptoms, Mary Corrigan was inspired to write about her experiences to provide an overview of the options available to fellow hair-loss sufferers. Her self-published book "What's Up With My Hair?" went on to sell 500 copies within 24 months. She continued to receive messages from people seeking support to deal with their hair loss after she was featured in the national press. The need to deal with these queries professionally, led her to gain a qualification in counselling skills, which she now incorporates in her hair loss advisory service which she offers to people who are affected by Alopecia.

Earlier this year Mary secured a small loan and mentoring support to cover the costs of reprinting her book and promoting her hair loss advisory service, through Newable's Start Up finance team.

Establishing a strong image in a fragmented market

To build a trust-worthy reputation in the largely unregulated hair loss treatment market, Mary has used her own story to engage her audiences and promote her impartial stance on the solutions offered. As such, her book features tools for Alopecia sufferers, such as a checklist of symptoms which can be shown to doctors. She explains, "Managing expectations can be difficult when people expect miracles. Therefore, instead of selling expensive treatments I'm selling a book which gives people an impartial overview of the options available to them, based on my own experience."

Finding an affordable way to self-publish

Initially it was difficult to find a book printer who would produce her books affordably; however Mary eventually contacted CPI Books, a Croydon-based company who specialise in supporting self-publishing authors. Mary says, "Traditionally publishers have owned the rights to writers work and paid them a fraction of the sales made. Online booksellers now have control over postage costs and also charge a premium rate for commission." Mary now hopes to sell a greater number of books directly through her website.

How Newable's Start Up team helped Mary

Having noticed the demand for "What's Up With My Hair?" Mary needed a small loan to cover the costs of printing 600 copies and promoting her hair loss advisory services at The Allergy Show 2014, London Olympia.

Discussing the risks involved in borrowing money she says, "I wasn't worried about borrowing money for the books because I knew they would sell. A portion of the loan is for a stand at The Allergy show in Olympia." Having a business plan, outlining how the event can be used to generate leads and sell books has helped Mary to negotiate the risks involved in borrowing money.

With help from Newable's Start Up team, Mary has also outlined a budgeting forecast which defines how much money her business will need to generate to create a viable income for her.

As part of the support she's received from Newable's Start Up team, access to regular mentoring has helped to ensure that Mary's business makes a strong start. She says, "Mentoring helps to focus your mind and bounce off ideas. For example my mentor suggested increasing the cost of a consultation in person to encourage telephone consultations, as this will lower my costs".

The future

Mary is now ready to promote her services at the Allergy Show. She says, "Having a visible presence in the right place and environment should help to generate leads and sell books." She'll also be giving talks at hair dressing colleges to add value to the services offered by hairdressers.

Adding to her alopecia support package, Mary has developed a food programme to support hair regrowth, which focusses on reducing levels of candida, a fungal growth which can affect the body's ability to absorb nutrients and thrives on sugar. This will be delivered through cookery demonstration classes, as the business expands.

Advising people who are thinking of starting a similar business, she says, "Talk to as many people as you can. Listen to people's suggestions. Take advice on board. It can be daunting and scary but once you've got assistance and a business plan, it can be done."

For more information about "What's Up With My Hair?" visit

Mary Corrigan promotes her services for alopecia sufferers, with finance and support from GLE?s Start Up team

Starting a business can be daunting and scary but once you?ve got assistance and a business plan, it can be done.

Mary Corrigan, author of 'What's Up With My Hair'.

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