How I Started in Business – The Early Years – Salon Punk Shop
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How I Started in Business – The Early Years

Tamara Forrest-Smith

Honestly – What the hell happened to salon marketing?

It’s lost its way for sure.

The great marketing secrets lost their value in the great give everything away of the Internet explosion where the uninformed became informed just a little about a lot yet not enough to create the genius that is needed in true marketing and for real marketing results.

This reduced the value of good marketing and created a changeable systematic route to nowhere in particular delivered by those desiring significance through their evangelical ‘save-all’ born again skillsets.

Anything new in marketing is raised like a fix-all and anything older than months is cast aside as old-fashioned and no longer relevant.

From what I have seen more money is lost in the marketing process these days than made in the process. Those that learned their marketing skillsets via the opt-in or download period can destroy a hard working person business almost overnight with new latest and greatest strategies that with a small amount of thought will clearly never work in a million years.

What works for one clearly cannot work for another yet the new modern digital marketer sees a once fix for all.

It’s marketing confusion.

It’s a marketing mess.

It’s marketing corruption.

Yet … never in my three-plus decades of trying to win over customers for clients and myself has there been a greater need for good direct response and honest marketing or business advice that brings in a return on investment. ROI like spend £100 to deliver £1000 has always been easy when marketing is done right.

I built my early business spending as good to zero on marketing. That can still be done and be done more than ever.

Marketing is really not that difficult.

Market – in.

Taking your products into the market – where buyers are waiting.

You grow potatoes.

People want potatoes.

You head over to where the people that want potatoes are.

That’s marketing and that has never changed and will never change.

So this is a history of marketing through my own eyes. How it started and where it is today.

I think you’ll find it more than relevant, important, mind awakening and a stripping back to what the core of marketing truly is.

That’s unless the digital potato arrives and then was all screwed!

In 1985 I started working for myself because frankly, I kept getting fired and I don’t take orders well.

God only knows if that makes me an expert in being self-employed and creating business yet what I do know is I have created my own incomes, business, marketing, cash, success failures and so much more over the past three decades and more.


It’s 1973 and I am just 10-years old. I am a Scottish immigrant that has moved to England for a better life. My accent is strong and I stand out as do my family. We live on a council estate that is run by the home office for prison warders. My father is a prison warder.

The electric goes off and on all the time. Our parents are all at work. We ride our Raleigh choppers bike around the estate pretending to be Hells Angels. The music of the Bay City Rollers, David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Rod Stewart can be heard blaring from windows as we ride around the estate.

The more we ride the more we damage our bikes. It wasn’t uncommon for a bike to look like a real wreck just a month after Christmas after all not only were we hells Angels we are also Evil Knevil and could pull any stunt from a wheelie to flying over gaps and landing on a ramp at the other side.

My purple chopper got so scratched I decided that it would be a cool idea to get some paint in a can and repaint it. Behind our house were old garages we would break into all the time by climbing through the broken asbestos roofs. We were never stealing we were simply being commandos avoiding being seen by imaginary spotlights.

I found some orange spray paint and put it in my bag that I had also requisitioned from the old army base we would visit on a regular basis. On a side note we all wore bullet belts, grenade pouches, gun holsters and even jungle machetes we also took from the old army base. Only those that got the gas mask were seen as commanding officers and that was always the very ugly boy named ‘Gaz’!

Once we sneaked out of the old garage and after we all went home I decided to strip down my bike and paint it in my parent’s house in the kitchen.

Once painted in orange and rebuilt I went on a new mission the following day where we had all decided to dig a tunnel under the old railway.

Everyone would meet outside the estate pub and then ride out but this morning was to be different.

When I arrived all the boys stopped and asked about my bike. They couldn’t believe how cool it was. They wanted the same. One at a time I took the bikes back with me – after we dug the tunnel – obviously – and painted the bikes with my random cans of paint I had ‘borrowed’ and got paid cash on delivery.

I charged 50 pence per bike. My stock cost nothing. Maybe I painted 20 bikes at that time. Mark stole his 50 pence from the Milk round he used to do. I’ve no idea where the rest of the boys got theirs. Suddenly I was the richest kid on the estate so I went and bought myself an air rifle. I really wanted to be a sniper not a commando.

At ten years old I had learnt a critical lesson in business. I didn’t know that at the time but it was a rule that stuck with me until this day and it is this.

People will buy what they want to buy, what they are ready to buy if you put it in front of them.

They wanted painted bikes.

I painted the bikes.


It can be a strange thing to see a kid that thinks he is a commando dressed in flared jeans wearing a David Bowie t-shirt using a sewing machine but that’s what happened. It was there; I was bored so I started using it.

I decided to sew together some bedding and make a parachute. It was easy and my parachute worked. First I jumped from the back wall, which was maybe 8-foot high. Then tried trees that were just a little higher. Then finally my battalion decided it was time someone tried it by jumping off the roof and I mean the roof of the house. Gaz – the crazy one – decided he would do it after all he was our leader. After climbing up the drainpipe at the side Gaz carefully got into position at the edge of the roof. The parachute was rolled up behind him and then he jumped. The parachute didn’t open and Gaz broke his leg. We decided being grounds troops was the safer option so the parachute went. From there I made tents to go camping, sails for our battleships on the local pond and flags for our rafts. I became a bit of an expert playing around on a sewing machine.

The Bay City Rollers the pop band had become huge. They were from Edinburgh the same place I was from so I kind of wanted to be Les or Woody in my own way.

I had the jeans but no tartan on the jeans. The rollers and their fans always had tartan turn-ups or stripes down the side. I asked my mum to buy me a tartan scarf. I took the scarf, cut it up and sewed the tartan into my jeans.

The day I left my house to ride my chopper was the day I was inundated with orders for tartan turn-ups on jeans. I charged everyone a small amount – just £1. Again I probably did around twenty pair of jeans and again I was a rich kid on a very poor estate.

One day my father arrived home with his new prison officer uniform. The trousers always looked like they were 2 meters long so they needed to be adjusted. Dad asked me if I could do that for him. I told him yes and did the adjustment. He never paid me but suddenly he was bringing home trousers from all of his work pals to be adjusted. I did this off and on for years and once again was making money whilst all my pals were digging tunnels hoping to reach Australia one day.

I had what people wanted I never had what I thought they might buy or I thought they might one day need. I had what they all wanted, they were all happy to pay for what they wanted and I was the only person locally giving them what they wanted.


Punk rock reintroduced the skinny jean. The problem was you couldn’t buy them at that point. I was 14-years old and I really wanted skinny’s. I had the skills with my sewing machine so I simple recreated my flares into ultra-tight skinny’s.

Of course, I also made skinny jeans for all of my pals … supply and demand! Jeans for cash!

My hair was still long though and for a punk, this was a problem. I’d seen my mother cutting hair many times in the kitchen and she wasn’t a hairdresser. So I gave her a photo of Jonny Rotten the singer from the Sex Pistols and asked her to cut it like that. She did, it was a mess and I loved it and then colored it red, purple and yellow. Dad almost killed me!

All the boys were growing up now and all the boys also wanted to look cool, up to the minute and happening. When they saw my long hair cut short and spiked they wanted exactly the same. They asked if I could do it. I said sure (obviously)! I had watched mum cutting hair so many times and it looked easy enough to me.

I started cutting all the guys hair. I even started coloring all the guys’ hair. I would charge £5 and it was still way cheaper than going to a hairdresser that hadn’t caught up on trends. Once more I was the richest kid on the estate and my pals were still throwing their pocket money at me for haircuts.

I managed to buy a leather motorbike jacket like the ones worn by the Ramones from my new teenage wealth. It was cool.

Nothing had really changed.

Everyone wanted skinny’s and spiked hair. I gave them exactly what they wanted and they hand over their cash as a nice value exchange.

I didn’t realise but my lessons for business had been established very young and it was as simple as give people what they already want.

The punk rock adventure continued for some time because I formed a punk band. We wrote songs, recorded the songs on tapes, played gigs and guess what? People wanted Punk Bands in those days and punk songs. I gave them what they were already asking for but really I was chasing fame!

I was never truly a rich kid but I always had money in my pocket. I never asked for pocket money, never asked for clothing money, I never really asked for anything. I was making my own way by simply filling a demand or giving buyers what they wanted to buy.

That’s business, right? Being in business for me is about getting paid. Not huge risk but simply finding what people are searching for, finding what people have already bought in their minds and supplying the demand for them. They get what they want and I get paid for giving it to them.

If there is no money in the drawer at the end of the week no one gets paid and no one gets fed. Yet for me, it has always been just pure common sense that you give people what they want rather than trying force them to buy anything.

Looking back today the lessons in my young life were huge. I had become able to create my own income by sticking to a simple rule of demand.

Today so many hairdressing businesses try far too hard to create new marketplaces. Even Apple didn’t create a new marketplace they tapped into emerging and higher demand marketplaces where buyers were ready and wanting to part with their money.

Nothings changed.

When a business tries to force a sale the sakes of a sale – sales are then tough.

When a business gives a buyer what a buyer is already searching for the sales are seamless and easy.

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