Hairdresser fights back from rock bottom
It was seven years ago that Banham hairdresser Natalie Hutchison hit rock bottom after divorcing for the second time and being declared bankrupt. Growing up in Suffolk, she had an unhappy childhood plagued by illness.
It was seven years ago that Banham hairdresser Natalie Hutchison hit rock bottom after divorcing for the second time and being declared bankrupt.
Growing up in Suffolk, she had an unhappy childhood plagued by illness. Married at 17, she was forced to flee to a women's refuge with her three young daughters to escape an abusive relationship, also spending time in a psychiatric unit suffering from bulimia.
Yet she fought back from the depths of despair to become an award-winning businesswoman who met the Queen at an achievers event, and has been invited to 10 Downing Street to talk to Gordon Brown about getting women back into work.
Now 42, Ms Hutchison has just launched a new book, Trading Places, which tells the story of how she turned her life around.
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'My lowest point was in August 2002. I had just been declared bankrupt in the county court and was crying, and I just thought there's nothing else to lose. I had failed at everything I had ever done in my life, and I had failed my children. It was probably the longest day in my life,' she recalled.
'My ex-stepson-in-law said to me: 'You can either stay where you are in self-pity, or you get up and do something, there's only one person who can.' He was a man of few words and I've never forgotten it, and will always be grateful for that.
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'I didn't know how, or where to start but I had to show the children there was more to life. I had to stop them following what pattern I had set for them, and what pattern I had followed. It had to be broken.'
A hairdresser by trade, she got a new job working in a salon before taking the plunge and going self-employed. Her house had been sold, and as a bankrupt it was difficult to get a loan when the chance arose to buy her own premises. But she found a sympathetic bank manager, and her new partner agreed to act as guarantor.
'I never let him down, and I worked really hard. I had a target so I could pay the loan back and have a little bit left over, and I hit it every week. I took on some staff and bought a larger saloon, modernised it and two-and-a- half years later sold it as a successful business,' she explained.
Ms Hutchison won the 2006 Trading Places Award in recognition of her achievements, and is now a champion of 'challenged' women everywhere. This has included setting up a website called 'Help to Move On' which supports victims of rape and domestic violence and their families.
She took a year out to write the book, and has recently opened a new salon called Simply Hair at The Appleyard in Banham. It was co-written with author Mary Turner Thomson.
Trading Places is published by White Water, priced �8.99, and is available from Waterstone's Booksellers in Bury St Edmunds, or online at www.nataliehutchison.com