Mark Turner and his long-serving staff at Backstage Ladies’ Haircutters and Gents’ Barbers in Lambs Court are celebrating a very special milestone in March – 30 years in business in the town.
That long history began simply by chance. In the early 1980’s, having trained in Knightsbridge at the famous ‘Smile’ salon, Mark came to visit a hairdresser friend in Taunton. When the friend offered him a job he decided to “give it a go”, worked in Taunton for a couple of years then decided to branch out on his own. Mark explained: “I came to Wellington when this shop was a jeans store. I opened my first shop in Cornhill in 1985 but I’ve been in Lambs Court since 1986. It’s much the same as it was then and I wouldn’t want to modernise this building in any way. I wouldn’t want to move either. Every square foot of these premises is used and it works for us and our clients.”
Mark employs 8 part-time staff, some of whom have worked with him for 29 or 30 years. “Michaela and Jackie have been with me since the outset and Rachel – who now runs ‘Beauty at Backstage’ upstairs – came here when she was about 13. I cut her Mum’s hair and when I needed a new Saturday girl, her Mum said Rachel would help out. She’s been here ever since. My staff all have families and I’m sensitive to their family needs. I’m flexible as an employer and, having invested in their training, I don’t want to lose good staff. We work for each other.”
Backstage Ladies’ Haircutters has built up a loyal clientelle over the years but expanded into barbering a few years ago. “When I opened here,’ Mark said, “young men didn’t go to barbers’ shops because Dad went there. Our clients, younger guys, want masculine, fashionable styles which I can do but we appeal to all age groups and it’s good to know that people feel comfortable here. We use the word ‘barbering’ on our advertising to let people know that we do men’s hair as well as ladies’ hairdressing. All my girls do men’s hair too.”
As the owner of a successful Wellington business Mark Turner has views about the town. He said, “Waitrose and Coffee﹟1 have changed Wellington and given it kudos. It’s not like many other towns which are just carbon copies of one another. The existence of so many independent shops is good and a testimony to the town. The fact that Wellington has marketed itself as a food town has also made a difference.”
In theatres, ‘backstage’ is where performers and crews prepare but Mark Turner and his staff at ‘Backstage’ deserve a moment in the limelight for building such a successful and reputable business over the last 30 years.