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Overcoming adversity: How Elizabeth Sands built a beauty empire

“I had no family here in Northern Ireland, I had about two friends and no clients..”

Owner of the eponymous Elizabeth Sands Beauty School, Elizabeth Sands, who was this week named the Ulster Tatler Businesswoman of the Year, has come a long way from the days of not being able to afford to turn on the heating in her home.

Originally from England, Elizabeth moved to Portadown with her then husband 14 years ago, but less than two years after upping sticks from London, she found herself living as a single mother with two young daughters to care for.

Despite a split from her husband – who has gone on to be an excellent support for her daughters – Elizabeth decided she would forge her future in Northern Ireland. For the first few years living in Co Armagh, Elizabeth concentrated on raising her children, until her youngest started primary school.

“I just made the decision that I’m going to stay, so I set a room up in the back of my house and I went and did a nail course…,” Elizabeth told me when we spoke this week.

“Separating from my husband and being a single mum, I needed to carve a future for my children and myself and that’s what fuelled me, so I put my head down, did the nail course and it went from there.”

And it all started with a good old fashioned newspaper ad in her local newspaper.

Read the full story in the Entrepreneur NI newsletter here.

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