It’s amazing, and really pretty fabulous, to know what it is you want to be from the tender age of 14 – and it all began with a haircut from an aunt!
But that's how it all started for a young teenager called Karen Wharton.
“Vidal Sassoon created a 5-point haircut, famously worn by Mary Quant in the mid-60’s and I pestered my Aunty Margaret to cut my hair in the same way. She did, and I loved it! The effect was amazing – everyone commented and I remember feeling so full of confidence, it was great!” explained Karen Wharton, Managing Director of Obsession Salon & Spa “I thought if I could make others feel as fantastic as this with a haircut, then hairdressing was definitely the career for me”.
Like most teenagers I started work as a Saturday girl, (after the owner spotted my great hairstyle!), and by the age of 17 I was touring the UK with the salon owner doing shows and demos to other salons. A very young age to be showcasing my work, but a fantastic opportunity to perfect my skills; I owe a heartfelt thanks to Steve Burgin for those days and such an incredible start to my career.
This experience also demonstrated the stark contrast between my values and business principles – not everyone shared the passion and determination I felt to put the client first and to be endlessly curious about learning and developing skills.
This experience also demonstrated the stark contrast between my values and business principles – not everyone shared the passion and determination I felt to put the client first and to be endlessly curious about learning and developing skills. This gave the impetus to strike out on my own, so with a business loan from my late Uncle Colin the first salon was opened in Lichfield. I count myself extremely to lucky to have received this help, although it also intensified my resolve to make it a success!
Over the following 20 years the business continued to grow, not only expansion of the Lichfield salon, also at Branston Golf & Country Club, the Belfry Hotel and in Birmingham, at Radisson SAS and Mailbox. This taught me a great deal about resilience and courage, both of which I would need to overcome the challenges that lay ahead. A devastating fire at Mailbox lead to 5 long years of legal wrangling, court appearances, litigation, and countless dark moments of self-doubt and abject fear; without the exceptional team around me, the caring and support of my family and the encouragement of so many clients, I would have surrendered and bowed under the stress and uncertainty. Thankfully, the business remains successful, with two dedicated, talented and exceptionally passionate teams working together to keep the founding principles alive. Several of the team have been with Obsession for over 20 years, but what everyone has in common is a love for the profession.
Few people have the privilege of doing something every day that leaves others feeling and looking amazing, this is the reason we love what we do. I can’t put it better than musician Marc Anthony, who said “if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life”
I agree, when you do what you love it doesn’t feel like work, and it’s easy to give it your absolute best!
Karen we salute you and your team and we wish you all the very best for the next 30 years.
Member since: 10th July 2012
I am passionate about 'Buying Local' and supporting our local businesses to 'keep the pound' in town, to help grow our economy here in Lichfield.
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