Mansfield beauty therapist up for award after long fight for dream career

A beauty therapist from Mansfield has been rewarded for her persistence in pursuing her dream career by earning the chance of a national award.

By Richard Silverwood
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 5:18 pm

Alanya Jennings, 27, fell in love with the beauty industry as a young teenager at school and completed work experience in a busy salon.

But it’s been a long, hard journey for her since then. So to be named as a finalist at the UK Hair and Beauty Awards 2023 in the beauty therapist of the year category has left her overjoyed.

"It is absolutely amazing for me,” beamed Alanya, who is manager of the Wood’s Of Westgate salon in the town centre.

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Beauty therapist Alanya Jennings, of Mansfield, with the certificate that proves she is a finalist in the UK Hair and Beauty Awards.

"It really shows that hard work pays off. I never thought I would become a finalist, but I am honoured to have been selected.”

On leaving school, Alanya gained her beauty qualifications at college. But she struggled to get the job she wanted and, frustratingly, had to find other work.

"Nobody wanted to take on a new beauty therapist,” said Alanya (nee Taylor), who married police officer Mark last November.

"I got a job at the Making It! Discovery Centre in Mansfield to earn money for a while, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do.

Alanya (centre) with salon owner Hayley Wood (right) and employee Beth McLane after Wood's Of Westgate had collected more than 100 Easter eggs for patients at King's Mill Hospital in Sutton.

"I felt I had wasted two years of my life training to not even get a job.

"However, this made me even more determined to prove to people I was worth it. And after sending out my CV multiple times a week to get noticed, I got a job at the Bannatyne Health Club as a spa therapist.

"I then went into the salon side of beauty therapy which suited me more because I could build up my list of clients.”

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Alanya endured more frustration, with the salon having to shut and Mark even suggesting she try a new career.

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But there was nothing else she fancied doing and her big breakthrough arrived when she became friends with one of her salon clients, Hayley Wood, a lecturer in teacher training at Derby University.

Alanya explained: “Hayley told me how she’d always wanted her own salon, so I said go for it! We developed the idea together, and we opened Wood’s Of Westgate last summer.

"It has gone amazingly well, and we’re getting more and more busy. It looks like we will smash our £50,000 turnover target for the first year.

"As the salon’s beauty therapist, I am having to turn people away, so we are taking on an apprentice at the end of this month.”

That apprentice will increase the number of staff to five, with Alanya and owner Hayley working alongside hairdressers Beth McLane, who is an employee, and Louise Leiper, who rents a chair.

They are hoping for even more success at the Hair and Beauty Awards in the categories for best new salon and best salon team.

But Alanya has already made it through to the final, and she will learn her fate early next year when a ceremony is expected to be held to determine the winners.

She can’t speak highly enough of Hayley, nor of her clients, for whom she is full of praise. “They mean the world to me,” she said. “My clients are my friends, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”