Kilburn and Harlesden couple turn hobby into business

After being out of work a couple turn home made hair products into a business

AS the ranks of the unemployed swell and job opportunities dwindle a couple from two of Brent’s most disadvantaged areas decided to take the plunge and set-up on their own.

After a year on the dole Stafford Baxter, who grew up in Blake Court, South Kilburn, was sick of failed job interviews and demoralising job centre appointments.

Stafford, 32, who was made redundant from a housing association in 2008, said: “I was sending up to 60 CVs a week, going to job interviews and kept getting knocked back. It was hard.”

Meanwhile Salem Wynter, who grew up in Bruce Road, Harlesden, was unable to work as she looked after her sick daughter.

So in 2009 he decided to throw his weight behind Salem’s talent for making specialist hair products which she started making after becoming unhappy with what was on the market.

Salem, 31, said: “When I had my first child I could find nothing that would really work on her thick and frizzy hair and I was sick of the harmful ingredients most of them contained so we decided to try and mix our own products from scratch.

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“I often spend hours in the kitchen at midnight formulating new products. I have no scientific background, it’s all self-taught.”

After selling their products to friends and family the pair decided to go for it and got a �4,000 loan from the Prince’s Trust in 2009 to buy materials, set-up a website and get the product safety tested.

Stafford has taken on the role of sales and marketing the product at salons and hair shops but says they need to get a deal with a distributor which is proving difficult.

He said: “We’ve been doing this for a year now. We have sales coming in but we need to get a contract with distributors to take things to the next level.”

In December they launched their new website Root2tip and now have a pay-as-you-go office in Neasden and hope things will start to take off.

Salem said: “We have had meetings with major distributors in the last few weeks. We have come so far from just having a dream to now making it a reality.”

“It’s hard to come from our backgrounds to have the confidence to try to make a business with a real vision.

“We have had friends who are on drugs, have been shot, stabbed or worse, but we chose a different route for ourselves. “Growing up on South Kilburn estate really is a hard-knock life as there are no real role models, but we motivated ourselves as we want a better life for our families.

“We want to show people it’s OK to live in deprived areas and have a vision, dreams and ambitions and most of all passion.

“We want to take ROOT2TiP from the kitchen to the High street and we will not stop until our products are in every major retail outlet.”