Back to the books for Barthorpe’s Barbers’ Maria

Published: Thu 2 February, 2023

A lady dressed in a hairdressing outfit stands in front of Barthorpe's Barbers holding a pair of scissors

An entrepreneurial mother of five has been inspired to go back to college and launch a new career following the expansion of the family-run corner shop.

Maria and Steve Barthorpe have run the Village Store in Donisthorpe for eight years, providing a hub for their local community. The pair expanded the business to bring a barber shop and hairdressers to the village, but recruitment difficulties looked set to impact the success of the venture.

Now 43-year-old Maria has become a mature student, learning all there is to know about barbering and hairdressing, to boost the new business.

Maria said: “If you want something, you have to make it happen. It was a bit nerve-wracking going back to college at my age. It’s been great going back and having something for myself, and a goal at the end of it, running my own salon.”

In 2019 the Barthorpes decided to expand the business by transforming their lounge into a barber shop and hairdresser.

Thanks to an Enterprising Grant of £5,000 from North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) the vision became a reality, and the couple opened Barthorpe’s Barbers on 12 April 2021.

Despite regular customers, Barthorpe’s has struggled to recruit a full-time barber, but Maria is determined to see the venture succeed having seen the impact the business is having on the community.

As well as training, Maria has been working with a local hairdresser to learn all the tips of the trade.

“I’m really enjoying the course and can’t wait to qualify and be able to run the barbers myself.”

Maria enrolled onto a full-time NVQ Level 2 Hairdressing and Barbers course at Burton College in 2022 and hopes to qualify with a Level 3 NVQ in 2024.

“The grant was just the start of it, I’ve got loads of ideas for the future.”

Councillor Tony Gillard, NWLDC Portfolio Holder for Business and Regeneration, said: “I wish Maria every success in her studies, it can be very daunting to return to education during your working life, but it’s never too late to change your career or learn new skills.

“Our district is home to many businesses working to support our local communities, and it is always inspiring to see how entrepreneurs look to diversify and bring new services and products to the area. I’m pleased to see that our grant has supported the Barthorpe’s to expand the Village Store.”