Carolann battles back to launch her own salon

Carolann Monteith in salon

Carolann battles back to launch her own salon

Four years of beauty therapy study was nearly destroyed by a severe allergic reaction during a nail treatment – but former Forth Valley College student Carolann Monteith has fought her way back to health and opened her own business.

Carolann (35) from Shieldhill in Falkirk, was told by doctors that she would probably need to give up her dream of running her own Beauty Salon after contracting Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris (PRP) - a condition which attacks the immune system resulting in the scaling and shedding of skin. It is thought Carolann suffered a severe allergic reaction to a product she was exposed to during a private sector nail course, she took in early October.

“It was quite scary,” said Carolann, “the medical experts said I might need to prepare for the eventuality that I would not be able to return to beauty therapy at all.

“I was treated in casualty first of all for severe burns over my hands. Then is spread and my feet cracked open and I could not walk or drive. I had to wear special gloves and I told that I would have to undergo chemotherapy which would reboot my immune system.

“But, I rejected that and I chose to go down the holistic route. With my background and knowledge in beauty therapy and with the help of the doctors, a dermatologist and a course of steroids I am now in remission.”

PRP is a rare skin condition and while it is not life threatening is can severely restrict quality of life and - in the case of Carolann – threaten to end her career before it had even begun. Her grueling home recovery consisted of moisturising her skin, wrapping it in cling film, burning bay leaves in the bathroom, using a turmeric mouth spray, visiting FVC’s Falkirk Campus salon for paraffin wax treatments and managing to maintain a positive outlook.

Carolann – who is married with two teenage daughters – also counts the support of her husband Richard and girls Caitlin (15) and Chelsey (12) as a contributing factor in her recovery. She also cites her former lecturers and classmates at FVC as also being intrinsic to seeing her fight back from the brink of despair to her opening her new salon – Recharge Natural Beauty – in the Falkirk Business Hub recently.

Carolann, went on: “The career I have picked has really helped me through this. As a beauty therapist you need to develop a really strong knowledge of the bones, the body, skin conditions and allergies and I have no doubt this helped me recover. My family and friends have supported me, kept me positive and picked me up when I was down. I knew it was going to be a challenge, but it was something I was up for. Now I am looking forward to building my new business here in the Falkirk Business Hub.”

Inspirational Carolann started at FVC’s Falkirk Campus back in 2013 and completed Beauty Therapy Level 2&3 courses before successfully attaining her HNC and HND in the same subject. She graduated in October 2017 and has also worked as a beauty therapist in Macdonald Hotels.

Ironically one of the last sections of her HND course led her into Business Studies and tasked her to create a Business Plan to enable her to start her own salon

She said: “The beauty salon at the Falkirk Campus was a brilliant place to learn. As it is open to the public, students and staff you get to treat customers as part of your course, so you get the knowledge that brings before you leave the college and hit the ground running when you go into the workplace. The lecturers are also brilliant.

“I would definitely recommend Forth Valley College to anyone thinking about a career in beauty therapy. As long as you are passionate and can do at least two years of study and then think seriously about doing an HNC and HND, you can push on and have a good career.

“My only advice would be, if you want to succeed you need to listen, do your background knowledge and put in a lot of effort.”

Carolann opened Recharge Natural Beauty at the beginning of March and is now working from Tuesday to Saturday every week from 9am-5.30pm (Thursday till 7pm) – offering a whole range of beauty treatments including reflexology and aromatherapy, something she thought might never happen.

“Falkirk Business Hub have been fantastic with me too,” added Carolann, “and I can’t thank them enough for allowing me to set up my salon here. There is a coffee shop, a gym, physiotherapy and a whole host of other companies based here which complement the work I do. I also believe beauty therapy is not just for women either, it is for everyone and I think that is very important.

“I am really happy and looking forward to the future, but I now want to raise awareness of PRP and have become involved in Facebook pages for those who have been affected by PRP and Psorisis.”

Lisa Evitt, Operations Manager in Hospitality and Salon Services, said: “Carolann was an excellent student at Forth Valley College and we were all devastated to hear about what happened to her. We were only too happy to help her through her ordeal in any way we could and were not surprised that she was able to fight back to health in such a determined fashion. She is a true inspiration and we are all so proud of her and are sure she will make a great success of her new business.”

Recharge Natural Beauty can also be found on Facebook.

Carolann at The Hub in Falkirk

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