Hairdresser transforms former cafe into thriving salon

Francesca Du Bignon has thanked her customer for their continued support at her salon

Francesca Du Bignon has thanked her customer for their continued support at her salon - Credit: Francesca Du Bignon

A hairdresser has managed to transform a former cafe into a thriving town centre salon. 

Francesca Du Bignon opened Francesca Marie's in Aldiss Court, Dereham, back in December after leaving another salon in the town. 

The unit had previously been home to Zico's cafe and bar. 

Francesca Du Bignon outside her business on Aldiss Court in Dereham

Francesca Du Bignon outside her business on Aldiss Court in Dereham - Credit: Francesca Du Bignon

Miss Du Bignon did not make things easy for herself, having allocated just seven days to get the shop in shape for welcoming customers after receiving the keys on December 4.

But, with the help of family and friends, she managed to reach her target of opening on December 11 - while she was still working in her previous job. 

“We had family, tradesmen and my brother-in-law, Ricky, who did almost everything: plumbing, electrical, installing a new water system - it was crazy,” said Miss Du Bignon.

“I was going straight from work back to the unit to do jobs like painting and decorating.

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“I was working 18-hour days. I was exhausted, and then had the mad rush at Christmas.”

The 25-year-old admits her first few months in business have not been easy. 

She opened in the thick of a cost-of-living crisis and feared customers would cut out luxuries like beauty treatment, but it appears the opposite has been the case. 

“The opening has been great, but personally I had wobbles on a daily basis," added Miss Du Bignon.

“January is often hard for people and, with energy and fuel prices rising, I felt people would hold on to their money.

Francesca Du Bignon is looking to grow her business by adding new services to the salon

Francesca Du Bignon is looking to grow her business by adding new services to the salon - Credit: Francesca Du Bignon

"It worried me that the industry could be affected, but the Norfolk community has shown otherwise.

“I was scared of the unknown but I think, since lockdown, people have appreciate their hairdressers or barbers even more. It helps to have that time to talk.

Looking back on the past few months, Miss Bignon feels immense pride in what she has achieved - a decade after she and her dad formulated a 10-year plan. 

“Opening the salon has made me feel powerful; I am really proud of myself," she added.

"Never did I think it would happen. It took a long time to believe in myself, but I feel great because now I know what I’m capable of."

Going forward, Miss Du Bignon hopes to create a training academy for apprentices.