From apprentice hairdresser to director of a highly successful roofing company is not a career story you will hear very often, but it is Julie Mirowski’s story.

Julie was born in mid-Wales but moved back to Knutton near Newcastle-under-Lyme, where her family were originally from, when she was three.

She attended Orme Girls School and whilst there she had a weekend job in a hairdressing salon. She decided that this would be her chosen career and left school aged 16 to work as an apprentice in the same salon.

On completing her three-year apprenticeship Julie decided to go self-employed and continued for just over 20 years during which time she gave birth to her two sons, Ryan and Dale.

Julie said: “I would have continued hairdressing but for the fact my ex-husband, Mick lost his job in mining when all the local pits closed in 1993.

“Mick set up as a roofing contractor, naming the business Rydale Roofing after our two sons. I carried on working as a hairdresser, helping at night with the admin for Rydale.

“I finally gave up the hairdressing in 2004 to concentrate on the roofing business which had grown considerably.

“I have been asked many times how I transitioned from being a hairdresser to working as a director in a roofing company. The answer is quite simple. Running my own business for twenty years I had learned about customer relations and how to handle different personalities, the importance of time management, diplomacy and doing a good job so that people recommend you.

“I’m also naturally optimistic and confident that work will come in because you do a good job and treat people courteously regardless of how they treat you.”

However, around 2008 business did slow across the construction sector due to the credit-crunch. It was about this time that Julie started to use social media, especially Facebook and Twitter which had started to be adopted by business. This, in turn led to Julie becoming involved with Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.

Julie said: “I had started to get involved in networking and it was a former Chamber board member, Stuart Walton, who said I should consider joining.

“I signed up and immediately got involved, attending as many events and training courses as possible. It was a real eye-opener as I came to fully appreciate the power of networking and building relationships with fellow businesspeople. I could not believe how supportive people were and having someone to ask about any aspect of business was a real bonus.

“A few years later I joined the Chambers’ council and the got elected to the board of directors where I served two three-year terms.

“Many times, I have thought about the teenage hairdresser and wondered if she could imagine that she would be sat at the same table as people in charge of some very large and successful businesses making key decisions. But it always comes back to the confidence instilled in me as an apprentice that enabled me to go self-employed and progress from there.

“Yes, you need a solid work-ethic and be able to put in the hours, but the rewards are great and I certainly wouldn’t have changed a single thing.”