Jackie Sweeney and Liz Armstrong met in 1992 when they were studying theatrical make-up at The London College of Fashion. After graduation, they both went on to work within the fields of television and theatre, remaining good friends throughout.
Ten years later, Jackie asked Liz if she fancied starting a Manchester based wig company. They were well aware of a gap in the theatrical wig-making market in the North of the country, so Wigs Up North was created in June 2004.
The foundling business rented a basement workshop in 23 New Mount Street, set up a website and, with very little advertising but plenty of contacts, the business grew.
In April 2005 Vicky Holmes joined the company as a third partner. Her theatre experience with wigs and make-up, combined with her extensive list of contacts, took the business further forward.
Jackie, Liz and Vicky soon became aware of another gap in the market - professional make-up suppliers in the north. They wanted to create a place where make-up artists, performers and students could try products before buying them. It would also allow the public to sample product ranges not available on the high street. Offering clients a complete service in terms of their wig and make-up requirements was the motivating factor in creating The Make-up Space, now re-branded as UKMUA.
It quickly became apparent that they would need to find bigger premises. They wanted a home for Wigs Up North which could offer a workroom and a retail space whilst affording privacy for their clients. They were also keen to invest in property. Whilst looking for the perfect property, they discovered Royal Mills, a listed building in Ancoats, which was in the throes of restoration.
Such an ambitious redevelopment made delays inevitable and many completion dates came and went before they finally got the keys to unit 8 on the company’s 3rd birthday in 2007.
Jackie decided to leave the company to pursue other career opportunities. Liz and Vicky continue to run both Wigs Up North and UKMUA.
Northwest Women in Business Awards
New East Manchester EnterPrize All Stars
Regional Winners – Most Promising New Business