People Profile – Vivien Taylor – Beauty Therapist

Sailing is one of my hobbies that keeps me fit!

I was born in Hampstead, North London in 1955 and was brought up in Palmers Green and then we moved to Southgate. I remember enjoying a lovely community life where we lived in those days. I recollect the ‘Rag n’ Bone man’ coming along the street with his horse and cart collecting any unwanted items from the neighbours, as a regular occurrence. Nowadays we just pop everything in our cars and drive to the tip! Our weekly shopping deliveries were mainly vegetables and household goods that arrived in a local lorry visiting the neighbourhood and householders would go out to speak to the lorry driver and collect their groceries. Now it’s the Ocado van man. The pace of life was much slower then and we had time for each other and community was the key.

My father Geoffrey was a Lawyer and a very strict Victorian disciplinarian. Both my brother and I lived in fear of him. My mother Beatrice, (always called Peggy) was a kind, sweet, thoughtful lady who worked at The Admiralty as a secretary during the war and then became a housewife after having my brother and I. My brother Roger was 7 years older than me, he didn’t get on with my father and Dad used to cane him. He ran off to join the army at 16 and I didn’t see him again for years so effectively I felt like an only child and was always out with my friends.

I had a happy childhood but as Dad wasn’t much fun to be around I spent my time in everyone else’s house. I would sing and dance with my friends and play ‘One! Two! Rescue!’ My father bought the house in Southgate that backed on to a large park and I believe he did that on purpose so he never saw me. I was rarely at home, apart from meal times and bedtime. I would be out riding my pedal bike in the park at great speed, or doing handstands against the groundskeeper’s hut. Otherwise you’d find me in my best friend’s garden, up in her tree house her father had built which we thought was fantastic! I was a bit of a Tomboy, climbing trees and quite sporty.

My Junior school memories are happy ones but my parents sent me to an all-girls private school aged 10. I can’t say I enjoyed the strict environment or the monotonous, boring way of teaching they had. For example the History lesson was all about dates: ‘1066 The Battle of Hastings, 1805 The Battle of Trafalgar’. I remember the dates but not the detail of the wonderful though tragic facts about either of those horrific battles, we were never taught them. As for English if you wanted to murder the wonderful ‘works of Shakespeare’ well look no further than my school teacher! Despite all that I excelled in English, Music and Biology. I’ve always had a fascination for Anatomy and Physiology and a hunger for learning about the body, how it functions and how to look after it. It has always really interested me.

On leaving school at 16, which was the happiest day of my life, I didn’t want to follow the crowd. I was told in no uncertain terms from both my rather stuffy Careers Officer and my parents that my choice of careers were Banking, Nursing or Secretarial! And that was that. To the complete displeasure of the Careers Officer and my strict father I announced I wanted to be a backing singer, having won many medals at school singing competitions, and then added ‘Or a Make-Up Artist at the BBC’ which I had been accepted for.

However, I met them halfway and decided to embark on a 3 year Diploma in Hertfordshire to learn ‘Medical Secretarial Studies’ which incorporated Anatomy and Physiology along with ‘Medical shorthand’, Health and Hygiene and much more. Once qualified this enabled me to apply for my first job at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Great Portland Street, London, working alongside 2 Orthopaedic consultants. It was fascinating. I saw many operations which were gruesome at times but it gave me a great understanding of how the body works and how we abuse it at times.

Me as a teenager, just starting out in my career

As Medical Secretaries our shorthand was put to good use and we worked closely with the consultants, taking shorthand notes in clinic, as each patient was examined and their prognosis was given. Some patients were given boots in those days to correct a condition known as ‘club foot’. They’d be called ‘club boots’. Club foot is a medical issue seen at birth where there’s a difference in the length of one leg. To correct this by shortening the affected leg, the patient’s tibia bone at the front of the shin, more commonly known as the ‘shin bone’ would be broken and shortened by overlapping the bone, maybe by half an inch, and fusing the bone together to shorten it. Or to lengthen the leg, the tibia was broken and kept apart by about half an inch and the whole leg immobilised in a metal frame. While immobilised for several weeks the bone would grow between the two broken ends and knit together to make the bone longer to line up with the other leg. The results were truly wonderful to see. We saw many happy patients who had arrived WITH their physical issues and left WITHOUT them.

Then part of The National Orthopaedic hospital moved to Stanmore making it impossible for me to get there as I didn’t drive or have a car at 18 years old. I went to a recruitment agency looking for some inspiration as to what to do. The recruitment consultant advised “Advertising is the job for you dear!” I was completely taken aback – an Advertising Agency! What was that? I was so naïve and had no idea. I was sent off in my smart tailored suit and high heels to Leo Burnett, a prestigious Advertising Agency in St Martin’s Lane, near Covent Garden. My first impressions of their Reception area blew me away with grey walls and pink carpets. Or was it the other way around? There was music playing, low lighting, trendy offices with a bar on each floor. The other employees were so fashionable in their bell bottom trousers, enjoying a cigarette at their desk while sipping coffee made from a very smart ‘Expresso’ machine. It made a big impression on me, this looked like fun! Fun! Fun!

I was offered a secretarial job working for one of the Account Directors and his Executive who worked on various advertising campaigns. This was an exciting new world for me. We worked hard, and we played hard as well. There were often long lunches, with the odd glass of wine or two and I discovered my shorthand improved when a bit tiddly!

Full of high hopes on my wedding day 1987

I worked my way up the ladder into TV production and later became a freelance Make-Up Artist for a number of photographers. For some of the shoots I worked on I earned £450 a day and that was in 1973 which was a fortune in those days. I saved up and left home as soon as I could and bought my first flat in Clapham North. It hadn’t ‘come up’ then and was, to put it mildly, a bit ‘dodgy’ and unsafe. It was a rough area but cheap to buy and that’s where I learnt about ‘Life’ and how to look after myself and keep safe. There were undesirables hanging around and ominous individuals on the underground late at night. I often had to ‘run the gauntlet’ from the tube station to my flat. It was a steep learning curve. After being burgled twice and 3 guys trying to climb in through my kitchen window once late at night at 11.00pm, I started to sleep with a hammer under my pillow though I’m not sure how much that would have helped in a crisis. Finally after having a gun pointed at me while walking home one sunny afternoon after work, I decided to sell up and move to Scotland where I met my husband.

Our relationship was a disaster and I returned back to England 7 years later meeting another Scot, called Phil who was my saviour. In fact I think we saved each other having both been through a recent and traumatic relationship. We rented our flat out in Primrose Hill and moved to Dorking in Surrey and rented a cottage on a farm. It was heaven.

But the 7 years of an unhappy marriage eventually took their toll on me. I needed to earn a high salary to pay off my ex-husband’s credit card debts of £45,000 and had no idea how I could achieve that. He’d been a second card holder on my credit card and therefore his debt became my debt. My head was in a spin and I was probably on the edge of a breakdown, I now realise. Yet I battled on and took a job which involved commuting back into London, this time in the corporate world at Deloitte & Touché in Fleet Street. I earned a good salary as a PA to one of their directors and organised hospitality events freelance and also trained one night a week and most weekends for 2 years, to complete a Diploma in Beauty Therapy.

I flew cabin crew for Britannia Airlines to help clear my debts

With the burdens of my ex-marriage, working ALL hours, including overtime, also training in Beauty and as a ‘robotic commuter’ which at times was extremely challenging when trains often didn’t run on time, I was slowly heading for ‘Burn Out’! Thankfully I found a job working for an MD of a company in Farnham. It was bliss driving through country lanes instead of the daily drudgery of commuting. (The only thing I missed was reading the newspaper en route!)

Just 6 months later an opportunity came up to run a franchise for Rosemary Connelly’s Fitness and Diet business. Having been an ex-weight watcher in my late 20’s and losing 3 stone in weight, this seemed an opportunity not to be missed. I understood some of the psychological issues of over-eating and I also loved aerobics, so with this business combination I felt I could help others. Rosemary Connelly interviewed me and offered me a franchise that covered Dorking, Godalming and Horsham. I was soooo excited.

At last I could my run my own business, work my own hours, keep fit, help others lose weight and at the same time earn a whacking salary and pay off the debt. With around 100,000 population in the total three areas, there were a lot of classes per week to cover and I couldn’t wait to get started.

I could not have survived without Phil’s support

Before I embarked on it all, having now found a new career and feeling more relaxed about life, Phil and I went to Spain during the month of May for a well-earned break. Unfortunately it was there, we believe, I contracted Legionnaire’s Disease from the dirty shower head in our rented villa that probably hadn’t been cleaned before the holiday season started. My life suddenly took a turn for the worst. I needed to recover quickly to get started on my business course for the franchise but after 5 courses of antibiotics I just wasn’t able to recover. One thing followed another and I went down with M.E, otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue syndrome. I had to accept that my new dream was never to become a reality.

Phil was amazingly supportive emotionally and saw me change drastically from ‘super fit’ to a shadow of my former self. I would sleep 14 out of 24 hours a day. It took me 7 long years to fully recover. Yet looking back now, those debilitating years took me on an interesting journey leading to a new career!

While I was unwell and when I felt a tiny bit stronger, I started looking into alternative therapies in desperation. I had to try something. I was now on benefits and low on money. I had to find a way out of this illness, I had to get myself back to work again.

Running my own business is such a joy – never a chore

One afternoon when I was resting in bed I started a brainstorming session on what was I was going to do? I needed to find a job that meant I wouldn’t need to commute or drive very far. Then I had a lightbulb moment – what about starting my own Beauty Business. I had the training from a few years back. I’d kept up my skills doing treatments, and maybe I could add something a bit ‘Niche’ to make me stand out from others.

Phil bought me tickets to a Health Fair and it was there that I spotted a lovely lady, who was an ex-nurse, demonstrating Non-surgical Face Lifting, (this was ‘way before’ Botox was discovered). I watched her demonstration with great interest and witnessed how her Perfector Machine could eliminate ‘laughter lines’ and lift sagging jowls on her clients. Wow! It was magic and I was hooked.

The Perfector machine is 100% safe, medically proven and there’s absolutely NO need to EVER use chemicals in any of the products. The owner of Perfector sent me an accomplished beauty therapist to give me one-to-one training as I still wasn’t well enough to travel far. Within a year and feeling stronger I rented a room in Cranleigh, above the Halifax which is now Christian Reed’s estate agency and set up The Beauty Room.

Always try and enjoy a healthy lifestyle and . . . smile!

I could only work a few hours in the morning, then would drive home to sleep for a couple of hours and return in the afternoon to do a few more treatments before completing my day. And that’s how life was for a few more years. By embarking on natural therapies for myself, gradually my health improved. These included: Acupuncture, Homeopathy and Nutrition. With the guidance of a Nutritionist I also eliminated ‘E’-numbers from my diet and anything containing preservatives like tea and coffee. I drank Rooibos tea as an alternative and coffee made with barley and chicory. I would drink unfiltered water only, had no wheat or yeast in my diet. Good gut health is terribly important, I had badly affected mine with years of stress followed by too many courses of antibiotics. Bad diet and gut health can cause many health issues even leading to cancer. We all need to be aware of this. It’s not difficult when you look at what exactly is in some of the food sold at the Supermarkets. Things are definitely improving in this respect but there’s still a long way to go.

When I first set up The Beauty Room in Cranleigh 24 years ago, in the face of adversity, I was still unwell with M.E. I used my knowledge of never embarking on any harmful treatments or substances. I specialised only in 100% safe practices. Many of my clients have been with me for 10-15 years and nearly all of them have become friends. Each one is different, but I adjust the treatment to suit them personally. Whether it’s Face-Lifting , Natural Teeth Whitening, Cool Peels, Micro-Needling, Environ Vitamin A Treatment (which is a hydrating/anti-ageing) facial or any other treatments on my Salon List. I only use non-toxic products and perform chemical free ‘result driven’ treatments.

Four years ago I re-named the business ‘The Natural Clinic’. The Salon is now based 12 minutes’ drive from Cranleigh, in my comfortable home salon in Rudgwick, with no parking fees and easy access. A testimonial of one of my clients who told me her husband said to her, “Anne, I don’t know what you are up to but you look 10 years younger!” Bemused and flattered she told him about her treatments at The Natural Clinic and guess what? He booked in too!

Sailing is another one of my hobbies that keeps me fit!

For me, starting a business has been an interesting progression, I wasn’t ambitious as a youngster, that came later. I didn’t have the encouragement or confidence when I left school. For anyone starting out now, life doesn’t always go your way but instead of giving up, embrace any issues that may block your path and take that knowledge to another level. Adapt and see it as a learning curve instead of a hinderance. Go with your gut, it tells you everything!

If any of the above interests you, or you would like further information on any of the topics I have covered in my article, please feel free to contact me and have a chat on 07973 292176.

Vivien Taylor – Owner of The Natural Clinic (previously The Beauty Room Cranleigh)

Specialising in:
Non-Surgical Face-Lifting
Smile-Again 100% safe & natural Teeth Whitening
Environ treatments i.e. Cool Peels / Micro-needling
Environ Vitamin A Hydrating Anti-Ageing Facials and much more.

Instagram: thenaturalclinicsussex

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