Harrogate business rises from the ashes after devastating fire
A Harrogate man whose barber shop was destroyed in a fire last year is gearing up to start a new venture.
After Lords Chop House on Beulah Street was caught up in a devastating blaze last June, owner Christian Mercer was left with a gutted shop and nowhere to continue his work.
He told the Harrogate Advertiser: "A client called me and told me they thought the shop was on fire, and as soon as I opened by apartment door I could see the sky was black and smell the smoke.
"The following weeks were filled with uncertainty and confusion. In just one morning I had lost six months of income, I couldn't believe it."
But Christian refused to let the situation defeat him and managed to rent a chair in another salon within just two weeks to continue doing what he loved.
"The salon was great but one of the best things about Beulah Street was the walk-in trade," he said. "Some days, we would get up to ten walk-in clients and we lost all of that when we had to move, but it felt great to be working again and see all of our regulars."
It hasn't been the easiest year for the hairdressing trade and after getting back on his feet after the fire, Christian was faced with another challenge - the Covid-19 pandemic.
Businesses were forced to close and he once again found himself in an uncertain position until trading restrictions were lifted in July.
All was not lost, though, as the lockdown gave Christian and some of his colleagues, Lisa and James, the time to put their heads together and come up with an idea for a new salon in the centre of Harrogate.
Christian added: "We had a mixture of skills and expertise - in both barbering and hairdressing - so we decided to create 'Lords and Ladies' to cater for everyone.
"The brand has grown as I've grown and it's great to be able to cater for more of Harrogate."
The salon, on Cheltenham Parade, is currently being worked on and the interior is being 'purpose built' to ensure it is Covid-safe, with spaced out work stations in place.
It now has more than 1,000 followers on Instagram and Christian hopes the business will be up and running in the next four to six weeks.
He said: "I've got lots of tricks up my sleeve and I'm really excited for the next chapter.
"When I first came to Harrogate I offered free haircuts to get the customers in, and out of 100, 72 returned and became regulars. I'm hoping we can do similar things with the new salon.
"We're offering something new, exciting and fresh for the town centre. We're going for a regal theme, with a feature wall of foliage, like a royal garden inside.
"What we want is to offer an experience, not just a cut, so the customer will be the star of the show and will leave feeling amazing.
"When everything happened with the fire last year I wasn't sure whether I wanted to do this again. I poured my heart and soul into the business, so to watch it burn to the ground was heartbreaking and it really knocked the wind out of my sails. But no matter what, I knew I had to get back to doing what I love.
"I feel ready for this new venture and I'm so excited to bring something new to Harrogate."