The mother of four who has been active in the industry for over 20 years has recently turned her business into a family affair as her daughter, Shanice, joins the team to offer an expanded menu of beauty treatments to clients.
The entrepreneur has also launched a training academy and now offers an online retail outlet from which she sells her own branded products.
Award officials released its list of nominees recently for the event which will be held across two weekends; Sunday, June 5 when hair professionals will be awarded; and Sunday, June 12, when the beauty element of the event will take place. Both ‘chapters’ will take place at the Europa Hotel.
The awards are honoured by Creative Oceanic but voted for by the public of Northern Ireland who have experienced the service first hand at each nominated salon.
They come as the industry steps back out into the limelight after a challenging two years of lockdowns and forced closures.
Among the categories are Beauty Salon of the Year, Hair Salon of the Year, Skin Clinic of the Year, and Training Academy of the Year.
Linda Leighton’s salon is shortlisted for the Hair Salon of the Year in the Co Derry division.
Linda balances family life with not just the intensive operation of a hair and beauty salon but she gives back with a training academy for those who wish to embark on a career in the field.
Meanwhile her charity work, including her efforts for Macmillan Cancer Support and Crohn’s & Colitis UK, as well as her support for the Limavady Youth Community Hub sees her well-loved and respected in her community.
Prior to launching her own business, she made a name for herself in various other award-winning salons in the North West before launching her very own enterprise in 2012 at her home.
Success and growth followed allowing her to open a salon in Limavady in 2014, which she first called Vanity. As client numbers grew and services expanded, the salon was renamed Linda Leighton Hairdressing and Make Up Salon.
Linda also has her own range of hair products which saw her venture into the world of e-commerce while the launch of her training academy in March has proven to be extremely popular.
The Northern Ireland Hair and Beauty Awards 2022 is not her first brush with success. She was winner of the same category at the event’s 2018 ceremony. She was also awarded a Lady of Elegance Award by Local Women Magazine in 2016.
Linda said: “My team strives to maintain the highest level of service, while catering to clients’ individual needs and desires. One of my stylists, Rachael McLaughlin, has worked with me for over five years and helps to manage the salon. Highly trained and skilled stylists specialise in precision cutting, customised hair colouring and extensions. The team pride themselves in creating a comfortable and welcoming environment while delivering the best hair services available.
“During the pandemic, the closure of the salon prompted me to interrogate my business model and to adopt new ways of working. In addition to launching ‘The Linda Leighton Collection’, a bespoke range of products which includes lashes, lip glosses and hairbrushes, I embraced the world of e-commerce. I was determined to provide my customers with the products they needed online, at the simple click of a button.
“I am also delighted to have launched my very own hair academy in March 2022 which is proving incredibly popular. My greatest achievement is to officially welcome my daughter to the team. To see Shanice working alongside me, taking our salon to the next level will be an exciting chapter.”
The business woman has taken advantage of a new campaign in NI, Voice for Locals, which has assisted her in ramping up the salon’s use of technology to boost sales and profit.
The initiative has offered her skills, marketing and other services to aid business recovery post pandemic.
Linda adds: “The Voice for Locals initiative will allow me to better understand my customers, using data to make informed decisions to drive repeat business via personalised loyalty programmes, enhancing the overall customer experience.”
A spokesperson for The Northern Ireland Hair & Beauty Awards 2022, said: "We are now two years on from the country’s first lockdown and this milestone highlights the strength of businesses within the hair and beauty industry in Northern Ireland.
"Whilst the pandemic presented many challenges for the industry with many businesses being forced to close, these finalists have successfully adapted to the new challenges the industry has faced since the pandemic started.
“In recognition of this, the Awards will shine the spotlight on the talented professionals that have shown great passion, commitment and innovation for the beauty industry, who often don’t get the recognition they deserve.
“With fierce competition this year, we would like to wish to the finalists the best of luck and we can’t wait to welcome our guests and deliver another enjoyable event."