Morag Sterrick is a businesswoman who believes everyone has a talent and everyone deserves a chance.
Two years ago, that philosophy was acknowledged when Morag, who has run Aquarius Hair Design in The Square, Earlston, for the past 19 years, was a finalist in the Employer of the Year category in the Scottish Borders Business Awards.
For as long as learning disabled and school work placements have existed in the region, Morag has been a willing participant.
“We’re a community business and we try to reflect society’s rich diversity in the way we operate,” said Morag, whose salon assistant Megan Bilsland from Lauder has Down’s Syndrome and is celebrating five years as a valued employee.
On Tuesday of this week, 18-year-old Jordan Megahy from Jedburgh began a three-year modern apprenticeship at Aquarius, honing his skills under the guidance of Morag and Luana Henderson, a former UK Student of the Year finalist and now a fully-qualified stylist.
“Jordan did a 12-week work placement earlier this year and was really impressive,” explained Morag. “He left hoping to get something closer to home, but I was delighted when he contacted me recently to say things hadn’t worked out and asked if I would take him on.
“I was more than happy to offer him an apprenticeship.”
And, as if to disprove the adage that nice guys don’t succeed in business, the staff at Aquarius were given a major boost recently by being shortlisted in no fewer than three categories of the prestigious 2014 UK Salon Business Awards.
From thousands of entries, Aquarius was among the top five contenders for the accolades of Best Local Salon, Best Salon Team of the Year and Best Male Grooming Salon.
“We were the only Borders salon shortlisted against some of the top names in the world of UK hairdressing,” said Morag. “Apart from the quality and the wide range of services we offer for both male and female clients, the visiting judges were impressed with the happy atmosphere we have tried to create.
“They particularly appreciated our commitment to working as a team and our involvement in community projects, including Earlston Civic Week.
“Although we lost out on one of the major awards, we all got a real boost from the experience – and we all feel like winners!”