Wednesday 11 December 2019

Helping Aleksandra get to grips with the beauty of business

Alexsandra Calka's business journey is testament to the importance of hard-work, determination and staying focused on your goals, when it comes to succeeding in those all-important early years of starting a business.

It was always a dream of Alexsandra’s to open her own salon, having previously worked as a beauty and massage therapist, but the timing was never quite right. It was only upon moving to their new home in Southport and falling in love with the hustle and bustle of the local area that she started to see the potential, launching CoCo Beauty Clinic last year.

Alexsandra Kasprzyk, Owner of CoCo Beauty Clinic

Coco Beauty Clinic Ltd is a beauty and skin clinic offering a wide range of treatments from nail and brow treatments, to specialist skin peels and waxing. But Alexsandra really prides herself as a Trichology Expert, specialising in hair loss problems.

Approaching every client individually and catering to their exact beauty and skincare needs, all clients leave CoCo Beauty Clinic having received a unique and personalised experience.

It wasn’t long before Alexsandra managed to build up a supportive client base, largely through word of mouth recommendations. She explains that many of those in her local area of Hillside are small business owners themselves and that the local community take a proactive approach in supporting other independents.

Alexsandra approached Enterprise Hub at The Women’s Organisation to find out what support was available to help grow her new business. She was soon paired with business advisor Yan Miao for 1-2-1 advice and support, alongside access to a range of courses to equip her with the marketing and business skills needed to grow the business.

The training and courses on offer at The Women’s Organisation helped Alexsandra to build her brand and client base even further through developing her marketing skills. From planning a social media and marketing strategy, to getting to grips with the complexities of SEO (search engine optimization).

Alexsandra explains that having her advisor, Yan, on hand to talk through those daunting big decisions and reflect on any mistakes to build a positive plan moving forward was a great support through those early days.

She says: “Yan is just an amazing woman - she was so supportive! The courses I attended were all very interesting and filled with the right information which I could enforce in my salon marketing strategy the next day. Now I can advertise my salon better through social media and work on my website SEO myself without having to pay others. I still have all the print outs and notes so whenever I’m stuck or need some inspiration I go back to these notes - I always find something interesting!

“But the most important element of support for me at that time was meeting other women in the same position and supporting each other. It’s helped me to grow in confidence, and to set clear goals and priorities to be more business focused.”

Together with this programme of support, access to training and the backing of her family, Alexsandra has taken her business from strength to strength.

She added: “Over the last year I have managed to gain a very loyal, regular client base and it’s still growing. From 12 clients and 20 appointments in November 2018, to 80 clients and 112 appointments November 2019!”

Whether it’s the day-to-day management of the salon, carrying out treatments for clients, or simply cleaning and maintaining the salon, Alexsandra wears many hats when it comes to the smooth running of her business. And it’s watching her business grow and develop that she enjoys the most.

So, what’s her advice to anyone thinking about taking the plunge into self-employment themselves?
She says: “the most important thing is to never give up! Stay focused on your goals and keep moving forward, no matter how many hurdles you face.

“I am really blessed with an amazing family. My parents, brother, sister and my husband are very supportive.  I have met so many great people throughout my journey who have helped me in so many different ways.”

CoCo Beauty Clinic can be found online at and on Facebook. Or, you can get in touch with Alexsandra directly via or by calling 01704569990.

For more information about the support available to help start or grow your new business through Enterprise Hub, please contact 0151 706 8113 or 

Monday 2 December 2019

Macy’s Café is serving up big social impact for the Halton community

For many years, Amanda McDonald had a dream of running her own café. This dream became a reality when she opened the doors to Macy’s Café back in January.

Based in The Grange Community Centre in Runcorn, Amanda has created an authentic space at the heart of her local community.

Amanda McDonald is the face behind Macy's Cafe

Amanda tells us that her food always went down a storm when cooking for family and friends: “I’ve a strong passion for good food and enjoy cooking. I’m well known among family, friends and many people for being an excellent cook - people always loved and enjoyed anything I cook!”

Having worked full time as a Project Development Officer for the Social Services at Halton Borough Council, Amanda decided it was now or never and contacted the Enterprise Hub at The Women’s Organisation to find out what steps to take next.

She says: “Once I made my decision to set up Macy’s café, I put all my thoughts and energy into it and started looking for help.  I got in touch with The Women’s Organisation and started working with my business Adviser, Huda, on business planning and regulation and I also attended specialist workshops.

“I received excellent advice, support, guidance and the encouragement that I needed to start the café, as well as help securing a business start-up loan.”

Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength and is currently employing 3 part-time staff, alongside a volunteer, who are all passionate about working in the café and serving the local community.

Along with serving fresh, quality cooked food at affordable prices, Macy’s café has a strong social objective and provides free hot meals, drinks and essential supplies to those in need.

This is in large part thanks to access to a community fridge and store cupboard which is filled with fresh food products, along with toiletries, sanitary products, nappies and clothing.

The stock receives generous donations from businesses and people alike and is built on an ethos of “take when you need, put back when you can”.

Going that step further, Amanda even provides free hot meals for those in need – becoming a vital lifeline for many in her community.

One man in particular had been living on the streets and depended on regular hot meals from Macy’s café and was provided with fresh clothes, toiletries and a tent, until he eventually found employment and a home of his own. That same man today contributes to the community fridge in support of others and is a regular to the café.

Macy’s café also hosts special social events for fostering teams who bring children and foster carers together and run activities for them.

The impact which Amanda and the team have been having on the local community hasn’t gone unnoticed and they were recently announced as winners of the Social Impact Award at The Women’s Organisation’s Enterprising Women Awards.

So, how is Amanda finding the world of self-employment so far? She says: “I love being self-employed, being my own boss while helping the community and people in need.  We’re trying our best to keep the balance of running a successful business, creating jobs for people and contributing to our local community.”

Macy’s Café can be found in The Grange Community Centre and you can check out their Facebook page here.

For more information about the support available to help start or grow your new business through Enterprise Hub, please contact 0151 706 8113 or