A hairdresser with a business brain a cut above the rest can now count a Dragon’s Den investor as an adviser.
Debbie Imber, who grew up in Ickenham, pitched her Tots Crops business, which specialises in visiting play groups and nurseries to cut children’s hair, to a judging panel including Yo! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe.
She fought off hundreds of other entrepreneurs to win a month of unprecedented access and mentoring opportunities with Mr Woodroffe, who appeared on the first series of BBC One entrepreneur show, Dragon’s Den.
Mrs Imber, who started Tots Crops seven years ago, hopes that her new business ally will help her expand.
“I’m so excited to win this mentoring – I know it’s going to be invaluable,” said the 38-year-old, now living in Earl’s Court. “I’ve been lucky enough to have been mentored once before and I know the value of having someone to run things past. Simon has been amazing.
“I have had this business for a long time and not known how to expand it. Simon has already asked me to go through what I like and don’t like about the business at the moment, and he is going to help me change the business model. We’re already so popular that we’ve got haircut waiting lists, but I know that Simon can give us the boost we need to make it even more successful.”
She was one of five winners in the competition, organised by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, in partnership with The Times newspaper.
Debbie’s grandfather, Bill Imber, founded and ran AW Imber Estate Agents, in Swakeleys Road, before her father Bob took the reigns.
It was taken over and is now called Swakeleys Estate Agents.
Mr Woodroffe said it was Debbie’s ‘boundless energy, good humour and courage’ that clinched it.
“As a panel, we really believed in Deb’s ability to make a success of Tots Crops. People who are brave enough to take time out of their busy and already pressurised lives to put themselves in situations such as this, where there is a very real danger of failure, will in fact succeed.”
Another judge, deputy business editor at The Times, Andrew Clarke, said: “These days I’m so used to dealing with bad business news, so it’s been a real pleasure to listen to some inspiring stories of real people succeeding in spite of adversity in this tough market.”