By Sarah Hardy Kiernan

My story is not that unheard of these days, but if I can help someone who cannot have a voice regain their confidence, help someone not feel alone or inspire them to truly be themselves again and keep aspiring post-pandemic in the Beauty Industry – then that is enough for me.

I grew up in the 1980s, where, having a disabled father was, slightly unconventional but it was my normal.  There are sometimes memories and uncontrollable emotions that creep into your thoughts in the present that, as a child, you block out.  You see, there are some things no parent can protect their child from, where an uncle abuses their power and position within a family.

Aged 15 the Careers Advisor asked me “Why do you want to do Beauty Therapy?  You should be taking science A-levels”.  On that note, I collected my belongings and walked out of her office.

In 1996 I began my Beauty Therapy career and later pursued Aromatherapy, of course I loved all things to do with science.  I worked in several Beauty Salons and in 2001, I went on to work in the entertainment industry in Tenerife.

I returned to Merseyside, UK, where I had my daughter in 2002.  I worked as a Spa manager and in 2003 started teaching in the evenings in Adult Education and later at a Private Training Provider in Liverpool.  I completed my A1 and V1, Teacher Training and graduated with my Cert. Ed. in 2008.

During this time I had split from my daughter’s father and met a guy who turned out to not be so debonair.   My daughter and I ended up in a hostel for homeless people to escape domestic violence.  I just wanted to be a Freelance Assessor and Tutor and had just completed a Business Course as well.  Yet again, having to leave my home once more.

I returned to Suffolk in 2011 and went through a Court case battle where I lost custody of my daughter.  I was exhausted by this point but the one thing that always made sense was putting on my makeup to hide acne scarring, burning essential oils and hiding behind a mask.  Beauty makes us feel good, beauty was my constant companion, my passion.  My career spurred me on.

I returned to my roots of Adult Education and we ran programs in Holistic Therapies and Entry Courses for Adults across Suffolk.  I rebuilt my life and still saw my daughter regularly.

I had a workplace accident just after my marriage in 2016 which left me in a wheelchair – sitting opposite my father, ironically.  At that time I stayed with my parents who live in a bungalow adapted especially for my father.  I could not physically move or get up the steps to my home for quite a few weeks but with physical therapy and treatment I got better.  My physical health had improved but my mental health was facing a downwards spiral and it was then I decided to take an overdose.  Were it not for the help of an amazing Care Co-ordinator and support from my family I may not have been writing this.  But I am so glad that I am here today.

In 2019 I was made compulsorily redundant from my Teaching Management role so I started making enquiries prior to this for jobs.  Should I declare my mental health problems or not? For goodness sake – I taught employability as well!  On paper I looked very professional but the real me, inside, was dying, experiencing flashbacks, anxiety and nightmares.  I had a job offer in London working freelance for a new Academy and I quit my temporary job in February 2020 to start self-employed again.

Then a pandemic hit us all.  I went on to Universal Credit, my daughter returned home and the nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety started again.  Compulsory mask wearing just felt like the hand across my mouth to silence me when I was a child.  But I still wore a mask because I did not want to stand out.

I decided to do as much Continual Professional Development (CPD) as possible, upskill and enjoyed online learning and had financial support from the hair and beauty charity.

With the fantastic team of NHS staff, psychiatrist and psychotherapist I went into Intensive Talking Therapy (ITT).  I was referred to the Individual Placement Support Service (IPS) where I worked with a Personal Coach to help identify and find ‘me’ again.  I now knew that Situational Stress triggered my Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). 

Since January 2021 I have been assisting with the IPS’s Fidelity Model on Employment and been part of their Steering Group for the East of England.  I applied for a job in the Further Education college where I work now and the sky is the limit.  I feel included, do not have to hide who I am and I only wear my PPE mask and makeup!

They saw me and believed in me.  In September this year I will be running the Holistic and Anatomy programs and I am very excited to be a part of the post-Covid movement in Beauty.

During the pandemic, I set up and tried out the ‘Instagram and Tik Tok’ generation branded-rebranded and followed the crowds and movements in our industry, but I had not finished there.

I still had this burning passion inside me to share my story with my industry, which is why I set up

In the coming months, I am going to start up my own web-broadcast channel for the Beauty Industry and do talks and keynote addresses using my story for positivity.

I will use my expertise through thoughtful, careful affiliations and collaborations, whilst generating revenues through advertising and educational resources in Beauty.  I want to talk to real people and clients about challenging bias in our industry and more.

You see, Beauty is my constant in life and education and this is the same for so many of your clients and students.  I have a unique insight and feel privileged to have worked in an amazing industry for 25 years.  It is only by taking off my own mask, being authentic and sharing my story with you that I can ‘Truly Be Me’.  I dare you to Trulybu too…. If you wanna know more drop me a DM on IG, Trulybu_sarahhk