A HAIRDRESSING business which drew on its founder’s experience of hair loss has been named the best in the industry its use of digital.

Former model Simone Thomas founded her business in 2014, having experienced hair loss after being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 21.

Simone Thomas Salons, which provides general hairdressing as well as specialist treatment and wigs, has expanded from Westbourne to a second outlet at Wokingham, Berkshire. It has gone from a £100,000 investment to a £1million business in six years.

It is bringing in 50-80 new clients a month by answering queries via live chat outside business hours.

Ms Thomas said the response was “unheard of within the industry”.

“Most people at work are not allowed to use the phone or social media, but most companies book online and through social media,” she said.

The company runs its web chat itself, with a small number of staff including Simone. “It’s nice to have that feeling of customer service and the one-to-one approach,” she said.

Other digital activity includes regular advertising on Instagram and Facebook, as well as booking appointments online.

The strategy has helped earn both salons a 4.8 out of five rating at the review site Salonspy.co.uk.

Simone has driven much of the social media approach herself.

“Many years ago, I did computer programming for A-level. I came from a geeky background many years ago, not that I ever went into that. When I worked in corporate sales, I remember getting the Idiot’s Guide to Facebook and just really learned that way,” she said.

A former model for Nuts and Loaded, Simone Thomas had a high-powered job with Verizon when she was diagnosed with cancer. Her hair loss began then and worsened because of unsuitable treatments.

In recent times she has studied nutrition and trichology and launched her Feeling Fine supplement range at forgutssake.co.uk. She spends part of the week in THIS Workspace, the shared workspace in the Daily Echo building, where she works on social media and her business strategy.

Despite once thinking she would be unable to have children, she now has Ashton and William, aged two and one. “They’re my little miracle boys. It’s fantastic,” she said.