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Podology – Another Success for Saltburn

“Saltburn was the ideal place for me to set up my business,” says Laura Dicken, thirty-one year old owner of Podology in Milton Street. “There’s a buzz in the town and an exciting Business Association, where members work together and get behind town events.” Laura wanted to follow her Mum into nursing, until

she fell while playing netball and found she had scoliosis, giving her a weak back. After work experience at Redcar Health Centre, Laura decided chiropody would be a good alternative and she studied for a degree, first at Queen Margaret’s University College in Edinburgh and then at Durham. She enjoyed the course, especially the practical work: “I’m a people person, not a bookworm,” she says. Laura’s first job was with Darlington NHS Primary

Care Trust, but she also gained experience in private practice with a chiropodist in Whitby on Saturdays. Her clients were mainly middle-aged and elderly, but Laura decided that she wanted to work with younger people too, because foot care is important for everybody. She found the private work particularly satisfying, because it was possible to give clients more time and better quality treatment. Soon she was working in Whitby on home visits and

then she did two days a week out and about in North Yorkshire with a day in the clinic. Working for the chiropodist Paul Maxwell in Guisborough, she covered the care homes and his holidays. Gradually, she built up her own clientele in Saltburn. “Around this time, I got married to Jonathan and we

moved to Skelton. For a while, Saltburn had seemed an ideal place to open a chiropodist’s and fortunately, no-one got there first!” she says. “There had been an earlier chiropodist, Mr Hall, in Upleatham Street, but he was in his nineties when I opened up and he was very chuffed to hear what I was doing. His wife, who had been his receptionist, brought me his old instruments!” In 2005, Laura opened Podology in the old Emmanuel

Church Shop premises on Milton Street. She was working on her own at first, but became busy very quickly so she contacted Sue, who had been on the course with her at Durham and offered her work for two days a week. Six years on, Sue is still with Podology; she has covered both of Laura’s maternity leaves and is an integral part of the business. When she heard clients say that after chiropody, they

were going elsewhere to get their toenails painted, Laura decided that she wanted to offer beauty treatments too and engaged beautician Linzi, who works from Tuesdays to Saturdays. But they were outgrowing the venue and after her second baby was born, Laura put out feelers for bigger Saltburn premises. When she heard that Chocolini’s was moving, she began negotiations and bought the shop in August 2010. “It was a steep learning curve,” she remembers. “I was

Project Manager and had to organise the shopfitters, get in the marble sinks, choose the wallpaper and the flooring. With no business background, I had to make quick decisions. I learnt that if you work hard enough, you can achieve your goal. My parents have a strong work ethic and that stood me


in good stead.” The podiatry (a European/US term, which is more

modern than chiropody) is going really well. Laura and Sue work on clients from the hip down, with biomechanical assessments (examining how a person walks), orthotics (making insoles) and dealing with sports injuries as well as traditional work with corns and veruccas. They offer a medical pedicure with exfoliation, massage and nail painting. Many clients are repeat customers from Saltburn and surrounding areas, although some people from London and abroad come when they are visiting family here. “Since moving to the new two-room premises, we

are working with a wider range of people,” Laura says. “Two thirds of clients are women, but we attracted more men with our Father’s Day Special Offer.” To develop the beauty side of the business, Laura

wanted a strong brand, so contacted Elemis and a North- East rep spent a day with them to assess whether Podology met their standards. The team were delighted when they were given the go ahead. Linzi then had to take special training in Elemis facials and massage. “Both sides of the business are working nicely

together,” explains Laura. “We haven’t looked back since we started. We’ve just taken on Chloë, a Saturday girl who is working on Reception and training to be a beauty therapist at Middlesbrough College.” Working away in the background is husband

Jonathan, who does the banking, some of the child care and general running around, as well as his own full-time job. Laura’s parents are also very supportive with the childcare. “We’re a good team,” she says. Laura was thrilled to be nominated for the Best

Business Growth Award 2011 by the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative, which provided a grant when Podology moved into the new premises. The business reached the last four in the contest. Laura welcomes new customers and urges you to

drop in to see what’s on offer. The shop sells vouchers exchangeable for any treatment and strives to always provide you with a friendly, high quality service. Rosemary Nicholls

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