SHE left school at 13 without any qualifications, but Katie Godfrey built a beauty empire from the ground up, grossing an incredible Â£ 500,000 last year.
The entrepreneur has nine beauty academies across the UK, a Bedford-based beauty salon and a range of professional beauty tools and false eyelashes.
As Paris Fury – wife of world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson – mother of Katie, Karen, 57, founder of domestic violence charity Stepping Stones, pulled her out of school at a young age .
Speaking of removing her eldest daughter Venezuela, 11, from school, Paris, 31, explained that this was in line with travelers’ tradition, adding: “Venezuela wanted to quit school and all of her friends were leaving.”
Katie, 32, who lives in Bedford with her six-year-old daughter Lola-Rose, fully agrees with Paris’s decision.
She says, âSome people say that dropping out of school at such a young age is a terrible mistake, but I’m proof that you don’t need certificates to be successful in life.
âSchool doesn’t teach you money or the trade of an entrepreneur. Education is not everything.
Cruel bullies made Katie’s life a mess in high school.
She said, âThe older girls would surround me in the hallways, take me back to the bathroom, threaten to stab me, spread rumors around the school, and send nasty letters to my house.
âI got to the point where I was harming myself, trying to kill myself. It got so bad that I had to get out of it, even if it meant not having any qualifications. “
Karen and Katie’s builder father Paul, 56, decided to teach his daughter at home in 2002, despite not having passed her GCSEs.
The hell of self-harm
At the age of 14, she was approached by a model recruiter while shopping on Oxford Street in London.
Katie says, âModeling has become my savior. I traveled to castings in London and building my portfolio helped me regain my self-confidence. It taught me a lot about how to start a business because I had to convince agents and be chosen for jobs – basically I was marketing myself. “
Katie, who had also completed a level one beauty therapy course at the age of 16, decided to move to Bedford in 2006 at the age of 18 and started her own modeling agency, KG Model Management. , using the contacts she had made in the industry.
But Katie couldn’t ignore her other dream: to open a tanning salon before she turned 30. So in 2009 she bought a store after borrowing Â£ 38,000 from her parents and Â£ 30,000 from the bank.
She says, âI decided to combine the tanning salon with my modeling business. Even though my goal was not to be a beautician, there was a high demand, and it wouldn’t have been wise to turn down business.
âSo after six months I decided to close the modeling agency and turn the whole building into a salon.
âIt was tough. I hired a staff member and worked hourly to pay his salary and make ends meet. The salon had no reputation because we were brand new. Bring in clients and learning to remember them takes a long time.
âI was in debt to the eyes by the bank loan. I set myself the goal of continuing and paying off my debts within five years, which I achieved.
âWhat kept me going was that I didn’t have any other qualifications so I didn’t have anything to fall back on.
In an effort to increase her income, in 2009 Katie trained in eyelash application and quickly began teaching new eyelash artists across the country. By 2012, she had created her own line of beauty products and academy, KG Professional in Bedford.
“I am overwhelmed by my success”
She says: âIt wasn’t my goal to create what the brand is today. Initially, the main goal was to make the products to use in my living room and to offer to my students. They wanted to stock the products in their living rooms and soon we were selling worldwide through our website.
In 2014, Katie won the Eyelash Technician of the Year award at the Babtac Inspiring Beauty Awards. But that same year, life got tough when, at the age of 24, Katie got pregnant and her relationship broke just as she was opening a second beauty salon in Ampthill, Beds.
She says, âBeing pregnant was all I wanted, but I was ashamed to do it on my own, but I became more determined to make it work. It was intimidating to think of running three businesses while taking care of a baby on my own, but I did.
âMy business was my baby, but I trained my staff to the point where I was happy to let them do it so I could enjoy my pregnancy. “
Katie’s daughter, Lola-Rose, was born on August 22, 2015, and she says, âWhen she slept I would answer emails at home to make sure I was having a special time with her. I wouldn’t have had that in the living room.
Today, Katie’s businesses, which employ 17 people, are thriving.
She says, âStaffing was my weak spot and the intimidation of my past left me struggling with confrontation. The idea of âânot being loved engulfed me, but years of recruiting and training staff, and running a team every day made me stronger. I learned to be a good boss and a leader.
Katie now has nine academies across the UK that teach beauty classes as well as a range of eyelash products and a local salon, having sold her second beauty salon in 2017.
She says, âI feel overwhelmed by my success, sometimes I can’t believe it. Itâs only when I look back that I realize Iâve done so much.
âI thank the bullies because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Over the past year, my businesses have generated over half a million pounds.
Katie is about to move into a new home in Bedford with her boyfriend, electrical engineer Luke Lincoln, 34.
She says, âIf my daughter had difficulty in school, I would withdraw her 100%.
âI would do whatever she wanted to do. If that meant the school wasn’t going to be able to give it to her, I would be fine.