Lots of surprises at The Loft beauty salon

The Loft beauty salon in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich, with Chris Walmsley and partner Pia-Monique Ho

The Loft beauty salon in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich, with Chris Walmsley and partner Pia-Monique Howard Picture: DAVID VINCENT - Credit: Archant

When Chris Walmsley and his partner Pia-Monique Howard had their opening party at The Loft beauty salon in Ipswich, it was the end of a long journey.

The Loft beauty salon in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich with Chris Walmsley and partner Pia-Monique How

The Loft beauty salon in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich with Chris Walmsley and partner Pia-Monique Howard Picture: DAVID VINCENT - Credit: Archant

Chris, a graphic designer by profession, competed with more experienced developers to buy the St Nicholas Street building in March last year, at auction.

Chris,36, from the Crofts area of town, said: “This is the most interesting journey I have ever done.

“We bought it auction. I did all my research, and even watched to see who also came in to look at it, to see who I would be bidding against.

“It really has been a labour of love. I have just checked, it is 626 days in all.

The Loft, a new beauty salon created by Ipswich man Chris Walmsley in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich.

The Loft, a new beauty salon created by Ipswich man Chris Walmsley in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENT - Credit: Archant


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“I have built it the business myself, with a small budget, while I have had a full-time job.

“I have been here every evening and weekends.

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“While I have been here, Pia has been building her business from home.”

Chris, a former pupil at St Albans and Northgate Schols, said travel had opened his eyes to possibilities.

“I lived in California for six months, which was interesting.

“This is a dream.

“Everyone wants to build their own home, and to have their own business. This is a bit of both of those, fused.

“Pia has all right skills to run the business. She has been working in beauty for ten years.”

This historic building had been a sweet shop for many years, and was opposite the Old Hippodrome music hall.

“It is a lovely building in a really historic street. Cardinal Wolsey was born two doors down.

“All the other business people have been very interested in the project.”

He uncovered the window on Thursday night, ready for the big reveal.

“I think it is stylish and sexy.

“There are all the original features, of a listed building, and some contemporary twists.”

There are bespoke copper radiators, and a floor of pennies in the ground floor toilet, a nod to its past at a sweet shop - and pennny sweets.

“The floorboards are wide reclaimed boards, found in Norfolk.

“I think have done all the design and graphics myself. I am a self-taught builder, from a £5 book I picked up in WH Smith a few year ago.

“This is unique.”

The Loft is also unusual in another way. It also has an alcohol licence - so women can take a glass of Prosecco while they are having the nails, lashes or other treaments done.

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