Jennifer Cheyne, founder of the Cheynes Group of hair salons and training companies, has been awarded an OBE for services to hairdressing and charity.
Jennifer Chatham was born 60 years ago in Westfield Court, Gorgie. Her father, Tommy, worked as a sales rep during the week and a sports reporter at weekends, while her mother Pauline worked at Timpson’s shoe shop in Princes Street.
Jennifer went to Balgreen Primary School and Boroughmuir High, but was keen to join the world of work as soon as she could. “I left school the day after I was 15,” she says. “I loved the social side of school but not the academic side.”
She did a three-year hairdressing apprenticeship with Stewart’s in Princes Street, then in 1970 joined His Hair, a barber’s shop in Rose Street owned by Charlie Miller and Charlie Mearns.
“It was really trendy,” she recalls. “Guys queued right down the street. One room was purple and there was music blaring. When I started I was the first female barber, supposedly in the UK. I had short blonde hair and a bright green Mini car.”
She worked there for six years, during which she married her first husband, colleague Stuart Cheyne. In 1976 they started their own business, using a £2000 loan from her father to open a salon in Haymarket.
“It took off straight away,” she says.
Now she has a string of salons across the city as well as a network of 16 hairdressing academies across the UK, which has so far trained more than 8000 young people.
She says her first love is the creative side of hairdressing and as well as running her thriving business she has travelled millions of miles to share her expertise around the globe.
She is widely recognised as one of the most influential businesswomen in Scotland and was the first woman and first Scot to become president of the Fellowship for British Hairdressing.
In 2009, she starred in the Channel 4 series Secret Millionaire, giving up her usual lifestyle for nine days to live in the Welsh village of Aberfan, tasked with getting to know its residents and their social problems. She continues to visit and support the people she met there.
She has also been involved in numerous charity events and helped many causes over her 37 years in business.
She was married to Stuart Cheyne for 19 years, but they divorced 20 years ago and she has been married to Cliff Anderson for the past 19 years. The couple own a property company dealing with both residential and commercial premises. Their portfolio built up over the past two decades includes investments in Edinburgh, Marbella and Los Angeles.
Ms Cheyne has two children from her first marriage – daughter Ebony is a fashion photographer in Paris and son Elliot lives in Marbella – as well as two step-children.