Hair extension entrepreneur Lamiese Prior served in London’s Metropolitan Police for 10 years before moving to Dubai.
Passionate about working with hair since school, where she would buy wefts (hair extensions) and sew them into clip-ins for older students, she took up formal training and carried on putting in extensions as a sideline after a costly and disappointing experience in a salon.
Ms Prior, born in the UK to British and Iraqi parents, launched her hair extensions brand Rumour with help from husband Joe from their home in Jumeirah Village Circle during the 2020 Covid-19 movement restrictions after quitting her office job.
Now 37, she has since run online courses and styled extensions for Love Island’s Dani Dyer and Hayley Hughes and reality TV stars Courtney Green and Olivia Christine during their visits to Dubai.
Did your upbringing shape your money outlook?
I grew up in a council flat in south-east London. My mum was a single parent and we didn’t have money. She really struggled to give me everything that she could to make sure I had a nice life.
I grew up with no education around money, it was more like you needed it to survive. That did teach me to value money and I would prefer to have the upbringing I had rather than where money was never an issue, just given to me on a plate.
I’m grateful for that, but it wasn’t easy.
Did you have jobs growing up?
My first was as a Saturday girl in a salon for £20 (Dh96) a day. I would wash clients’ hair, sweep the floors, clean mirrors.
I wanted to make a bit of money so that I could buy myself something nice and wouldn’t have to rely on my mum to scrimp so she could give it to me.
I’ve always had that drive. When they gave me that £20 and tips, I felt like I’d won the lottery. I would have spent it within 24 hours.
How else did you bring in cash?
I was about 14 and used to follow celebrities into LWT [UK TV channel] studios in London and wait at the railings. I would get pictures of them, all the boy bands at the time, like Five, print them and return the following week to get the celebrities to sign them.
I would then go to school and sell the pictures. I loved that feeling of someone handing over money for something I really enjoyed doing.
What prompted you to leave the police force?
I joined when I was 19, started off as a civilian in the control room. After two years, I became a police constable. It made me who I am.
When I joined, the salary was amazing, but after 10 years I thought: “Hang on, my money’s only gone up by £500, I’m not going to be able to do all the things I want to do.”
For me, the most important thing is to be happy and I wasn’t. I left and all I had under my belt was a hair extension course and a dog grooming course.
In the end, I sold my car and used the money to travel as I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
Did that lead you to the UAE?
Actually, I first came on holiday in 2005. I had friends who lived here. I absolutely loved it but never got a chance to move then because I was training to be a police constable.
When I finally came here [seven years ago], I was doing office jobs but it was a stepping stone. I didn’t think there would be clientele for hair extensions and then started to realise there was no presence here with hair extension brands.
During the lockdown, I launched Rumour and had the courage to go full pelt with it. It pushed me in the direction I needed to go.
Amazon [sales] went through the roof because everybody was at home shopping online, so I spent five weeks glued to my laptop. I’d left my office job not long before Covid-19 and had to make money during the lockdown.
The business is solely selling the hair online to customers to wear and to salons.
As you get older, you start to think: “OK, it’s now or never.” The signs have been there since I was young. I always wanted to do something of my own — it was the perfect opportunity.
Are you a saver or a spender?
A bit of both. The money that I spend isn’t necessarily on me. I spend a lot buying stock for orders and salons, running the website and marketing.
Whenever I have money, I put it back into the business or buy a course. So, I’m not really a spender in terms of going shopping or to brunches. I want to be [more of] a saver.
Paying a monthly fee for platforms that I run my business on, learning, self-development … those have been my best investments so far because it’s given me freedom to work for myself.
Any cherished purchases?
Booking that air ticket and going travelling … I spent all of my savings, but I was just so lost. I would probably still be in the police in the UK.
It put into perspective what’s important and you realise that the right thing to do is to listen to yourself, learn to trust yourself again. It doesn’t matter what everybody else is saying around you.
How do you feel about money?
The way I grew up, I believe that money doesn’t make you happy … it doesn’t fulfil you. Some people have so much and they’re still not happy.
From growing up not having anything to now being comfortable, you know it is important — if you want to start your business or go on nice holidays, you have to have money. And the more I make, the more I would use to see more of the world, because when you die you can’t take it with you.
I do spend a lot on holidays. I could probably do it cheaper but I want to enjoy the luxuries.
Is there something you regret paying for?
I hired a woman in the UK to do marketing and later realised she was a scammer. I paid upfront, she didn’t deliver the work and I couldn’t get my money back. That was probably only £350, but when you are running your own business, every penny counts. I’d rather have given that money to charity. I’m learning as I go along.
I did think about getting an investor because I am impatient and I want it all today. At the same time, I don’t really want anyone to have a piece of my business. When it’s yours, you know what is right for it.
Any financial advice for your younger self?
I would say to myself not to be scared of money. The more you earn, the more you spend; it comes in one hand and goes out the other.
As I’ve got older, I’ve learnt to not be so attached to it and how to spend it wisely.
Also, not being scared to take risks. I wish I had educated myself with money from a young age; they don’t teach anything in school about finance. I have probably made some financial mistakes, but it’s a learning curve.
What are your future financial goals?
I want to be in a position where I could maybe work remotely, live where I have a relaxed life, maybe Italy for the summer, a few months in Thailand, spend more time with family in the UK.
I’d like to put money into property here and in the UK for rentals and have that passive income coming through. I’ve been here for seven years, I’m wasting money on rent and can’t see myself leaving any time soon, so I might as well take that leap. But I don’t necessarily want to be one of those people where it’s never enough [money].
Charity is a huge thing for me. That’s something I really want to push the business towards, partnering with charities.
That’s where I want to be financially, to be able to support another cause and my soft spot is animals. The goal would be to have land and be able to rescue animals.