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Founder of Sudbury fitness studio and salon Alexandra's set to bid farewell after 29 years of running business





After operating a successful women’s-only fitness studio and beauty salon in Sudbury for almost three decades, a businesswoman is preparing to bid farewell to her customers.

Wendy Bailey, a qualified nail technician, established Alexandra’s in 1991.

Having lost her older sister, Rosemary, at 18, Mrs Bailey was inspired to create a safe place where women could keep fit and socialise together.

Alexandra's health and beauty salon is closing after trading in the town for almost 30 years. Following the increasing economic challenges, business owner Wendy Bailey has decided to close the business and retire....Pictured: Wendy Bailey with Norma Bacon who has been going to the salon for 29 years....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.. (42458205)
Alexandra's health and beauty salon is closing after trading in the town for almost 30 years. Following the increasing economic challenges, business owner Wendy Bailey has decided to close the business and retire....Pictured: Wendy Bailey with Norma Bacon who has been going to the salon for 29 years....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.. (42458205)

“I just pined for a sister and I had this dream in my head where all these women could exercise and have a cup of coffee, or have their nails done,” she said, adding that the camaraderie had been a great comfort in helping to manage her grief.

“They made me feel whole again, so I didn’t feel like something was missing all the time.”

Having felt uncomfortable at other fitness studios she had visited, Mrs Bailey was determined to create a relaxed setting for her clients.

“A lot of people wouldn’t go to a gym because they felt embarrassed, so it was important that they felt welcomed,” said the mother-of-one.

“They all call it a little family; everyone is welcome, no matter their age.

“They’ve made so many friendships here and I’ve met a lot of lovely people who are now friends for life.”

Keen to encourage individuals to keep fit, while also offering a degree of flexibility, Mrs Bailey set up a pay-as-you-go service.

Her daughter, Charmaine, a former student at Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard, used to help out at the business.

“It was absolutely lovely having her here,” said the 59-year-old. “And she came to work at the studio after leaving school.”

Some of her clients have remained customers since the business was established almost three decades ago, with the oldest current member aged 95.

Praising their loyalty, Mrs Bailey said: “They have been with me from day one.”

Over the years, the businesswoman has offered a range of fitness sessions and beauty treatments, including step classes, dietary advice and spray tan sessions.

For the past five years, she has managed the business on her own, which has proven extremely challenging.

“I have kept it going for as long as I can,” she said. “But it needs younger people to take it over, and it would be a shame to lose it now.”

Hoping the business will continue operating in the future, Mrs Bailey said: “It would be lovely to see it carried on, especially for all those women who have used it for so many years.”

Mrs Bailey, who lives in Stoke-by-Nayland with husband Philip, plans to retire once the business has been sold, and is considering continuing to work as a nail technician on a part-time basis.

Reflecting on her time at the business, Mrs Bailey said: “There’s been a lot of laughter and I have some fantastic memories.

“I feel very blessed that I have been able to do this for nearly 30 years.”