A JAPANESE beautician who overcame a series of personal problems and has now started a successful business is speaking out to inspire others.

Setsuko Takeuchi, 42, recently opened Setsuko Beauty in North Petherton, but says it took time and effort to achieve her dreams.

"I came to the UK from Japan 20 years ago as a volunteer to look after people with learning difficulties," she said.

"I had just graduated from my university and obtained a degree in social welfare.

"I didn't speak much English when I moved to the UK and found work and socialising very difficult and I felt quite lonely.

"I needed to speak English fluently to fit in and so I set about learning quickly."

Not long after arriving in the UK, Setsuko fell in love.

"I met an English man at my workplace and we fell in love very quickly," she said.

"We got married three months later and I didn't tell my parents.

"When they discovered our marriage, they didn't approve and disowned me."

Despite the upset with her parents, Setsuko threw herself into work and tried make ends meet.

"My English was still limited at that time and the only jobs available for me were minimum wage," she added.

"My first paid job was as a laundry lady and when you don't understand English, it is difficult to defend yourself.

"People looked down on me and I remember some humiliating moments but those experiences made me determine to improve myself."

Setsuko gave birth to her daughter Kimi in 1999 and returned to work two months later.

"I decided to study beauty therapy at college as I was always passionate and wanted to gain skills to change my career," Setsuko said.

"It was a big decision because I had to reduce my work hours to study full time and I had two different jobs.

"I became ill and was diagnosed with Grave's Disease.

"In the end, the marriage broke down and we had to go through a difficult and very messy divorce.

"It was not an easy time for me, but I kept going."

Setsuko met her current husband and moved to North Petherton six years ago, with the aim to start her own beauty salon.

She said: "I did not know anyone and I had no clients so I started from scratch.

"An opportunity came to rent a beauty room in the local hair salon so I rented the room for one day a week to start with.

"I started working more days at the salon as my business grew.

"After five years, I have gained a client base of over 1000, 500 of which are regular clients.

"I have recently set up my own beauty salon in North Petherton and I am working full time and am fully booked three months ahead.

"I am very excited to think what my next step will be.

"Life is all about standing up again and again every time something sets you back.

"Never lose your focus and never be afraid of change.

"Success will follow you."