A WOMAN who was unable to work after injuring her back in a car crash 11 years ago is now on her way to becoming a successful businesswoman.

Kerri-Anne Mruk (pictured), from Varteg, opened her Pontypool tanning and nail bar business in April.

She now employs a full-time receptionist and nail technician and four part-time staff.

A qualified beautician, Ms Mruk has invested £23,000 in the business. She received a grant of £5,000 from Torfaen council's Women's Enterprise Unit to help turn a disused shop in Clarence Street into the Sun Centre.

She also received £1,000 from the government's New Deal for Disabled People to help pay for electrical work and £500 from Torfaen Action Team to attend a training course in tanning techniques.

As a lone parent of two children aged four and five, Ms Mruk was also able to gain assistance towards buying tanning equipment from the New Deal for Lone Parents.

Ms Mruk said: "Starting a new business is a mountain to climb and the week before we opened I didn't think we'd ever be ready.

"But we made it and we've now been open 12 weeks.

"I never thought I'd be so busy but everybody wants nice nails and a tan." Suprisingly, most of her customers are men.

She said: "Men are becoming more conscious of their appearance and it's the environment we offer that leads them to the Sun Centre.

"Some of them are very nervous about going under a sunbed but with the right information they become more relaxed."

In addition to the traditional sunbed tanning process Ms Mruk also offers airbrush tanning.

"If people don't like subeds they can have that instead," she said. "The advantage is that it's a flawless tan which takes 15 minutes.

"There are no ultra violet rays involved."

Recently Ms Mruk was introduced to Des Browne, minister for work, who was visiting South Wales.

He had asked to meet her when he presided over the opening of the refurbished Newport Jobcentre Plus.

Mr Browne said: "Her success shows how the New Deal for Lone Parents and the New Deal for Disabled People can help people overcome barriers and move into work."