Why study a Hairdressing Apprenticeship Melbourne

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We asked one of our hairdressing apprentices why study under a hairdressing apprenticeship. This was written for the HBIA awards and we just thought it was fantastic and we had to share it. Also the “Scumbags Down Under” Tour 2015, by The Schorem Barbers of Rotterdam, were the inspiration for Louise’s mannequin work today. 


My roller coaster journey in the hairdressing industry began when I was 18. If you don’t mind I would rather address all the criteria through my journey in my story to follow.

I started my apprenticeship at Kaleidoscope Hair and Beauty under the watchful eye of Gail Collins. I was excited to begin my climb up the ladder to become a qualified Hairdresser, something that I have been dreaming of since I learnt how to braid on my Barbie dolls hair.

After ten months of cleaning, sweeping, answering phones, making appointments, building a rapport with clients, perfecting my tea and coffee making skills and mastering the art of a head massage whilst shampooing I resigned. This was a great disappointment to Gail (my employer) and my mother. I can’t tell you what was going through my head because to be honest I don’t know. I was young and changed my mind every 2 seconds. I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, a hairdresser but I also really didn’t want to grow up. I was simply young and wanted to be young. I also didn’t want to waste Gail’s time, knowledge, wisdom, experience and effort training up someone who no longer had the drive and passion to go far in the industry(or as I thought for a brief, silly time).

After completing my RSA I went into the hospitality industry and worked in a bottle shop. I helped customers find the perfect Shiraz for their Fathers Birthday present, a Sparkling wine for a hen’s night, a spirit for a 21st Birthday or just a simple thank you present. I grew friendships not only with my fellow staff members but customers. I looked forward to seeing them the next time they visited. In store I loved letting customers know the new promotions on their favourite products or just hearing about how they had been since I last saw them.

One of the greatest things I loved about this job was that my boss allowed me to have my hair, the crazy, fun, vibrant, bright colours that I was and always will be known for. I was even allowed to use my hair colour to promote Mother’s Day by adding in more pink and Daffodil Day with blonde and yellow. Decking myself out in yellow for Daffodil Day is definitely a highlight (the bigger the better I say!). With all the hours worked over the Christmas holidays I had the carols words memorised within one shift. Building forts, decorating the store, dressing up for every occasion, all for the satisfaction of a smile from just a single customer.

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Throughout my whole life I had always been a part of sporting clubs, I joined Yarra Glen Football Netball Club. After a couple of years playing Netball and Umpiring for the club I was elected Secretary for a season. I had many tasks to complete from small things such as collecting the mail, checking emails, writing up minutes from the committee meeting to selling raffle tickets to the annual reverse raffle. I also organised functions and Bunnings BBQ’s as fund raisers.

One of the most rewarding tasks I took on with a fellow committee member and netball player was organising the end of year Presentation Night for the whole club. It was such a big task that at one stage I didn’t think we were going to pull it off. We negotiated with some of our sponsors such as Prestige who let us use anything we could find in their storage warehouse. We found fairy lights, drop sheets, tables, chairs, streamers. These were used to decorate the club rooms and to keep the costs down for the club and the players purchasing tickets.

We used word of mouth and social media to spread the information regarding the night. We sold tickets to players, partners, family members, past players, committee members, etc.
The day had finally arrived and we were frantically doing all the finishing touches to the room. You couldn’t even recognise the place anymore. I took a step back and looked at everything, the decorations, trophies, lights, family friends who were catering and I was so pleased, happy and proud to think that we had pulled this off. It was such a big accomplishment for two girls.  I thought if I could organise an event like this then what else am I capable of?

Elly Lukas is a Beauty Therapy School that I heard great things about, so many amazing therapists had completed their diploma through this school. I had enrolled, I was following a passion for Make-up and Beauty. I am qualified in Swedish Remedial Massage, Nails (manicure and pedicures), Waxing and Science (Background, Chemicals, Skin, etc). After roughly a year I left and I didn’t complete my full diploma. This was for two reasons – One being they did not like my hair colour changes and asked me to change it back to something more natural (my hair is who I am) and secondly, I had to have an ankle reconstruction. Silly, clumsy me having fallen over basically my own feet whilst playing netball. If only I had a good story behind that one!

Beauty Therapy started to spark my initial love for hairdressing again and I realised that they can and do work hand in hand. I started thinking, wondering if I had made the wrong choice when I left those many years ago.

I completed a Certificate III in Hospitality meaning I was now a bartender! Late last year (2014) Yering Meadows Golf Course employed me, reluctantly they made me dye over my purple and pink hair. I had to be “natural”. This alone was not an easy task, so much build up of colours from over the years. I was having a chemical reaction, I turned green!! I looked like my head was growing mould. What was I to do? I had work the following day, I did the only thing I knew I could do. I called Gail, my old boss who now owns Purple Mist Hairdressing. She would know what to do, she was my saviour. We laughed at my hair and the things it was doing. It had a mind of its own. I started to worry when my hair wasn’t playing nice and working the way it should but Gail turned me into a beautiful blonde again and in the process I had a wonderful chemical haircut (which of course Gail made edgy!).

Being in the salon again with her was the turning point for me, I knew I had finally found my true passion. Seeing Gail at work, in her element, fixing my colour and the smile on her face when she achieved it. I knew then that hairdressing was my calling, my passion, my love.

After leaving the salon I had more time to think and I began to have doubts. Maybe I only wanted to work with Gail, maybe I only liked the atmosphere in the salon as a client, maybe it wasn’t even hairdressing at all and it was just the people. I spoke to Gail and asked if she knew anywhere looking for an apprentice as Gail already had one. I had a job trial at a salon in Doncaster. I didn’t take the job, but the trial did make me realise that not only was it Gail that I knew I was meant to learn from but that I did love hairdressing. I had found my drive, my passion, I got that excitement back. I dreamt of all the avenues and career opportunities in front of me. I thanked my lucky stars as my mum is a client of Gail’s and come home that following Saturday from her appointment asking me if I was still interested in hairdressing as Gail’s apprentice was leaving. I thought I was dreaming, could this really be happening? I spoke to Gail, I had a trial and I was offered an apprenticeship. Without even taking a breath I accepted! I was now where I belonged, I was back! This was the beginning of my future, my life, my dream was coming true.

It had been seven years since I had stepped foot into a salon as an employee. Seven whole years, I was worried that I wouldn’t know what to do. That I would choke, muck something up, but I was wrong. I felt at home again, I was happy and enjoying myself. Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, sweeping, washing, shampooing, back to the head massages, coffee and tea making came so naturally. It was as though nothing had changed, that I had never actually left except I was now thinking as an adult. I realised though that hairstyles and trends could have changed since I was last in the industry. I hadn’t kept up to date. I went home that night and jumped on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. I looked up salons in my area, well known salons, companies. I was searching everything from Davines, Fudge, Oscar Oscar, Cuts ‘n Colours, Linea Hair, mobile hairdressers. I noticed that a lot of the younger generation were loving ombre/balayage and colours. Bright colours, fashion colours, subtle darker colours. I felt relieved but after I searched my salons Facebook page I could see that it wasn’t up to date. I asked Gail about this the next day and she didn’t have time or didn’t understand that well, so with my knowledge I asked to be in charge of the salons Facebook page, and she agreed. I’ve been doing research as to what posts get seen more or attract more attention. New clients want to see the work you’ve done, what you have to offer them and prices. Where current clients love seeing the new work you’re doing but also any specials or raffles and promotions you have going on. I try to keep the two balanced.

I was signed up for trade school almost straight away. It was all happening so fast. Marjorie Milner College was our choice and I couldn’t be happier with that choice. Previously, I had gone to Box Hill TAFE but I found that in comparison Marjorie Milner focuses more attention on practical as well as theory. The smaller class sizes make it easier to ask questions and get answers. My teacher Lesley is fantastic with lots and lots of passion. Whilst learning at my own pace, it doesn’t make me feel overwhelmed like I did at Box Hill. I can take my time when I don’t understand something. The best way I’ve realised for me to learn is by doing. I see Gail doing something in salon and I’ll ask questions to get a different perspective, different use of words and a better understanding of the outcome and why. The theory taught at school can only get you so far, you need to be able to see it in person and practice yourself. The use of models and mannequin heads within school is vital. I would never have been able to be marked off on blow waving without first practising on my ‘Florence’. She has been by my side every step of the way although I can sense a little jealousy now that I’m onto male cutting and I require ‘Jordan’ instead.

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Jordan was inspired by the Scumbags Down Under” Tour 2015, by The Schorem Barbers of Rotterdam

Working in a Shopping Complex has its ups and downs for the business. We find it hard to get many walk in cuts or new clients due to not a lot of foot traffic. Coldstream is a small community based town. With the IGA Supermarket and Post Office next door to us you would think that the complex would be crawling with people but unfortunately it’s not. We currently have two empty shops in the process of being filled by a chemist and Doctors which will hopefully bring more people down as the closest doctor is 10-15 minutes away.
Coldstream is also known for its farming and with this being at a low at the moment we are finding that people need to make cut backs to save money. Unfortunately for us Hairdressers, one of the first cutbacks to be made is Hair and Beauty. We try to hold raffles and sponsor local teams where we can to give back to the community. Purple Mist has been actively working with the local council and community groups to expand our town both for commercial and residential. If Coldstream isn’t allowed to expand in both areas then we will lose our school and sports clubs so it’s important for all of us to contribute to our community.

In the five months that I have been back in Hairdressing at Purple Mist Hairdressing I have learnt more than I did in my first 10 months. Leaving was one of the best choices that I made. I was no longer passionate and without that passion I was never going to be an amazing hairdresser. I would have just done what I had to do to pass and been a mediocre Hairdresser or worse, become qualified and never continued.

But this time around I have that drive and passion. I want to know why and how and be pushed. I have the dedication this time to be the best hairdresser that I can be, to go further than I thought possible. Who knows where I will be in five years time, I want to go as far as I possibly can and even further. Travel the world with hairdressing, compete in hair shows, be a stylist for the stars, create looks for the runway, be a household name, create my own product range, I want it all!! Greedy I know, but if you don’t dream big you can’t achieve big.

But what I do know for certain is one day I want to own my own hairdressing salon in Melbourne with a few other senior stylists and an hairdressing apprentice. I want to pass all my knowledge onto someone who has that passion for the industry, someone who will continue in the industry and push the boundaries. Someone who I know, like me, will try and achieve great things within the industry.

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Louise was the Top First Year Juuce Hairdressing Apprentices for 2015 at the College. In the photo is Merryn from Hairjamm with Gregory Milner the principal of Marjorie Milner College and Louise. Louise is a Hairdressing Apprentice at Purple Mist Hairdressing in Coldstream.

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