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Aspiring hair stylists learn from the pros (VIDEO)

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Seventy-five cosmetology students from across St. Lawrence County learned tips from the pros Monday while attending the first-ever “Hair Event” hosted by Board of Cooperative Educational Services’s Northwest Tech Center, 100 Park St.

Stylists from salons across the county, including Salon 1020, Ogdensburg, Today’s Hair & Day Spa, Potsdam, Tangles Salon & Day Spa, Gouverneur, SmartStyle, Potsdam, Suzann’s Hair Shoppe, DeKalb, traveled to the Northwest Tech Center, 100 Park St., answered questions and talked about their personal experiences as they gave hair tutorials to the students.

The students learned about hair dyes, styling techniques and how to do different types of haircuts. Some students also walked away with salon products and straighteners as part of several raffles held throughout the day.

The demonstrations were organized by Northwest Tech cosmetology teacher Vicky L. Garrabrant and teaching assistant Colleen Evans. Students from the county’s other Tech Centers – Southwest Tech Center, Fowler, Seaway Tech Center, Norwood – also attended the event. Mrs. Garrabrant has worked for over 27 years in the cosmetology and has taught at Northwest Tech for over seven.

“Everyone is going to experience things differently,” Ms. Garrabrant said. “It’s nice for the stylists to share their situations and to hear how they handled difficult situations. Not everything is going to go perfectly all the time. Things will happen. Students are seeing what goes on in the field. But there are also seeing it’s fun, it’s possible and you can take it as far as you want to take it.”

Shelly L. Murray, owner of Today’s Hair and Day Spa, Potsdam, said she welcomed the opportunity to share her experiences with the students.

“It’s a fun industry,” Ms. Murray said. “It can be entertaining, fun and educational all at the same time. I think by the students seeing something different than the day-to-day, is hopefully it inspires them to continue in this profession.”

Ms. Murray, who has been in the field for over 29 years, says her six-member staff now sees over 100 clients a week. Her salon now offers manicures, pedicures, massages and facials. She says she has seen a lot of changes in the industry over the years.

“It’s been a passion of mine for all of these years,” she said. “It is a little harder in the north country. There’s a limited about of clients and many salons. So it really pushes us to want to be more creative and to really drive that to a different level. We’re constantly educating ourselves.”

Sarah A. Fitzpatrick, a stylist at Ogdensburg Salon 1020 who graduated from Northwest Tech in 2007, said she was happy to be back at her alma mater helping aspiring stylists.

“The BOCES program definitely benefited me – from being more confident to learning the basics of a one-layer haircut,” she said. “It definitely will get the students on the right track as far as the basics they are going to have to learn. It’s a good starting place, but of course they will gather the most experience when they actually get into the field. “

Cosmetology student Samantha E. King, 18, Ogdensburg, said she was very impressed by the visiting stylists’ knowledge.

“They are interesting to talk to,” she said. “They have a lot to say and learn from. I think it’s great to have them show us what they know. I learned how to do a type of clipper cut. I thought that was very interesting – we don’t do that much of that here.”

Chelsea M. Foster, 17, of Lisbon said she was looking forward to the event for several weeks.

“It’s a great opportunity to have this here and to have the other BOCES students come in,” she said. “I personally love what we do, and cannot wait to get out there. Having a clinic three days a week has really helped me. We’re doing hands on learning instead of book work. It makes us better.”

There are currently 38 students enrolled in the program at Northwest Tech. The Cosmetology program meets for two hours and 20 minutes each week day. Three days a week, the classroom is transformed into a fully working salon run entirely by the students.

“It’s definitely a good opportunity for career exploration,” Principal Jane S. Akins said. “The students that are really interested in the field come here and excel right away. Then they have an opportunity to become state licensed cosmetologists by the end—that’s the carrot.”

To see video accompanying this story, go online to www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcJTRHFEpWg.

Aspiring hair stylists learn from the pros
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