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Successful business owner looks back on time at Buxton & Leek College

Katie Waites, a former Buxton & Leek College Hair & Beauty student now has her own fully established mobile Hairdressing business, travelling locally within the High Peak to work with a variety of different clients. Katie completed her Level 2 Hairdressing as a school leaver and went on to complete a Level 3 Hairdressing Apprenticeship before staying on with the Salon in a professional capacity for a further two years. 

Speaking to BLC about her business and College experience Katie says, “Because my business is mobile, I get to go to lots of different places people, and being away from a salon and going into people’s homes means it’s much more personal and relaxed. 

“Thinking about my time with BLC, the first year and the second year were so different, but I really enjoyed them both. For the first year I had Philippa Scott, Lecturer in Hair & Beauty, and Ruth Nutall, who has since gone on to be Curriculum Leader for all Creative provision at Buxton & Leek College – they were brilliant. Everything we did was so fun, there was never moment when I didn’t want to go to College. We were able to come in and ask to try different things when we found something that sparked our interest. The second year I was only in College one day a week and in the Salon working the rest of the time. The first year was about creating a foundation of skills and knowledge, and the second year I built on that as I developed my speed, efficiency, and finesse.  

“I would say my time at BLC has influenced my career decisions. I think because I did my apprenticeship and then continued working in the Salon afterwards, I was able to notice when I felt confident enough to move on. Having the people around me throughout the whole College experience and working there for a couple of years afterwards gave me confidence and motivated me. 

“I don’t have a bad word to say about my experience. Even after I finished my apprenticeship, I still had support from the tutors and had the Salon around me until I felt ready to move on. I’d 100% agree that being at BLC is about being a person not a number, when you come here there are smaller classes, it’s a more intimate environment and the tutors speak to you one-to-one to find out exactly what you need help with. 

“I just enjoyed all of College. Going to the Wella studios in Manchester with the College was a massive highlight too. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I couldn’t have done that otherwise. Seeing it all and all these amazing creative people in their element in their industry just solidified what I wanted to do and inspired me to keep going.  

“If I had one piece of advice for anyone looking to study Hair & Beauty, it would be to stick it out. There are a couple tough moments where you wonder why you’re still doing it, but when you are questioning it, know that it’s worth it. BLC has such a good setup too, there were open days where we had clients coming in, which helped to get you out of your shell, preparing you for when you go into that environment full-time.” 

Katie now travels all over the High Peak area with her business and has built a career she’s passionate about whilst giving her the freedom and flexibility she enjoyed so much about college life.  

After hearing Katie’s story there’s no doubt that the faith Buxton & Leek College’s tutors have in their students helps to boost their confidence as they move forward and begin to start their careers. To find out more about Hair & Beauty programmes and apprenticeships with BLC click here.