Pairs of manicure tables fill the middle, rows of salon chairs line both sides, and in the rear rest the pedicure stations and hair-washing sinks. And throughout the Reflections Salon & Spa are the workers — 65 high school students.
The salon held its grand opening event Thursday morning with local officials touring the facility as some children were the first customers. The student-operated business is the latest addition to Lanier Charter Career Academy.
Janice Laster, a licensed cosmetology instructor at the school off Tumbling Creek Road in Gainesville, helps if needed, but students do all of the work at the salon.
“It’s a student-run business,” she said, adding that her advanced cosmetology students are the ones at the salon. “They learn retailing, customer relations and other skills. They just learn how to run a business.”
Each student has had at least 250 hours of training before working with the general public.
The salon is open Thursdays and Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers a wide variety of services from haircuts and nail treatments to waxing and facials.
“The students learn all phases of cosmetology (by working at the salon,)” Laster said. “What’s really impressive about this program is they gain hours toward their (cosmetology) license.
“It’s like getting a jump start on their license.”
Principal Cindy Blakley said she’s excited for what the salon means for students’ futures.
“I am so proud of the kind of opportunities they now have,” she said. “It just totally changes the way they hone their skills.”
Blakley had her hair cut recently by one of the students, and said she’s very happy with the result.
The salon is stocked with professional-grade equipment and products. There even will be future opportunities for Redken product classes for local professionals and the students, which Laster said will facilitate networking between the two groups.
Anabel Hernandez, a senior, said she enjoys cutting hair the most.
“It’s all about angles,” she said while demonstrating on a mannequin head. “I first thought it was so much easier, like just cutting it off.”
Hernandez said she was kind of nervous when she was cutting hair on her first customer, one of the teacher’s daughters. Now she enjoys it and is not nervous.
Hernandez is not sure what her future will bring, but said cutting hair could be a cool flexible hobby or side job she could do anywhere.
Karis Sloan, senior, also did not know if cosmetology was her future career path, but said she likes cutting hair.
“I’ve always liked hair,” she said. “(This program) has been a lot of help. When I got here I knew nothing.”
Sloan said students have recently been working on coloring hair and have upcoming plans to learn more about massages.
The Reflections Salon & Spa is open to the public, but follows the Hall County Schools calendar. Call 770-532-3161 extension 400 to book an appointment or learn more.