College shows winning flair for hair

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 12:00 28/11/2012
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ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX NZ

STYLING SUCCESS: The Hairdressing College director Sue Chard works on a client’s colour in her college salon.

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Sue Chard bought her first hairdressing salon at 19, and her disregard of fear and debt as a teenager has paid off.

The businesswoman owned as many as three salons at one time, and has spent the past six years focusing on creating a salon environment in The Hairdressing College.

The Hairdressing College is a private tertiary education institute, which teaches young hairdressers basic and advanced skills in hairdressing, and prepares them for the workplace.

This year's senior students graduated last week with a 100 per cent employment rate, and a 100 per cent completion rate, for the first time and up from 91 per cent in 2011.

The college's high level of achievement has also seen it secure funding, which recently came up for tender, Chard said.

This year The Hairdressing College was awarded a portion of the $38 million Tertiary Education Commission-tendered Student Achievement Component (SAC) funding for level one and two courses.

This funding was offered to Private Training Institutes for the first time this year.

The competitive funding model meant the money went to schools with higher achievement levels.

UCOL missed out on a portion of this funding.

"It's sad for the area," Chard said.

This year was also the first time fulltime students from private institutes were able to enter competitions.

The Hairdressing College came home with eight prizes at the Palmerston North competitions, four of them first placings. As well, three students gained recognition at national competitions.

"It was good for all students to be able to compete at the same level."

Competition work was part of what Chard brought to the college when she took over in 2006.

It was all part of her vision to emulate the authenticity of a salon in her college.

"It's taken me a long time to get near my goal, and I'm not there yet."

Chard started hairdressing straight out of high school, and jumped at the first opportunity to own her own business.

"Debt means nothing to you when you're 19."

When Chard took on The Hairdressing College she knew about hairdressing, business, and staffing, but had a lot to learn about the tertiary education industry, she said.

"The theory was I knew 75 per cent of the business, and 25 per cent I didn't know.

"I learnt that when I got here."

Chard now owns, and directs, the college's Palmerston North site on Cuba St, and a site in Levin, which replaced the Wellington campus about a year ago.

While she said she thrived on the challenge, there was always a lot to do.

"The business and the hairdressing was not a problem.

"There's always something else that the Government's demanding of you.

"I'd like to have one day that I'm bored. Just one day."

But she did not plan to go anywhere until she had achieved her goal of creating a full salon atmosphere within the college.

"I see myself as a business person, and I still love it."

Chard employs nine staff, including a head of school who runs tutorials, and trains the tutors.

"I'm the ideas person, and the one running the business."

It was more important to pass on knowledge, than to be able to do something yourself, she said.

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"It's about passing on knowledge.

"Teaching someone to do it is often better than doing it yourself."

The everyday "soft outcomes", like a person completing their first head of foils, were just as rewarding as an overall successful business, she said.

"That makes me come to work each day."

The Hairdressing College combats the stigma surrounding hairdressing, often from parents, by making sure students are good, and successful, at what they do.

"Not everyone can be an accountant or a lawyer.

"It's not all about being academically bright to be successful in this industry."

It was possible for hairdressers to earn just as much as lawyers, in some cases more, Chard said.

"Be good at what you do and then put the price up."

But like any business, it's passion and drive that make it successful.

"It's taking on something that you love."

* For study information go to hairdressingcollege.ac.nz.

- Manawatu Standard

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