“Polished: The Beauty School Journey” is a Salon Institute student-produced column that gives an inside look at the excitement, fears, challenges and triumphs of our student stylists from their perspectives.

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“Thank you for calling ‘The Salon Institute,  TIGI Creative School, how can I make you smile?'”

In a one-sentence span, my world shifted. That introduction to the phone call I made in late April is what changed everything for me in the past few months. I had a spur of the moment decision to attend cosmetology school in early spring. The thought first occurred to me as a high school junior, when I thought about going to a career center to entertain the idea of one day working as a hairstylist. I ultimately decided not to attend, but rather pursue my desire to become a journalist.

Ames, LeAndra hsFast forward 2 years post-high school and here I am at The Salon Institute, TIGI Creative School — one of the best decisions I’ve made. When I arrived for my tour back in the spring I was instantly impressed. You really do walk into this school and feel as if you’ve stepped into a salon. Everyone is dressed professionally and there are student stylists, teacher and clients all hustling about.

During my initial campus tour I was surprised to learn how fast-paced the training is; we learn haircuts on the second day of class and the program lasts only a little more than a year. It all seemed very overwhelming, but I was so excited to start this journey and be closer to being a licensed cosmetologist,  so I signed the contract.

“I want to write about beauty. What better way to be a great beauty and fashion writer than if I actually live and understand it? I figured the Salon Institute would be the perfect place to get me there.”

You may be confused as to why I was so anxious, because I originally said I wanted to be a journalist. When you decide to join the beauty industry, you’re not confined to being behind a stylist’s chair. Instead, you can choose so many paths. I want to write about beauty. What better way to be a great beauty and fashion writer than if I actually live and understand it? I figured the Salon Institute would be the perfect place to get me there — starting with Level 1.

For 4 weeks, Level 1 gives you all of the basics. Since each level lasts 4 weeks, we had one week to learn cuts, basic styling and updos, skin care and facials, makeup, manicures and a bit about color and foiling patterns. It may seem a bit fast, but by getting a taste of everything in just 4 weeks you can start to figure out if this industry is really for you. It won’t always be easy and you won’t love everything about it, but that’s OK. If it’s the right place for you, your passion will trump the frustrating days. At Salon Institute, we use the TIGI Classic Cuts and Classic Color curriculum, which is known for being very precise and creating a strong road map for each cut or color technique. When you’re learning basics, you’re learning very technical basics and they can be tough to push through. You’ve never done any of this stuff before, and good luck getting used to learning how to hold shears! It’s all something you have to work at and maybe learn in a different way than you’re used to, but it all gets better, and it’s all worth the effort!

Stay tuned next month …. I’ll catch you up on what life’s like in Level 2!

— LeAndra Ames is a student stylist at the Salon Institute, TIGI Creative School Toledo Campus. She loves MAC lipstick, snarky Facebook statuses, and anything involving Beyonce`.