I have had a log for beauty for as long as I can remember. My favorite thing to do as a small child was to go to the store with my mom and pick out a new shade of lipstick each week. I was obsessed with doing my dad’s makeup, painting his nails, and doing his hair! Later, I was always the person my friends would call to color their hair in bathtubs or do makeup for everyone before school dances. It had never seriously occurred to me that I could make a career out of doing those things.
In the early part of 2010, I toured The Salon Professional Academy Appleton, and I remember being super impressed and enamored by the beauty and professionalism of the school, students, and staff. Somehow, I still doubted that could ever be me. No one had ever told me that a creative career was an option. So, I left my dream on the back burner. In March 2012, I had a baby, for a few years of his life I was mostly at home. At the same time, I knew it was more important than ever to find a career path. I tried many different jobs in different fields, some were okay, but none of them ever hit me with the sense that I had found my calling. I had tried different programs at the tech schools, again, nothing was satisfying my soul enough to continue.
I found myself living in Appleton. I had given up on school, and I was just focused on earning enough money to pay my bills through bartending and serving. I had the thought that I was paying my bills so that had to be enough, right? I knew that it was not ideally what I wanted but it was tolerable.
In the beginning of 2020, I started to feel anxious and depressed and really lost. I was 27 years old, and I felt like I had lost my chance at a satisfying or rewarding life. I could not help but feel like I was letting my loved ones down, which was even worse. This led to a spiral of negativity that consumed my life and led me to make bad decisions. I desperately tried to think of a way out of my situation, I spent hours and hours of time dedicated to self-reflection that ignited a spark. I reached out to Michaela and requested a tour at The Salon Professional Academy. It was just as beautiful as if not more beautiful than I remember. I knew in my heart that was where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. However, I still had so many doubts, I was single and had the responsibility of providing for my child and paying bills. I needed to have an income as well as time to spend with my child. How could I possibly enter full time school? Again, I left TSPA thinking it could never be me.
Over the next few weeks Michaela kept reaching out, always so positive and encouraging, always asking “when” and not “if” I was starting. On March 2nd, 2020, to my utter disbelief and yet overwhelming excitement, I found myself in a classroom at TSPA. Those first few weeks of school, I KNEW I had made the right decision and as long as I kept going, everything else would fall into place. And it would, just not in the way that I or anyone would have ever expected.
On March 17, 2020, Margaret gathered us and told us that that day was going to be the last day at TSPA until further notice. The world was shutting down because of COVID, we all couldn’t believe it. There were so many tears in that room. I had been so excited to begin my journey, and here it was suspended, again, indefinitely. All the students, myself included, left that day not knowing what was going to happen with our education. Educators not knowing what would happen with their jobs. None of being able to fathom how much our world would change. But Margaret made sure we all knew, no matter what, we would prevail. One day, a couple of weeks into quarantine, we got the news that we would be able to continue our education through distance learning! We also had the option to take a leave of absence, But I was determined and needed something to focus on since I had also lost my job.
The day we all came together in our first Zoom meeting was so exciting. This crew of amazing humans had already felt like my family although I had been there just a few short weeks. The educators were so amazing at inspiring us and supporting us through this unexpected and difficult obstacle. They were also navigating uncharted territory, and even with the occasional technical issues they handled it beautifully. I appreciate them so much for that. Personally, I was having a hard time being isolated from my friends and family. My depression and anxiety were back and some days it was too much to log in. I fell far behind on my hours, although giving up was never an option. In June, we reopened!!
The first day back felt like coming home. Soon I started on the SSTA and was able to work on human clients- I think I fell in love after doing my first highlight model. I was so proud, when I got home I refused to take off my apron for so long, I think I fell asleep in it.
Every learning experience was so satisfying, and just solidified my truth that this was my calling and passion. My schedule was challenging as most days I worked right after school so that meant often I was committed to 14–15-hour days back-to-back. Still, I kept going because I knew that’s just how it had to be. It wouldn’t last forever and if I pushed through, I would have a beautiful future. I