After four years of renovations, the Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Prince Albert campuses improved Salon and Spa is open for students.
The campus opened the newly renovated facility for student tours during their open house on Tuesday. Amber Labrosse, a Sask. Polytech instructor in the Hairstylist and Esthetician program, described the remodelling as a “breath of fresh air.”
“It’s nice because things were falling apart,” said Labrosse, who started as a substitute instructor with Sask Polytech in 2013, and has since moved into full-time teaching. “The colour was super outdated, and now it’s so bright. It looks really clean and that’s one thing too that we’re quite huge on is our sanitation process. You have always got to try to make sure that you keep a really clean, healthy environment for us, for clients.”
There is a remodelled separate room for esthetics like basic pedicures and manicures. Students can do eyelash tinting, eyebrow tinting, eyebrow waxing, upper lip waxing and chin waxing.
The salon is a regular salon and Labrosse explained that it is quite popular with the Customer Service side booked weeks in advance because it is so economical.
“It’s been really good for the students,” she said. “Even (with) inflation or prices haven’t moved much at all, so it gets people coming in all the time. When a client has their service completed, it’s the instructor who has to go and just cross-check everything is good to go: clients happy, hairstylist is happy.”
She explained that it is an entire experience as the students learn all parts of the operation.
“There is so much,” she said. “There’s the teaching. It’s operated like a business and then it’s client satisfaction, because if you don’t get the client’s satisfied, you don’t have anybody coming in.”
The salon is open to the general public. It gives students a chance to gain experience in services like
hair, skincare and nail services. Hair services include cuts, braids, colouring and more. Skin care services include waxing, facials and makeup. Nail services include pedicures and manicures.
Students must have 45 weeks of pre-employment from the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship Board to obtain a diploma to work in the hair industry. After 2,100 hours, students become apprentices, and begin preparing for a practical journeyman test.
Students begin their work in the backroom, where Labrosse is currently the instructor. The school currently has seven students in the back who started in August, there are two cohorts with a second one starting in January. On the floor of the salon part in Customer Service, there are currently three students. That part is open all year round.
‘We always rotate,” Labrosse explained. “I am always in the back with my group from August until the end of June or the first week of July. The other instructor starts in January and then she goes until right before Christmas.”
Labrosee explained that the August numbers are higher because that is what typically is thought of as the start of school.
Once students meet all of the criteria in practical assessments and practicum in customer service it is around 22 weeks, this is followed by approximately 23 weeks in the back lab.
“Then they pass everything and finish all of their signatures because there are lots of practicals, hands-on working with their mannequins. Then they can go and get their apprenticeship papers from the apprenticeship board, become a certified apprentice and have to work under a journeyperson, and one journeyperson can have three apprentices in the salon,” Labrosse said.
The three at the front right now are training to be apprentices but the current setup is much like what happens when they enter apprenticeship.
Labrosse said she enjoys the process of doing laps around the back lab and checking on students for everything from their work to their mental health.
“At Sask Polytech, there is so much support for the students,” she explained. “When you’re in a crunch financially, and mentally, there is lots of support.”
In the back lab is nearly an entire wall of mannequin heads to practice on.
“You have to be doing this all on human hair because you’ve got to perm them, colour them. No, their hair doesn’t grow back.”
The dispensary is off to the side of the back lab.
“Anything that keeps the salon running is up on this side. Anything that makes the back running is always in the back,” Labrosse said.
“Then once you’ve got all of your signatures that are needed in the back lab, all your training, then you come into customer service and then you start honing those skills on clients,” she added.
Labrosse likes to keep the students at ease to help their learning experience.
“There’s no additional pressure only because I want the students to be the best at what they’re doing,” she said. “I push them hard, but I don’t push them so hard that they’re uncomfortable about it. I know like anything when you start somewhere, it’s difficult to sometimes see that you’re capable or that you’re doing good and sooner or later more practice.”
The Sask Polytech Open House featured school tours in the afternoon and was open to the public in the evening.