KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) — A salon is now open for business on Fairmont High School’s campus, and the stylists are high school students with the Cosmetology Career Tech Program.

Kettering’s cosmetology program started in 2020. The Salon at Fairmont opened in November, and students are taking appointments.

“This program is gearing them for a career in cosmetology. Once the students complete their course here at CTC, they will be at their 1,500 hour mark and then be able to go to state board, take their state licensure exam and become licensed cosmetologists. This is a straight to career focus program,” says cosmetology instructor Monique Lewis, who’s been teaching for ten years.

More than 40 students are part of the cosmetology program in Kettering, learning beauty basics.

“It’s amazing,” says junior Dai’Sean Conley. Junior Lily Nickell chimes in, “It’s such an opportunity that I don’t think a lot of kids have. “

“Doing things in here, we are very fast paced. We learn quickly. [Monique] shows us and we go,” says junior Will Hattery.

The salon offers services from hair to nails to facials at reasonable prices to real clients.

“It’s always been something that’s grasped my interest really deeply. I’ve always loved styling people,” says Dai’Sean.

“I think it’s really cool just to like be able to have experience instead of just practicing. We actually get to build a clientele,” says senior Faith Bennett. “I just love seeing people being transformed from when they came in to what they are when they leave.”

Bringing in business, the salon is giving students real world experience.

“Mannequins they don’t talk. They don’t give feedback. So it’s great for them to be able to get those people coming in. They get the experience. Mannequin hair is not the same as human hair. We have all kinds of different textured hair that comes in, which is great experience for them,” says cosmetology instructor Lauren Brandenburg, who co-teaches with Monique.

“I’ve had multiple clients. Mostly the services I’ve been doing– I’ve done facials. I’ve done a haircut. I’ve done a manicure and a pedicure. But I do enjoy doing men’s cuts,” says senior Madison Pummell. “This salon is a very open salon. When people walk in here, they shouldn’t feel nervous. And if you do come get services, you’re not going to be left all with messed up hair, green face from a facial. We’d love to show everyone in the community what we’ve learned.”

While there’s more pressure working with real clients, there is also more reward.

“I feel professional. And it doesn’t feel like your friend is coming in. No. It’s like real. Like this is your job,” says senior Maddie Sprinkle. “Clients are completely different from mannequins. When you’re learning on mannequins, honestly, it gets really annoying because it’s just like you’re doing a wig. But on people, like you kind of connect with them, and talk to them, and they give you feedback.”

The opportunity is giving students a foundation to pursue a career in cosmetology, but what they take away is more than skin deep.

“Both [instructors] have so much experience, and all of the stories that they tell us–it’s so enlightening almost like we get to learn about that, and we get to experience that, and prepare for those experiences that we’ll have in the future. They’re preparing us more than just our cosmetology license. They’re preparing us for the real world,” says Lily. “It’s amazing to make people feel so happy about how they are in the skin that they’re in.”

“Cosmetology is more than just hair and makeup. It’s about building connections with people,” states Will. “It’s about showing people that you care , and that no matter how they’re feeling somedays that they’re always beautiful that they really do have an inner beauty that can be shown through their outer beauty.”

“There’s no boundaries to what you can accomplish and do within this industry,” encourages Monique.

To learn more about scheduling an appointment, click here.