“The Academy opened my eyes to so many opportunities.”
Colton turned 17 in May, only weeks before he graduated from TSPA. He is wise beyond his years, especially when it comes to planning his future. He wanted a cosmetology license because it would enable him to make enough money to pursue advanced degrees in business and psychology.
“I attended the academy so that I would be able to work my way through a university,” he explains. “Now, however, I am leaning toward a career in cosmetology.”
A graduate of Crossroads Academy in Ocala, Colton’s ultimate goal was to get his doctorate in psychology but his mom encouraged him to pursue cosmetology training.
“The Salon Professional Academy opened my eyes to so many opportunities I didn’t know even existed,” says the young man. “I’m not so sure about going to college now because I really love working with customers and the creative aspects of cosmetology.”
“I had no idea I was such a people person…”
Twelve years ago, Central Florida’s booming construction industry lured Chris from his native Arkansas. Finding a job was easy and promotions came quickly. He became an electrician and then a construction supervisor for a large Tri-County builder. He also met and married the woman of his dreams who just happened to be a Jacksonville hair stylist.
And then the housing market crashed and Chris was out of a job.
“At age 30, I had to start over,” says Chris, who had also served four years as a U.S. Marine. “I really didn’t know what I was going to do.”
His wife, Leslie — now a managing partner at LesliJon Salon — encouraged him to fill in at Shear Express salons’ front desks when they needed help and while he looked for a job.
“I fell in love with the industry and the energy of the environment,” he remembers. “I am the type of person who needs to be surrounded by positive energy and it is definitely here.”
While everyone was encouraging him to become a hair stylist, Chris resisted the idea at first.
“I’m a ‘guy’s guy.’ I ride motorcycles…I change my own oil,” he says with a laugh. “I just couldn’t see myself in that role, but then I realized how many opportunities there were for an excellent income and a steady career.”
Chris graduated from The Salon Professional Academy and became a licensed stylist two years ago. Now 34, he works as a Level 3 stylist at Dimensions Hair Studio in Colony Plaza. He says the best part of his job is the interaction with his guests.
“I had no idea I was such a people person,” he says. “I love listening to clients’ stories and living vicariously through them.”
Today, Chris feels gratitude for those who have encouraged him to take a totally different career path and especially for Shear Express, Inc.
“It’s a family-owned business, and they have taken me in like family,” he says. “Hands down, attending The Salon Professional Academy was the best decision I’ve ever made — that is, besides marrying Leslie,” he says.
“Not a job, but a passion.”
After high school graduation, Parker explored the route that most 17-year-olds take. He headed to Tallahassee Community College in Tallahassee where a few months later he discovered that traditional college wasn’t for him.
He came home and immediately enrolled at TSPA as he was constantly intrigued by the hair industry—and with good reason. His mother is Janet West, who owns Shear Express, Inc., and Parker grew up in the business, doing everything from sweeping hair from salon floors to working the front desks. He graduated from the academy almost three years ago.
“When I had other jobs, I would get tired,” he remembers. “Being a stylist is not so much a job but a passion,” says Parker, who works as a Level 3 stylist at Root 466. “Although I work six days a week, I am never tired of being a stylist.”
And how does he handle being in the family business?
“I don’t really think about it much,” he says with a smile. “There are benefits, but they also expect me to be a role model. And there is no slack when it’s family.”