Wake County’s newest cosmetology salon is staffed by high school students; their rates are inexpensive and their initial customers are happy with the results.
The Vernon Malone College and Career Academy’s cosmetology salon held its grand opening Wednesday for representatives of the Wake County school system and Wake Tech Community College, who’ve partnered to operate the high school. The general public is welcome, starting Thursday, at rates well below those at a commercial salon.
Prices include $5 for manicures, $8 for haircuts, $12 for pedicures, $17 for permanent hair-color treatments and $30 for perms. The goal is to help the students gain more experience, as opposed to making money, but tips are welcomed.
“We just tried to offset the cost of the items,” said Leah Lockamy, the academy’s cosmetology instructor. “We really don’t want to make money per se, but we just want to refurbish the products that we use.”
The salon’s opening culminates more than a year of hard work by cosmetology students at Vernon Malone, a first-of-a-kind high school in Wake County that offers students a chance to get a diploma and specialized job training. The academy opened in August 2014 in a renovated former Coca-Cola bottling plant at 2200 S. Wilmington St. in South Raleigh.
Technical programs at the academy include automobile-collision repair, welding, nursing assistant, bio-pharmaceuticals, simulation and game development, and geospatial information systems. A course called facilities technology combines air conditioning/heating/refrigeration, electrical systems and plumbing.
Cosmetology has been one of the academy’s most popular programs, accounting for 22 of the 306 students this year. Lockamy said the students who staff the salon completed 300 hours of work last school year learning the basics. They’re putting in 1,200 more hours in the advanced program.
Essence Ellis, 17, a senior from Raleigh, plans to attend Wake Tech after graduation. She will then transfer to a four-year college to get a bachelor’s degree and later a master’s degree in business.
“I have been doing hair for a very long time,” Ellis said. “When I was a little girl, my mom would do my hair and then I would change it. After a while, she stopped doing it and told me just do it myself.”
Ellis’ desire to own her own salon and her own line of hair products impressed Wake Tech President Stephen Scott. He received a haircut and shampoo from Ellis on Wednesday.
“That level of thinking and entrepreneurship is something very positive,” Scott said. “The initial desired outcome is to go to work and she has raised the bar and set her aspirations higher.”
“I look years younger,” a smiling Wake County school board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said after her shampoo and facial. Kushner, like the others who came to the salon on Wednesday, wanted to show support for the cosmetology program.
“The students were marvelous,” Kushner said. “I thought they did a great job. You think about getting them college and career ready. That’s what Vernon Malone is doing.”
Make an appointment
The cosmetology salon at the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy, located at 2200 S. Wilmington St. in Raleigh, will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays when school is in session. Chemical services such as hair coloring and perms are available at 11:30 a.m. Other services such as haircuts, manicures and pedicures start at noon. Call 919-866-6189 to make an appointment.