Most of us have experienced just how much length it can achieve. Trimming away the old to make way for the new can take on a kind of double meaning, from hair to life. And many know just how rejuvenating that can feel.
When it comes to beauty, a little help from the pros can go a long way. And as it turns out, cosmetologists are just as fulfilled helping you look and feel your best as you do discovering a new style.
Since 1966, Capri College has had a hand in educating and training the beauty industry professionals of tomorrow. According to the school, it has a 96 percent placement rate, with many of its alumni finding homes with salons and spas — even opening locations of their own.
“I feel a little like a proud mama,” said Erin Fiegen, director of enrollment services and marketing at the school’s Dubuque location. “It’s like a family here. All of the students learn and grow from each other, and it’s exciting to watch them go out into the world.”
In honor of this month’s focus on beauty and fashion, we spoke with a few of Capri’s up-and-coming cosmetologists about what inspired them to go into the beauty industry, what styles they love the most, the sacrifices they’ve made and what goals they have for the future.
Thirty-four-year-old Chicago native Crystal Long’s journey into cosmetology came about through another field.
“I have a background in health care,” she said. “But I have loved doing hair for a long time. I think I did my first haircut when I was 15. To be a part of someone’s transformation and to see that before your eyes … I just fell in love with it. I always loved beauty and making people look and feel great.”
However, with a strong desire to help others, health care became Long’s focus until she no longer could ignore the passion that was tugging at her heart strings.
Working nearly full-time as a medical coder, Long stumbled upon Capri through her sister, who lives in Dubuque. She enrolled
full-time in February 2018.
“It was time to take it off the shelf and do something for me,” Long said. “You can take back words or mistakes. You can never take back time.”
She also is a mother of three.
With a knack for crochet extensions, braids and color formulation, Long also enjoys up-dos, manicures and pedicures, facials and more.
“I plan to obtain my aesthetics license in the next year or so and will also be joining the student instructor program at Capri,” she said. “I would eventually love to instruct at Capri and open my own salon and spa.”
Sykes comes from a similar background.
A certified nursing assistant for nearly a decade, the 26-year-old from Robbins, Ill., contemplated a career in nursing before deciding that beauty was the job for her.
“I have always been into hair and makeup,” Sykes said. “I started braiding hair when I was in the sixth grade. Coming from a CNA background, cosmetology was just something I couldn’t put off anymore. I really wanted to do it.”
She began her cosmetology studies in Illinois before relocating to Dubuque to continue at Capri.
At first, Sykes worked shifts up to 12 hours as a certified nursing assistant while simultaneously enrolled at Capri and supporting her three children.
“I was surviving off of coffee,” she laughed.
Now nearing graduation and maintaining a job with more flexibility outside of her studies, Sykes said it has been worth the hard work and sacrifice.
With a passion for makeup, airbrushing, coloring, highlights and waxing, Sykes also hopes to have a salon to call her own one day.
“If it’s something you love, you have to go for it and stick with it,” she said. “There is nothing like seeing someone’s smile and watching them radiate at the job you’ve done. It builds their confidence, and that makes me happy. It’s about the care and the passion of it. Not the money.”
No relation to pop culture’s queen Latina, 18-year-old LÓpez, of East Dubuque, Ill., was an early bloomer brimming with ambition.
Set on becoming a successful cosmetologist, and enrolled at Capri as early as the beginning of her junior year at Galena (Ill.) High School, a car accident would derail her plans during her senior year. Her rehabilitation ultimately prevented her from graduating.
“It took me some time to get over that,” she said, emotional from the toll the experience took on her.
After undergoing physical therapy, recovering and reconnecting with Fiegen at Capri, LÓpez took and passed her HiSet exam through Northeast Iowa Community College. She has been knocking out innovative styles, colors and cuts since her enrollment in June 2018.
“Being able to accomplish what I’ve accomplished at Capri really helped me push through the accident and come back from that,” LÓpez said. “The thing about cosmetology is that you can change lives with it. And not just with clients. It changed mine.”
Equipped with a brain for business, LÓpez said she hopes to own and manage a salon.
“I’m all about making the world a better place and making people happy,” she said. “This is the perfect field for that. It makes me feel happy.”
A cosmetology graduate as of August 2018 and now an aesthetics student, the 25-year-old Dubuque native was the first in her family to attend college when she set out on a more traditional educational path, studying at Clarke University.
“In high school, I wanted to go an art school, and my mom was like, ‘No,’” Pease laughed.
Helping to raise her siblings, Pease said her mother encouraged her to pursue nursing. However, Pease soon realized that the beauty industry — namely, the opportunity to help other women feel good about themselves — was beckoning.
“It gives me a chance to tap into my creativity,” she said. “And I can feel good about helping others feel good about themselves.”
As a cosmetology student at Capri, Pease won the national Beauty Changes Lives scholarship, awarding $5,000 toward her tuition.
Pease dreams of starting a nonprofit organization where she can do hair and makeup for young women who can’t afford such services for homecoming and prom, as well as launching a product line.
Her passion is in skin care — including everything from facials to specialized treatments — and hair care, such as coloring.
She’s also expecting her first child.
“It will be a challenge with a new baby,” Pease said, smiling. “But I like to think of myself as limitless.”
Another up-and-comer to watch
Capri isn’t the only training ground for careers in the beauty industry. Northeast Iowa Community College’s Cosmetology Salon in Calmar, Iowa, also provides students with hands-on training opportunities.
Here is another with a local connection and promising potential:
Name: Jenna Osterhus
Enrolled: January 2019.
Hometown: Clermont and Wadena, Iowa.
Living in: West Union, Iowa.
How did you decide on this career path? What ultimately led you to it? I knew that this was my dream, and when I began schooling, everything felt natural, and I knew that this was the career for me.
What got you interested in cosmetology? I have always been interested in doing my hair and makeup. It has always come natural and easy for me, and I knew that making others feel good about their appearance was something I wanted to pursue.
What is your specialty? What do you enjoy doing most? I enjoy cutting, styling and doing up-dos. I love to get creative and try new things.
What are your goals for the future? I want to work at a salon near my hometown and build my clientele. Then, for the future, I want to have my own salon and possibly become a teacher or influence in cosmetology. My main goal is to help others and be the best cosmetologist I can be.
Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.