For nearly 50 years, post-secondary students have been coming to Hastings to learn a skill to launch their professional careers in the beauty industry. Their destination is the Hastings Beauty School, located in historic downtown Hastings.
When potential new students come to the school, they get a personal tour and sit- down with staff. The big thing the school wants to know is if a new student has really considered a career in cosmetology, said owner Dan Lynch. He wants to make sure the students will enjoy the work, he said.
Once a prospective student decides for certain she or he wants to attend the school, they start talking with staff about financing the education. The school works with every student to find adequate funding, whether it’s through awards, loans or other means. Unlike most post-secondary schools, the Hastings Beauty School has several start dates throughout the year – six, to be exact. Class sizes are small (no more than 13 students in each class) and start the first week of every odd month.
The first two months are devoted to a sort of basic training. There’s book work as well as practice on mannequin heads, each other and models. A special section of the school is dedicated to this early practice. Students get their own dedicated work stations and are issued professional-grade tools they can take with them when they leave.
Students learn more than just hair. Cosmetology includes hair, skin and nails, so students learn how to work with all three. Once they get through the initial training, students start to work on the clinic floor. There, again, they have their own work stations. On the clinic floor, supervised students can give salon services to actual clients. The school provides salon services to the public for low rates, Lynch said.
When they don’t have clients, students on the clinic floor are expected to do other cosmetology-related work, whether it’s practicing on mannequin heads or studying from books or another project, so they’re always improving in the field. Besides learning the actual skills, students take part in a theory course that covers legal, business and best practice is- sues. It’s an aspect of the school not many people realize exists, Lynch said, but one that’s important. Cosmetologists deal with chemicals, sharp objects, sanitation concerns and more. They have to be aware of how to do business without endangering their patients, which is why they need a license in order to practice.
Because the Hastings Beauty School takes in students from both Minnesota and Wisconsin, it makes sure its graduates can get a license in either state. Licensure is based on hours of practice – Minnesota cosmetologists have to have 1,550 hours and Wisconsin requires 1,800. To get their license, students have to pass an in-school practical board exam, in which they demonstrate the skills expected of them. Following that, they take a written state exam and file for the three-year license. The Hastings Beauty School has a 100 percent licensure rate, Lynch said.
The school is relatively small, with only about 50 students at a time. It takes roughly 10 months to complete the pro- gram, and of those who enter, about 80 percent graduate. There’s one thing, however, that the school can’t exactly teach its students. “This is a personality business,” Lynch said. Cosmetologists have a relationship with their clients, he explained, and students’ success is partially dependent on how well they interact with their clients. If they can smile and talk to people, the school will teach them the rest, Lynch said.
Lynch is the second owner of the beauty school. He purchased it in 2003 from the original owner, when it was located in the next building over, where The Emporium is today. In 2005 he bought the old Gardner Hotel building at the corner of East Second and Ramsey streets, renovated the first floor and exterior and moved the school there. It has been there ever since.
1 The clinic floor is a busy place, with students doing work for real clients as well as practicing on mannequins or studying written materials.
2 The school’s most recent class, which started just last week, gathers in the classroom space.
3 Chemicals are stored and managed in this room, as well as laundry facilities.
4 Mannequin heads are used to practice all sorts of techniques, from styling and coloring to cutting hair. By the end of the training, there’s usually little hair left.
5 Beauty school students get their own mannequin head, styling tools and station during their time at the school.
6 Dryer chairs line a half wall near the clinic floor.
by Katrina Styx • Staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org