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Rachel Wheeler

Hairdressing level 3 2007; Hairdressing level 4 2008; Makeup Artistry 2009

I always wanted to be a vet, but I just didn’t enjoy school. I went to start year 12, and choose my subjects but ended up coming home to my parents saying that they can’t make me go back to school. Luckily, they were fine with this so long as I enrolled in a trade there and then!

I found an advertisement in the North Shore Times enrolling for hairdressing courses, so I rang and managed to get an appointment with a recruitment advisor that afternoon. I enrolled, but the course didn’t start for three months so I continued with my job in retail.

I chose to go to Cut Above as I felt comfortable straight away, as soon as I walked in. After my appointment and tour of the campus, I felt confident I was making the right choice.

Going to Cut Above gave me tons of confidence which I lacked at school. By doing in-house competition work, photoshoots, working at the Unitec campus, going to events and being able to go and work on hair for New Zealand Fashion Week, opened me up to new opportunities. As well as doing my course, I was always encouraged to find part-time salon work - which I did do as scary as it seemed.

I started with Rodney Wayne as a part-time Technician at Glenfield, and progressed to my current role of Floor Manager at Rodney Wayne Albany, which is one of the busiest salons not only in Auckland but the country.

Over the years I have won awards for Highly Commended in my roles as Technician, Stylist, Colour Ambassador and Floor manager. I also won Redken Tribal Ambassador alongside other competitions which are run by our brand partners.

Being Floor Manager and running a very busy salon means that planning and preparation is a must. I need to ensure that all team members are getting regular and consistent training in the salon, creating incentives to keep the team motivated whilst making sure everyone is working as a team. I have a passion for training, every week our technicians have scheduled training where its expected they bring models and we work on colour knowledge, application skills, timing, and finishing. Once they have perfected one technique they move up to the next. Over the years three technicians I have helped trained have won Technician of the Year. One now being my second-in charge!

One of the best aspects of my job is getting to meet so many new people, teaching them about their hair, inspiring them with new ideas and trends and forming new relationships with clients.

I feel if you’re going to do a course you need to make the most of it. You need to turn up to every single class, ask questions, try everything, don’t do the bare minimum to pass. You need to get extra models and learn as much as possible because once you get into a salon it’s not as easy as you think.

I have an extremely competitive nature and I believe this helped me work my way up to where I am now. While working in the Cut Above salon in my second year I made sure I took everything the others may have not wanted to do, and by doing this I got all my assessments done easily plus made money doing so.

I believe the biggest lesson I’ve learnt since hairdressing is that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. If no one ever tells you something how are you meant to know about it? As hairdressers we hold so much knowledge about hair, trends, fashion, colours, skin tones, products and services that our clients may not be aware of. We are here to not only create beautiful hair for our clients but also to give our clients the tools and knowledge for them to re-create beautiful hair at home.