Cosmetology Department gets its own makeover

It is one thing to get a makeover, but when a salon gets a makeover, it's just downright fabulous! The Santa Monica College Cosmetology Department received a remodeling facelift that can eventually put local salons out of business, if utilized to its full potential.
The Open House for the department took place Tuesday afternoon in the Business Building where the salon is located. The previously out-dated, rapidly growing salon is now equipped with full service, dynamite new stations for the stylists.
The department received a $136,000 federal vocational grant and replaced the almost 30-year-old furniture with 90 new modern stations and chairs. The practical stations supply each student with adequate room for equipment and hair care products.
With the extra funds left over, Helen LeDonne, cosmetology department chair, was able to also expand the skin and nail care programs, and provide new facial beds and exfoliating machines. The salon has estheticians services, manicurist services and much more.
"It has been so wonderful to have these new work stations and other equipment," said LeDonne.
The old equipment was not in good shape and the stations were run down. There was no place to put blow dryers and the mirrors that were replaced repeatedly in the past became difficult for the students to use while styling. They often had to climb up on the station to pull it up.
The grant modernized the department, making it user-friendly, with easy-to-clean surfaces and holders for blow-dyers and curling irons.
"By upgrading the salon the students can work off of stations that are more functional," said Paula Mahlanza, a teacher's assistant for the Cosmetology Department. Mahlanza helps the students prepare for the California State Board Exam.
The California State Board exam mandates that each student must have completed 1,600 clinical hours of hands-on operations. The courses for the program require a "C" or better to meet graduation requirements.
If a student is only interested in the esthetician and nail care programs, they are responsible for 400 hours for nail care and 600 for estheticians.
Alan Jon, who is one of the few full-time instructors in the department and who is retiring in three weeks, said that what he loves about the salon workforce is the variety of careers that a stylist can have. They can travel the world on tour with different types of productions including theater and film platforms, hair shows, product suppliers, even personal image styling to the stars.
Now that the salon floor is capable of providing excellent service, it seems, however, as if the staff will be compromised.
"This department is a wonderful department and it has so much potential, but I can't do it alone," said LeDonne, who will continue to serve as department chair due to the absence of full-time instructors next semester.
Regardless of the limited number of instructors, the community supporters for the salon are increasing in number.
"I support the program because they are students working their way through the school - learning the craft," said Irma Carranza, a single mother with two children. "It is extremely affordable."
Carranza has been patronizing the SMC Cosmetology department for over 10 years and she added that the facials they offer are "awesome."