To Eizabeth Zielinski, salon work is more than a quick trim or dye job.
The recent high school graduate from Coleman expresses her own creativity, through caring for and styling the hair of her clients.
“I love the creativity of cosmetology,” Zielinski said. “I love styling my own hair too. I’m an artsy person.
After finishing her high school education in 2013, Zielinski enrolled in Water Works Academy in fall 2014, eager to learn the trade and the business behind salon work from an experienced professional.
One year later, Zielinski is one of the first three graduates from the 10-month program, lead by Water Works Salon owner Stephanie Prout.
Establishing the school in the same building as the salon, with just a glass window separating the students from their actual field of study, was an advantage, Zielinski said, to the practicality of her education.
“(Waterworks) is very unique because it’s connected to an actual salon,” she said. “We can watch the stylists while we learn. It’s just inspiring and really gets you thinking about your career while still in school.”
Zielinksi said the small classes sizes, comprising of about 10 students, allowed for greater attention from instructors to address specific struggles withs students.
“They were really helpful in getting you what you need,” she said of her instructors. “They took extra time when needed, and gave one-on-one attention.”
Prout said the connection between the salon and academy gives students a stronger perspective on the business of cosmetology. She said she started the school to address a need in the area for trained stylists.
Students at Water Works Academy learn about the business of cosmetology, along with how to avoid infections, skin care, nail care and even anatomy. Professional stylists from the salon often provide demonstrations for students.
“I have seen that there was a need for better, more advanced training to get a student to the readiness needed to work at a salon,” Prout said. “What better way than to have a salon and school conjoined?”
When students see clients, Prout said they are closely monitored. She said getting haircare at the academy is a less expensive alternative to the salon itself.
“This is a more affordable option for clients,” she said. “They can get a taste for Water Works with less cost. Our staff does everything to make sure guests are happy.”
Owner of Water Works for the past 12 years, Prout’s desire to provide unique, on-the-job training to future stylists lead her to advocate for an amendment to state law that would allow the salon and school under the same roof.
While that bill is still in the works, the academy has its own entrance and front desk, but students can still learn from those in the industry through the glass partition.
“I’m really passionate about what each student learns,” Prout said. “I know if they go through my program, they’re going to be ready. Once they are, they can come aboard over at the salon, and start working for a paycheck.”
Concerned that some recent stylists she had seen applying for salon work could be better trained, Prout said when students leave her program, they’re getting the knowledge she acquired after 20 or more years in the industry.
“They will know how to formulate colors, even when a client just brings in a picture,” she said. “Most new licensees don’t’ have those qualities. They know exactly what the state requires, and that’s it.
“The best education is in learning in the actual place you want to work. You just need the hands-on learning.”
Annie Kozlowski, a 23-year-old Mt. Pleasant resident, is enrolled for the next session of classes, starting Sept. 9.
She said getting the added experience and knowledge from Prout’s guidance was a big factor in taking the program.
“You’re getting the owner’s quality,” Kozlowski said. “You’re not just getting the requirements. I’ve always wanted to do it. Now is my chance.”
Those interested can call Water Works Salon at 989-775-1500 to set up an appointment to discuss enrolling. For more information go to waterworksacademy.com or find it on Facebook.