Former Beauty Therapy Student Opens Salon

We had the pleasure of going to former Beauty Therapy Student, Gemma Foster’s, salon – Aurora Beauty Studio in Chesterfield earlier this week. Gemma opened the salon back in February after working in a salon for 5 years. We loved her story of how renting her own salon came about and how other former students who attended Chesterfield have joined her with their different skillsets.

the beauty therapists and aurora

Gemma said: “We got the keys in January, I was renting in a hairdressers so I wanted to get it done as quick as possible as I was paying double rent. I was pretty much down here with my Dad every day, around both of us working full-time. We opened within a month. I’ve learnt a lot of DIY now.”

We wanted to know why Gemma decided to open her own salon after building her client base up in another salon and working there for five years. Gemma told us:

“I’ve always wanted to open my own salon. I wasn’t looking at moving, I was really happy working in the hairdressers. I went up the road to buy a new carpet, saw the to-let sign and decided I wanted the shop. That was that. There were a few hurdles to go through as I’m only 23, so the landlord wasn’t sure at first. I was going from renting one room to having a big lease and having to find staff. Once they got to speak to me, it was all ok.”

Gemma knew that she wanted to learn as much as she could about the industry straight after she finished school.

“I came straight after school and did Level 2 Beauty Therapy full-time. Then I went on the Level 3 Massage as an apprenticeship, which was one day a week. Alongside that, I did Level 3 Reflexology, stayed for the third year, and did Level 2 Media Makeup.”

We wanted to find out about Gemma’s opinion on her apprenticeship compared to her course at college.

“I did my apprenticeship through college. My mum used to go to the salon and have her treatments done. The salon told me to talk to my tutor at college and then we can go through the interview process. I did a little trial and started from there.”

“I do feel like I did it the right way round. I thought the first year doing a full-time course, I just learnt so much, the theory side of it was really important. It gave me the basics to then go into a salon and do an apprenticeship. I thought an apprenticeship was so important because you are hands-on. The difference with being at college full-time is that it is so different speaking to clients inside the salon rather than them coming into college. It made me so much more confident. The experience is so important.

I stayed at the salon after I finished my apprenticeship for five years and worked my way up to a senior position.”

gemma foster

Gemma’s qualifications helped her progress within the salon massively.

“I did the day course of gel nails, spray tanning and lash extensions. One of my main focuses now is lash extensions, it’s what I do most now. Getting those day courses in at college, in an environment that you are comfortable in and being able to practice them in the salon and at college, was really helpful.”

Building clients is very important within the beauty industry, we asked Gemma how she built this back up after leaving a salon and opening her own.

“I built up a lot of clients doing my apprenticeship and working there for 5 years. After lockdown, I worked in the salon self-employed so a lot of my clients stayed with me then. I was fully booked there and luckily after moving here they all came with me. The hardest part was going from employed to self-employed and building up my clients in between lockdowns.”

Gemma shares her advice for our current students and students joining us in September.

“You might be rubbish at everything at first, but keep practising. Practice with your friends on family for free or really cheap. Just practice and I promise it will get easier. Everyone has to start from the bottom. When you look back on your photos, you’ll see your progress, it’s so rewarding.

It’s such a great industry to work in. All your clients are friends really. It doesn’t feel like work”

Find out about our Hair and Beauty courses and apply today!

Find out more about the range of courses and apprenticeships available at Chesterfield College.