Mickie Ennis sat in a stylist's chair in Cape May County Technical High School's salon, still trying to decide on a hairdo.
"So, you just want a touch up today?" Cape Tech senior Casey Nudo, of the Villas section of Lower Township, asked as she walked over to Ennis' chair and took her place behind it.
"I don't know," Ennis said. "I was thinking about going a little lighter, but I wanted to talk to you about it first. What do you think?"
Ennis and her sister Patricia Pitchers, both of Ocean City, are regular clients at Cape May Tech High School's beauty salon, located inside the high school in Cape May Court House, in conjunction with its cosmetology program, taught by Jackie Holland, a state certified cosmetologist and a graduate of the high school's program. The sisters come into the salon every few weeks for a touch up and a roller set and sometimes for a change in style.
"It's a hidden gem," said Ennis of the school salon. "It's great for people who don't want to spend the money going to an expensive salon all the time but like to keep themselves looking good. We don't want to run around looking like frazzled old ladies."
The school salon offers the public professional-level services completed by its senior-level students at reasonable prices. Services include hair styling, manicures and spa facials.
An hourlong, five-step spa facial at the school salon costs $10 to $12, Holland says, and in her opinion is just as good as a facial at a professional salon, typically costing as much as $100.
Cape Tech's salon also underwent a recent remodeling and modernization to "keep with the times," Holland said.
Its clients can access the salon from the outside of the school building, without ever having to enter the school, and the students are well-trained in the techniques. They cannot work with clients until they've reached 600 hours of instruction, which is usually accomplished by the fall of their senior year.
Nudo said Ennis was her second "real" client. Her first was a perm done the week before.
"It turned out really well," Nudo said.
Nudo' said her goal is to be a high school biology teacher, but cosmetology is her backup plan.
"It will help me to pay for college, and I really like doing it," she said. She and the other senior students enrolled in the program at Cape May Tech will take their cosmetology state board exams in April, with a goal of becoming licensed.
Hollard said she tries to emphasis the benefits of having a cosmetology license to students, especially those still in the process of selecting a program at the school.
"In real life, sometimes life doesn't always pan out the way you chose it to. So as long as you have your license and renew it every two years, it's always there. It's something they can never take from you," she said. "A career in cosmetology will always be in demand. There will never be robots doing our hair and our faces."
Client Bernadette McGroarty, of North Cape May, who was getting a spa facial while the Ocean City sisters were getting their hair done, said she's "addicted" to the school salon, especially the facials, and would never go anywhere else.
"This place is my escape," McGroarty said.
Contact Elisa Lala:
Appointments are available on Thursday and Friday from 12:00 to last appointment starting at 1:30 p.m. The high school's salon is located in the Toft building at Cape May County Technical School, 188 Crest Haven Road, Cape May Court House. Call 465-2161, ext. 325.