Proof that it’s never too late! Woman turns life around to retrain as hairdresser… aged 51

Learn how to move outside your comfort zone to a better place

With such an uncertain future on the horizon, life is pretty overwhelming now when it comes to knowing what our job prospects will look like next week, let alone next year.

But one woman is championing the art of switching professions and encouraging those who might worry about their age or skillset that they can do whatever they put their mind to.

Vanessa Ametrine made the leap from artist to hairdresser… and has never looked back.

Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Vanessa spoke about her transition and how she overcame the daunting reality of having to retrain and put herself through a college course.

Vanessa explained: “Having been off work for quite some time and having totally burnt out in my previous career as a mural artist and workshop leader in schools, I really wanted to start working in a very different yet still creative field.

“I had been cutting members of my family’s hair here and there for a while and a hairdresser friend suggested I train to be one. I really liked the idea but was worried I would be too old at 51.”

Vanessa continued: “I went along to an open day at my local college and enquired.

“I also voiced concerns about my age and was reassured that others before me, and even older than me, had done this course and that was definitely comforting.”

However, as someone who received a carer allowance, Vanessa was only eligible for a part-time course and they didn’t offer one at the local college.

Undeterred, she began endless scrolling and researching, before discovering a part-time evening course at Stephenson college in Coalville, Leicestershire.

Vanessa said: “I would have preferred a daytime course, but I’m glad it wasn’t to be as all of the daytime students are around 16-years-old, though I was with mature students.

“Due to my low income, I was able to get a bursary that not only paid for the course but also paid travel expenses and for my basic hairdressing kit. From thereon, it was easy.”

And so, Vanessa began learning how to cut, style and colour, using wigs and moving onto real people to practice her new talents.

Quizzed about any hiccups she might have had along the way, fortunately Vanessa hasn’t had any (yet!) but worries that it might become something she has to face one day.

She said: “I have researched this… at length, ha, and basically I would offer to put right whatever had gone wrong at no charge or offer a full refund.

“Very importantly, a hairdresser needs to not panic and stay professional and calm however the client is reacting.”

When asked what her advice might be for anyone who has been impacted by the pandemic and may have to retrain from the job they originally hoped to have, Vanessa says she is a big believer that sometimes things happen for a reason and it could be a blessing in disguise.

She said: “Sometimes, being forced to look for other open doors when another one is closing can actually take us somewhere better.

“Sometimes, it takes something big to move us out of our comfort zones and into a different place that we might even prefer.”

Vanessa is also a big advocate for personal styling helping people not just aesthetically feel confident but also mentally, such as improving mindset and helping them find their identity.

She concluded: “It’s a fantastic way of helping people feel good about themselves and raising self-esteem; who doesn’t feel great when their hair looks fab?!

“It’s also a great way to help people feel special and pampered. One of the things I want to do is to offer free haircuts to women in refuges for all the reasons listed above.

“Obviously a haircut won’t fix all of someone’s problems, but I would hope that it could help on some small level.”

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