Meet our former apprentice who is now running her own salon from the same building she started out as a Saturday Girl
A York College apprenticeship has led to Ffion Powell running her own beauty salon business from the same place she first worked as a “very shy 14-year-old Saturday Girl”.
Ffion, 28, now has 250 regular clients who visit her Totally Polished salon on Tadcaster’s High Street, where they can enjoy a wide range of beauty services, including exquisite nail treatments, soothing holistic therapies, transformative make-up sessions, lavish lash extensions, waxing and advanced facials.
She also hires out stations in the salon to seven other self-employed therapists, including her first boss Diane Taylor, who linked up with College to oversee Ffion’s Beauty Therapist Apprenticeship 10 years ago.
It represents a remarkable journey for the former Tadcaster Grammar School pupil who, looking back during National Apprenticeship Week, freely admits she had to be shoved through the front door by her Mum on her first day of work as a timid teenager.
“Doing an apprenticeship was the right route for me as I started out as a very shy Saturday Girl and I mainly hid upstairs to avoid answering the phone,” she recalled. “My mum had to pretty much push me through the door, because she thought it was time that I had a job.
“But, at College, you learn the core things you need like communication and people skills. I feel the course covered everything on a professional level in terms of creating your identity as a professional therapist, including how you should speak to clients and how you should dress.
“We also learnt a lot about retailing and the different treatments available. The course was catered to whatever we needed really.
“We learned the basics of how to carry out a treatment from start to finish and the tutors had backgrounds in the industry, too, so they passed on all their tips and tricks. It was all about attention to detail. For example, we would cover how you set up your nail desk, making sure everything is really clean and tidy.”
Ffion is now looking to employ a full-time assistant as her business continues to grow and believes her career pathway is one that is open to any current and prospective York College Beauty Therapist apprentice with the right degree of “drive and determination” and a strong work ethic.
“As a Saturday Girl and, then, an apprentice, you’re almost like a fly on the wall watching the therapists doing their best job and you pick up skills from that, which is so valuable,” she points out. “Even though I was shy at first, I did realise I had a passion for the job and that I was quite creative.
“Then, as long as you have the drive and determination, I believe you can achieve what I have managed to do. You just have to put the effort in, stick at it and be prepared to work long hours and at weekends.
“I have come full circle now, because I run my own business from the same building that I started out as a Saturday Girl in and did my apprenticeship. After I left College, I became self-employed and set up my own salon just around the corner from here.
“My reputation then grew and I got more and more clients so, when the building that I used to work in came up for rent, I took it over. Diane’s husband was ill at the time, so she needed to spend more time with him but she’s now back here renting a desk.”
Ffion believes the apprenticeship balance of one day a week in the classroom and four in the workplace provides the perfect opportunity to “put into practice what you learn at College during your placement”.
She also advised apprentices to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to them on Campus.
“Try and absorb as much information as you can and put yourself out there,” she suggested. “When College gets clients booking appointments always be the person who wants to do the treatment because practice makes perfect.”
Ffion is a teacher herself now, running her own Totally Polished Training Academy where she puts on courses for small groups of up to three people.
Her typical working week starts with Admin Day on Monday, when she will focus on stock-taking, booking appointments and scheduling social media posts.
Tuesday is then a day off before she works in the salon from Wednesday to Sunday.
It is a career that she still loves more than ever and gains job satisfaction from every day.
“When you do a treatment for a client, it makes their day,” she points out. “It makes them feel so much better and even just painting somebody’s nails can make them feel on top of the world.
“They feel appreciated and self-care is such a big thing at the moment. You also create bonds with clients and can become friends on a professional level.”
For a list of our current apprenticeship vacancies, please click here
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To learn more about Totally Polished and Ffion’s Training Academy, please click here