Shears of Steele offers quality, affordable haircuts from students
Shears of Steele offers quality, affordable haircuts from students
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Steele senior Kyla Harwell cuts a client's hair

Finding a go-to salon can prove difficult, but what if the salon had the added bonus of being affordable and helping young cosmetologists gain valuable experience? Shears of Steele, a full-service salon in Northwest ISD’s Steele Accelerated High School, offers just that.

Located in downtown Roanoke at 606 N. Walnut St., Shears of Steele is home to dozens of students hoping to obtain their cosmetology licenses, along with two certified instructors with decades of experience in the profession. To provide students with real-world experience, inexpensive haircuts and other cosmetology services are offered with instructor oversight.

The salon currently serves about 50 clients a week with its offerings, though it can handle much more. Many of those clients are routine customers who pre-book appointments

Heather Fowler, a cosmetology instructor at the school, said clients are understanding that the salon serves as a learning environment, but she stressed that her students do a good job and are under expert supervision.

“It’s a really positive experience for everyone – our clients are very supportive of our students and are patient with them, and they specify exactly what they want, which helps our students gain experience,” she said. “We see a lot of different types of people. We have older clients who we sometimes move into more modern looks, which they love, and we get both men’s and women’s cuts.”

Ms. Fowler previously taught at the collegiate level, which largely had the same curriculum as the one Steele students learn, since cosmetology standards are set by the state. That, she said, gives Steele students an upper hand when they graduate, as they come out of high school with a wealth of experience without the burden of college debt.

Steele senior Kyla Harwell said the experience she’s gained at Steele helped her obtain a receptionist job at a local salon that she hopes will lead to a stylist job after graduating.

“Steele has a really fun environment, and the people here are awesome,” Kyla said. “My favorite thing to do so far has been hair coloring. You get a lot of different age groups with hair coloring – some people just want to go with natural hair, while others want to do fun, crazy hair. It’s a lot of fun to get that experience. I’ve helped out some friends with it here, and I love watching the stylists at my job and learn from that.”

Shears of Steele students pose in the school salon

Most Steele cosmetology students agreed that coloring is the most fun aspect of learning their hair-styling skills, but they added that meeting and interacting with clients is also a major benefit of their desired profession.

Ms. Fowler said Shears of Steele’s clients are a large part of what makes its educational environment so pleasing.

“The people that come in to support us are amazing,” she said. “This community is fantastic – we have area people come in along with staff and friends and family of students. We definitely feel a lot of support, and it helps students grow and feel confident in their education.”

Shears of Steele has seen that tremendous community support since it opened in 2013. As a way of repaying the community for its backing, Steele cosmetology students annually provide free haircuts at the Northwest ISD Back-to-School Fair as well as prom haircuts at a local church for students who may not have the funds to afford a typical big-event haircut.

Robin Ellis, principal of Steele, said all these activities – from working in the salon to providing free haircuts to give back to the community – provide students with the experience they need to be successful.

“It really brings the real-life relevancy that students need in order to transfer what they’re learning here into a job,” she said. “Several of our graduates are employed at area salons, even around here in Roanoke. One of our first graduates actually cuts my hair, so I can personally vouch for the type of learning they get here.”

While the experience of working with clients is an important benefit of the salon, Ms. Fowler said the best aspect is the dedication students display in their work.

“Students know when they come down here they’re going to learn and have fun all at the same time,” Ms. Fowler said. “I see a sense of relief sometimes when they get to cosmetology. They find an outlet for stress in the work that they do, because they’re creative and passionate about what they do.”

Photos by Northwest ISD Academy of Media Arts & Technology.

GET A HAIRCUT AT SHEARS OF STEELE
Shears of Steele is open from 2-7 p.m. on Tuesdays as well as 9:30-11 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Thursdays. For a salon pricing sheet and contact information, click here.