Ooosh! Hair Academy students graduate after six months.
Contributed By Jamie Lim
|CN PHOTO: Maggie Chng
Following closely its mantra to do well while doing good in society, Ooosh! Hair Salon has a hair academy under its wing. Working hand in hand with City Harvest Community Services Association, Ooosh! reaches out to youth-at-risk, particularly those with an interest in hairstyling, with the aim of giving them a headstart in life.
With an initial cohort of 10 youths from the first and second batches, only five graduated on Nov. 28. After six months of grueling training under award-winning head hairstylist of Ooosh!, Perry TJ and highly experienced hairstylist Leslie Rozario, the five students finally received their graduation certificates and valuable experience under their belt.
“[The students] have definitely come a long way. It’s not been an easy six months, for them, as well as for myself. It’s not just about the hairstyling skills, but also the molding of character. The journey was neither easy nor smooth sailing, so I’m very glad these five students have made it through,” said TJ.
During the six months, the students learned hairstyling skills ranging from the most basic tasks of shampooing and blow-drying, learning how to perm, cut, color, style; as well as proper hair-care. As TJ puts it, “Hairstyling is a precise architecture.”
On the day of graduation, the graduates spent two hours on their models’ hair, cutting, coloring, rebonding and styling, in preparation for the final showcase of their academic journey. After graduation, these youths would no longer be students of Ooosh!, but working as assistants and stylists within or outside of Ooosh!
The certificate presentation ceremony was graced by Chew Eng Han, one of Ooosh!’s shareholders, and the man behind the vision of Ooosh! Said Chew, “I’ve always believed that the purpose of a business has to go beyond oneself, beyond revenue and just earning profits. The concept of Ooosh! is a great opportunity to help others while running a business.”
Late last year in 2009, Chew was inspired by Elim Chew, the founder of 77th Street, to set up a social enterprise which would help others while earning a profit. With the support of the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, and a group of businessmen, Ooosh! was set up in November 2009 and worked with CHCSA. Setting up the business was easy, but keeping the business profitable in order to maintain its social cause is no easy feat as part of the profits are used as subsidies for the students’ course fees. Nonetheless, Chew and the rest of the shareholders were determined to keep both the salon and the hair academy going.
Steven Tay, 23, is one student who was given the opportunity to pursue his passion, thanks to Ooosh! Initially in the IT industry, he had lacked the confidence to pursue his interest in fashion and hair, even though he had begun to gain interest in it during his secondary school days. Finally, nine years later, he decided to join the hairstyling course in Ooosh! upon the encouragement of his friends. Tay is now about to embark on his hairstyling career by working at HDB hair salons after his graduation.
“I’m glad I decided to take up the course. I’ve learned a lot from Perry and Leslie, as well as the CHCSA mentors and volunteers. Beyond hairstyling skills, I’ve gained a lot of life experiences and re-shaped my moral values. I’m also more confident now!” said Tay.
The cause of Ooosh! has not only impacted the youths, but its clientele as well. Desmond, 28, a regular client of Ooosh!, applauds the enterprise for its vision and mantra, “I know that every time I cut my hair at Ooosh!, I am contributing to this meaningful cause. Besides, the students here have been taught well. They are very professional, and are no different from the salon assistants in other high-end salons. Being situated in Orchard Road, the students have been exposed to difficult and demanding customers and this would definitely serve its purpose in their journey ahead.”
While two graduates remain in Ooosh! to begin their hairstyling career, the rest will be moving on to start their journey elsewhere. Their teachers and mentors have absolute faith in them and wish them all the best. “I hope all of them will become even more successful than me,” affirmed TJ.