Aspiring Liberty cosmetologists and barbers now have swanky spaces near home to practice their crafts.
The Savannah Technical College Liberty Campus on Thursday celebrated the opening of estimated $700,000 cosmetology and barbering suites that will give students a real-world work experience.
Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette, who also is chairman of the school’s board of directors, spoke about the renovation.
“The lab enhances the facility, which enhances the school in its totality, which I would like to say enhances the Liberty County and surrounding counties’ workforce …,” Lovette said. “It winds up enhancing the quality of life here, if you all and everybody feels good and looks good … and they’re able to be entrepreneurs and gainfully employed.”
The new suites, designed by Lott + Barber, share a retail entrance near the south parking lot of Liberty Campus. The Liberty County BoC last year approved $500,000 in SPLOST funds toward the project, and the school’s foundation was slated to add $200,000.
More than 50 people attended the event, and members of Brownie Troop 30584 also were present to earn a “Celebrating Community” badge.
For spring 2013, there are 207 students enrolled in cosmetology/barbering, which is about 4.4 percent of the college’s total spring enrollment of 4,647.
The Savannah campus serves 129 of the barbering and cosmetology students, while 47 are at the Liberty campus and 31 are in Effingham.
Liberty cosmetology students Morgan Cordry and Ashley Strowger demonstrated their expertise on mannequins and each other in the suites’ lobby.
“We love it, it’s amazing,” Cordry said about the suites.
The class already has worked in the space, but they have not yet begun working on clients.
“We feel very lucky because we’re the first class,” Strowger added. “It feels professional. It makes our passion and our drive stronger than ever.”
Once she finishes, Cordry said she plans to establish clientele and is considering opening her own business.
Strowger plans to specialize in color and build a base of clientele, she said.
They can begin building clientele later this year in the cosmetology suite, which has 17 styling stations, two massage/facial stations, nail technician stations and a demonstration lab. The barbering suite includes 10 barbering stations with shampoo stations and hair dryers.
Both suites will be open to the public for services during class sessions.
Barbering classes will begin this summer at the Liberty Campus. To show their zeal for the program, several students from the Savannah campus attended the open house.
Student Johnathan Thompkins said he was excited to be only one month away from completion.
“When I get a haircut, you can’t tell me anything. I mean, I’m the freshest guy, I’ve got confidence up to here, so that’s what I wanted to give to other people,” Thompkins said.
When asked about his future, Thompkins said he is weighing whether to open his own barber shop or to use the trade while he studies chemistry.
Terrance James, an alumnus of both Bradwell Institute and Savannah Tech, currently teaches barbering in Savannah but will move to the Liberty Campus when the program opens.
“In particular, this is a very proud day for me, being a person from Liberty County,” James said. “To see this type of facility come up in our area … this is one of the proudest days of my life, being a barber and seeing this program come together here and having the opportunity to contribute to it.”