Spiffing up the salon atmosphere

MARQUETTE – If there’s any workplace that needs good lighting and a soft, welcoming atmosphere, it’s a beauty salon.

The cosmetology program at Northern Michigan University showcased recent upgrades to its salon at the Jacobetti Complex at an April 20 open house.

Better lighting, a dropped ceiling, new air-handling systems, individual workstations and a new remote-controlled demonstration camera with a high-definition, wall-mounted monitor are part of the improvements.

“This has been an ongoing process to upgrade our facilities with quality instruction, and we’re just really in the process of improving our professional teaching and marketing environment, trying to make it as welcoming as possible for our students,” said John Centko, head of the Department of Technology and Occupational Services at NMU. “They’ll be spending time here, and we want to make it a friendly environment.”

The last upgrade, he pointed out, took place about 15 to 20 years ago.

Centko said the lab originally was designed as an industrial lab, with the air-handling units exposed. They remained that way until the upgrades.

Those new upgrades, according to Centko, include white lighting that will allow for better color matches for hair, and individual workstations where students can customize their spaces. The stations come with new salon chairs.

“We’re just really creating that real work environment culture,and kind of shifting from what we have seen as a traditional teaching type of setting to a work/teaching type of setting,” Centko said.

The pre-upgraded salon was industrlal in appearance, although it had pink walls, instructor Deborah Peterson said, plus the workstations were old.

“Pretty beat up, have been here for 20 some years,” Peterson said, “so this is just such a fresh, brand new, inviting and welcoming open concept. Students love being back. The customers love being back here. Even though there’s no windows, you don’t mind being back here at all.”

Centko said the high-definition video monitor can be used for demonstrations, with students being able to stay at their workstations and view those demonstrations on the monitor.

“So, it’s shifting from that ‘huddle and learn’ to staying at your individualized workstation and seeing what’s going on so they can watch a demonstration and do the training at the same time,” Centko said.

Instructor Denise Hudson also believes the upgrades are an improvement, with attendance increasing.

“The students, you know, they’ve really responded to the atmosphere,” Hudson said. “They’re proud of their studio.”

The new lighting also makes for a brighter atmosphere, Centko said, with the former fluorescent lighting having a yellowish tinge.

The bright white is much better, he pointed out, with the students talking about how they can get a true color match to properly color hair.

“People aren’t walking up and finding out things are off a little bit,” Centko said. “They’re right on.”

NMU student Kaytlynne Carlson, who is in her second year in the cosmetology program as a transfer student, said she enjoys having her own workstation.

“Coming to this place is very nice,” Carlson said. “It’s a very professional setting.”

Centko said after a second salon is completed over the two-year project, the total investment in the upgrades is expected to be $230,000 to $240,000, which will be covered in the budget for ongoing campus renovations.

He said the upgrades are expected to be finished this summer.

The salon is open 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the NMU academic year.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.