Why were you drawn to psychology?
I studied psychology at A Level and it really interested me. Psychology is a huge umbrella term and there are lots of directions you can take it in. I decided to do my dissertation on different behaviours across ages and genders. Looking at how people approach and respond to various situations fascinated me.
Why did you study nails and beauty at the same time as your degree?
My mum was a nail tech and I knew from an early age that this was the career I wanted to get into so I began my nail training while I was still in the sixth form doing A Levels. I knew I would follow my beauty professional dream through but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to go to university either, so I learned beauty part-time and kept up my nail training while I was studying for a degree in Psychology at the University of Essex.
How did you juggle everything?
Good time management. I completed my nail tech training at the Denise Wright Academy in Kent. Denise was brilliant and has been a mentor throughout. We’d pick days that I was free to train rather than having a set schedule.
I did ITEC Levels 2 and 3 in beauty at The Training Rooms in Chelmsford on two set days a week, which I could work around my university course.
During university breaks, I also worked in Denise’s salon – Perfect 10 Nails and Beauty in Kent – and during my dissertation year, I worked part-time at a different beauty salon that was close to my university. Balancing all that work and study was definitely tiring but it helped me become very organised and good at managing my time. By the time I graduated university in 2017 with a 2:1, I was also fully qualified in beauty and nails.
How did you make the leap to salon manager?
I had already worked part-time with Denise for two years when I graduated and I was then offered a full-time position at Perfect 10. After a couple of months as a salon technician, I started management training, completing a VTCT in Salon Management. As I’d already studied a lot of the Level 2 syllabus, I went straight to onto the Level 3 qualification. I manage a team of five people now.
How has your psychology degree benefitted you in your management role?
Firstly, just the experience of having gone to university has helped me lots. It taught me how to organise my time and structure things, even how to use the different types of technology that you need to manage a business. The more you put into a business, the more you are get out, and the hard work, ambition and drive it took me to finish my degree is now channelled into my work.
Studying psychology specifically has enabled me to have a varied approach in how to understand different people. I have a good insight into how to make people feel comfortable, which helps not only in my dealings with staff, but also with clients, suppliers and accountants.
An example of this in the salon was when we introduced a new system for monitoring stock. Due to my degree, I understood that some people could immediately take on a change upon receiving clear instruction on how the change will happen, while others will require time to reflect and familiarise themselves with the change before implementing it. Anticipating these differing reactions allows you to effectively and efficiently get the most out of your staff while also creating a smooth transition for them.
A very important part of psychology is the statistical analysis element, which is something that many students, myself included, struggled with when beginning the degree. The first year is largely devoted to focusing on this and really developing the ability to work well with analysing data. This has been specifically useful to me as a manager in analysing business costings, profits, and so on. I think I may have struggled with this without my degree.
Could other salon managers benefit from studying psychology?
It has greatly helped me but it really is an individual journey and everyone’s path into the industry is different. For me, having a plan and a mentor has helped me achieve my goal. Denise has been brilliant right from beginning and all they way through my journey. Back when I was in sixth form, my mum suggested I do a couple of days in a local nail salon to see if I liked it. I instantly decided this was the career I was going to follow so I arranged a meeting with Denise where we spoke about my immediate future, and what I wanted to do in five years. We laid out a plan and I understood it was a journey and that I couldn’t jump straight into as a managerial role, so I decided not to do the salon management training until I finished my university course.
The psychology degree was taken out of interest rather than part of my career plan; it actually wasn’t until afterwards that I realised I could draw on my degree when working in the nail and beauty industry. For me, the skills and knowledge I got from the degree have been very transferrable.