Why did you decide to enroll at Branford Academy?
I was actually in school to become a paralegal when I realized that I wasn’t passionate about it. I was a little nervous about changing my decision until my Mom reminded me that I love doing hair. I think you have to really enjoy what you do. Some people settle and stay at a job they’re not happy with. I have a family connection here in Connecticut who suggested I come and see the school.
What did you like about Branford Academy?
I liked this school because it’s smaller and more intimate than another school that a friend of mine chose in Rhode Island. I like that I work more closely with my teachers. It’s the right place for me. I feel like a bigger school would overwhelm me.
I also knew that I wanted to go away to school, so I moved from Massachusetts to Connecticut to come to school at Branford Academy.
What are you learning that you’re the most passionate about?
Oh, hands down it would be doing color. I’ve always loved coloring my own hair and my friends’ hair. I also love styling with blow-drys and I’ve gotten really comfortable with women’s cuts.
What are you looking forward to learning next?
I can’t wait to learn advanced makeup techniques, barbering, and hair extensions.
What’s really fun for you?
I feel like I’ve built a lot of confidence. I love it when my clients notice that I feel comfortable and confident while I’m working with them.
Loyal client Diane Doran has been coming to Branford Academy faithfully for the past year and a half. “They do really great work here, so why would you pay more?” says the Guilford resident. I was paying $25 for just a blow-dry at my old salon, plus a 20% tip. Here, that same blow-dry is just $10 plus tip. I can take myself out to a nice lunch with the money I save!”
“I’ll admit that initially I was a little bit nervous about letting a student work on my hair” says Diane. Her initial visit turned into a weekly self-care ritual. “I realized that a supervisor checks every single step of every service that the students perform. Hair color is checked and re-checked before it’s even applied.”
Branford Academy employs only licensed hairdressers, so every teacher has a wealth of experience in the industry. Students are trained and monitored through cuts, hair color and any other service that a client requests. Head of School Diana Leonardi sets high standards for her students and ensures that the school maintains it’s Salon Atmosphere.
“I’ve told all of my friends that this is a friendly salon where you can pay less and still have the high quality services you’d expect from any other salon” says Doran.
Student Justin has been doing color re-touch, haircuts and blow-dry’s for Diane, and they’ve developed a warm relationship over the past months. “I think he’s going to be very successful. He’s super conscientious and takes his time. It’s obvious that he cares about pleasing his client and he has a wonderful personality!”
Students at Branford Academy are always being challenged to use their hairdressing and makeup skills as well as their creativity. Diana Leonardi, Head of School loves to give the students assignments in which they can show off their individual skills and ideas for implementing the challenges. In the past, photo shoots have included wedding themes, holiday themes, Broadway show themes, and many others.
Just recently, students were asked to turn their models into “Human Dolls.” As you can imagine, this was a fun project that allowed everyone’s imagination and talents to shine. Classic Victorian dolls, modern dolls and cartoon dolls showed up. Barbie even made an appearance dressed in a gown.
As with all photo shoots at Branford Academy, the finest camera and photography equipment is used. A special room is dedicated to the photographic process and Diana loves everything about photo shoot day! With Milford Photo offering guidance, the shoots yield some very professional and dramatic photos. Graduates of Branford Academy have been inspired to work with photographers at fashion shoots because of their experience while in cosmetology school.
All of the costumes for the human doll photo- shoot were provided by the individual students. Hairstyles and makeup applications, of course were part of the assignment. See our Facebook page to see more images from daily life at Branford Academy.