TCL salon receives makeover of its own

Cosmetology program and new space is ‘worth the drive’ customers and students say

It’s a recent Tuesday morning inside a hair salon off Ribaut Road in Beaufort. A young stylist-in-training watches closely as Libby DeLoach skillfully sections off a customer’s hair, pulls it to the top, then snips the ends.

“It’s not changing the length,” she says to both the customer and the stylist. “It’s just adding some volume.”

instructor demonstrating haircut
TCL Cosmetology Program Director Libby DeLoach demonstrates a technique as Danielle Hamner, senior cosmetology student, and customer Mallory Ramirez watches.

Nearby, a pair of customers wearing black salon smocks wait patiently in front of matching mirrors as they receive their own haircuts. The entire group is surrounded by sleek and modern furnishings in gray and black punctuated by chrome accents.

It’s the kind of place that could easily pass for a glamorous, high-style salon in a lifestyle magazine, but this is no ordinary shop. This is The Salon at Technical College of the Lowcountry and thanks to a newly renovated interior, TCL cosmetology students now have everything they need to give customers topnotch service in an environment that’s not only conducive to learning but is stylish and up-to-date as well.

“It’s been a dream come true,” said DeLoach recently about the renovations.

As director for the college’s cosmetology program, DeLoach said customers and students alike – especially those who remember what it looked like before – have been enjoying the new space.

“We’ve had nothing but compliments,” she said. “But more importantly our students are getting a lot out of the space as they learn their craft.”

As she explained, part of the program includes real-time instruction in a salon setting. But the salon space inside building 10 on the Beaufort Mather campus was due for an update, as the last renovation had happened in 2001.

After a year and half of planning – including efforts to secure a federal grant to pay for the renovations – work to refresh the interior finally began this summer.

DeLoach and the program’s co-instructor Erin Hancock worked closely with project managers on the planning for the space and even demolition. Renovations were completed at the end of July, just days before classes started back for TCL’s fall semester, and included all new countertops, storage cabinets, sinks, shampoo bowls, flooring, lighting, hydraulic chairs and other equipment.

Since then, both students and customers have given the makeover glowing reviews.

“It’s wonderful,” said senior cosmetology student Joanna Olivares.

Remembering what the space looked like before the renovations, Olivares also called the improvements “fabulous.” Like a lot of TCL’s cosmetology students, she drives from Bluffton to attend classes on the Beaufort campus. In fact, students drive from all over to attend the program – from Hilton Head to St. Helena Island, DeLoach said.

“They’ll easily drive an hour, because it’s their passion,” she said.

And since students enrolled in the program receive more than 1,500 hours of hands-on instruction, they will spend a lot of time in The Salon. So it’s important to have not only a well-designed space but a functioning space as well, DeLoach said.

TCL cosmetology student Allison Goen cuts a customer’s hair in the newly renovated salon space.

After students complete the program, they can then take South Carolina’s licensing exam. With a 99.7 percent pass rate for those who sit for the exam, TCL’s cosmetology program has been highly successful not only in terms of graduation and successful completion of the exam but in preparing students for the work force.

“We spend a lot of time preparing them for the exam,” said DeLoach. “But we don’t make that our primary focus. Our primary focus is getting them salon ready so they can interact with the public and be ready for that.”

Graduates of the program go on to work as cosmetologists, manicurists, skin care specialists or business owners to name just a few career paths.

Sun City resident Regina Parker who took immediate notice of The Salon’s new interior on Tuesday wholeheartedly endorsed the program’s approach.

“What I like best about this place is that the students really try their best, and they’re so supervised that it’s a mistake-free environment,” she said. “I really feel fortunate that somebody at Sun City gave us the information that this was available. It’s definitely worth the drive.”

For More Information

For an appointment or information on services offered through The Salon click here or call (843) 525-8298. For information on the cosmetology program at the Technical College of the Lowcountry visit www.tcl.edu/academics/pathways/human-services/cosmetology-diploma.

The Salon at TCL’s Beaufort Campus was recently renovated.