Five disadvantaged students are being given the chance to fulfil their hairdressing dreams by a Tauranga salon.
The youngsters will undergo six weeks of intensive training before being given the chance to earn enough money to visit some of the world's top salons.
The idea is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Clifford and Anna Harris, of Clifford Lamar Hair Salon.
It is based on concepts such as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Foundation. In 2002 the British cook changed the lives of 15 young disadvantaged apprentices when he trained them alongside a team of professional chefs and mentors.
"I came across these kids a couple of weeks ago," said Mr Harris, whose clients include Food in a Minute presenter Lana Garland and British TV cook and author Prue Leith. "We do lots of work with the training schools around the country and I was with some tutors from The Hair Academy. They were telling me about the backgrounds of some of these young people and it just blew me away. They've had it really tough.
"Talking to my wife, we came up with the idea of taking them on for six weeks of intensive training on specific areas, such as cutting and colouring. After that, we put them on the floor alongside the rest of our staff for two weeks.
"Any profit they make in that two-week period will be pooled in a pot for a trip away. We want to take them to see a whole other side to hairdressing, really open their eyes and keep them striving to achieve their goals.
"If they make $10 we can take them down the road to a friend's salon, if they make $100 we can go a bit further. The sky's the limit but I want them to do really well so we can take them to New York, London, Asia or Australia," said Mr Harris.
"I want them to see all the cool experiences you can have and places you can see with a career in hairdressing. It's not about working in some dingy salon churning out the same old haircuts."
The five participants, aged between 18 and 34, are all students at Tauranga's The Hair Academy. They are Hansel Fielding, Lavetia Manga, Brett Griffin, Marina Cameron and Rachael Poe.
The programme begins on Monday and Mr Harris said he was open-minded about the possibilities.
"If they all do really well we could end up taking them on as stylists here. We also have some contacts with some big names in hairdressing in London, so there are some exciting possibilities. We're not closing the door on anything."
Mr Harris, who was born in Coventry and owned a salon in London's Notting Hill for seven years, said his passion for the venture stemmed from his own upbringing.
"This goes back many years. My mum came from Jamaica, she was a single mum with seven kids, so it was really tough.
"But I've had this incredible luck my whole life, where people have given me some amazing opportunities, opened doors and allowed me to do some really cool stuff. I've always felt incredibly fortunate.
"I asked some of these people why they helped me out like they did. They said it had happened to them, so make sure and give back when I got the chance. So I've done that and want to keep doing that."
Mr Harris moved to New Zealand 10 years ago and opened his first Tauranga salon in the Goddards Centre three years later.
He said seeing the students succeed would bring enormous satisfaction.
"Knowing how much I respect the people who have done things for me, if someone could feel that same way about me it would be fantastic."
Five reap benefits of paying it forward
From: Gate Pa.
Story: I lived among violence and struggled throughout my childhood. I took it hard when my mum and dad split.
Chose hairdressing because: I got my hair braided when I was 12 and I've loved it ever since. I found hairdressing to be the other half of me.
Hairdressing since: 2012. This is my second year.
Thoughts on opportunity offered by Clifford Lamar: It feels like I can't fully breathe. I'm in shock.
Hopes/expectations from it: Realising my full potential.
Future ambitions: To love what I do.
Story: I had a baby at the age of 14. I tried to finish school but that didn't work, so I chose hairdressing. It is something I love to do and the course times were suitable for me, especially with a child.
Chose hairdressing because: I like meeting new people and with hairdressing you meet a lot of different people and get to help them feel better about themselves.
Hairdressing since: About two years.
Thoughts on opportunity offered by Clifford Lamar: I think it is a good opportunity.
Hopes/expectations from it: Gain more skills and have a clearer understanding of the hairdressing industry.
Future ambitions: Get a good job.
Story: I dropped out of school and just existed. I haven't had a real zest for life in a long time but have a zest for making people happy.
Chose hairdressing because: It more or less chose me.
Hairdressing since: Eight months.
Thoughts on opportunity offered by Clifford Lamar: Mind blowing.
Hopes/expectations from it: Working under Clifford is massive in itself.
Future ambitions: To travel.
From: Avenues, Tauranga.
Story: Spent a lot of time looking after my mother.
Chose hairdressing because: I love having the opportunity of making people feel and look good about themselves.
Hairdressing since: I started this course. I am still in my first year.
Thoughts on opportunity offered by Clifford Lamar: I'm kind of stunned, don't really know what to say.
Hopes/expectations from it: To gain some new experiences.
Future ambitions: I would like to start up a salon in Australia with family.
From: Tauranga Central.
Story: I'm transgendered. Growing up I was always mistaken for a girl which was embarrassing because I knew I was a boy. When I started college I was bullied and became a victim of verbal and mental abuse. I now reside in Tauranga, studying at the Hair Academy. I am creative, I have a passion for hair and all things beautiful. I'm looking forward to my future.
Chose hairdressing because: I have a passion for hair and creativity.
Hairdressing since: Am in my first year of studying hairdressing.
Thoughts on opportunity offered by Clifford Lamar: The pressure is on but the payback is big and will be life changing.
Hopes/expectations from it: A knowledge of the industry.
Future ambitions: Qualified hairdresser (senior stylist).