A Tauranga hair salon is launching an academy for struggling stylists after being inspired by the efforts of five disadvantaged students.
The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend last month revealed how the Clifford Lamar Hair Salon was offering five students from underprivileged backgrounds six weeks' free training. A two-week stint on the floor of the Wharf St salon colouring and cutting would then follow, with any money earned being put towards a trip to a top salon to learn the techniques of leading professionals.
The project had been inspired by those such as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Foundation.
However, husband-and-wife team Clifford and Anna Harris have been so impressed with the students' dedication they will now take their charitable endeavours a step further and launch their own academy.
"I have been blown away with how much they have sucked the information up like sponges, and the whole project has probably inspired us more than them," said Mr Harris.
"I expected six weeks of dragging uninterested people through tar and have got the exact opposite. We have decided, as a result of the project, that we will be launching the Clifford Lamar Graduates Academy. We will take third year students who have been unable to get work and need their third year to gain their qualifications, train them for a year - allowing them to get their qualifications - and at the same time expose them to high quality hairdressing.
"At the end of their third year if we cannot offer them employment in our company, then their prospects of being employed will still be so much higher."
Mr Harris said it was hoped four out-of-work hairdressers would start at the academy within the month. From the turn of the year, and annually thereafter, Mr Harris would look to take on a further 10 students.
"We're taking baby steps for a start. We would target those who are out of work and on a benefit to begin with, get them going first."
Those coming out of hairdressing courses at Tauranga establishments such as The Hairdressing Academy, Hair to Train and the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic would likely form the majority of academy applicants, said Mr Harris.
Meanwhile, the five students engaged in the original project - Lavetia Manga, Rachael Poe, Brett Griffin, Hansel Fielding and Marina Cameron - finish their six-week training period this week. They will begin their fortnight of cutting and colouring experience from June 10.
A tally of proceeds will then determine the destination of their salon trip.