NorthTec hairdressing graduate Diane Crocker has managed to open her own salon in Whangarei - just months after completing her two-year hairdressing programme.
After years of working working in retail and as a teacher aide, Ms Crocker decided to ditch it all, head back to school to fulfil a dream.
"Hairdressing was always my dream. On leaving school at 16 I had an apprenticeship organised, but it fell through when the salon owner moved and I went into retail, got married and had two children.
"At the age of 41 I decided it was time to follow my dreams" she said.
She had enjoyed working with special needs children but said she had a feeling that was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her working life.
Ms Crocker gained the Certificate in Hairdressing (level 3), the equivalent of a first-year industry apprenticeship, then went on to complete the Certificate in Hairdressing (Practice), another level 3 qualification which is equivalent to the second and final year of an apprenticeship in a salon.
After graduating, she worked in a salon, but still that was not enough for her.
In May, she opened Classic Hair Design on Maunu Rd and works with former NorthTec student and beautician Carleen Still.
The hairdresser is also under taking training in small business ownership and ongoing professional development to keep her hairdressing skills sharp.
"It was exciting when I made the big decision to study, but it was scary when I got a few weeks in and thought, my gosh what have I done?" she added.
"At NorthTec I was known as camp mother to the younger girls, and everyone said I should be running my own place. In the end I just decided to go for it."
Her new business has been a hairdressing salon ever since it was built in the 1960s.