ON CAMPUS: Polishing the careers of Loyalist grads

When clients walk through the door of Belleville’s Polish Salon & Spa, Ashley Hunter wants them to feel comfortable and relaxed, and to trust they’re in good hands.

As Polish’s general manager, Hunter oversees the daily operations of the company. From working at the front desk and creating relationships with guests to hiring staff and ordering top-of-the-line products such as Dermalogica, she creates an environment which is true to the Polish experience.

“I want our customers to feel confident that we will give them exactly what they’re looking for,” said Hunter, a 2008 graduate of Loyalist College’s Esthetics & Spa Management program. “Whether it is a body treatment or a hair style, we want our guests feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and feeling beautiful on the inside and out.”

Polish has been operating in the Bay of Quinte region for nearly a decade and has fostered a close relationship with many of its clientele. Among the staff and returning customers, it’s a family-like atmosphere where everyone knows everyone well.
Hunter’s career began when she was a student at Loyalist. In the first year of her studies, she completed a placement at The Cat’s Meow Salon and Spa in downtown Belleville that led to employment.

“I started doing the basic services that I learned in my first year at Loyalist, such as manicures and pedicures,” she said. “As I became proficient in new skills during my second year, I was able to transfer them to my position at The Cat’s Meow.”

The placement component of Loyalist’s Esthetics & Spa Management program provides students with the opportunity to experience various elements of the industry and learn the type of environment in which they’d like to work, be it small salons or large spas.

“We accept placement students at Polish and, depending on how well their placement goes, we may offer them a position,” said Hunter. “We currently have a first-year student from Loyalist to whom we offered a job. She will be working here while she completes her studies.”

One of the many pleasures Hunter receives from being a general manager is watching her team refine their expertise.

“I get to see the service providers develop their skills,” she said. “It’s rewarding to watch them grow over time and build their clientele.”

Faculty witness a similar transition in their students as they branch out from the college and stay connected throughout the course of their careers. Belleville’s esthetics and spa community is tightly knit and dedicated to ensuring people look and feel their best.

“The faculty at Loyalist were amazing,” said Hunter. “I still keep in touch with many of them. They were really helpful and guided me to get to where I am today. They had great industry knowledge and experience and I always felt confident with the things they taught and instilled in us on a day-to-day basis. As a student, I definitely felt that they cared about my education and wanted to see me succeed.”

To learn more about Loyalist’s Esthetics & Spa Management program, visit loyalistcollege.com.