When she was 7, Melissa Victor would accompany her grandmother to the salon and watch clients get their hair done.
“I was inspired watching the transformations that occurred from when the clients walked in to the time they left. Sometimes I was just amazed by what I saw!” she said. “As I grew up, I became more and more intrigued by the creativity I would see in the salons and on television. By the age of 14, I realized that I wanted to help others improve their self-confidence and be a part of this amazing profession.”
Victor began taking classes at a cosmetology school at the age of 16. After high school, she attended an advanced training course at Vidal Sassoon in Santa Monica, Calif., for three months, inspired to learn precision cutting techniques from the best in the industry. While there, she was recruited by the company to take part in its advanced cutting program, and she worked for Vidal Sassoon at Water Tower Place in Chicago for four years.
During this time, Victor provided hair services for various photo shoots, fashion shows and films throughout the Chicago area. She also traveled to Los Angeles and Las Vegas to do hair for events such as The People’s Choice Awards and for backup musicians performing with such talent as The Eagles, Alanis Morsette and Black Sabbath.
Deciding to apply her knowledge, Victor participated in the student teaching program at the Technology Center of DuPage where, after becoming licensed to teach, she spent 14 years. In addition, she coached cosmetology students in Skills USA state and national competitions for eight years and, to stay current with upcoming trends, worked part-time for an Aveda salon.
Victor left the salon to spend more time with her three children and to volunteer by providing haircutting for the PADS program. She now teaches part-time in the Cosmetology program at College of DuPage.
“I decided to go into the field of teaching while I was in the apprenticeship program at Vidal Sassoon. Some of the teachers in the program were wonderful, while others didn’t have the patience for it. And I, along with other apprentices, would get frustrated from time to time,” she said. “When the opportunity at the Technology Center of DuPage presented itself, I decided to go for it and ended up falling in love with inspiring students in the field.
“Out of all my experience in cosmetology, I have found that teaching it has been the most rewarding as we are shaping the new generation of cosmetologists for the future of our industry.”
She hopes students learn the many different avenues to pursue as a career and how to keep it creative and fun. She also believes it is important to give back to the community.
“We are in this profession to help people’s confidence levels and make lasting impressions on others,” she said. “Vidal Sassoon himself has always inspired me to work hard, be creative and never stop learning. I am inspired by trends of various designers all around the world and by fashion. Inspiration also comes from the passion and creativity within oneself.”