The cosmetology program creates a safe innovative place for students to learn about the beauty industry

The Cosmetology coursework ends up being interactive with advanced students educating other students on skills. Barbers not only learn to cut and style mens hair but also women’s, in order to be prepared for any client that may walk through their door. Taylor Crane l Lariat

The study of soft skills, the conscious production of imagination and the ability to sell yourself as an artist are all attributes taught within the Cosmetology program offered through Saddleback College. Saddleback contracted with both Saddleback Beauty Academy and San Ana Beauty Academy as private schools with their students on contract. 

With high transfer rates into the program as well as a high retention rate the beauty academies are overflowing with students. Hopes of being able to branch out into new buildings and in pursuit of incorporating a new instructor program will surely enrich this program even more than it already is according to Laura Pope, cosmetology program coordinator. 

Ranking sixth place on an article of the best cosmetology programs in California from 2023-24 generated by the organization “Best Value Schools” that said, “The school points to the fact that with the growing population of South Orange County the area is a particularly good area for cosmetologists to pursue their career.”

Even through the bumps within the state board such as the change from the sixteen hundred hour program to now a thousand hour program the instructors including Pope who aided in the rewrite of the coursework for both academies. 

“Now you can come through the program and finish within seven months and have your cosmetology license which is way quicker than it used to be which was a year,” Pope said. Within the first few weeks the practical work of hands-on practice for freshman’s has consisted of basic hair cuts, highlights, perms, hair dye and few are already taking clients for basic work.

Not only is there practical work but also theoretical work consisting of scientific fundamentals like chemistry, anatomy and physiology. As students preferred textbooks were digitized for studying purposes and for the administered weekly tests. Now with the program accelerated the board of staff at both academies were able to set up flexible training schedules including two part-time schedules as well as a full-time option. 

“I know a lot of students need to go to work. They have a family or right now it’s non-credit so if they stay with the college they might have to choose other courses or programs to get their degree,” Kayla Takano said, program director of SBA. For these reasons and many more is what brought Takano to want to pursue free tuition for her students. This act has flooded the academy with a whole bunch of new diverse students ranging from their ages, backgrounds, goals and work ethics. 

“It’s a passion,” Takano says. In making sure her students feel they have a supportive environment cultivated by their instructors. The free tuition has brought in so many new talented students that may never have made the cross over into beauty. Not only are transfers from Saddleback increasing but also in contracts with transfer students from other beauty schools. 

“Even with non-tuitions we still treat them the same because we are privately owned beauty college. It doesn’t matter if you pay me a lot of money or no tuition,” Takano said, “I am constantly here to listen and to be there. To be their sister, mother you name it I’m here for anything.” 

Not only are there younger students but also with the changes in society especially within the corporate world the beauty academy has started to see more adults pursuing a second chance at a career. 

“Might see the students freshly done with high school who have no direction or don’t know what they want to do. Sometimes different types of professionals with bachelors or masters degrees who couldn’t have successful careers,” Takano said. 

This change has transformed the Cosmetology program at Saddleback, “From six students into now almost two hundred students it’s not easy but we’ve been through a lot together,” Takano says. 

The faculty assigned to Cosmetology are all incredibly inspiring and even more successful with all of their goals and passions lying within the realm of teaching and expressing their advanced knowledge. The program coordinator Pope started her career in cosmetology at the young age of 17-years-old.

Inspired by her entrepreneur aunt Pope opened her own two Riverside salons: Scissor Kicks Hair & Nail Salon as well as Scissor Kicks Too. Owning her own salon made Pope realize teaching was her real passion which led her into Riverside City College, instructor training program.

Pope has been an educator for 25 years where she teaches at Riverside City College as well as oversees the Saddleback academies SBA and SABA. Pope works alongside her colleague Takano who strictly owns and directs for SBA. Takano was encouraged by her husband and father-in-law’s successful salon in Vietnam and strives to bring the same values to her academy here in the states. 

Takano not only has beauty experience but she’s devoted a good period of her life to the entertainment industry of TV shows and stage life. She understands the variety of opportunities that beauty certifications can have for an individual and reminds her students of it daily.

Similar to her colleague Asmi Hussain who instructs at SABA also owns her own businesses consisting of a mobile beauty team who does backstage makeup, weddings and pageants as well as her own salon titled Episkinz. 

Hussain, who from a young age always loved makeup and struggled with acne, devoted her passion into receiving her cosmetology license in three different countries: Europe, the Middle East and California in the United States.

In Hussain’s classes theory work is still incredibly important but attempts to intertwine hands-on work so that when students go into the workforce they have an experienced resume that started from day one of classes.

“It’s not only the word of mouth but also the social media people see my work and that brings me more and more transfers and successful students,” Hussain said. Her devotion to her studies is truly amazing as she makes her students be prepared for the real world of cosmetology. Hussain has even hired some of her own previous students to work at her salon out of trust and love for their artistry. 

The cosmetology program is a safe community for all different types of students to figure out where they want to go in life. Whether it’s through practical work like becoming a hairdresser, salon owner, esthetician, barber or manicurist but then there is also the whole other side of beauty within the entertainment industry, product marketing and creating new technology and innovations. 

The possibilities never end in the beauty industry which is why Takano says, “This industry will never die.”