“We’re local to Nelson. Our families are local to Nelson. Our learning is local to Nelson,” says Simon.
Selkirk College Hairstylist Program offered Simon and Devine a chance to build on a dream right in their own community. It’s a foundation that’s taken them far without leaving home.
Lōkel Hair Studio owners and stylists Michelle Devine and Ashley Simon stayed connected to their roots turning their local education at Selkirk College into a successful career in their home community of Nelson.
Michelle Devine graduated from LV Rogers Secondary in 2002. Working in the salon industry was a family practice she resisted at first.
“I tried all the desk jobs after high school and was complaining to my grandma over dinner one night that I hated it so much. My grandma said Michelle go to hair school. It’s in your blood,” she said.
“I instantly loved it,” says Devine. “My instructors spent a lot of extra time with me, pushing me to go further. They supported me going into competitions. That was really special and got me far in this industry right off the bat.”
After graduation in 2005, Devine managed a large and busy salon in Calgary, Alberta. Along with learning more about how to run a business, she also realized that she wanted to have a smaller and more intimate salon of her own back at home in Nelson.
She met Simon while they worked together at a Nelson salon and they instantly connected.
“I was always that type to be braiding my girlfriend’s hair or putting box colour on in the bathroom or cutting someone’s’ bangs. I always loved it,” says Simon.
She also graduated from LV Rogers, in 2004, and moved to Torino, Italy always knowing “I would come back and take the program at Selkirk College” despite having the opportunity to study hair abroad. Her family lived just blocks away from the Silver King Campus in Rosemont and the lure of home brought her back to Nelson.
As a high school student, Simon did okay but the hairstylist graduated at the top of her 2008 class at Selkirk College earning scholarships and bursaries along the way.
“It was just something I was so passionate about. At Selkirk College, I wanted to go to school every day which is not like me. You can ask anyone,” she laughs.
The program wasn’t easy, Simon says. It challenges students, especially those proving they want to be a cut above the rest, and provides a good balance of theory and hands-on learning.
“The practicums are hugely important. You learn a lot in the salon,” says Devine. “Beyond the school work, this is where we practice how to interact with clients, deal with problems, and interact with other stylists… All these things make a well-rounded professional.”
Simon and Devine turned their dream into a reality with Lōkel Hair Studio. Community Futures helped them develop their business plan and the intimate six-chair salon was open in November 2013 sporting the curious name using the phonetic spelling of local, a tribute to their roots that continue to grow deep in the Nelson community.
“Both of us have lived other places and were drawn back,” says Simon. Adds Devine, “I wanted to raise a family here. I loved being raised here and Nelson is great. There is nothing not to love about Nelson.”
The space is industrial, yet warm, bright and inviting reflecting a style of the owners – classic with a “little rock and roll.”
Both women have young children at home and with a strong sense of trust in their partnership and hairstylist team, each is able to strike that perfect work-life balance.
“The ultimate goal is to be able to take the time off you need, and know that your business is okay and your clients are happy,” says Devine.
Lōkel Hair Studio is filled with fun and conversation as clients and stylists connect feeling comfortable and inspired.
Devine and Simon are delighted with where they’re at in their careers. Their salon is fully booked with clients they love. It’s a local Lōkel success story with roots at Selkirk College.