Sophie Coupe is a Level 2 hairdressing apprentice working at B Hairdressing and studying at Bath College. She has been working at the new salon in Widcombe for four months.
What’s the best thing about your apprenticeship?
My boss is part of a group of people working for Paul Mitchell, they go round different companies leading demonstrations and doing shows.
It’s great because she’s able to pass all of this down to me. I’m learning different styles and I’m practicing blow drys on regular customers. I work at the reception desk and answer phone calls, as well as booking appointments and taking payments.
At the moment we’re a small team, we’re looking for other stylists but because there’s only three of us we do everything together. It’s great to see the business growing, we have targets to grow how much we’re earning and you can see those going up – it’s nice to see that I have contributed and that I’m helping my boss.
Can you tell us a bit about why you chose a hairdressing apprenticeship?
I’m glad I chose an apprenticeship because it’s hands-on. For my GCSEs, I did well in the creative subjects but I had to work hard to achieve academically.
I have loved hairdressing ever since I was young, I like making people feel a million dollars. It’s a really good trade, you can work as a hairdresser at home, you can set up as a mobile hairdresser or you can do haircuts for your family.
When you’re in a hairdressing environment, you don’t get a lot of free time but it’s nice because your clients become your friends – they talk to you as a friend and you have a real relationship with them.
Do you enjoy your time studying at Bath College?
I looked at studying here and Trowbridge and as soon as I came here I feel in love with it. I thought I would do the full-time course and work on my days off, but then I found out about the apprenticeships and I thought it would suit me better. You still get a qualification, you get an NVQ, but it’s a different route.
It’s nice coming into college because I can talk to my tutor about things and if I want to try something new she helps me. If she knows it’s not going to work, she can tell me why and it’s good to see what other apprentices are doing.
Do you feel you’ve improved since you started your apprenticeship?
When I first started it was really nerve wracking because you’re stood there thinking ‘this is an actual client’. You learn things at work you don’t learn in college. When you’re at work and the phone rings, and your boss is busy, you have to take it into your own hands. You’re put under a bit of pressure and there were times I stumbled on the phone, but now I just pick it up.
It’s tough but it’s having the right attitude. You have to work the hours, but then you’re earning money at the same time. No matter how hard it is, you know that something good will come of it. I thrive on the fact that I am constantly improving.
Do you have any advice for someone considering an apprenticeship?
You have to work at it and you have to learn from experience. When you see a problem, look at how people handle the situation. Work your way up and make sure people get to know you so you make a good name for yourself. It’s important to have a good reputation with clients.
Any work experience you can get helps. I have worked in quite a few salons and I can see how I’ve improved. I started off as a Saturday girl earning £25 an hour and now I’m in Bath with access to the best hairdressing training I can get.