The Career of a Lifetime

Even as a teenager, Miguel knew he wanted a career in high fashion. He was enamored of the glitzy, glamorous world of Paris and Milan with fashion models strutting in fabulous creations by big names in fashion. Miguel knew he wanted to create fantastic designs with his hands and decided he would be a hairstylist with a big name.

Hair styling was not his first foray into the world of work, having launched his professional life as a realtor–a short-lived career because of a car accident that put him in hospital and rehabilitation for over a year. Even if he wanted to return to real estate, where had been a star performer and had earned money beyond his wildest dreams, there was no market to return to. The Canadian real estate market was at a downturn, with houses Miguel had sold for millions being abandoned by their owners who could no longer afford the mortgages on properties that were worth less than half they had purchased them for.

His second career was a practical choice, encouraged by his father who was working as a psychiatric nurse in Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, and who had promised to get Miguel a job there as a student, so Miguel agreed to try nursing. He returned to school to finish 12th grade and was accepted into the nursing program, but he completed only two and a half years. A broken arm prevented him from meeting the physical requirements for his placements, so he continued working at the hospital as a student until he was laid off due to cutbacks as a result of a long strike.

That gave him the opportunity to re-invent himself yet again, and this time, Miguel turned to his first dream, hairstyling. He sold his car, purchased with some of his real estate earnings, and used the money to pay for his tuition at Art & Technique Academy of Hairstyling and Esthetics.

At the academy, Miguel found himself truly happy for the first time since he started working. He did his very best and worked hard to excel. To support himself, he took on a job as a shampoo boy at a posh Oshawa salon. During downtime, he found himself the salon gofer, fetching lunch, laundry, and more. He did all sorts of odd jobs from raking leaves in the back yard to cleaning baseboards and hanging up coats and fetching coffee. Miguel was greatly discouraged and nearly quit, but his adviser at the academy told him to keep it up and learn what he could because he was working in a really upscale place and he should stick it out, because that could ensure him a job as soon as he graduated.

To find more inspiration, Miguel researched and looked up well-known hairstylists in upscale salons in Toronto and Paris. He would call them until he was given a phone interview and he would ask about little things, such as how they got started in the business and what inspired them. A phone call and quick visit to Toronto found him a part time position in a Toronto salon. Miguel then commuted from Oshawa to Toronto after school for work and stuck it out, even if he was spending more on his fares than he was earning.

In 1997, Miguel finally completed hairstyling and, armed with his diploma, marched out of school determined to find work as an apprentice in a salon. He did not know where he would start, only that he would, and that he would continue moving ahead towards bigger and better things. Little did he know that he was stepping out into an exciting world that very same day.

Miguel’s diploma, awarded on the 5th of September 1997

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