Heather McMurtrie knew she wanted to be a hairdresser from a young age. After completing her apprenticeship through TAFE Queensland, she worked in the industry for 10 years before opening her own salon in Paddington called Little Hair Nest. She now sends her own apprentices to TAFE Queensland to get the same practical, industry-relevant training that laid the foundations for her career.
"I got into hairdressing when I was quite young — I was just 15 — but I knew from that age that I really wanted to be in the industry. I feel like hairdressing is a real expression of creativity and I also really love working with people. It's really important for me to be able to communicate with people every day so for me, hairdressing was just a no-brainer," Heather said.
Heather didn't waste any time in getting qualified, deciding to start her apprenticeship while she was still in high school.
"TAFE Queensland and my apprenticeship fit in really well with my lifestyle. It meant that I could still attend school full time and finish Year 12, as well as having a job at the salon I was doing my apprenticeship through, and I got to start my adventure in hairdressing," she said.
Now that she runs her own salon, Heather is busier than ever and constantly adding more skills to her repertoire.
"An average day for me is fairly mixed. I'm full time on the floor with clients as well as training the three apprentices that I have, which is loads of fun. It's wearing all hats. It's being the accountant, HR, PR, and just being a great hairdresser," she said.
While it's a role that keeps her on her toes — both literally and figuratively — Heather wouldn't have it any other way.
"The best thing about being my own boss is the decisions that I get to make every day. The buck always stops with me, but that's something that I've actually really enjoyed. Being able to grow a business from scratch has been really rewarding for me," she said.
Heather still looks back on her time at TAFE Queensland fondly and credits her qualification for setting her up with the skills she needed to succeed in the industry.
"I use the skills that I learnt in my Certificate III in Hairdressing with TAFE Queensland every day. It's the building block for hairdressing — it's the foundations of what you use with every single hair cut and colour," she said.
It's this practical approach to learning that motivated Heather to send her own apprentices to train at TAFE Queensland.
"I chose to send my apprentices to TAFE Queensland because it offers excellent support and flexibility. We're able to do most of our training in the salon, so if I'm wanting to train the girls in a specific area the teachers are very supportive with that choice," she said.
It's also important for both Heather and her apprentices that they complete their training in a supportive learning environment.
"TAFE Queensland for me is set apart because it's always been a really warm learning environment. The girls feel really comfortable with their teachers and the teachers are super supportive," she said.
While Heather's already achieved so much in her career she's not planning on stopping any time soon. She still has big plans for the future — for both her and her budding apprentices.
"In five to 10 years' time I see the business growing — particularly with all of the girls who have done their training here. I'm really excited about the future, about the team taking on more roles within the salon, and watching them blossom into wonderful hair stylists," she said.
It's safe to assume that Heather's hard work, determination, and passion for the industry has got her to where she is today. But Heather can't say enough about how her training at TAFE Queensland helped set her up for success.
"Studying with TAFE Queensland presented me with opportunities I didn't expect that I would ever get. I never thought that I would own my own business, I never thought that I would have my own salon or train my own apprentices. So it's really exciting to be able to do that and to see my career progress."