Student of the Month: Kylie Lebedeff

My name is Kylie Lebedeff, I am 22 years old. Hair school was not my first post-secondary institution I attended. Straight out of high school I attended university pursuing a degree in education. After 3 years I decided that education wasn’t for me. After talking to different schools and universities I decided Delmar College is where I wanted to be.

Working on styling in class

I started my education at Delmar in August 2016, and have loved each day. There is never a dull moment at school; each day is filled with new theory and practical. Even when we are practicing finger waves and perms all day long, I never feel that I am not enjoying my day at Delmar.

I really love this style I created

Getting better at the things I struggle with is all part of growing as a stylist. Cutting has so far been my favourite part of school. Andrew is a great instructor and has always pushed me to do my best and beat my goals.

Accepting my Student of the Month prize

Now that I have found the career path I feel most confident in I am thriving. My grades are the best they have been, my passion is growing every day and I love coming to school. I am confident this is where I should be and I cannot wait to grow further.



Kylie is our December Student of the Month. She was nominated by her instructors because of her contagious positivity and her reliability. She is truly a Delmar ambassador!

no gimmicks. just great education


November at Delmar: a Recap

We started November on a high note and welcomed our November Nail Technician class on the first of the month.


We hosted another graduation ceremony and reception on November 2. Congratulations to all of our graduates in attendance, and thank you to guest speakers Lina Chammoury of Edges Salon & Spa, and Lisa Coombs of Joico.


The $100 Gift Card for $50 Sale launched again!


Student of the Month, Jamie Osaka, was featured in our last blog post (click here to read it), and she won an awesome prize for, well, being awesome! She is our first ever school-wide student of the month recipient. How do you get this title? Simple. Just be a Delmar ambassador and your instructors could nominate you. From all those nominations, one name will be chosen per month.

Some of our students and staff spent a Sunday getting creative with some amazing presentations and demonstrations at the Grey Eagle Casino for the IBS Beauty Roundup.


Delmar College was happy to welcome our newest Professional Esthetics class in November!


Congratulations to our March Hair Design class on their graduation! We wish you all the success in the world.


We extended another huge Delmar welcome to our new November Hair Design class! They are doing some amazing things, and we cannot wait to feature some of their work.


We caught up with Delmar alumni, Morgan McLaren. She took over our blog and shared a piece with us about what inspired her to become a hair stylist. (Click here to read it)


MAKE UP FOR EVER stopped in and held an amazing class with our Esthetics and Makeup students. A huge thank you to Pro Business Manager Jacqie for coming in and sharing so much with us. All of our Makeup students receive an amazing kit from MAKE UP FOR EVER’s Pro line, and we are proud to be partnered with them.


Our Esthetics department held another Industry Scavenger Hunt day. Our esthetics students are paired up into teams and sent out into Calgary to complete some beauty industry related tasks. They win some pretty cool prizes, but more importantly, they get to meet people in the industry.


Congratulations to first period Apprenticeship grads! We look forward to seeing you all in second period.


We held another highly successful Eyelash Extension course. Here is one of our recent students Sarah, working on her lashing skills. For those who are interested, we will have another class running in January.


What an amazing month we had! Thank you to everyone who made it so. December brings the holidays, and all the cheer that goes with it. We can’t wait to showcase all the glitz and glam that will happen around the college! December also brings a giving spirit, and all of us at Delmar would like to embrace that and help our fellow Calgarians during what can be a hard time for so many. For the month of December we will be collecting nonperishable food items for the Calgary Food Bank. If you bring in a minimum of three of those items to your next appointment in December, you will receive 20% off your services that day.




no gimmicks. just great education

Hair + Creativity by Morgan McLaren


My outlook on hair is that it is another form of creative expression. Being someone who went to art school before hair school I can’t help but see the similarities. To me the transition has been just as fulfilling because I still get to use my creative skills every day.


When you look at hair, art, and design there are a lot of parallels. In hair we have to use our imagination and creative problem-solving  in order to create the desired look for clients. In art, a blank canvas is an opportunity and every client comes to us with their canvas (their hair). This is when creative problem-solving truly comes into play because you were working on a canvas that other artists before you have worked on.


Initially, we study the shape of our clients hair and work with that shape to create the most desirable form for their facial features. Then comes colour, where we have to work with their natural colouring as well as their artificial colouring to create our vision. To me colour is a lot like painting, our formulations are a mix of the primary colours just like when you paint. All this while figuring out the most flattering tones and which colours truly work best together. Popular today is the balayage technique, this free hand painting on your clients hair makes you truly feel like an artist. Each technique we learn can be expressed uniquely creating our own touch!


When it comes to styling, it really reminds me of sculpture work.  You are creating a desired texture with product to best showcase your form and colour. Also popular today is hair tattooing, which is like drawing into your clients’ hair. It’s so much fun doing that kind of work because you are challenged drawing on an uneven surface!

In regards to inspiration, like art and design, it is better to pull it from unlikely places. In hair, if you’re always looking at hair photos you are not pulling from abstract inspiration. I believe true creativity in hair comes from other places. You may be inspired by colour in nature, art, your daily life, food, and an infinite amount of other places. I think the combination of creativity and technical skill in hair makes it so fulfilling.


Like art, sometimes you get an artist’s block in hair. You may go through times where you feel uninspired. I think that is why education is so important. It challenges you to keep learning and expand your abilities. I am always left full of inspiration and fully motivated after a class.


Hairstylists use their creativity to create a look for their clients that suits their personality and lifestyle. Like design, you have certain parameters you have to work within and I think the hardest thing is controlling your creativity.




Morgan McLaren is a recent graduate of Delmar College. She is currently apprenticing at Karma Salon in Calgary, AB. You can call 403-282-2485 to book your hair service with her. You can also check her out on Instagram @morganm_hair

no gimmicks. just great education

*All images are used courtesy of Morgan McLaren*

Makeup Artistry by Erin Halisky

I think of makeup as an art and I have always been a fan. I started drawing, colouring, painting, sculpting on anything I could get my hands on ever since I was two. My mum became a Mary Kay lady when I was a teenager and that’s when I discovered makeup. It was a daily art for me. I was always that crazy kid in school experimenting and trying new things. I used to get made fun of all the time for wearing fake eyelashes!


Onsite working with a beautiful bride for hair and makeup


After high school I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. Job after job, nothing had interested me. I ended up getting my first cosmetic job at a little drug store and I absolutely loved it. Getting to go to updates and schools of each brand to see the latest trends in skincare and the makeup world kept me intrigued.


I worked my way into a management position at a larger boutique store, and at a young age had a big responsibility. I loved it. And I loved everything about the beauty business, so that is when I decided to make it a career.


I packed up all my things and moved to Vancouver to attend John Casablanca’s full time makeup artistry program. Best and funnest thing in my life I had ever done.


In my mind makeup could only go so far from what I knew, and then what I was learning; from glamour to airbrushing to special effects, the possibilities were now endless.




I moved back to Calgary a year later and worked full time at MAC for a few years before I got onto my teaching path. I never ever thought of myself being a teacher, but I love it so much.

Here I am with my most recent Advanced Makeup class

To be able to share my creativity, talent and skills with others who have the same interest, and to be able to help them grow as an artist, it’s so rewarding!


My favorite makeup looks to do are everything! But my most favorite thing to do is anything with airbrushing and special effects because there is sooo much to do. And prosthetics are super cool.



You can cover tattoos, do car decals, actual paintings, body paintings,sculptures and monsters! Anything can be your canvas.

Before tattoo coverage
After tattoo coverage

Halloween has always been my favorite time of year. It’s a time to get crazy and creative! Transforming anyone into the imaginative! One of my fave pages on Instagram is Prorenfx. How they transformed Heidi Klum into Jessica Rabbit last year for Halloween was unreal!

Halloween makeup by me

There are a ton of makeup artist that inspire me but my #1 has always been my past manager and now good friend from MAC, Noelle Dow. She taught me everything from techniques to application and even communicating to customers, clients and now students! I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without her.



Erin Halisky is a Makeup Artist and licensed Hair Stylist. She teaches all of our makeup programs here at Delmar College, as well as teaches in our Hair department. Stay tuned for more posts from Erin, as she will be a regular contributor talking about all things makeup!

no gimmicks. just great education


September at Delmar: a Recap

September is synonymous with back to school, fall leaves, and that faint hint of pumpkin spice lingering everywhere you go.

We welcomed lots of new classes this September, and said goodbye to some amazing graduates too.

Congratulations to our May Clinical Esthetics grads. All the best to Ashley, Ryley, Jessica, Julia, Chelsey, and Ezel. We wish you nothing but success!


Congratulations to our November Hair Design grads. Lauren, Morgan, Melissa, Kat, Dakota, Kayley, Nicole, Stephanie, Delaynie, Lyndsey, Ashleigh, and Ashley, we wish you all the success in the world.


Welcome to our new September Hair Design students…


September Nail Technology students…


…September Clinical Esthetics students…


…and our September Hair Styling Pre-Employment students!


We started our very first Advanced Make Up 102 class, and we’ve been following them on their journey with us.

Our September Lash Extension class started too!


We gave away a huge make up haul and a $500 scholarship to our final #gotodelmar contest winners.

Shared more of our student’s work that they put on social media. (Don’t forget to use #delmarlifeYYC on your posts so we can share your stuff)

And we featured more work from our last student photo shoot. Thank you all for all of your hard work and creativity, and a huge thank you to Brandon at Analog Dog Creative for some amazing images.

Esthetics student Lindsey W. wrote a blog for us (click here to see it)…


…and so did Hair Design instructor Brittany (click here to see it)


We made a really exciting announcement in our Esthetics department, and blogged about it too (click here to see it). Delmar now offers our full Professional Esthetics program in an evening and weekend format.


AND as an introductory offer we are including our Laser/IPL Technician program in our October 2016 Esthetics class ON US.


Our April and June Esthetics classes came together and took part in a fun team challenge. This team challenge had the theme of Diva on a Dollar. They were broken into a few different teams, were then given a sealed box full of clothing and jewelry, and had to create a full look that included make up, nails, and some basic hair styling based on the items they received. It was so much fun! Congrats to our winners, Brenda, Nicole, Taya, and Cheyanne!


What an awesome month it was! We can’t wait to see what October brings…


Audrey Brown

no gimmicks. just great education



August at Delmar: a Recap

August was another busy month here at Delmar. Lets see what we got up to…

We launched our #gotodelmar contest in August, and have given away some great prizes.

We still have one more to give away this Saturday, a scholarship of $500. Head to our Instagram page to find out how to enter.


We love giving stuff away, so stay tuned for more contests to come!

Our October 2015 Professional Hair Styling class had their final photo shoot with Brandon from Analog Dog Creative

By Hair Styling student Jessica
By Hair Styling student Sadia
By Hair Styling student Shazia
By Hair Styling student Sara
By Hair Styling student Mariah
By Hair Styling student Sisko

…and they graduated! Congratulations to you all!


We blogged about a bunch of our programs

Clinical Esthetics (click here to read about it)


Nail Technology (click here to read about it)


Hairstyling Pre-Employment (click here to read about it)


We featured some awesome student work

Our Professional Esthetics students completed a workshop on fantasy makeup. Here’s a couple pics of their work:

We made a really exciting class announcement! You can now take our Professional Esthetics program in an evening and weekend format. Contact Linda Villeneuve at 403-264-8055 or by email at for details.


Overall it was another great month here at the college! September means lots of new students, and lots of new student work to post about, so make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

no gimmicks. just great education


July at Delmar: A Recap

July is a wonderful month to be Canadian! We start the month celebrating our country, typically have some pretty nice weather, Stampede happens here in Calgary, and the list goes on and on.


July was also a wonderful month to be here at Delmar College. Why, you ask? Let’s take a look…

Cameron Byrne came all the way from England to visit us and share his passion for hair design. Click here to read more about it.

Jody from Joico came in to educate some of our Hair Design classes on intermediate colour techniques.


We featured some awesome student work on our social media accounts. We love to share these kind of posts with the world because we think our students are amazing!

Another very successful Makeup 101 class was held. Did you know we now offer a Makeup 102 class? Click here for more information.

Speaking of makeup, our Junior Esthetician students got to do some really creative makeup with the very talented Rahel. They definitely enjoyed it.


We also held another very successful Eyelash Extension class. Our lash program is taught over three days. The course covers everything from the basics, to safe removal, and fill maintenance procedures. Click here for more information.


Congratulations to the August 2015 Hair Design class! They graduated with flying colours.


Our October 2015 Hair Design students had their time around the camera. The professional images are to come, but here they are behind the scenes.


Esthetics instructor, Raelyn McKay, guest blogged for us. She shared how she took a leap, went after her passion, and has never regretted it. It is truly never too late to do what you have always dreamed of doing. Click here to read her inspirational story (and see her awesome nail art pics).

Director of Hair Design, Tara Byrne, also took over the blog for a day. She shared her insight into building a business in the beauty industry. It’s not just about being creative, there is a method to making it in this industry. Click here to read about her journey and why she thinks it is so important to start implementing good business practices right now.

The second period Apprenticeship class finished. Good luck to you all and congratulations! Click here for more information on the Apprenticeship Hairstyling program.


Hair Design student, Sadia, was presented with the Retailer of the Month award. She worked hard and earned herself a hair trolley!


We gave out some gift cards to our hair students who qualified to enter our perfect attendance draw for the months of May and June. Congrats to Reylita, Pak Lam, and Benneth.


Up in the esthetics department, congrats to esthetics student Cheyanne who gets to take home a SkinCeuticals product for winning the perfect attendance draw for July.


We are so proud to partner with some amazing product brands. Our students, in all departments, get to work with some exceptional products. In July we featured a couple of those brands on our social media sites. Thank you to Katrine Marso and Natural Concepts for making such fabulous products. Stay tuned for more posts featuring our diverse suppliers.

We hit 1000 followers on Instagram! Without all of you we just couldn’t make our school as awesome as it is. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell the world to FOLLOW US so they can see what we think is some amazing content. Why is it amazing? Because of YOU! Our students, our staff, and our clients. From all of us here at the college, thanks for your love and support!


We have an exciting contest announcement coming in August. So be sure to check out our Instagram for the chance to win some pretty amazing prizes.


From everyone here at Delmar College we wish you a fabulous long weekend. We will see you in August!


Audrey Brown

no gimmicks. just great education



Artist Spotlight: Catching Up With Cameron Byrne

This week we were pleased to have a guest artist and educator in the house. Cameron Byrne hails from London, England. He is a L’Oreal ID Team member, a multiple-time finalist in the L’Oreal Color Trophy, and a member of the RUSH workshop team. And we think, an all round cool guy.

L’Oreal Colour Trophy Grand Final 2015

He shared his knowledge with our Hair Design students and instructors in a workshop format on July 19 and 21. Everyone was really excited for the presentation, and they all felt like they took away something valuable from the experience.

Cameron doing a demo for some of our Hair Design students this week

I, of course, wanted to blog about it. More importantly though, I wanted to get Cameron’s story. So many of our students have the desire to be platform artists and competitors, but get lost in how to get there. He was very obliging and shared his story with me. In his own words, here it is, from beginning to now…

Rush Live 2013

•What inspired me to become a hairdresser-

I think it started in my early teens. I didn’t realise I wanted to be a hairdresser but I was really into fashion and my own hair.

Then my dad married Tara (Director of Hair at your very own Delmar College) and I just was really interested in what she was doing and she steered me in the direction of hairdressing.

She took me to Salon International in London when I was 17/18 and I was hooked! I loved the energy in the room, all the creativity, all the interesting people and I came away desperate to get involved.

L’Oreal Colour Trophy Regionals 2016

•My journey-

 I began training at the Toni & Guy Academy London in their beginners course.

After successfully completing the course I was offered an assistant position at their Mayfair branch.

This was an amazing area to work, but after a few months I felt like I was stagnating because I was qualified, but needed to get experience, so wasn’t training as much. So I moved closer to home in Essex with a company called Uppercut.

Rush Live 2015

There I met an amazing stylist called Red who was into competitions and photo shoots. This whet my appetite for competitions and the creative side of hairdressing.

We both moved to a salon called Spargo, but it was a side step, and while researching for a shoot I came across images from Rush Hairdressing.

Rush Photographic Image Awards – second place winner

I loved their work. Slick, precise, structured and award winning.

Completely different cutting to what I was doing. So I joined them to learn their craft.

I wasn’t retrained, but I put myself on as many courses as I could at their academy and practiced the new techniques whenever I could.

Once my confidence grew I auditioned to be on their workshop team. I failed, but this didn’t dishearten me and I was back the year after.

Hair Club Live

This time was a success, and from then on I was having one on one training with our International Art Directors Andy Heasman, Tina Farey and Chris Williams.

Their knowledge is priceless and these are the hairdressers who have made me who I am today.

I have now been at rush 7 1/2 years and a workshop team member for 5 1/2 years.

“Wasted Youth”, for Design Scene Magazine

• Highlights-

Actually qualifying is amazing in itself, this is a really hard trade to learn so I pat anyone on the back that gets to the shop floor

As I said before, I got into hair competitions quite early so any time I make regionals or grand finals I’m proud.

But the best achievement has to be becoming a L’Oreal ID Artist.

This program has developed me as a presentation hairdresser 100%. It builds your confidence and stage presence. The exposure is huge and you get to work with like minded creatives and absorb their energy and knowledge.

It is a really hard audition with mood boards, model, presentation, research and against the clock skill tests. Only 2 people get on from each region so to be one of them was a huge achievement.

ID Live 2015

• Advice for people wanting to be hairdressers-

It is hard work but there are so many rewards.

You can go down so many avenues. Be a salon owner, educator or session stylist.

Learn your classic’s!!! No one who is amazing at creative work skipped their classic’s. They are our foundation.

Invest in yourself, go on as many courses as you can. Be a sponge, try and vary the type of courses you do so you can find what style you like.

“Serve the client”, make them feel amazing and you will grow your clientele quickly. Keep yourself educated and you will educate your clients correctly.

Enjoy it, it’s the best job in the world!

Cameron with some of our students and staff after his first workshop

From all of us at Delmar College, a huge thank you to Cameron. Enjoy the rest of your time here in Canada and come visit us again soon!

You can check out more of Cameron’s work by following his Instagram account


Audrey Brown

no gimmicks. just great education

The Business of Hair:A Guest Blog by Tara Byrne

We are fortunate to be part of an industry that allows us to earn as much as we want! However, our earnings are directly related to the amount of effort we put in.  Many stylists complain they can’t earn a decent living doing hair.  It is common to see stylists change careers after only 5 years.

Delmar College is proud to be a Nuts and Bolts Member School, offering our students the keys to business success in the salon 

Back in 1993, I got into hairdressing as a ‘just in case’ kind of thing.  I was in the middle of a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and thought I should have something to ‘fall back on’.  I decided to go to hair school. How hard could it be?

Salon floor
The student salon floor at Delmar College

Well, it was extremely hard but I instantly fell in love!  Like most graduates, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to make a good living doing hair.  I was a single parent with a huge student loan and terrified.

I was fortunate to work in a salon with some very successful and busy stylists and I quickly realized what the secret to success was; EXTREMELY hard work, dedication and treating MY column like a business.  The owner was a very busy stylist herself and did not have the time to help ME  become a busy stylist.  I would have to do that myself.

I became an education junkie!

Just one of the many qualifications Tara has completed

I offered amazing service to my clients in hopes they would return.  However, I realized that was not enough to grow my clientele. I needed my clients to help me.  I began giving extra business cards to existing clients and asked them to refer their friends and colleagues.  In turn, I offered them a discount off their service once their referral came in.  That seemed to work but I still wasn’t growing as quickly as I wanted.

Referral cards are one way to build your business. Our students are expected to start this while working in the student salon and spa. That way they have already started building a clientele before they get out into the working world.

Retail was something I REALLY struggled with in the beginning.  I didn’t feel comfortable ‘pushing’ products on my clients. My salon had a product knowledge class and the educator said something that has stuck with me all these years;  ‘clients will trust you more if you TEACH  them HOW to care for their hair! ‘. That one simple statement changed my career. The very next day, I began EDUCATING my clients about the products and tools I was using.  I showed them how to style their hair and encouraged them to contact me if they had any questions.  I found my clients returning more often and noticed an increase in referrals.  New clients often said ‘no one has ever told me that before!’.

Retailing is the key to client retention and building strong relationships

Within less than 2 years, I had a strong enough clientele that I decided to move into chair rental.  I quickly learned that business is all about the numbers.  Making a profit is a simple math equation!  Revenue must exceed expenses.  I had to earn more and spend less to maximize my earnings. It wasn’t long before I was averaging $45/hr.  However, I still wasn’t booked as far in advanced as I wanted.  I knew stylists who were booked 6 months out and I wanted to be one of them. I attended a Salon Management seminar where the concept of pre-booking was discussed.  Such a simple concept…my career was transformed again.

The Nuts and Bolts program is aimed at educating beauty professionals on how to build a business, and maintain it.

In 2002, I packed up and moved to London, England.  Starting over was daunting but it didn’t take me long to build a clientele.  Soon I was one of the highest earners and retailers in the company!  After 9 years of working in the UK and being Head of Training and Development for a group of 6 salons, I headed back to Calgary to start over yet again. This time though, I wanted to give back and teach a new generation of stylists what it takes to be successful in our industry.

Kings College, United Kingdom

At Delmar College, in addition to our stellar technical curriculum, we have embraced the Nuts and Bolts training program. This allows us to teach the ‘business of hairdressing’ to ensure our students are prepared for the workforce. They learn all about educating their clients, how to deliver 5 Star Customer Service, building their business and resume writing/interviewing skills. It makes me incredibly proud when we have students who achieve a retail to service ratio of 78% and higher simply by applying what they have learned!

Work smarter, not harder

We have also created an in-house E3 (Embrace, Educate, Empower) program to deliver to our Apprenticeship Program to ensure they also have the skills necessary to be successful.

Tara giving a student a full size hair trolley, which she earned through being a top retailer

Of course you need strong technical skills but you must be business-minded.  Today’s stylist also has social media (particularly Instagram) to help grow their business.  The choice is yours, you can earn a little or a lot!


Tara Byrne is a licensed Hair Stylist and is our Director of Hair Design here at Delmar College

no gimmicks. just great education

A Bottle and a Brush: A Guest Blog by Raelyn McKay

“I’m handing in my notice,” I told my husband. I had had enough.

For 12 years in various roles as an administrative assistant, I had answered phones, taken messages, filed reports, made coffee, booked meeting rooms, planned events, taken minutes, recorded action items, coded invoices, entered data, tracked packages, booked flights and answered questions like “Is this the FINAL FINAL draft or is there a more final final draft than this final one?” and I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I was good at my job. I received multiple commendations from clients and managers and I still have the letters of reference to prove it. And I loved parts of it; building spreadsheets and managing databases gives me a particular thrill. You want to publish a document and it CAN’T have any errors? Lemme at it. And if you want to host a four-day conference in a hotel with a swanky banquet at the end, I can make it happen. But for the most part, I wasn’t happy. So, not really having a plan, but with my hubby’s support, I resigned.

Before I had resigned, when I hadn’t been staying late at the office to meet deadlines, I was at home, playing with nail polish.

I. Love. Nail polish.



I love the colours, the names, the collections. I love how it self-levels and dries to a high-gloss shine. I love how it flows in the bottle when you roll it. I even love the smell.


I love how it makes you feel when you wear it. How it starts conversations between strangers when someone notices your gorgeous colour. I love how the tiniest daisy takes a nice pedicure to OMG! HOW BEAUTIFUL! It’s hard to have a bad day when you’re wearing rainbows on your hands. Painting nails relaxes me and clears my head. It was my stress reliever. And, working an unfulfilling job, I needed a lot of stress relief.


“Don’t even apply for another admin job,” my husband said. “Take the summer and figure out what you really want to be.”



I sat at my nail desk and as I polished my nails again for the third time that week, I looked at my strengths; database management. Event planning. Maybe I’d take a course at SAIT or MRU? They had programs for those things. I made appointments and met with advisors and went to info sessions. Hm. Maybe. June turned into July. And August was around the corner. End of the summer. Time to make a decision. Oooh, I love the shimmer in this shade. Maybe I’ll add a rhinestone to this design. Yes. Much better.


My godson’s birthday was approaching and my aunt invited me to visit her for the party. “Can you paint Minions on my nails when you come visit?” Yes, of course I could; “But I won’t trim your nails or do your cuticles. I don’t know how to do those things,” I said. I wasn’t a trained technician and I didn’t want to hurt her.


As we were sitting at her kitchen table and I was painting the little googly eyes and the overalls, she said, “You should do this for a living.”


I laughed. Yeah, as if. As if I could go from being an Administrative Professional to painting nails. Pfft. No way. You don’t just do that. Not at 34 years old.

I travelled back home and sat, once again, painting my nails and fretting over what I should do about a job. And then I heard my aunt’s voice; “You should do this for a living.”


And I thought to myself; if I could just sit and play with nail polish all day, I would be the happiest person in the world. So I got to googling. What kinds of jobs were out there for nail technicians?


At the time, there weren’t many positions open for “just” nail technicians. Most places wanted professionals who could also do waxing and tinting and facials. So, I decided I’d just take the plunge and learn it all – Esthetics! Within two weeks I had secured student financing and enrolled in a program and I have never looked back.


Thanks to the amazing instruction I received (Thanks, Audrey!), I fell in love with skin science and the beauty industry in general. After I graduated and landed in a job, I truly loved every single day working in the spa.


I had traded ringing telephones and sitting in front of a screen for soothing music and facial massage by candle light. My deadlines weren’t weekly or monthly anymore; now they were hourly – finish this pedicure so you can start your facial on time.


At the end of the day, I went home energized – sometimes with Hungarian Moor Mud under my nails from giving a body wrap; or baby powder on my clothes from waxing; or swatches of nail polish on my thumbs for clients who couldn’t choose a polish without seeing it on a nail… And though my body was tired, I was ready to do it all again the next day! Even when the mountain of towels grew taller and appointments got mixed up and co-workers were sick and we had to scramble to make it work, I reminded myself:

A bad day at the spa is better than a good day at the office.

That has become my mantra. And it’s true every single day.


My passion for the trade grew and fuelled me to be better and better. And I grew a loyal clientele. In time, I was honored with a Lead Esthetician role, where I could coach and lead others in the spa and we actually won awards in the industry. It was a dream.


Now, as an instructor at Delmar, I’m teaching others about esthetics and how to be successful in the industry. I’m sharing my passion for nail polish and skin science and customer care with the next generation of people just like me – who decided to follow their dreams and make a living just doing what they love! The instructors and staff here continue to inspire me. Every day we strive to elevate our students to greatness.


To those of you who are wondering if it’s really possible to make it, I say that YES IT IS! It was scary at first to go from being the person behind the reception desk with all the answers to the rookie who knew practically nothing. But it was absolutely the best thing I could have done. Summon the courage, take the plunge and do the thing!







Raelyn McKay is an internationally certified Esthetician and Beauty Therapist. She is the full time theory instructor for our Professional Esthetics program. 

no gimmicks. just great education