Rhonda Del Rio wanted her hair and esthetics academy to look less like a school and more like a salon.
She set about doing just that when she opened her academy in Courtenay, designing the salon at Del Rio Academy of Hair and Esthetics Ltd. on Cliffe Avenue to create a relaxing environment for her students and for clients.
Rhonda is the owner/operator of Del Rio Academy of Hair and Esthetics Ltd., which has campuses in Courtenay and Port Alberni.
In Courtenay, Rhonda is an instructor, administrator and stylist, while Corrie Henning teaches esthetics and nail technician, and Michelyne Lagotte comes from Nanaimo to teach hairdressing.
“I wanted it to be more like a salon atmosphere because if you put students in a school atmosphere, they act like students,” said Rhonda. “If you put them in a professional atmosphere, they act professional. I’m so proud of them.”
Del Rio Academy of Hair and Esthetics offers courses in hairdressing, esthetics and nail technician, along with a professional hair studio and day spa.
In the Courtenay salon/spa at 4-2720 Cliffe Ave., there is room for 11 hair stylists, as well as four nail stations, four pedicure stations and two spa rooms.
“It’s nice to be able to pamper people who wouldn’t be able to afford services otherwise,” said Rhonda.
Del Rio is a Paul Mitchell concept salon and offers a range of hair services, including colour, perms, cuts, sets and conditioning treatments.
Salon services include nail enhancements, manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing, makeup, microdermabraision, ear piercing, massage and hot stone massage. Laser treatments will soon be offered.
The spa uses La Biosthetique and Dr. Belter skin products.
“No expense is spared,” said Rhonda. “We use top of the line products because that’s what (the students) will be using.”
Del Rio’s hairdressing course is 1,500 hours, while the esthetics course is 1,000 hours, and the nail technician course is 400 hours. Del Rio Academy also offers refresher courses and an apprenticeship support program for hairdressing.
Enrolments for hairdressing and esthetics start in September, January and May, while nail technician enrolments start in November, September, January and March.
In Courtenay, there is a classroom for lectures, and students are taught on the floor.
Students learn theory from 8:30 to 10 a.m., then start with clients.
“They’re hopping busy,” said Rhonda. “Sometimes they don’t get lunch, but that’s the real world.”
Del Rio Academy opened in Courtenay at the end of January, while the Port Alberni campus has been running since 2007.
“We wanted to expand to a bigger market,” said Rhonda. “We love the feel of this community. It’s neat how everybody works together.”
The Courtenay campus celebrated its first graduate, Millie Miller, this spring. Before she even finished all her hours at the academy, Miller received a job at The Head Shed in Courteanay.
The academy is already growing, and this September, Del Rio is looking at hiring a full-time hairdressing instructor and a part-time esthetics and nail technician instructor because the academy is expanding to night classes
Del Rio Academy will begin by offering hairdressing night classes in September to keep up with the demand and then see what the interest is in esthetics.
“We’re full for September day classes and booking into January day classes now,” said Rhonda. “We don’t want to turn anyone away.”
Del Rio Academy is also looking at offering an advanced esthetics program in the New Year.
Del Rio Academy’s instructors have their provincial instructor diploma training, and Del Rio Academy is accredited by the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of B.C.
“Rhonda really encourages education with her instructors and continuing education,” said Henning. “You don’t get stale, and you can keep up on current trends.”
Del Rio Academy participates in the ACE-IT apprenticeship program with School District 71 and provides work experience.
“For potential students, we encourage them to come and do work experience with us, especially high school students,” said Rhonda. “We’ve probably had about 10 work experience students. It’s nice for them to come and get a feel. They don’t realize they have to do chemistry and physiology. Whether it’s hairdressing, nail tech or esthetics, there’s a lot to learn.”
Del Rio Academy is student loan-designated through Student Loan BC.
The salon at Del Rio Academy has been very busy.
“Walk-ins are welcome, but we rarely have space,” said Henning.
“We’re feeling blessed to have such great response from the community,” added Rhonda. “They’re our most valuable teaching resource.”
For more information about Del Rio Academy, visit www.delrioacademy.com or call 250-871-8300.