As an outgoing and sociable 20-something, Ivory Stanton’s days working a desk job at a real-estate company were numbered.

“I was sick of working in a cubicle and wanted to work with people,” said Stanton, who quit her nine-to-five gig last fall to enroll in the pro hair diploma program at Blanche Macdonald. Seemingly a natural, she says she loves the program and is excelling at it.

In addition to hair, the school also offers programs in makeup, fashion design and esthetics. The latter encompasses indulgent services such as manicures, pedicures, facials and waxing, and is one of the fastest-growing professions in North America.

Millie Yuen, a hair dressing instructor at Vancouver Community College, attributes this to an increase in demand.

“We have an aging population and busy, busy women,” said Yuen. “They’re looking for some sort of relaxation, some sort of calming, for the times when they’re free. It’s one hour, two hours, all to yourself.”

Students of the esthetics program at VCC have a four-day week, with one day spent in the classroom and the other three in a studio practising and performing their services on paying customers. There are 16 students per class and the demand for the program is so high that the college graduates students twice yearly.

The course is seven months long, and those who complete both the hair design and esthetics programs are eligible to receive a diploma in cosmetology.

Yuen says VCC’s esthetics studio is also an ideal place to visit for people who want to be pampered on a budget. Manicures go for $10, while pedicures and facials are $20 each. Haircuts for both men and women cost less than most lunches at only $6, and a full head of foils is $40.

“Everybody who comes in to have a service is just more than pleased,” said Yuen. “Being students, they try harder. And the atmosphere is like a spa, so it’s very relaxing for the people who come in.”

VCC will hold an information session on its esthetics program on Jan. 29, from 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., at its downtown campus on Dunsmuir Street at Hamilton.

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