Grandmother of two Eunice Thomas-Pennant is proof you are never too old to cut it as a hairdresser.
Eunice, 51, works as a stylist and student mentor at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL), where she trained from 2011-13.
Born in Jamaica, she recalls playing with her dolls’ hair as a child before “playing around” with her friends’ and family’s hair when she was 16.
“When I finished secondary school I wanted to go on and study hairdressing but back home it was quite expensive and so I did fashion design instead, so it never really happened until I came over here,” she said.
Eunice began working in retail when she arrived in the UK in 2001 before finding work at a friend’s hairdressing salon in Peckham, where she began to specialise in Afro-Caribbean hair.
Eunice said: “The training was brilliant. I learnt a lot, particularly when it came to colouring hair. My tutors encouraged me and were very supportive.”
“When I started at CONEL, people were asking me, ‘Why are you going to college at your age?’, but I have shown them that it’s never too late to achieve your dreams.”
Eunice excelled in her studies, winning the Softsheen-Carson Student of the Year award in 2013 and also receiving an Excellence Award from the College the same year.
“I remember being at home when the phone rang and my tutor told me I had won and I began screaming. I was full of joy,” she said.
After finishing her Level 3 in 2013, Eunice began volunteering as a mentor to students working and training in the College’s commercial salon in Tottenham.
The College later offered her a temporary and then permanent position as a stylist at the salon a year later, where she continues to impart her advice and encourage students.
On why she enjoys hairdressing, Eunice added: “Most of all, it’s the look on the clients’ faces when they look in the mirror and love their new style.
“I also enjoy supporting the learners from a diverse range of backgrounds. Being able to share my experience to help them achieve makes me feel very proud.”