Leanne Curtis is styling her way to the top.
The 19-year-old hair stylist moved to Winnipeg from Ireland last spring with her family, and soon after enrolled in the hairstyling program at MC College.
Curtis’s family came to Winnipeg because of the economic downturn in Ireland. They followed her father, who came to Winnipeg in 2009 to open his own construction business. After coming to visit him for what was supposed to be a 10-day visit, Curtis’s parents announced on the last day they wouldn’t be going home to Ireland.
Curtis, who now lives in Fort Whyte, said the news was hard for her.
"It was a big shock and I wasn’t expecting it… but you have to keep tough and keep positive," Curtis said.
Curtis said being able to start her career as a stylist has made the transition easier.
"I’ve always loved doing hair, but I never thought of doing it (as a career) until I came (to Winnipeg)," Curtis said, noting she enrolled in the program at MC College because she wanted something to keep her occupied after the move.
"I Googled hair styling courses and MC College was the first one (that came up). I called them, and went to see them that same day and said sign me up for your next class."
Curtis graduated from the program in February, and has been working at Essentique Spa Salon on Academy Road since the end of June as an apprentice hair stylist.
Curtis said for the first few weeks she was just an assistant, but after showing off her models, the salon realized how capable she was and she started taking on her own clients after only three weeks.
"I’m moving up pretty fast," Curtis said.
Over the summer, she entered a national styling competition, Contessa, the 2012 Canadian Hairstylist of the Year Awards, through Salon Magazine, and made it to the finals where she placed in the top five student/apprentice stylists in Canada. Earlier this month she got to travel to Toronto for the awards ceremony.
"It was overwhelming… I saw everyone else’s work, famous stylists who were in the competition with me," she said.
Curtis said she’s in the process of entering a few other competitions, and has big goals for her future. Her dream is to get into the editorial side of the industry or runway styling.
"I don’t want to work in a salon forever, I want to get out there and get my name known. I want to inspire people and make change (in the industry)," she said.
To see some of Curtis’s work go to leannecurtis.com.