Kimberly Savland is the owner of Alaska Academy of Advanced Cosmetology located on Industrial Blvd.

Kimberly Savland is the owner of Alaska Academy of Advanced Cosmetology located on Industrial Blvd.

Juneau beauty school to become more affordable

On Monday morning, two students shuffled out of Juneau’s standard drizzle and into the Alaska Academy of Advanced Cosmetology to start another day of school.

“I struggled with skin (issues) in middle school, so I wanted to be one of those people who helps others with their skin issues,” student Jordan Harris said, inside the school’s bright red building on Industrial Boulevard. “I’m one of those before and after people, so for hair, I like to make (people) feel beautiful.”

Harris is dually enrolled in both the esthetics and hairdressing courses at the academy, which is the only state accredited cosmetology school in Southeast Alaska. She’s there five days a week, 10 hours a day, and is one of the school’s six students.

Come October 2017, the school will probably see an increase in enrollment. That’s because it’s in the process of becoming accreddited through the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS). When that happens, students will be able to apply for federal funding, such as the Pell Grant or a student loan, which will make the school a more financially feasible option for more students.

“What I’m up against is funding,” Kimberly Savland, owner and primary instructor of the academy, said. “The only way we’re going to be able to give high quality education and to align it is to go for the federal funding.”

Savland founded the academy last fall. She invested thousands of dollars to do so; she also left her home of Hoonah to get the school started, something that was not easy for her to do. And now she works long days, usually 12 hours.

But it’s worth it for her, she said, if she can give others the same opportunity she did — to receive a cosmetology license with help of a federal post-secondary education loan and to pursue a career in cosmetology.

“What I think is important, too, is entry-level jobs into our industry,” she said. “… Students in our industry have such a high default rate — if we do not give them an entry-level job, say in manicure pedicuring, and show an ability to benefit in our industry, they will not be able to get a ticket to go into hairdressing and barbering and esthetics.”

When she was in her 20s in 1995, Savland opened a cosmetology school in Juneau. But she said she was too young and it just wasn’t the right time, and she closed it shortly afterward in 1997. (Although it should be noted that many of her students went on to have successful careers, such as Sandra Brown, the owner of Salon 2211.)

This time is different, and receiving federal accreditation is key, she said. She’s been working on receiving the accreditation since last October, and has attended NACCAS workshops on national standards of developing curriculum and running a cosmetology school. Before she completes her last phase of accreditation, she wants to be situated to able to increase class sizes, which means hiring other instructors and maybe even moving to a bigger facility. Already she has been working with the Alaska Club to teach massage classes at their facilities.

And, hopefully, it will make the school more affordable for its students. Right now, it would cost close to $50,000 to complete all of the academy’s offered courses. The advanced manicuring 250-hour course alone costs $5,000, which is after Savland lowered the cost.

As a student, Harris is studying hard, trying to learn all of the bones and muscles in the human face for an esthics license.

“I see it as something that doctors go to school for years to learn and we’re trying to learn it in a few months but just the basics of it,” she said.

“You have to know general anatomy, the structures of hair growth,” added Jamiann Hasselquist, who is studying for her hairdressing and instructor license.

Hasselquist never thought she wanted to become a manicurist, but after being unhappy in several administrative positions, she was open to Savland’s suggestion of pursuing a manicurist license. Hasselquist told Savland she didn’t want to wash feet, but she still went to Anchorage to pursue a manicurist license (before the Juneau school opened). While there, she discovered she enjoyed doing pedicures, especially medical grade.

“Someone comes in with issues with the health of their feet, they’ve got peeling between the toes or cracked heels or extra thick nails or have some fungal issues, I actually like dealing with those more,” Hasselquist said.

It’s satisfying, she said, to get people who were uncomfortable with the appearance of their feet and hid them in close-toed shoes to begin to feel better and start wearing sandals due to her work.

Harris wants to open her own salon after working at someone else’s for a time. Hasselquist has kicked around that idea, but is also considering becoming one of the instructors Savland is looking for to teach incoming students.

Savland said she’s looking for instructors who are willing to help students discover within themselves “the artist behind the chair,” the same that she has been inspiring in her current students.

For more information on how to apply to the academy, or to set up a salon appointment, visit their website at

• Contact Clara Miller at 523-2243 or at

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