Please pick up your nail files, this class is now in session
Humber College students staff on-campus spa
Toronto Star, May 3/2007
Fashion and Beauty Writer
On Mondays and Tuesdays, students and faculty at Humber College North Campus are spoiled. These are days when the Humber Spa is open.
Situated in an open-concept space with sterile bright lighting, white walls and cabinets that are the same shade of green as Clinique packaging, 24-year-old Sarah Muzzatti gives me a manicure at the spa. Her sanitized manicure tools are fastidiously arranged on top of the clean white towel at her workstation.
Muzzatti diligently applies OPI's Coney Island Cotton Candy polish to my nails after they are perfectly filed and buffed. She has given many students and faculty members manicures, pedicures, waxing and facials in the spa, which opened in late February. Although Muzzatti works like a seasoned pro, she is not an esthetician - yet.
Muzzatti is one of 24 women enrolled in the new three-semester Spa Management program at Humber College. She comes to school five days a week to study courses like "Anatomy and Physiology for Spa", and works in the spa for two days.
Although none of the students get paid for the long hours they log and will spend their summer working at the spa, Muzzatti is not complaining. She knows that she'll be in and out of the college in one year and doesn't have to go through the stresses of finding a co-op placement.
"If other locations take on students and are not comfortable, then they will put them in the back room and have the students fold towels", says Antonietta Perretta, the spa manager and instructor. "We built a spa for them so they can control the environment and learn from the beginning."
Like other colleges, Humber has a spa run entirely by students and open year-round. However, Humber is unique in that it offers students a diploma within one year, obtained once the students - some as young as 18 - have completed their academic courses as well as the 60-hour work placement.
Although the spa is professional in appearance, its services are quite basic. However, the blue-smocked students aren't allowed to work on clients until they have perfected their techniques on each other.
"We get to know each other really well", Muzzatti says.
But not that well - one service noticeably absent from the spa menu is the bikini wax.
"We just didn't think that the customers would feel comfortable getting a Brazilian if the instructors were constantly walking in and out making sure the service was being done well", Perretta says.
"Some people don't care and want it anyways, but I think it's a privacy issue."
But other services are in high demand. During exam time at the college, the Humber Spa became a haven for stressed-out students who wanted to pamper themselves post-cramming. And although the spa is open to the general public, staff and students make up about 90 per cent of its clientele. "We are probably breaking even", Perretta estimates. "The idea is to not make money but to cover the costs."
Since the students are getting credit, not a paycheque for their work, the money that the spa generates goes toward the professional products in use and for sale: OPI nail polish, Cover FX products and the Oxygen Botanical skincare line.
By putting all of the money towards quality products, not labour, the spa is able to offer competitive prices that students on a budget can afford: a manicure is $15, a full-leg wax is $35 and an oxygen facial runs $40 (elsewhere, an oxygen facial would typically be anywhere from $100-$150).
Perhaps the most valuable instinct students are learning is how to read clients. And Muzzatti knows her clients well. "All of the students want black nail polish and all of the faculty want neutral."
The Humber Spa is open Monday, 12:45-4:00 p.m., and Tuesday, 1:30-5:00 p.m. Call 416-675-6622, ext. 5033 or go to thehumberspa.com.