Case Study: Sarah

Outstanding success for Sarah Noonan, who as a little girl in primary school braided the hair of friends and now owns a successful salon in South Liverpool after following the Apprenticeship route

Something so very nearly went wrong along the way though. Sarah explains how only with the help of Liverpool based Apprenticeships provider, Mode, she got where she is today.

In Her Own Words
“I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a hairdresser. My dad works for the council now but when I was young he worked in the hair industry so I was convinced not long after toddler-hood that it was in my blood! I really wasn’t interested in school, frankly I was so disruptive my teachers must have thought I was a nightmare. I often didn’t turn up and when I did bother I just wasn’t interested. At the age of 14 I was hurtling towards being excluded.
Alternative to Exclusion
I’d already started to go to Mode one day a week on an alternative education programme to work and train in the student hair salon. I loved it! The school must have been at their wits end with me so it was probably a godsend for them when Mode said they had a new full time programme they could try me on. Alternative education was pretty new in 2004 and my behaviour didn’t change overnight. Slowly I realised that I had to turn up and when I was there I’d get more out of it if I actually listened. Mode were great – my dad didn’t have to send a search party out for me anymore. Because my tutors took a softly, softly approach to encourage me to turn up, there wasn’t much to rebel against. Even maths and English seemed within my grasp. We took our time, with informal coaching – and headphones were provided so we could concentrate. It was lots of little practical things like that made the difference. I remember clearly the first day that I did a ‘proper’ client. It was one of the staff at Mode. She loved it and I was chuffed. I still get a buzz from making people feel better about themselves when they get their hair done.
First Job & an NVQ
By the time I was 16 Mode had got me an Apprenticeship contract and I was working as a stylist and studying for my NVQ Level 2. It did take a couple of attempts to place me in a salon where I felt settled but within 3 years I was on a proper wage and well on my way to an NVQ Level 3. During this time I picked up the prize at two hair shows run by Mode: my life really was taking shape. When I turned 20, I changed to a job in a salon closer to home and not long after an opportunity arose to buy the business. It was a big decision but with support from family and friends I decided to go ahead.
Apprentice Employer of The Year
I’ve had the salon for four years now and my trusty sidekick Craig has been working for me for the last two. He came to me from Mode as an apprentice. Because I had taken the step as an apprentice employer, Mode put my business forward for an award and last year I was crowned The Liverpool City Region New Apprentice Employer of the Year. I’m now making plans to grow my business and considering a second shop.

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