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Olivia France. Right: Heather Carter. Submitted photo.

MARILYN HAGERTY: Cosmetologists get their training at Josef’s

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MARILYN HAGERTY: Cosmetologists get their training at Josef’s
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

Olivia France fell in love with doing makeup and fixing hair years ago. She watched it on YouTube. She did her mom’s hair. She did her own hair.


By the end of March, she hopes to finish her training at Josef’s School of Hair Design at 2011 S. Washington St., Grand Forks. She will complete 1,800 hours of training and classes that cost her $14,285. Part of the money, she said, came from financial aid and the help of her grandma. Many of her classmates work at part-time jobs.

Olivia hopes to travel around and do her work maybe even for movies. “That,” she thinks, “would be awesome.”

Her classmate, Heather Carter, will finish requirements and take her state boards in April or May.

“I love doing hair. I love doing color — anything to make somebody feel good about themselves,” she said.

“We have women who come into our training salon every week. We do everything — manicures, pedicures, facials, body wraps, waxing. And of course, hair. “

As a child, Heather used to sit in her room fixing hair on a Barbie doll. When she is out and among people, she finds herself studying their hair.

Olivia and Heather are among the students, mostly women, enrolled at Josef’s. Usually there are 35 to 40 taking courses at Josef’s, according to Josh Bleninger, school director. They get part of their training work on clients who make appointments by telephone at (701) 772-1728.

They also take walk-ins.

Josef’s is owned by Mario and Elaine Olivieri and Tyson and Amanda Smith who also own Josef’s West Academy in Fargo.

During my research at the local “beauty school,” I met Sara Slocum. She was assigned to style my hair and give me a manicure.

Sara is petite. Her hair is colored bright red. She says when she was younger, her “dishwater blonde” hair made her look like she was always sick. She could hardly wait to grow old enough to tint her hair red.

She likes to cut and color, wax eyebrows, do facials. She started her training a year ago in January and will graduate from Josef’s the end of March.

“I’m getting there,” she said as she fastened a cape around me.

We talked as she shampooed my hair and used a blow dryer and large curling iron to finish the styling. Sara has a good gift of gab, and I noticed a piece of paper clipped on the wall where she works. It says: “You are made for what matters.” It’s a reminder of a brush with death she once had. And she has a small tattoo on her wrist that says: “Life is beautiful.”

Nearby, other students were styling hair. Those without patrons were working on wigs or setting curls on mannequins. Supervisors were moving around.

Sarah led me to the manicure center where we chatted more as she worked on my nails.

By then I had seen classrooms for massage therapy and skin aesthetics. There is an area for pedicures.

During their coursework, cosmetology students learn the history of hair care. They know in days of yore there were permanents given with machines.

Sara Slocum knows that sometimes history repeats itself. Styles come and go. Permanents that fell by the wayside are coming back now for young women who want curls in their long hair.

Reach Hagerty at or (701) 772-1055.