Abigail Goble was all set for a career on the stage as a professional dancer, but there was something in the back of her mind that was drawing her in a different direction.
In 2013, at the age of 18, Abigail attended the “MOVE IT” dance show in London, as she had every year since the age of 11. Not only was there an opportunity to join classes with some of the best dancers in the industry, but there was also an educational area at the event.
One of the stalls in this area was manned by Saks Apprenticeships and as Abigail browsed the stalls, she picked up a free white and purple pen from their stand and put it into her dance bag. At home, she put the pen into her memory box, not realising the significance it would come to have in her future.
Abigail continued at dance school, taking exams and competing at weekends. As part of her competitions she always needed to look immaculate, and from a young age had always been well-groomed. “Self-care and appearance is very important and makes you feel good,” she says. “When I had to hang the dance shoes up I knew I wanted to do something I was passionate about and enjoyed. It was a no brainer it had to be something in beauty.”
When the time came for that change, Abigail began to look to her future in the beauty industry. She knew she needed to be properly trained, but remembers, “I didn’t want to waste time and money going back to college, in a school textbook environment.” Instead, she wanted to be in a hands-on learning environment, and when she saw a job vacancy for an apprentice in a beauty salon, it ticked all the boxes for her. “Work your way up, hands-on, one to one teaching, qualification as well as having a job.”
As a brand new apprentice being shown the ropes, Abigail’s positive attitude and work ethic paid dividends for her. She watched the trained therapists at work, took copious notes and used her initiative in making hot drinks, cleaning up the salon and making sure the other therapists had everything they needed. “You have to have a mindset of being one step ahead,” she explains. “I learnt very quickly how the salon ran.”
The Apprenticeship that Abigail had begun was the VTCT Level 2 Diploma in Beauty Therapy Apprenticeship Standard with Saks Apprenticeships, the organisation she had first had contact with at that dance show 7 years before.
“At first I thought it was very overwhelming, taking on something new,” Abigail admits. She questioned if she would even be able to do it. But her Saks Educator, Rae Marie Reading, was hugely supportive and has helped her right from the first day.
As she suffers from mild dyslexia and short term memory loss, Abigail had been concerned about the academic side of her studies, but Rae Marie reassured her. “She told me that it doesn’t matter how long it takes for me to get there, we will get there, and she went above and beyond to make me feel relaxed and comfortable.”
With targets set to achieve in between Rae Marie’s visits, Abigail had to make sure she was doing eight hours of training a week, which she logged in an online diary. With the one to one help she received, she felt better equipped to deal with the academic side of her apprenticeship and her theory exams. And she affirms, “Because I was interested in the subjects in the exams it became a lot easier.”
“On my days off, I loved practising the treatments on my family and getting homework done because it was so interesting. It didn’t feel like homework as it wasn’t a traditional school atmosphere.”
With such enthusiasm, she progressed quickly. “I loved being part of the team, and learning while I was working was good.” She enthuses, “It was nice to become a part of the team without even realising.”
There were parts of the course that she wasn’t expecting, but she fully embraced them, as she had with other areas of her studies sharing, “I have a better understanding and knowledge on things I didn’t even know about before that are day-to-day things that happen in our country. I think it’s a good idea we all are educated on the latest world topics including Equality and Diversity and British values.”
Abigail became busier with clients as she grew in confidence, but still found plenty of time to study. “I had a good balance. When it was quiet in the salon, or on days I wasn’t working, I would do my homework and tasks that were set by my Saks Educator.”
When it came to the end of her Apprenticeship, Abigail recalls, “I didn’t even think twice about doing tasks that I may have found challenging at the start.” She passed her apprenticeship with a distinction, and puts it down not only to her hard work and dedication, but also to Saks Apprenticeships . “Saks Apprenticeships and my Saks Educator have given me such strong drive to be the best I can be and push myself to make it. I feel like I have had such a high standard of training. I feel very confident that in my new career I can achieve anything, which I don’t think I would feel if I had gone to a traditional college setting.”
Abigail is now studying at Level 3 to broaden her skills and is excited about her future. “Who knows what the future holds. One day I could have my own salon, but right now I am feeling very positive I will be in the beauty industry.”
She is keen to promote apprenticeships to anyone who may be thinking of taking on one. “I would highly recommend apprenticeships to anyone, no matter your age or what you want to do,” she says. “Don’t let the word apprentice put you off. It’s not about your age or what happened during your school days, or if you don’t want to start at the bottom. You soon work your way up.”
And she still has the little free pen that started her journey on the path to a career in beauty. “Life has a funny way of showing us where it will take us,” Abigail muses. “I am now using that white and purple pen making notes for my career.”