Donated photo. Pictured is HCC cosmetology graduate Kianna Firestine working on a client at Evolutions Salon in Asheville. She enjoys the fact that no day is ever the same.

When Kianna Firestine, Lindsey Holtsclaw and Gina Neal go into work every day, the trio never knows what their day will bring. The three Haywood Community College cosmetology graduates do know that they will never have a boring day. Each of them drive to a different salon where they will spend the day making their clients feel better about themselves. They will each enjoy the relationships they have with their clients. But they know for sure they won’t be sitting at a desk or behind a computer.

For Firestine, she heads into Evolutions Salon in Asheville where she works for another of the College’s cosmetology graduates. Now at age 20, she came to HCC straight from high school and had an interview for her current position before even walking across the graduation stage.

“Cosmetology is a career that’s always changing,” Firestine says. “There’s never a dull moment. One thing I really enjoy is the personal relationship I have with clients. I feel connected to them.”

While Holtsclaw’s story is different from Firestine’s, she also enjoys the social aspect of her job. “I get to talk to different people every day,” she explains. “I have a personal relationship with them. My clients become friends to me.”

Holtsclaw had a job waiting for her when she finished HCC’s cosmetology program in 2014. She works at Shear Glory Hair Design in Clyde.

She came to the College with a bachelor’s degree in music education. This was a tough time to try to enter the education field with the county experiencing budget cuts.

“Being a cosmetologist is what I was meant to do,” Holtsclaw explains. “I am glad I waited to get this degree. It is a challenging program that takes discipline. After attending a four-year school, I was ready.”

Gina Neal, 2017 HCC Cosmetology graduate, decided to come to school after working as a nail technician for 13 years. “I wanted to further my career and I knew I had to have this degree to do that.”

Neal is head nail technician at Sensibilities Day Spa in Asheville. With this degree in hand, she will now begin to work in esthetics at both Asheville locations.

“I will do facials, skin care, makeup, waxing,” Neal says. “Getting my degree allowed me to add those things to my job duties.”

A self-proclaimed highly social person, Neal enjoys the chance to connect with people through her job on a daily basis. “I love people and making them feel better,” she says. “I have made a lot of friends.”

Neal says as a student in the cosmetology program, it was very helpful to work on community members in the HCC salon. “The hands-on application of the techniques we were taught allowed us to practice a wide range of services, from perms to beard trims.”

Holtsclaw agrees. “The hands-on salon experience at HCC helps you learn the techniques. You can listen to how to do these techniques but until you experience it yourself, you can’t really learn it.” 

In addition, Holtsclaw says her overall experience at HCC was very positive. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I could call my instructors now and ask them anything.”

A career in cosmetology is a perfect fit for someone who likes to work in a relaxed atmosphere, set their own hours and be creative. Cosmetologists can expect to be able to find job in the field. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

Students in HCC’s cosmetology program will learn all phases of professional imaging, hair design, chemical processes, skin and nail care, multi-cultural practices, business/computer principles, product knowledge and other topics. In addition, they will complete 1,500 clinical hours. 

Graduates should qualify to sit for the State Board of Cosmetic Arts examination. Upon successful completion, graduates will be issued a license.

Registration for fall semester is underway through August 3, with classes beginning August 15 For more information on enrollment, programs of study or financial aid, contact the College at, 828-627-2821, or visit