Energy and agriculture are two of the state’s biggest industries, but a new school in Williston is opening a different door for future cosmetologists and others wanting to try something new.
KX News visited with the two women working to make it all happen in this week’s Business Beat.
Owner and School Director Leticia Ortiz said, “One of her friends had just won the lottery and we were just talking, like what would we do if we won the lottery?”
A simple question turned a dream into reality.
“It started with that conversation and ever since that conversation we’ve just been working on it since,” Education Director Cynthia Gonzalez said.
Leticia Ortiz and Cynthia Gonzalez both operate and run Williston beauty salon the Hair Safari, and will soon be the first to bring a fully accredited cosmetology school to the western North Dakota and eastern Montana areas called the Hair Society Institute of Cosmetology.
“It’s really hard being out here in this area. There’s not a lot of help or assistance. Our state board is all the way in Bismarck, so that first step was kind of hard because we didn’t really have any direction, so it was hard even just getting our licenses as teachers,” Gonzalez said.
The two say they’ve been working on this for more than two years and recently got the go-ahead on Aug. 25 after the Williston City Commission approved a Community Build Grant from the STAR Fund and a low-interest loan by Tri-County Development giving them the ability to move forward with their dreams.
Over the next couple of months, staff will begin remodeling the first and second floors of the current beauty salon to accommodate both classroom and administrative space.
“It’s going to be a 13-month program, 1,800 hours for the state of North Dakota and we chose an amazing curriculum,” Gonzalez said.
They’ll begin teaching 10 students on all things cosmetology and will accommodate a night school to balance out schedules.
Ortiz told KX News they just want to make more things possible for more people.
“Cynthia has a huge young clientele and they want to do something other than oil and farming or anything mechanical like that’s not all we are, we have to become very diverse and give something on the creative side. I think that will help out a lot of the youth,” Ortiz said.
They expect classes will begin this January, and financial aid, scholarships and other funding will soon be made available.