By Lakhram Bhagirat
At a young age Joanna McKenzie determined that she would work hard in school and then go on to university to become a gynaecologist. That was the dream but life had other plans in store for her.
“I always wanted to be a gynaecologist because I really liked the field. But when I finished school, I wanted to start working immediately and making my own money and then I realised that I could not do that and study medicine so I had to take a different path. I would always say that I wanted to be a gynaecologist but hair dressing was my calling so I followed it and I can say I am happy today,” the 35-year-old single mother said.
Joanna was born in Georgetown and spent the first seven years of her life growing up in South Ruimveldt and then moved to Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) where she completed her primary education at St John the Baptist Primary School. After sitting common entrance examinations, she moved back to Georgetown to attend the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School.
“After I wrote CXC and so on, I moved back to Bartica where I decided that I wanted to start working. I then picked the hairdressing field because I was good at doing hair and anything in the beauty field while I was growing up,” she said.
The then young Joanna embarked on qualifying herself to become a cosmetologist. She registered at Kevin’s Reflection School of Cosmetology and Barbering where she learned barbering and introduction to the various aspects of cosmetology. After completing her courses there, she went on to Modern Cosmetology School where she delved deeper into the world of cosmetology.
“When I finished training, I was specialised in everything relating to beauty. I can do nails, hair, facial, makeup, and everything in that line. So when I was done I came back to Bartica and started looking for a place to rent so I could open my own salon. I went to Hi Low Hotel in First Avenue and they had a spot for rent and when the person in charge there told me that a Brazilian woman looking for a place too and she know fuh start that the rent will be expensive. So she ask if I think the two of us coming together and do this business and she talked to the lady. The lady asked to see me and we met and talk and that is how we agree to work together,” Joanna said.
In 2006, Joanna and her business partner, Toinha, opened Fabulous Look Cabeleira and since then they have been working together. Over the years both women have continued to upgrade their skills by participating in various development workshops.
“I recently did an upgrade class with a Brazil Cosmetology School. When I first started out in this business, I lacked the confidence and was nervous because I used to worry about not reaching the customers’ expectations. But then I started working and doing my thing and getting accustomed to what I was doing so I lost the nervousness. I am still working on perfecting what I do so that my clients can have the best experience when they come here and have the exact result they were looking for.”
Together, Joanna and her business partner have been servicing the people of Bartica for almost 15 years now and they have established a name for themselves.
When asked what advice she has for persons thinking about entering the cosmetology field, Joanna said “This field is a choice that a person have to like. They have to like it because if they don’t like it then it wouldn’t make sense because you will not be focused and won’t do their work in a good flow.”