Student stylist hopes to make the cut

ITE College East student Elaine Sz at the WorldSkills competition in Brazil.
ITE College East student Elaine Sz at the WorldSkills competition in Brazil.PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Cutting and styling hair is not just a skill Ms Elaine Sz picked up in school, but also a family tradition that began when her grandfather opened a hair salon decades ago.

Her father and two of her aunts also work at the salon in Jurong today, though her grandfather stopped work a year ago because of an injury.

This year, Ms Sz, 19, is taking the family trade to another level, as she competes in the hairdressing category at the WorldSkills competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

A third-year hair and scalp therapy student from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East, she will graduate in December.

At the end of the second day of her competition on Thursday, she said: "I'm happy that I'm halfway through the competition, but also quite stressed."

She has to finish eight projects over four days, from bridal hairdos to styling men's hair and beards.

"It's quite challenging because I had to use products such as hair spray that I didn't practise with," she said.

"I know my competitors from Korea and China are strong because they've been competing for a long time, but I was very focused on my work," she added.

"My favourite part is hair colouring because I like to play with funky colours.

"My father is quite proud of me that I can compete in hairdressing internationally," said Ms Sz, who has an 18-year-old brother. Her mother is a housewife.

Amelia Teng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'Student stylist hopes to make the cut'. Print Edition | Subscribe