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Alumni Spotlight: Heather “Rosie” Milano, Musician turned Stylist


For 10 years, Heather “Rosie” Milano was in the music business – as half of the musical duo Beauty and the Bass – but the late hours weren’t conducive to family life. With a husband and daughter to think of, Milano put her musical act on hiatus and decided to change careers. She entered the cosmetology program at Florida Academy.

Why she chose Florida Academy’s cosmetology program

“[My family] needed something more stable so I would be able to stay home when I needed to,” Milano says. She settled on cosmetology. “I checked out a lot of schools in the area, and what actually sold me on Florida Academy was the people.” She toured the school twice to see if it was the one for her. The first time she went alone, but the second time she asked her husband and daughter to come along. “Quintana showed us around. She’s like a ray of sunshine,” she says, “and when we met Travis in the cosmetology department, I was sold. I want to like who I’m spending every day with. Travis is so fun. I felt so connected and that I could learn so much from him, and I did.”

How Florida Academy prepared her for the real world

“The hands-on experience there teaches you a lot more than reading about it in a book,” she adds. “The book prepares you for the test [state boards].” The cosmetology program is well structured. During the first few months, your instructors guide you through the practical applications and the book on the guts of what you’re learning. “They would focus on pin curls or something like that for a couple days – the practical application in the morning and the book in the afternoon,” she explains. “About two months into the program, they put me on the floor. They thought I was ready to start working on guests.” Working in a salon atmosphere, “working on people day in and day out – that was very valuable.” However, when students don’t have clients on the book, they fill in their time practicing on mannequins. “I felt very prepared when I left school because we get on the floor so quickly.”

A typical day in the program

On most days, Milano says she would arrive at school before 9 am in preparation for her first client (the first one of the day is booked for 9 am). It was like a day in a typical beauty salon. “They would have clients on the book for me,” she says. She might do a cut, color, makeup or nails. The difference between school and a real salon is that at school there are scheduled breaks – morning, lunch and afternoon. “You don’t get that in the real world,” she laments. “One day a week it really became school: theory day. We would sit down and have a full-book education on whatever chapter we were doing. The theory days are when you get prepared for the state boards.”

A surprising component of the cosmetology program

During the course of Florida Academy’s 10-month day or 15.5-month evening program, students learn the latest trends in haircutting, coloring and design. They learn how to use texture concepts to create clients’ desired haircut or style, as well as what is required for a manicure, pedicure or skin care procedure. What you might be surprised about is the focus on anatomy and disease. “We have to learn everything about the structure of the hair, the structure of the skin, the way that the body works, different hair and skin diseases,” Milano says. The students work hand in hand with dermatologists. “You don’t see your scalp, and if we notice something there, we can refer you to a dermatologist and maybe catch something for you.”

What Heather Milano is doing today and her biggest challenge as a recent graduate

Since graduating and passing her state board exams in October, Milano has been working as a stylist at Red Salon & Spa in Cape Coral. “One of the things I pride myself on is versatility. I do hair (cut and color), but I also do nails and makeup applications.” Her biggest challenge is getting people in the chair. “That’s something [building clientele] that grows over time. Understanding that as you leave school is really important. I have a good book – just not a full book yet,” she says. “We can’t assume that we’re going to have full client books the second we’re out of school.”

Her short-term and long-term goals

“My short-term goal at the moment is building up my clientele,” Milano, a level one stylist, says. “I have a decent client book, but I’d like it to be full every day.” Within the next few years, she’d like to rise in her level status at the salon where she works – hopefully to a level three or four stylist. “Eventually, I’d like to fill my book enough that I could cut a few days and spend a little more time with the family – maybe go on vacation one day.”

Her advice to potential Florida Academy cosmetology students

“Make sure they really study up on their chemical texture services for the boards!” she laughs. “If anyone is considering Florida Academy, they should really take a day and see if they can ‘hang out’ and get to know the people and how it runs,” she suggests. “The people there really are awesome. I still call some of my instructors. It’s not just the education. They still care about you beyond graduation.”

If you think a career in cosmetology may be right for you, give Florida Academy a call. You’ll learn from industry professionals with extensive hands-on training in modern facilities that will prepare you for the real world.

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