Beauty school: 'Long battle' won

Photo by M. Scott MoonJoy Conner is reflected in a mirror at her new school for hair stylists, Legacy's Academy of Hair.

Legacy’s Hair Design Owner Joy Conner has never thought of herself as a teacher, but as of Nov. 1 she will open the only beauty school on the Kenai Peninsula.


“I’m a little nervous,” the 34-year-old Soldotna resident said.

Her school, Legacy’s Academy of Hair, follows the Milady’s curriculum — the nationally accredited standards for all American beauty schools. After completing the 1,650 hour-long course, students must pass the state board exam to obtain a license.

She said her hair dressing program will give students both a hair dressing license and a manicurist endorsement, but she also offers just manicurist courses.

The full course will cost $8,500, and she said payment plans are available; however, she can not accept student loans for the first two years.

Classes will begin Nov. 1.

Conner comes from a “long line” of teachers.

“Huge line,” she said. “My sister actually teaches at my mother’s private school in Sterling. And my mom is the principal, and has been for some 30 or 40 years.”

Her aunt and cousin are also teachers.

“So there’s a whole cluster of teachers in my family,” she said, and they always teased her about going into hair, she said.

Before Connor became a hair dresser 13 years ago, she said she was a pregnant single mother.

“Every morning, before my day would begin, I would sit outside of the job center,” she said. “They all got to know me on a first name basis.”

She said she became tired of relying on the “system;” she was not happy where she was.

Then in 2000, the job center gave her a grant to attend beauty school at Shear Allusions 2000 in Soldotna’s Blazy Mall, and her life changed.

“It’s been an undertaking,” she said. “I’ve gone through some hard times and bad choices and everything else.”

Since graduating from beauty school, she has worked at numerous salons across the state, but she wanted to own a school. People in the community also told her the Peninsula needed a school, she said.

So, she completed her instructors license two years ago, opened Legacy’s Hair Design one year ago and, on Oct. 11, the Board of Barbers and Hair Dressers approved her school.

She started accepting applications Thursday.

“It’s been a long battle,” she said.

Already, eight people have walked through her doors inquiring about her program, she’s received three phone calls from Seward and Homer about her classes and she has had to order extra catalogues because she ran out.

Conner said her favorite part of the job is meeting and working with people.

“I get to hear about their lives,” she said. “I get to share about my life, and I get to make them feel beautiful.”

Many of her female clients, she said, just want to be pampered and feel better about themselves. For those clients, she has a saying: “If you can’t change the situations in your life, you can change your hair.”

“That’s always been a motto in my life,” she said. “We can change it up. Cut it. Color it. And you can walk out of here feeling like a whole new person and conquer the world.”


Dan Schwartz can be reached at


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