Mum of Two Follows Barbering Dream

November 15, 2023
November 14, 2023

Ani Keefe has a passion for all things hair and after years of putting her family first and all her own hopes and dreams on hold, she’s finally following that passion.

This year she enrolled in the NZ Certificate in Commercial Barbering (Level 4) at NorthTec | Te Pūkenga and now she’s well on her way to success.

“I love hair. I first cut my cousin's hair when I was 9 years old. I’m twenty-six now. I have two kids, they are 7 and 3. I have put this dream off since I was 9,” explains Ani Keefe. “This course has already done so much for me, not just to get me qualified, but for my mental health as well. It’s supported me to develop into the good, thriving barber I know I can be.”

Ani signed on to the Certificate in Commercial Barbering for its inaugural year and will be among the first to graduate from NorthTec | Te Pūkenga with this new qualification.

“I chose to study with NorthTec | Te Pūkenga because it was the first barbering course north of Auckland,” says Ani. “That means I can stay close to home, look after my whānau, and still get qualified.”

Ani heard about the course purely through word of mouth while working as a bartender. After looking at what was on offer, and who would be teaching, Ani signed up straight away.

“I did sign up for the course because Michelle was the tutor,” Ani admits. “She’s very well known in the barbering industry. She’s amazing at what she does and has a lot of connections in the industry. It’s also nice to learn from another woman. The barbering industry is still a male-dominated industry but it’s slowly changing in that regard.”

Ani had a solid idea of her long-term dream and a clear idea of how to get there. Get qualified as a barber, find a job, get experience, and then one day, in the distant future, she planned to have her own barbershop.

Things haven’t gone exactly to plan; she’s skipped a few steps and jumped right into her ultimate goal before even completing the first.

“My goal has already been completed before I’ve even finished the learning. I came here wanting to be a barber but thinking that having my own shop would be a faraway goal,” Ani laughs a bit. “But I was just given keys to my own shop. I’ve just built a barber’s shop from the ground up right here in Whangārei.”

“I’ve learnt so much on this course already, but I know I need to stay right here and complete this course and learn the rest of it. I have a shop to run and the course to do so it’s hard work, but it’s going to be so worth it. It already is worth it.”

Ani was hesitant when she first enrolled. It had been a long time since she had undertaken formal education and she wasn’t sure how difficult she would find the learning process.

“I didn’t go to high school,” Ani admits. “I went for three weeks then dropped out to look after my grandparents who had cancer and epilepsy. This course has helped me be able to kind of move myself back into education which has been really good for me.”

It can be daunting to return to learning after so long but Ani was able to get plenty of assistance from NorthTec | Te Pūkenga to help her on her learning journey.

“I’ve been really lucky with the course in that regard as well. Michelle is great and has been able to break down the information for me and simplify it if I need her to. So that I can understand it better.”

“There’s also a massive amount of support here, if I’m struggling there are six different people I can go to for help. If your tutor can’t help you then there’s always someone else. There's a huge amount of academic support. I have never been given that level of help before.”

That doesn’t mean it’s been easy, but Ani’s not afraid of a bit of hard work.

“I’m lucky I’m driven. I know what I want, I know what I like and that helps me get to where I want to go and succeed.”

To others who are keen on finding a new career like barbering, she has a simple message.

“Just do it. If you love it, then go for it. You won’t regret it.”

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