Montana Blu: A game-changer in the hairdressing world

Bethany O'Hanlon, Cally Creagh, Roisin Fitzgerald and Debbie O'Keeffe pictured at Montana Blu Hair Salon and Academy on Patrick Street. (Photo: Katie Glavin)

An opening in the market in Mitchelstown in 2017 saw the beginning of a new salon and a host of new opportunities for hairdressing and barbering hopefuls.

Now located at 63 Patrick Street in Fermoy, Debbie O’Keeffe explains what exactly Montana Blu is, and how it came about.

“Generally you would train in a salon and do an apprenticeship over four years but really that depends on who you were employed by because they don’t have a legal obligation to train you.

“If you went to a private college or a government college, you have two years but you only need 14 days work experience. The government sees you as being qualified but you couldn’t really get employment because you have no experience. It’s kind of a catch 22,” Debbie said.

Debbie has developed training programmes for some of the biggest hairdressing names in Ireland and saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between apprenticeships and employment with Montana Blu.

“We opened up Montana Blu with the idea of having a fully functioning salon so people get their work experience but also at the end of the 18 months to two years, they had the equivalent experience of a four-year apprenticeship because they were participating in the running of and real-life issues in the salon, and they could have something that was not only accredited but globally recognised,” Debbie said.

Accredited by the British and International Hairdressing Schools, who are affiliated with the British Hairdressing Council, Montana Blu offers hairdressing diplomas and beginners’ barbering courses as well as a wide range of refresher and tailor-made courses for those seeking to upskill, refresh or to learn something new.

Students at the salon also get to build their own client base and train by offering customers reduced prices in exchange for their time.

A variety of workshops will also be taking place at the salon as Debbie noted that the award-winning bridal stylist Trisha O’Sullivan, will be giving an upstyling course in November which is open to all levels.

While Debbie has said goodbye to Mitchelstown, she notes the positives gained from the town as she steps up to a new challenge in Fermoy.

“Mitchelstown was good to me. I’m very grateful that all my clients are still here with me, but a move to Fermoy was on the cards for a while,” Debbie said.

Now, with society reopening, Debbie is hopeful that Montana Blu will be a game-changer for the town as it was in Mitchelstown.

“I definitely think Montana Blu made people stop and think about the way they were running their own businesses. We were very much the first to try different things and be outside of what was considered the norm and I would love to see that happen here. We will, in time, when people have places to go and everything opens back up again,” she added.

Montana Blu, 63 Patrick Street, Fermoy • Tel: 087-3601506