30 September 2023

Voices from the NextGen: Leo Passage Scholarship Winner Matt Stradling Speaks Out!

Matt Stradling, a Bellus Academy student and a Leo Passage Scholarship winner, will be sharing his creations on the runway during the 2017 Beauty Changes Lives Experience on Sunday, March 26 during America’s Beauty Show. Matt shares his NextGen perspective on a calling that connects passion, people and purpose.

A career evolves from caulking to coifs. “Something magical happens when you step out of your comfort zone,” notes Matthew (Matt) in his Leo Passage Scholarship application video. The former journeyman plumber stepped out of the role of stay-at-home parent and embraced his passion for a career in beauty by enrolling at Bellus Academy. As a 2016 Leo Passage Scholarship recipient, Matt’s creativity and passion will be on display during the Beauty Changes Lives Experience, March 26, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

How did your career evolve from studying as a journeyman plumber to preparing for a career as a hairstylist?
I just was not passionate about working in the plumbing trade. I wanted a career that would allow me to support my family, work with other people and that feel passionate about. I love hair, fashion and the creative process.

What prompted you to go to beauty school?
My wife is a hairstylist and loves what she does. And as I watched the people in her salon and in the industry I really liked how the career is all about interacting with people and helping others look and feel their best.

How do you stay motivated as a student?
It’s all about having teachers who can work with a student’s style of learning. At Bellus Academy, Chris Pool is an inspiring teacher. She’s organized and she understands that I’m a visual learner and teaches in a way that works well for me.

What inspires you as a future hairstylist?
I’ve always liked the fashion industry. For a while, I was interested in avant garde. The universe works in mysterious ways and when a friend directed an avant garde show, I volunteered for the experience. But when it comes to my career after beauty school, I see myself working behind the chair first and also doing some editorial work.

What are you looking forward to as you experience the Beauty Changes Lives Experience?
This will be my first trip to Chicago and I’m excited about the mentoring I’ll receive and presenting a runway presentation that will be seen by icons in the industry.

What advice would you offer to someone considering a career in the beauty industry?
Be excited about what you do! If it’s something you like, your passion and drive will make going to work a joy. If you’re going to have a career, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about.


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