Get To Know Your Trainer: Mel Wilcox
GOTAFE beauty trainer Mel explains why foundations are the key to learning.
When it comes to beauty, GOTAFE trainer Mel Wilcox will tell you it quite literally does start from within. With a history in health and fitness, she tells us there's a lot of cool new things that can be learned from studying beauty at GOTAFE.
Tell us about yourself.
I started off in the health and fitness industry; I've been an aerobics instructor, a personal trainer and a nutritionist. I then moved into the beauty sector, that was over 20 years ago now, it was a nice segway moving from work that focussed around inner health and body into the beauty aspect of it. Looking after skin and putting all my experience together has helped to shape my teaching career at GOTAFE.
Have you been able to bring your previous experience to the class room?
Absolutely, we actually teach a component of nutrition in one of our courses. When we get to learning anatomy of skin physiology, our students realise that it does matter what you put into your body and how it can affect different skin types.
What are some of the highlights of your teaching career at GOTAFE?
I really enjoy taking the students on excursions to a spa to get a first hand insight to what it’s like in the industry. They love it, we have some particularly beautiful spas around us in Beechworth and Yarrawonga that really showcase the best aspects of the industry.
What have been some challenges?
I think this stands for all teachers, when COVID hit. Right across the board it was a challenge. Though it helped us to realise that we could work and achieve the same goals theoretically in a digital space. Personally I prefer face-to-face teaching, but the online scope showed us that we can expand our reach to students that may not necessarily have the opportunity to access our classes on a full-time capacity.
What has been the most interesting part about the courses you teach?
In the makeup sector, it’s constantly changing. We teach everything from airbrush makeup, to special effects and creative makeup. Makeup has changed dramatically over the last twenty years, even when I was teaching ten years ago as opposed to now – I love that we’ve been part of an evolutionary journey in beauty when it comes to educating our students.
Do you think that you can learn from Youtube what you learn at GOTAFE?
Short answer, not always. Our students have their favourite artists in makeup, hair and beauty, just as you would have in any area that interests you. However with anything, in particular makeup, there are definitely some fundamentals that need to be explored first. A great example is the colour theory, I don’t feel it is something that is taught in the Youtube tutorials.
Even though some of our younger students come in with learnings from online resources feeling as though they have a comprehensive understanding of beauty techniques, I have a little giggle when I see their faces as they realise there’s a lot more involved in it than what they’ve seen.
What do you believe makes a great GOTAFE trainer?
I think there’s many aspects to it. We’re not only their trainer, we help them along emotionally and mentally through their journey here at GOTAFE – because study can raise some challenges sometimes. We are here to guide them with career advice as well as help create career opportunities for them in the industry when they have completed their studies. It’s very hands on learning, and we cater to each student and their learning needs individually.
Different students have different backgrounds, learning abilities and sometimes home circumstances that may be a barrier with their studies, so we as trainers adjust our teaching according to what will enable our students the best outcome for each of them. An example of this being illustrated is our VCAL students, we have some as young as sixteen, so obviously your teaching style needs to engage them. We make it fun and build up big personalities that they can connect with.
What advice do you have for someone considering a career in beauty?
If you are wanting to become a beauty therapist or a makeup artist, you do need to think about that as your career and the fact that it is a service that is all about the client. It’s always about making others feel great about themselves. If you come with that in mind and a friendly attitude you’ll certainly enjoy a career in this field.