Treating stereotypes with disdain, beauty therapist Briah Chapman is carving a career out of an industry she loves and with a success that has already taken her overseas. Kimberley Price writes as much fun as that has been, Briah is much more serious about her future as a specialist who doesn’t plan to stop learning any time soon
BRIAH CHAPMAN IS a confident young woman who is determined to be the best in her industry.
And she is well and truly on her way.
The Vibe Skin & Beauty therapist graduated with a diploma of beauty from Elly Lukas in December 2015 with outstanding results.
But her path to achievement hasn't been an easy one.
After graduating from Echuca College in 2013, Briah started studying occupational therapy at La Trobe Bendigo
“I hated it,” she said.
“I never wanted to go but everyone says you have to go to uni.
“I just didn't care about it.”
After finishing a semester at university Briah considered studying beauty. After an interview and tour of Elly Lukas Beauty School in Flinders Lane, in the heart of Melbourne, she started the rigorous course.
“After the first six months, the people who aren't serious about studying usually drop out,” the 23-year-old said.
“Every day is different at Elly Lukas because you have different subjects.
“There's six subjects a semester and there's three semesters.
“There's only two subjects a day but it's quite full-on because you have both theory and practical components in each subject every day and then there are tests on top of that.
“You have to have a 95 per cent attendance rate and if you missed more than one class, even with a medical certificate, you have to sit in on other classes to make your time up.
“You have to get a minimum of 70 per cent in every single test to pass.
“I think my first test I got 75 per cent because I was so terrified.
“But after that I never got below 85 and that was on a bad day.”
Briah's determination to do well at her course paid off on graduation night in August 2016 where she picked up two awards.
“Through my whole course I was determined to be recognised at graduation,” she said.
“When they first started reading out the awards I was devastated because I didn't get the award I thought I might have.
“Then I received the spray tanning award and the ITEC award.
“There were three ITEC awards given out and it was for the highest results in the international exams.
“Which is ironic because I didn't actually want to do the ITEC — I wanted to come home,” Briah laughed.
Briah completed two international exams and by passing them she can now work anywhere in the world where the qualification is recognised.
Her achievements at Elly Lukas are all the more commendable given that on a Friday, in order to attend class, she had to leave Echuca at 3.30 am.
“For the majority of the time I was studying, I was living in Echuca,” she said.
“At the time it was my only option because I had my family and my partner Dylan (they are planning a February wedding) here and I didn't want to move.
“I would work at Beauty Lodge Monday morning then catch the train to Melbourne in the afternoon.
“I had class on Tuesday and Wednesday, would come home Wednesday night and I'd work on Thursday.
“On the Friday I would make a round trip where I got up at 3.30 am to make it to Bendigo for the 6 am train.
“Class started at 9:30 and would finish at 4:30 and then I'd be back home at 8:00.
“Then I'd get up and go to work on Saturday.”
Briah's fierce determination saw her receive Elly Lukas' sought after scholarship to London to represent the beauty school and attend the World Spa Beauty Expo.
In February 2017, Briah and another recipient of the scholarship, touched down in London for the 10 day trip.
“The first few days were touristy, where we went on the London Eye, saw Big Ben and had treatments at the House of ELEMIS,” she said.
“Then we went to the two day World Spa Beauty Expo where we got to sit in all the conferences and meetings and meet all the spa directors and people who make spa equipment.
“On the last night it was the World Spa and Wellness awards night where another girl and I got to present the trophies to all the world-wide spa winners.
“Then we went to Paris where we did more touristy things like dinner on the Eiffel Tower and going to the Palace of Versailles.”
Many people mistakenly assume beauty therapy is an easy profession for those who didn't like, or didn't do well at, school. But Briah is breaking down those stereotypes and letting her work speak for itself.
“When I was 12 in my Year 6 graduation video it says when I'm older I want to be a beauty therapist',” Briah recalled.
“Everyone told me not to do beauty because it was a dead end career.
“I think beauty's got a name where people only do it because they've got nothing else to do or they drop out of school.
“I think it's got a bit of a reputation of being a drop out career.
“People think it's easy when actually it's a lot of hard work.
“If you want to do beauty and you're serious about it — Elly Lukas is pretty amazing.
“But it's something you have to be serious about.
“You have to put in the effort to get the results and get the opportunities.”
Briah's passion for the beauty industry reflects in her work. With a list of loyal customers, her bright and positive attitude is welcoming to everyone.
“I just like being able to help people and make them feel better about themselves,” she said.
“I really want to further my knowledge and advance the skills I already have in skin care through the advanced facials which includes using electrical equipment.
“I really like helping people with their skin to get the results because there's nothing worse than feeling self-conscious about yourself.
“I just think everyone's beautiful in their own way.”