Akari, nestled in Portland’s historic Old Port, is known for a lot of things: a flawless reputation, understated opulence, a state-of-the-art medispa and its knowledgeable team of diverse stylists and colorists.

What isn’t as apparent, but equally impressive, is the Akari Apprentice Program. Sure, many salons have a similar program, but Akari’s program is different. Much like the salon, its apprentice program is unique and ultimately plays a big role in Akari’s success.

That is why we decided to focus this month not on a specific spa treatment, but on Akari’s Apprentice Program.

Stephanie Madore, a senior stylist, has been with Akari since 1994. She was one the very first stylists to go through Akari’s Apprentice Program.

In 2009 Jennie McEdward walked into Akari for a haircut and walked out as a member of the apprentice program. Today she runs the haircutting portion of the program, training the next generation of Akari’s top talent.


Three Fabulous Women

Caitlin Berger, Akari Apprentice

We would be remiss if we didn’t shine our light on three fabulous women, all at different points in their cosmetology journey: Caitlin Berger, Kelsey Lambert, and Sophia Krieckhaus.

Caitlin Berger, Akari Apprentice. We welcomed Caitlin to Akari in October 2017, as a licensed cosmetologist. “I just really wanted some more education because I wanted to really be able to excel in what I love doing, which is color.” She knew Akari was the best place to add to her knowledge and skills.

“A lot of other programs, they have you shadow one person the whole program. Here (at Akari) they let you shadow under all the colorists, so you learn all kinds of tips and tricks, which is pretty cool to me.”

Caitlin graduated on March 12th.

“It makes me feel so happy, so excited. It’s what I’m passionate about.”

Kelsey Lambert, Akari ApprenticeKelsey Lambert was working at a salon in the mall when she graduated from cosmetology school but she didn’t feel confident in herself or her skill set. She came to Akari’s apprentice program in June of 2018.

“I really like it a lot, learning from everybody. I’ve gotten more excited about focusing on the cutting track. It made me more excited about the art of cutting.”

Sophia Krieckhaus, the newest member of the apprentice program, started in January. She wasn’t accepted the first time she applied two years ago, but because she is tenacious and driven she achieved her goal of landing one of Akari’s coveted positions.

“It’s the most supported I’ve felt in a job ever. Everyone is here to help you get through whatever you need. It’s really great. I feel like this is my second home already.”

Sophia Krieckhaus, Akari Apprentice

Akari’s Apprentice Program is comprehensive and customized. When you’re hired at Akari your experience level lets us know where your journey begins. A veteran stylist may hit the floor right away. Others just starting out will go through an individualized curriculum. There is bookwork, quizzes, practical work and a whole lot more.

Eliza Norton, the general manager of Akari, says they strive to find passionate, career-minded people. “We’re creating and molding what exactly embodies our culture and our philosophy on how to do a great color or cut”.

Eliza says the program, which is always evolving, wasn’t designed to be easy. “It’s intense. You learn specific methods and techniques. You’re constantly being pushed out of your comfort zone.”

Sophie agrees. “It’s a lot of work. We’re here Monday through Saturday for 8-hour shifts. You really have to love this. You really have to want it because it’s not handed to you in any way.”

The apprentices at Akari are paid. They are not assistants. They’re employees, part of a team where everyone rolls up their sleeves and works together and learns from one another.

Jeffrey Blais is the owner of Akari and one of the brightest talents in the business. “Having an entire team training the people behind them makes them stronger. When you’re teaching you’re also learning.”

A business that is built on the talent and the hard work of their employees…that’s the Akari way.

If you or someone you know is interested in Akari’s Apprentice Program visit akaribeauty.com or call 207.772.9060.

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