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Head of the class – Holly Back

Holly Back taught hundreds of young women to snip their way to success and self-respect. Now, her go-for-it attitude will show you anything’s possible when you believe in yourself.

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Where there’s a will

Today, five years later, students like Tammy Robertson—the blond 19-year-old having a quick snack at the table next to Holly—are proof her school is on track. “I feel as if it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Robertson says smiling at her teacher. Aside from the fact that Holly helped her fall in love with hairdressing, Robertson is inspired by the way a business can touch the community through events like this Sunday’s charity run. “Holly is a celebrity in North Vancouver,” Robertson says. “It’s great that she uses her popularity for a good cause.”

The idea for this event popped up when Holly heard that aneighbourhood woman needed a van that could accommodate her child’s wheelchair. Holly realized that if she encouraged the salon’s 200-odd clients to participate in a charity run, they’d have that money in no time. She was right. More than 500 runners turned up that first year—they raised $16,000. “In the end, that van gave the woman her life back,” Holly says. That’s when she decided to make the race annual.

Right now, however, coffee time is up and Holly scoots back into the salon to rejoin her students. She immediately spots a young woman struggling with her blow-dryer because the client’s gorgeous silver hair just won’t do what it should. “Hang on a second,” Holly says, stepping in and demonstrating how to make it look smooth and chic in a few easy motions. The student nods and studies her technique. Soon enough she’ll be able to get the job done on her own.

And the same goes for Holly’s staff in the salon next door. The plan at the moment, she says, is to make her business as healthy as possible and able to sustain itself. Then she will sell it to her stylists. Not only would this give Holly an opportunity to tackle some of her other big dreams—such as working with the local chamber of commerce to promote small business—but also it’s the perfect opportunity to coach her team into pushing themselves into a new challenge. Because, she says smiling, if she can get out there and accomplish the big things, everyone can.