Award-winning hairdresser is a cut above the rest | New

For those lucky enough to live in the Meadville area, a shampoo and new treatment from a gold medal-winning national champion hairstylist is just a matter of a quick trip downtown and an affordable $ 18 fee. for men or $ 28 for a full-breath soufflé.

Prospective clients should note that while appointments are welcome at The Cutting Edge, appointments are preferred – and news of Andrew Locke’s recent victory at the SkillsUSA National Championships continues to spread, it may be more needed than ever.

For clients, the proximity of Locke’s services may be a matter of luck, but luck has little to do with the accolades he has received in recent months. Locke’s first place in the recent National SkillsUSA competition came weeks after his victory in statewide competitions. The gold medal performances were the culmination of his three-year cosmetology program at Crawford County Career and Technical Center (CTC), where he was, unsurprisingly, Senior of the Year this year, according to Kristen. Deets, who heads the CCT’s Cosmetology Program.

But cosmetology and hairdressing in particular have been a passion for much longer, says Locke. Since he was about 5 years old, Locke has been craving his hair, and he’s been working in the field, at least unofficially, almost as long: his mother, Cory Grazier, is a cosmetologist, and when friends or clients come to the house. for a cut it would help.

On Tuesday, as 1990s rock played a cacophony of haircuts, blow-drys, and chat with patrons at The Cutting Edge on West Center Street, Locke worked on Rose Bond’s head of glowing white hair.

“I love to see how quickly a person can change over a period of time,” said Locke, lock of hair in left hand, long scissors in right. “I think it’s so interesting how someone can get in and they’re completely different by the time they leave my station.”

Of course, not everyone wants a complete makeover when they sit in the stylist’s chair, and that’s okay too, Locke said.

“For the most part, I do what the customer wants – unless they come in and say, ‘Oh, I don’t care,’ Locke said, stopping as he watched. Bond’s head from behind. ”Then, I’m like,“ Great, that’s when I can do whatever I want and I can show people this is what I love to do. . “

And Locke loves nothing more than coloring the hair.

“Then I can shine,” Locke said, her own curtain of purple curls gleaming every now and then as a constellation of earrings loomed on the horizon.

“It’s just because of COVID,” Locke said of his “done” much longer than usual. “I decided to let him grow up.”

A few chairs down, Cutting Edge co-owner Donita West was busy with her own clients, but was happy to talk about Locke’s recent triumphs. Not only is Locke a gold medalist in a national competition for students of vocational and technical schools, he also took on a perhaps even greater challenge: not only did Locke cut his hair, colored it to match his highlights. West said, but more importantly, “I got a lot of compliments.”

Locke, who started working at the salon as part of the CTC co-op program, has been on staff for about nine months, according to West. While Locke is clearly already accomplished, West said the continued experience will allow him to further hone his skills.

“He’s going to be phenomenal,” she said.

“He will always have a place here,” she added, “but we expect him to go places – and that’s okay.”

The pompadour prodigy, who said he spent little time moving away from the Crawford County area, already has his eyes set on one destination: Lyon, France, the host city of the upcoming WorldSkills competition.

Details on the competition are still vague, according to Deets.

WorldSkills are generally held every two years. The most recent competition was scheduled to take place in Shanghai, China last year, but has been postponed due to the pandemic and is now scheduled for October. The Lyon competition, initially scheduled for 2023, could be postponed to 2024.

Additionally, Deets said, typically the national winners of two consecutive years compete against each other to determine who will represent the United States in the global competition. If this process continues, Locke may have to win another competition, but given the lingering uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it is not yet clear whether he will automatically advance or face one more round.

Either way, Deets said, Locke has already accomplished more than nearly every CTC student in recent history. The recent SkillsUSA National Championships were held remotely due to concerns about the pandemic.

The result, Locke said, was “pretty intense”: throughout the competition, as he created a hair color, a bun and three hairstyles – a men’s cut, a ladies’ cut and a haircut. uniform – Locke worked in front of two cameras so the distant jury could confirm that everything was his job.

“After they looked at everything, we even had to send in pictures – and they would watch you take the pictures – to make sure the students were doing the job,” Deets recalls.

Locke’s accomplishments come at the end of a three-year program that is among the most academically demanding of those offered by the CLC, according to Deets. Learning about skin care, makeup, waxing, nail care, and “anything you can imagine with hair,” students study everything from anatomy to electrical systems.

“You wouldn’t believe my manual,” she said.

As for Andrew, she added, he’s that rare combination of talent and determination. Deets recalled that Locke regularly stayed after school and came to help during the summer months. At the same time, she described an innate gift that defied stereotypes.

“Funny he’s a guy, but he could blow most girls out of the water,” Deets said. ” He understands. He just has a knack for it.

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at [email protected]

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