Today, she owns and runs her own business, Pretty Boutique(external link), a successful beauty therapy clinic in Nelson that’s always fully-booked with happy clients.
Petra didn’t have an easy road to “living the dream”, but says studying Beauty Therapy at NMIT was a “turning point” in her life.
Her first job in the beauty industry was as a makeup artist at a Revlon counter in Richmond Mall.
But after the birth of her daughter, Petra decided to study business administration and got a job at Nelson Suburban Club. Her childhood dream took a back seat to the responsibilities of parenthood.
After getting pregnant with her second child and moving to Australia, Petra says she found herself at a low point in her life.
“For a while I was feeling low, so I went to get my hair done one day, and there was a lady in there doing nails and the care and friendliness lifted me up,” Petra says.
“And I don't know what happened in that moment, but I was like, ‘Right, that's what I want to do, I'm going to go and do it’.”
Petra returned to Nelson with her young daughter and 8-month-old son and enrolled in the two-year beauty therapy diploma at NMIT in 2016.
The programme Petra took is now delivered as the New Zealand Certificate in Beauty Therapy, Level 4 and Diploma in Beauty Therapy, Level 5.
Students get one-on-one support from expert tutors, work experience in NMIT’s commercial training salon, and the skills, knowledge and qualification to work as a beauty therapist.
Petra says it was inspiring to study alongside other young mothers at NMIT.
“Myself and some of the other mothers all were at the top of the class. It’s a lot to juggle but we women can just do that.”
There is an emphasis on beauty and body science in the diploma programme, which Petra says was “absolutely fascinating”.
Cosmetic companies recommend that beauty therapists have science skills as it helps them to understand how the skin and body works, and how hormones and lifestyle can influence different treatments.
Petra says she formed a special bond with NMIT Beauty Therapy tutor Chanelle Taylor, who supported her during her studies.
It was Chanelle who helped Petra with planning to open her own business after graduating.
Petra says the best part about her job is helping to lift people’s spirits — the same magic she experienced at her low point before she started studying.
“Watching people's confidence grow as you do each treatment is what makes me so happy.”