After driving trucks for most of her working life, Chanelle Taylor decided her mid-30s was the time to get in touch with her more feminine side.
She could hardly have chosen a more different career direction. Last year, the Taradale mother-of-two started the Diploma in Beauty and Body Therapy programme at EIT Hawke’s Bay.
It’s a whole new world for Chanelle, and she’s loving it all – learning about facial therapy, professional practice, cosmetic services, waxing, electrology, body therapy, human structure and function and health and first aid.
Nearing the end of the two-year programme, she plans to set up a home-based business – and is rebuilding the garage to create a body and beauty clinic!
Chanelle began driving trucks several years after going into the transport industry as a school leaver. Growing up in Te Aroha, she was about 19 when she left the Waikato for Hawke’s Bay to work for a trucking firm.
Starting as an office girl cum despatcher, she moved to despatch/stores. Then, in her early 20s, she was made manager.
Responsible for a fleet of trucks – 16 in Napier, about 24 in Te Aroha and six in Auckland – she found vehicle maintenance her biggest challenge and wondered whether drivers were having her on when they reported problems with vehicles.
She “jumped ship” to a job as assistant manager for another transport company – one where she didn’t have responsibility for maintaining the fleet.
“I worked there for a couple of years, by which time I was sick of the office thing. I felt it was time for a change.”
The change was to drive her own logging truck. A truck driver himself, husband Jason Taylor trained her in the job, accompanying her into forestry blocks and supporting her as she worked through the steps to get her full licence.
For some years after, the couple led a hectic life as they worked demanding shifts driving their trucks. Deciding they needed more balance in their lives, they found time to start a family with a child, Jackie-Lee, now nearly 10 – and for Chanelle to dovetail a job-share position unloading logs at Pan Pac Forest Products’ Whirinaki mill.
By the time she became pregnant with second daughter Stevie, now coming up five, Chanelle was rather over driving and going up against fellow workers’ negative attitudes to a woman doing the job.
“I had to fight the perception that I couldn’t do a man’s job by proving that I could do it as well as them. I did that, and was over it. I just wanted a complete turnaround with what I was doing.”
Chanelle is confident she’s made the right choice in pursuing beauty and body therapy.
“I really like making people feel good about themselves. We all tend to notice the negative things about ourselves. I like to point it out the positive features to clients – that they have nice eyes, perhaps, or beautiful lips. It’s good to hear the positive, and I always tell the truth.”
Her daughters also love their mother’s new career path.
“The 10-year-old is at me to tint her eyebrows and I say, ‘hey slow down’. Both girls like having their toe and finger nails done and they play around making each other up.
“They say that’s what they’re going to do when they grow up, but, who knows, they could end up builders and painters.”
Whatever careers her children choose, they are going to know how to look after themselves.
“As a child, I was told nothing about nothing. They will grow up knowing about good skin care and how to care for their bodies.”
Chanelle is enthusiastic about her diploma studies, which she says provides good all-round training.
“The programme teaches you the tools of the trade and you can do extra courses, such as EIT’s Certificate in Spa Therapy, to build on what you’ve been taught.”
The only downside with this new lifestyle is that fitness has had to take a back seat to balancing study with the demands of raising a young family.
“You do need to be extremely strong to be a logging truck drive and I was quite muscled. I used to run 12 kilometres a day, six days a week. Now I’ve got no time for exercise, and my muscles have gone flabby. Next year it’s my aim to get fit again.”
Although she now feels very much in touch with her feminine side, Chanelle isn’t altogether over her love of big grunty motors.
She rides a Triumph Bonneville America, an 800cc motorbike.
“It’s full of chrome and gives me a lot of things to polish. It’s just my toy,” she laughs. “It’s just wonderful.”