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CHAMPAIGN — Rod Sickler is feeling very blessed.

His southwest Champaign salon and spa is fully staffed and growing, and he’s now in the process of expanding by creating a new cosmetology school in the former Blossom Basket Florist space next door to the salon at 2520 Village Green Place, C.

“I couldn’t feel more blessed,” Sickler said.

Blossom Basket’s Village at the Crossing shop closed Dec. 24, after owner Ron Bailey decided to consolidate his florist shop at his Urbana location at 1002 N. Cunningham Ave.

The timing was right, Bailey said, adding that Sickler was looking for expansion space, and about 85 percent of Blossom Basket’s business is delivery these days.

Sickler, owner of Rod Sickler Salon & Spa, said his expansion is creating a beauty, health and wellness campus with a school.

The cosmetology school, to be called the Royal University by IdHair, will open in partnership with Chandra and Raymond Niemerg, owners of the Royal School of Cosmetology in Effingham.

Sickler said Brian Furry, his partner in IdHair North America his product-distribution company, will also be a partner in the cosmetology school.

Chandra Niemerg said the Champaign cosmetology school will begin offering a cosmetology program then add nail and barber programs, a teaching program for instructors, a medical aesthetics program and continuing education and refresher courses.

Sickler said his campus includes his newly remodeled salon and spa, along with a personal training studio, a Dr. Jesse Butler spine consultation office and a new weight-loss clinic by Dr. Jason Jerabek.

The cosmetology school, set to open in March, will have openings for four classes a year of about 25 students each, Sickler said.

While his salon is fully staffed, he said, having a source of new cosmetology graduates will be great for business in the long run. Typically, new hires have to be trained in his salon’s system of cutting and coloring, while graduates of the new cosmetology school will already be trained in those processes, he said.

“I think it makes sense for us,” Sickler said.

Despite pandemic-related limited capacity and a shutdown last year, his business has continued to do well, he said.

For one thing, he said, clients really appreciated being able to get their hair done again after three months of not being able to do that.

In addition to the expansion underway, Sickler said 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of his annual fundraiser for charities, Red Hot Winter. This year’s event, to be held Feb. 25-26 at the City Center, Champaign, will benefit Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness, he said.

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