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Salon Success Academies: Committed to a Leadership Role in Beauty Education

May ’09

“Ahead of the curve”

For the past 18 years, Salon Success Academy has been a highly regarded member of the southern California beauty school industry. Not satisfied to rest on their laurels, President and Owner, Robert Gross and Education Director, Susan Turner, began testing a progressive initiative in October 2008 — to enhance the Salon Success Academy (SSA) brand name and image by providing students with added value to the school’s already first-rate beauty education.

Bob and Susan are also committed to a longer term goal for the school: to offer Advanced Education classes to multiple audiences — graduates of Salon Success, graduates of other beauty schools, and the salon professional who wants to brush up on new techniques.

To help launch these initiatives, Bob and Susan enlisted Jerry Tyler, a beauty industry leader with more than 35 years of experience as an educator, industry advocate, salon owner and “behind the chair” practitioner. Jerry has been traveling among Salon Success’ five campuses since the October launch of the demonstration series, which Jerry has named “Advanced Classics.”

Jerry’s specialized training demonstration is provided to both Salon Success students and instructors. According to Jerry, both audiences receive the same training so they are “on the same page.” However, the instructor training takes on an added dimension, because instructors must know How to teach the material in depth; they must know the Why of what they’re teaching. Because instructors have had experience in the industry, they practice their craft automatically. Jerry trains instructors to be prepared to answer the Why for their students: why are we teaching this method, why are we addressing this, why is this important, etc.

Jerry’s two-hour demonstration is very comprehensive, covering theory, product knowledge, cutting, finishing and coloring skills. Most importantly, Jerry emphasizes the school’s (and his) conviction that along with technical skills, mastering personal and professional skills is indispensable to maintaining a high level of success in the beauty industry. Says Susan, “Jerry’s beauty industry background, personal success story and passion for the industry lights a fire under the students, especially the freshmen.”

Jerry says, “When the demonstration series began, I worked with students who were closer to graduation. Now, Bob, Susan and I agree that working with students in their freshmen year is considerably more effective.” Jerry continues, “Beginning students are like an empty glass or a blank canvas; it’s much easier to teach them correctly when they’ve had only 200 to 300 hours of training.”

Bob and Susan are confident that their commitment to bringing SSA to a higher level of excellence , coupled with Jerry’s deep industry knowledge, motivational and presentation skills, will result in Salon Success being perfectly poised to be at the vanguard of beauty education.

Demonstrating The Method

Jerry shows students the basic foundation of hair cutting . He trains students to be able to look at any design and break it down. Says Jerry, “They have to understand what they’re doing, when they’re doing it – because now the haircut IS the foundation of any hairstyle. According to Jerry, it wasn’t always this way. Until the mid-60s, hairstyling was the foundation, haircutting was secondary.

During the late 60s American society began to change dramatically, due primarily to huge numbers of baby boomers entering the workplace coupled with the advent of the feminist movement. Women didn’t want to go to salons every week and sit under the dryer for an hour. They were looking for low maintenance, yet highly fashionable hairstyles.

During the 70s, Vidal Sassoon, beauty industry icon , was a visionary on the European beauty scene. Sassoon created modern hairdressing based on the idea that the hair cut IS the foundation of any hairstyle. Sassoon introduced cutting hair using The Method, which trains the student how to break a haircut down. Jerry comments, “If you go to the basics of all great cutters, they use The Method in one shape or form, even if they don’t know they’re using it.”

Sassoon moved to the U.S. in the 80s and brought his industry-leading methods of cutting hair with him. Sassoon’s challenge was how to teach these techniques to Americans who had no formal cutting background. As history proves, Sassoon met and exceeded the challenge. Sassoon is considered by the beauty industry to be the architect of modern hair dressing.

Training the Instructor

Jerry is especially demanding of the instructors. “In the past, instructor mentality has been that the student is in the classroom for them. I emphasize that the instructor needs to realize that they are accountable to their students, who are also their clients,” says Jerry.

Jerry adjusts his training based on instructors’ background. Jerry continues, “Part-time instructors are industry professionals with salon experience; I need to train them on How to explain and breakdown what they do, because often they are doing it naturally, automatically from experience. On the other hand, the traditional, full-time instructor has been away from ‘behind the chair’ and immersed in an educational environment. These instructors need to be updated on the changes in the industry and get up to speed”, says Jerry.

Jerry believes that instructors need to realize they’re not just distributing knowledge, because hairdressing is so competency based, especially haircutting. Hair dressing is at least 80% competency and 20% content. In Jerry’s opinion, “Haircutting is mostly a craft, not an art. Art comes in the design, the application; doing it is a craft that requires discipline, attention and focus.”

Training the Student

Perfecting the technical skills — cutting, finishing and coloring – need to be mastered to graduate and pass the State Boards. These are the technical skills required to become a licensed beauty profession. An equally vital component of the Salon Success program is learning and mastering the “nuts and bolts” — professional and personal skills, such as consultation skills, first impression skills, up-servicing, pre-booking, and exceptional customer service skills that are the cornerstone to building and maintaining a loyal clientele.

As “Advanced Classics” continues to be a winner with both students and instructors, Bob, Susan and Jerry are currently developing the logistics of incorporating the material into the standard 1600-hour Cosmetology curriculum.

Advanced Education

In addition to the ongoing “Advanced Classics” demonstration series, Jerry is working with Bob and Susan on a business strategy to offer advanced training classes at Salon Success Academies. Says Jerry, “These will be true post- graduate classes, like advanced esthetics and advanced haircutting.

By adding Advanced Classes to their beauty program offerings, Bob and Susan will re-enforce their strong commitment to lifelong learning. Bob, Susan and Jerry believe that passing the State Boards gives SSA students “a license to learn for the rest of their lives.” Jerry concludes, “To progress and grow in the beauty industry, you need to continue to educate yourself — if you stand still, you’ll die.”

About Jerry Tyler

Jerry Tyler is currently the President of the California State Board of Cosmetology.

He is the owner and Director of Education and Industry Relations for the 35-unit Carlton Hair. Carlton was started in South Africa 40 years ago and has been in business in the U.S. for 30 years. The Carlton Education Division was created in 1982; Jerry has served as an educator at Carlton since day one.

Throughout his long and remarkable career, Jerry has never strayed too long from “behind the chair.” “Ultimately, I define my success by what I do with my customers. Over the years, I’ve evolved and changed along with the industry and I bring this history to my students.”

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About Salon Success Academies

Salon Success Academy offers five locations in California’s Inland Empire, in Redlands, Fontana, Upland, San Bernardino, and Corona. Our mission at SSA involves caring for every student as a member of our family, furnishing the chance to finish their educational objectives as affordably as possible. SSA incorporates first-hand, real-world practice of the principles of cosmetology, skin care, and nail artistry. The campus teams with members of the beauty industry to educate our graduates on the technical and customer service skills they need to succeed in their careers.



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Our mission is to equip our students with the tools necessary to succeed in the beauty industry by providing exceptional technical education in the classroom and servicing our local communities. The training our students receive will enable them to successfully attain employment in the beauty industry and related fields.

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