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Viewpoint: Education

Steve Reiss | January 5, 2012 | 8:52 AM

THESE DAYS, I’M SPENDING A LOT OF TIME THINKING ABOUT EDUCATION. MUCH OF IT HAS TO DO WITH WHAT’S ON THE NEWS. Politicians are talking about “reeducating” American workers, educating voters about economic policy, or educating people on the other side of the world about running a democracy.

Education is never far from my mind, or from the collective minds of the salon industry.

Pretty much any day of the year there is a stylist educational event occurring somewhere. That’s because the salon industry understands—and has always understood—the value of education. We understand that education keeps us current, sets us apart, and ultimately makes us successful. And while some people’s interest in education is related to licensing requirements and CEU credits, most stylists’ interest in education is driven by a personal challenge to be the best they can be.

I AM, HOWEVER, NOTICING A SHIFT IN THE KIND OF EDUCATION BEAUTY PROFESSIONALS ARE PURSUING. There is a defi nite uptick of interest in “the fundamentals.” Learning how to expand a client base, price services, build more business with existing clients and market a salon or individual “brand” are all hot topics. Business education is suddenly in style.

This isn’t suggesting there is any less interest in the creative cut, color, style side. Step-by-step service education is still the most popular and essential education for licensed professionals, which is why we invest in and cover it heavily in MODERN. Also, the growth of online education platforms, including modernsalonlearning. com, shows just how strong that demand continues to be. It is worth noting that, overall, the trend in beauty education is for it to be broader and more pervasive than ever. Perhaps it’s a refl ection of a challenging market—the economy has taught beauty professionals they have to make money to support their “inner artists,” and, to do so, they have to focus on business best practices.

Perhaps all the salon exposure on TV—a lot of it highlighting our worst practices—has given salons a wakeup call. Perhaps it’s the growing social network that’s connected us more closely to our peers. (See our 26,000- plus “professional” friends on facebook.com/modernsalon.)

NO MATTER WHAT THE CAUSE, THE EFFECT IS THE SAME: a growing awareness among beauty professionals that they really are in the “business” of beauty, and need to do everything they can to make their personal and salon businesses successful.

As publishers of SALON TODAY (which focuses on the business side of beauty) we’ve covered this renewed focus very closely—and plan to give even more attention in the months ahead. I’ve attended several salon business seminars in the past few months and wasn’t surprised that they inspired similar levels of passion and emotion you see at industry fashion, styling and color design events: standing ovations for the instructors and tears from participants are standard, appreciative reactions to getting the resources and knowledge to continue to thrive in the career they love.

This trend will continue, and I expect we’ll come out of this economic downturn with more salons and stylists that not only know how to make their clients look and feel great, but know how to run great businesses as well.

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