“15 years ago, we brought Great Lengths into the country and our biggest challenge those first few years was getting hairdressers past the stigma of extensions,” says Brett Butcher, Great Lengths' national program director. “You only need one hairdresser who doesn’t know what they’re doing to have people saying, ‘Extensions are bad.’ That’s why education is at the core of everything else we do. Salons and the hairdressers are the representation of our brand.”
With a small team of twelve carefully selected and painstakingly trained educators, fronted by two co-directors of education, the Great Length Education Team grooms salon professionals for extension success.
“Great Lengths USA education is right where I hoped it would be,” says Butcher. “I have absolute confidence in our educators. Our goal is if an attendee went to 15 different classes, at different locations, we expect them to have the same experience each time. When a hairdressers is going to start asking two and three thousand for a service, we know they have to walk out of the classroom with absolute confidence.”
Two co-directors of education are, according to Butcher, the perfect blend of creative and technical. Darren Brokaw, a St. Louis-based salon owner, is the creative; Celeste Lucero from Denver is technique. “The thing that is rare is to have two people who have such strong points of view individually complement each other so beautifully. They collaborate to reformat our learning guide and to make it easy to understand. We just came out of an educator update and I noticed that our educators have so much confidence in what they (Brokaw and Lucero) are presenting to them that they don’t even question the changes but just get focused on implementing them.”
Potential educators are often scouted and plucked from a classroom. “Our education coordinator, Melissa Nelly, gets a heads up from the educators that they have seen someone promising in their classroom and we invite them into the educator development program,” says Butcher. “Each step of the way it is process of elimination. First, we start with a boot camp, followed by a shadowing phase. Next, they act as an assistant educator so we can see them in action. It’s an image company so we look how they represent themselves and also how they present information. This can run for three to six months before we’re comfortable that they are ready to go on. In some cases, it has taken a year for someone to hit that classroom floor. There is a very high expectation from the attendees; it’s not a cheap class and the equipment is thousands of dollars. We know we can change their careers, we have seen it happen thousands of times. So, it’s better to take our time and make sure that person is really ready.”