A Wella Top Artist, Aubrey Loots is owner of Studio DNA salons in Los Angeles and the newly founded Hair and Technology Academy on Beverly Blvd, in Los Angeles. A familiar face backstage during New York Fashion Week and a stylist with a roster of celebrity clients, Loots wanted to create something special with his academy. "We hire future stylists, not long term assistants," he says. Below, Loots answers questions about the program he created:
QUESTION: Many salons have an apprentice or assistant program set up so newly-graduated beauty pros can learn from more seasoned professionals. What are you doing that is different from a traditional assistant program?
LOOTS: The typical assistant/apprenticeship relationship is hands on experience in a functioning salon and the possibility of "once a week" education where the assistant brings in a model to learn a technique. We operated under this model and discovered a few things:
1. Many salons provide education, but find that it becomes very difficult to remain consistent with the education.
2. Our assistants/students would spend time testing out on a service, and then never revisit that service until they starting working behind the chair. In many cases, they lost their confidence on as much as 50% of the services in which they were once proficient.
3. Many key elements were missing once they got “on the floor” such as customer service, product prescription, pre-booking, time management and business management.
Hair Art and Science Academy is unique in that we not only provide hands on classes that requires live models for both Color and Cutting Class every week but we have designed a salon environment where they can take real clients during the rest of the week for one to three days a week. These services are offered at a lower price point thus providing our community an inexpensive, professional salon experience. The stylist/student/assistant gets great hands on experience in a real world environment supported by senior stylists/educators. Students/Stylists only provide services that they have tested out on without education team. Hair Art and Science Academy is set up as a high end salon and functions just like a normal salon. On the other days, they are scheduled in our salons (Studio DNA) where they can assist stylists and learn from them. As they progress through the program, they can become junior stylists managing the standard in the salons and working directly with the assistant manager. We also provide front desk training, marketing and business training (inventory management, cash management, etc.) At no time are we without support staff in any of our salons. We thought this was important for our students so they can feel what it's like to work in all aspects of the salon.