2015 Excellence in Education Spotlight: Bellus Academy, Beauty Changes Lives Honoree

MODERN SALON's Excellence in Education annual recognition program celebrates leading cosmetology schools, highlighting innovative programs and best practices in eight categories and two divisions (single location and multi-unit schools).The 2015 Excellence in Education honorees were announced October 24 at the American Association of Cosmetology Schools conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Among 38 schools recognized, top honorees were named in each category.

In this Excellence in Education Spotlight series, MODERN SALON connects with each of the top honorees to further explore programs and how schools are collaborating to develop the future of professional beauty. Here, a closer look at the 2015 top honoree in Beauty Changes Lives, multiple locations:

Bellus Academy is passionate about every student learning how impactful the beauty industry can be on consumers. The school has made Beauty Changes Lives its mission, message and mantra. 

An artist puts finishing touches on makeup before the Beauty Changes Lives Legacy Award event at the Art Institute of Chicago in March 2015. Bellus Academy was a platinum sponsor of the event.

A Beautiful Business

For Lynelle Lynch, president and owner of four Bellus Academies (three in San Diego, one in Manhattan, Kansas), supporting the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation also means ingraining it into the culture of her schools. Lynch, who serves as president of the foundation, strongly believes beauty does change lives, and it starts with the students.

“When you think about the ultimate mission of Beauty Changes Lives—to lift up the perception of the industry and showcase what we’re doing—that’s also the hallmark of Bellus Academy,” Lynch says. “Beauty Changes Lives started in schools, but to push the message out, we need salon and spa professionals to embrace it as their mission so we can go to the consumer."

This year, the Beauty Changes Lives foundation has partnered with Dr. Howard Murad to do a product roll out in the fourth quarter. The product, an eye cream, will have the BCL logo on it and 10 percent of sales will go to the foundation to finance an esthetics scholarship. The product will also feature verbiage about BCL to get the message to the consumer.

The BCL foundation also provides many scholarships for students, which Bellus regularly shares with its students. Bellus also created an interactive website with videos and testimonials to demonstrate just how impactful being a stylist can be.

“I recently talked to a mother and daughter who were very interested in the daughter going through our esthetics program,” Lynch says. “They felt it would be a great career, but had to convince dad. So I told them to go to beautychangeslives.org or to the BCL YouTube channel to read inspirational stories and watch videos.”

Lynch also encourages students to share their own BCL moments on a daily or weekly basis at the academies.

“When students share, it’s an emotional win for everyone,” Lynch says. “They tell us how they really touched a person’s life and how proud they are to be a beauty school student—it really lifts up their confidence.”

For other schools who want to get involved with BCL, Lynch recommends visiting beautychangeslives.org and exploring the tools on the site.

“There are fliers for scholarships—you should make sure your admissions team has them and is aware of which ones are for your educators,” she says. “There’s a lot of rich content on the website, but you should also spend time with the videos on YouTube to see where you can use them in your student academics for inspiration. Have a movie hour where you watch and get inspired.

“I also recommend talking to other schools who already have scholarships and get their best practices,” Lynch says.

Bellus was also a platinum sponsor for the 2015 Beauty Changes Lives Legacy Event honoring Leo Passage at the Art Institute of Chicago in March 2015. The sold-out event was co-hosted by the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation and Cosmetologists Chicago.

"The Legacy Award celebrates the spirit that lies at the very heart of the beauty industry,” Lynch says. “Our industry is about so much more than art. Every day, established beauty professionals are nurturing and mentoring the next generation of leadership and no one demonstrated that generous spirit more than Leo Passage."

The team from Fashion Week San Diego, from left: Eden Sassoon, Lynelle Lynch, Ted Gibson, CEO of Fashion Week San Diego Allison Andrews,  Wella's Carrera Bailey, and Jason Backe.

School Spotlight: Bellus Academy

Location: Poway, California

Owner: Lynelle Lynch

Established: November 1972

Average enrollment: Average enrollment in smaller campuses is around 100. Average enrollment in larger campuses is 300-350.

Best student perk: “The Bellus culture,” Lynch says. “We have a unified team who’s passionate about making students successful. We also have a brand that is highly respected within our local professional community.” 

AACS member? Yes

What is one big idea you've adopted from an AACS event or talking to another AACS member? "The biggest focus now is how are we going to come together to create a strategy to combat the next round of gainful employment regulations.”

What's one major improvement that you're planning for 2016? "One of our biggest focuses is adding five new programs, including a luxury spa program—the key feature is NovaLash eyelash extensions,” Lynch says. “We’ve seen eyelash salons and brow bars pop up all over. Our new programs are addressing industry trends as well as setting the school up so students have options if other programs don’t meet gainful employment regulations.”

What schools or educators inspire you? "Most recently it was Ted Gibson when he was here with his team,” Lynch says. “We had an amazing event when we partnered with Fashion Week San Diego. Our students, staff and team presented the beauty behind fashion—all the runway presentations were about hair, makeup and nails. The stylists came out with the models and we talked about what it takes to present fashion.” 

What does your Excellence in Education recognition mean to you? "We always make a big deal out of it. We have a PR team that issues a local press release, we post on social media, we share in student huddles, and we frame the certificate to keep on campus. Our walls are lined with a history of Bellus being honored—it’s wonderful.” 

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