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 Placement, multiple locations:
When it comes to placing students, Evergreen Beauty College puts the spotlight on surrounding salons and owners, and even recently held a summit to educate them about the state of the beauty school industry.
In April 2015, Evergreen Beauty College hosted the first-ever Northwest Salon and Spa Industry Exchange, where more than 40 salons and spas were represented to discuss the industry, regulatory changes happening in the state of Washington and the changes in employment for the industry.
While salons and spas are not typically involved in the regulatory side of the industry, the event was an opportunity to introduce them to what schools do and allow students to network with industry leaders and owners after the meeting.
“We created the forum to bring salons and spas together so they can see where the industry is headed and the adjustments they need to make as owners,” Joe Trieu, Evergreen College president says. “It also allowed students to network and get comfortable with owners and industry leaders.”
Feedback and networking with salon and spa owners is detrimental to Evergreen’s placement program and recently played a big role in improving its online job board.
“We want to be as transparent as possible to the owners so they know what are students are capable of and what they can produce,” Trieu says. “So we created a section for the salon/spa manager that provides an explanation/definition of the terms on our students’ resumes.”
This new section educates the owner community on what students are trying to convey and gives them a better understanding of what to expect out of graduates.
Evergreen also wants students to know as much as possible about what their lives as stylists will look like. To help them get the big picture, the schools invite a variety of managers representing everything from big chain salons to boutique businesses to speak on a panel.
“The students submit questions beforehand to help facilitate the panel,” Trieu says. “Then it’s an open forum for them to ask questions like, ‘Why was the most recent person let go?’ ‘What are you looking for?’ ‘What are common mistakes new graduates make and what can we do to improve it?’”
Because of these panels, owner feedback on Evergreen students has been positive.
“They say our graduates have a realistic idea of what they are getting themselves into,” Trieu says. “They think the students’ attitude is refreshing.”
Evergreen’s externship program is another opportunity for students to get an inside look at salons and spas—before graduating.
To participate, students must achieve 90 percent in attendance and grades. “They need to represent our college at a certain level,” Trieu says.
A student may have a specific salon she wants to work in or the school’s career service center will help her find one. The externship takes place at the end of their time at Evergreen and students may do up to 10 percent of their education at the chosen salon. When the externship is over, the salon and student both decide whether they want to continue employment. If there’s a match, the student launches her career there.
“The whole goal is for students to get the right place that fits them,” Trieu says. “We stole the idea from the medical industry—an externship is similar to when doctors do residency.”
With a placement level always in the mid 80s to low 90s, Evergreen clearly has a strategy that works. “We have shifted to getting students a better quality of placement,” Trieu says. “This doesn’t necessarily mean a high-end salon, though. Each student is looking for a particular culture they will fit into. It’s not just a matter of getting them placed, but getting a better match on both sides. We want to provide stability.”
The staff at Evergreen say their number-one customer is not the student—it’s the salon owner.
“Our focus is salons and spas,” Trieu says. “Students are our product, and if salons and spas are rejecting our product, we’re not doing something right. We build our curriculum around what salons and spas need.”
Location: Everett, Washington (three locations in Washington)
Owners: Frank Trieu, Joe Trieu, Theresa Tran
Established: October 1996
Average enrollment: Varies depending on location. One school is under 100, two other campuses are more than 100.
Best student perk: “We send students (all expenses paid) to ISSE in Long Beach if they qualify,” Trieu says. “They get to see how big the industry is. Also, after they graduate and are placed, we send them a gift basket to their new work place to congratulate them.”
AACS member? Yes Year joined? 2007
What is one big idea you've adopted from an AACS event or talking to another AACS member? “The panel we listened to recently said it’s all about waxing, so we’re trying to figure out waxing education.”
What one major improvement are you planning for your school in 2016? “I want to see how we can provide online education to shorten up the school day.”
What schools or educators inspire you? “So many, including Marvin Rushing from VICI Beauty School and Cameo College.”
What does the Excellence in Education recognition mean to you? “Students get excited about being part of something bigger than themselves,” Trieu says. “We took this idea of Excellence in Education and how do we continue to build different focal points? We tell salons and spas—it builds a nice framework for us. In the key areas we’re awarding, we interpret as areas to work on in our business.”