Patrick Thompson, owner of Nurtur Aveda Institutes.
Patrick Thompson, owner of Nurtur Aveda Institutes.

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 Facilities, multiple locations.

Nurtur Aveda Institutes set the bar high when it comes to their facilities, which are all located in close proximity to the campuses of major universities—Ohio State University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and University of California Los Angeles. Ongoing green initiatives and cutting-edge technology make the schools sought after not just for their excellent programs, but also for their beautiful, salon-like facilities. 

Equipped for Success

Students who study at one of the three Nurtur Aveda Institutes have the opportunity to learn in a true salon/spa environment complete with a diverse clientele.

Clients who enter one of the institutes might not even realize they’re at a school.

“You walk into a retail area, just like a salon, and that’s where you’re greeted,” Meg Collins, director of human resources, says. “Sometimes people just want to get products and are not even there for a service.”

And students, staff and guests alike love the upscale, modern facilities. “We’re in the beauty industry, which is a feel-good industry,” Patrick Thompson, owner of the Nurtur Aveda Institutes, says. “We want our students, our team and our guests to feel amazing and inspired in our environment. Retention is the name of the game in our business—if you feel great somewhere, you will return again and again.”

To ensure they continue to attract new students to their facilities, the institutes are equipped with the technology and hardware to allow students to learn in a digital environment.

Thompson says the most important innovations have been converting to the iPad as the principle method for delivering student curriculum and implementing a new-student recruitment call center, complete with lead-tracking and contact system (phone, text, email).

“The fully integrated lead tracking and contact system used by our admissions call center has increased tours by 50 percent at each institute over the past 15 weeks,” Thompson says.

Eco-minded students attracted to the Aveda mission are also interested in Nurtur’s commitment to the environment.

“Each institute has a Green Team that’s assembled from team members who are particularly passionate about our Earth Month fundraising activities,” Thompson says. “The team plans our entire strategy for our fundraising activities and helps lead related events like Earth Jam fashion shows and Beauty for the Earth service events.”

The facilities feature high-efficiency lighting, recycling programs and low-flow faucets. Modern styling stations and innovative rejuvenation shampoo rooms where guests can lie flat on shampoo beds while receiving services are also in each institute.

“Invest significant time in planning the facility," Thompson says. "Enroll your entire team in the process as they will come up with ideas that not only improve how your facilities look and feel, but they will be happier and more engaged every day if they know they were part of the process.”

School Spotlight: Nurtur Aveda Institutes

Locations: Columbus, Ohio, OSU; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Los Angeles, UCLA

Owner: Patrick Thompson

Established: February 2004

Average enrollment: 200

Best student perk: "The iPad as part of the student kit and assessment of learning style so every educator knows what the learning styles are for every student in their class,” Collins says. “They create lesson plans to reach every student.” 

AACS member? Yes; joined in 2007.

What is one big idea you've adopted from an AACS event or talking to another AACS member? “We have made several improvements to our compliance efforts due to our involvement in AACS,” Thompson says. “AACS provides great value for our team in keeping current with developments in governmental relations and compliance requirements.”

What's one major improvement that you're planning for 2016? “We are in the process of introducing the Pivot Point LAB curriculum at our institutes,” Thompson says. “We believe this will allow us to host our own online learning community for students that will exponentially expand opportunities for communication and an enhanced student experience. The ability to customize LAB for our culture and our approach to learning is exciting. We also plan on introducing a centralized call center for booking student service appointments.”

What schools or educators inspire you? “We constantly look to other industries for inspiration in addition to our own industry,” Thompson says. “Culinary Institute of America has always been a school I have admired. In addition, we are located on or near the campuses of Ohio State University, University of California Los Angeles and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Our constant interaction with these vibrant communities (many of our full-time staff are graduates of these schools) is truly inspirational and a benchmark for our professionalism.”

What does your Excellence in Education recognition mean to you? “This is the third year in a row that we have won an Excellence in Education award, and we were lucky enough to be nominated in all eight categories this year,” Thompson says. “We have already celebrated this with our teams on our bi-weekly celebration conference calls; however, we plan to celebrate at several events throughout the year including our Earth Jams and Catwalk for the Cure.”

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