“I think a career path is so important and with Ulta Beauty, you have the option to work in the...

“I think a career path is so important and with Ulta Beauty, you have the option to work in the salon, in retail, education, management, and even to gain multi-unit management experience.”
Sarah Dahl, director of services field education, Ulta Beauty

“We’re helping stylists understand that while they may have a great book and strong client list,...

“We’re helping stylists understand that while they may have a great book and strong client list, how much bigger they could be if they placed themselves in our environment.”
Brandy Schmidt, director of field service operations, Ulta Beauty

“Our teams work with associates to develop their skill sets, to help them learn on the job and...

“Our teams work with associates to develop their skill sets, to help them learn on the job and to magnify their strengths. Whatever you’re passionate about, there is a path for you."
Melissa Doyle, director, specialty brand services, Ulta Beauty

“The career path at Ulta Beauty doesn’t have to be like climbing a ladder, it’s more like an...

“The career path at Ulta Beauty doesn’t have to be like climbing a ladder, it’s more like an interconnected web.  There is no limit to the direction you can go.”
Ammon Carver, chief artistic director, Ulta Beauty, and a member of the Ulta Beauty Pro Team

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“I think a career path is so important and with Ulta Beauty, you have the option to work in the...
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“I think a career path is so important and with Ulta Beauty, you have the option to work in the salon, in retail, education, management, and even to gain multi-unit management experience.”
Sarah Dahl, director of services field education, Ulta Beauty

“We’re helping stylists understand that while they may have a great book and strong client list,...
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Slider

“We’re helping stylists understand that while they may have a great book and strong client list, how much bigger they could be if they placed themselves in our environment.”
Brandy Schmidt, director of field service operations, Ulta Beauty

“Our teams work with associates to develop their skill sets, to help them learn on the job and...
3/4
 
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“Our teams work with associates to develop their skill sets, to help them learn on the job and to magnify their strengths. Whatever you’re passionate about, there is a path for you."
Melissa Doyle, director, specialty brand services, Ulta Beauty

“The career path at Ulta Beauty doesn’t have to be like climbing a ladder, it’s more like an...
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Slider

“The career path at Ulta Beauty doesn’t have to be like climbing a ladder, it’s more like an interconnected web.  There is no limit to the direction you can go.”
Ammon Carver, chief artistic director, Ulta Beauty, and a member of the Ulta Beauty Pro Team

To borrow from Dr. Seuss, oh the place you’ll go when you choose beauty as a career. And having a career path—clear opportunities for advancement—help us all stay motivated and engaged in our work life. At Ulta Beauty, that career path is made by walking it; whatever your goal, there is a support system to develop your skills and move you closer to it.

These beauty industry professionals all started from a different point and found a place to go, grow and thrive at Ulta Beauty.

A Beautiful Dream

Sarah Dahl, director of services field education, Ulta Beauty, always knew in her heart she wanted to be a hairstylist.  Her challenge was getting everyone else to buy into her dream.

“Very early on in my life, I had made a decision to pursue beauty,” says Dahl, a licensed cosmetologist for 15 years. “My big obstacle was the stigma associated with being a stylist; my family and friends were not on board.  Today, when my job is all about helping others to see the many great opportunities available at Ulta Beauty, I remember the resistance I met with and I talk about the solid, sustainable careers that are available to us. I help them see all the opportunities available for growth –like the different tiers of stylists, the management and trainer positions—and those things that our industry doesn’t normally associate with a career as a stylist, like the benefits and a 401k.”

The stigma, as Dahl explains it, was around the perceived insecurity of a career as a stylist and the limited growth.  But she pushes back against that tired stereotype.  So does Ulta Beauty.

MODERN SALON: What is your position at Ulta Beauty?

SARAH DAHL: I lead the team of service district educators (SDEs) and regional service education managers. Our focus is the development of the stylist at Ulta Beauty.  From foundational technical skills, to trending techniques, to supporting their business, we help them grow a long-lasting business and career.

Each of our SDEs engage with 10-15 stores in their district.  They provide personalized support, meeting one-on—one with associates either during a bit of downtime between clients or they schedule appointments to work with stylists who have questions about any of the education they’ve received through Ulta Academy.

MS: How did you find your way to Ulta Beauty?

SD: My husband was in the military and we would move every four years. When we got orders to the Las Vegas area, I started looking for a place to grow.  At the time, Ulta had 300 locations, wasn’t yet publicly traded, but even then, I was so impressed with the many opportunities available. I wasn’t necessarily looking to transition to a corporate role but am so happy with how I was able to take my love for beauty and find a way to share it in a new way.

MS: Why would you suggest someone look at Ulta Beauty when they are considering their next salon home?

SD: Because, as we say, the possibilities are beautiful. There is so much flexibility, so whether you want a more limited schedule, or you want to work more and generate more income, we can meet you where you’re at and support it.

Also, I think a career path is so important and with Ulta Beauty, you have the option to work in the salon, in retail, education, management, and even to gain multi-unit management experience. 

MS: How have you seen Ulta Beauty pivot during the COVID-19 crisis?  And how have you had to pivot?

SD: When I think of the leadership our CEO and executive team have provided in these past few months, it’s really been incredible. We have the best leaders in beauty. We’ve made enormous pivots around what the day-to-day looks like, incorporating all the new standards and protocols, and ensuring that everyone feels safe and comfortable upon reentering.  They have centered their approach to reopening around doing what’s right for our associates and for our guests and it’s clear they’re at the center of everything we do.

Right now, we’re defining what our digital and virtual education strategy looks like; thinking through how we can be as impactful in a digital or virtual space as we’ve been in person.  Our teams are used to being in the field, but they pivoted, beautifully, and are leveraging social media to reach stylists in a different way than we ever have before.  The example of Unveiling Beauty has been a great way we’ve engaged with the industry and kept everyone feeling positive about the future of the beauty industry.

A Beautiful Business

Culture, connection and financial stability are what Brandy Schmidt, director of field service operations, Ulta Beauty, was seeking when on her last job hunt. 

“I felt like I was holding my breath at my last company because there was always reorganization every year,” says Schmidt, who came from a background in the apparel industry. “As I evolved as a person, I identified what I would sacrifice and where I wouldn’t settle. So when I was looking for my next career move, I was interested in a company that had a strong financial footing.

“When I stepped into Ulta Beauty to interview,” she continues, “I could immediately tell that the culture was lived and breathed by everyone there.  It’s very easy to talk about culture but I could feel it in the way people spoke to me and to each other. I saw this real consideration and passion for what they do.  Then the woman interviewing me was so motivating and inspiring, I knew I wanted to work with them.”

MODERN SALON: What is your position at Ulta Beauty?

BRANDY SCHMIDT: My role is 100 percent services focused. Sarah (Dahl) and I are counterparts; while her team focuses on the actual stylists and helping them be business leaders, my team focus is the salon manager, the prestige sales manager (who presides over Benefit brows, waxing, MAC cosmetics), and the general manager. We work on improving operations and profitability in everything we do which directly impacts the service provider in that store.

Our team coaches these managers on finding opportunities.  We’ll look at tweaking a schedule, for instance, to staff during the busiest times and directly contribute to a salon pros paycheck.

Currently, we’re also spending a lot of time making sure everyone understands the health and sanitation guidelines and the precautions we are taking as a company to ensure that everyone walking in our door, whether a service provider or a guest, will be safe during a service.

MS: Why would you suggest someone look at Ulta Beauty when they are considering their next salon home?

BS: I have heard that there can be a stigma around a ‘corporate’ salon environment, so we’re helping stylists understand that while they may have a great book and strong client list, how much bigger they could be if they placed themselves in our environment.  And we know that we need to provide the information for them to make an informed choice; we talk about the benefits, and the amazing culture, but also about the thousands of people who flow through our locations.

We’re building a culture between the retail areas and the salon so it’s one family and we’re all working together.  Whether you do makeup at MAC or brows at Benefit, everyone relies on each other and works together under all four walls.  The salon is not on an island, it’s not a separate entity within the store, it’s all connected.

MS: Please tell us about something you’re working on, right now, that will have an impact on the future of Ulta Beauty.

BS: One of the largest projects our team has been involved in during this time was to support another division in our company.  Most of our teams have been cross-functionally trained to support our Guest Services team and I would say this was a top priority for us during our closures, in addition to preparing for reopening services.

As you can imagine, fielding guest questions, ranging from ‘How can I make a return while stores are closed?’ to ‘I ordered on line and my order was not complete’ to ‘When will my Ulta reopen?’ has exponentially increased and our Guest Services teams found themselves in need of immediate additional support. Our service district leaders (SDLs) and service district educators (SDEs) were able to offer their the questions pertaining to services and beyond. 

 The incredible take away was that so many of our SDLs and SDEs are now armed with increased awareness around addressing and preventing a guest from having an unpleasant experience.  They can coach teams, in store, on how to handle situations relating to services, minimizing the need for them to go to our Guest Services division for resolution. 

The result is that we will re-enter stores with a better, broader understanding of our guest and how to service them.

A Beautiful Future

Ammon Carver, chief artistic director, Ulta Beauty, and a member of the Ulta Beauty Pro Team, found his passion for hair via an early career training and showing horses. He learned to be consistent, to be disciplined, and that the results you get out of something are directly related to the effort you put in. “I would clipper cut their muzzles, braid their manes and tails and even do stenciling on their hind quarters.” He also discovered the world outside his small Utah community while traveling the circuit as a trainer: “It opened my eyes. I met gay people, people who smoked and drank and struggled with their lives…and they were good people.”

Travel also showed him that life beyond his hometown might hold a place for him where he could be fully himself. Only 17, and having come out as gay to his family, he moved to Denver, and by a series of events, enrolled in cosmetology school where, Carver says, he found his tribe. “I always say that the beauty industry helped my younger self love and accept himself. All the things I had felt guilt about evaporated the minute I met beauty professionals.  I started to be open about my sexual orientation, which was huge for me, and they just looked at me like it was no big thing.  I started to let go of all this stuff I had held on to for so many years.

“Now, when I share this story,” he adds, “I do it thinking that maybe there is someone in the audience who needs to hear it, someone who is only 17 and has very conservative parents, but who might be able to change their life when he or she realizes they are ok, just as they are.”

MODERN SALON: Where did your beauty career take you from there?

AMMON CARVER:  I moved back to Utah and did booth rental for two years. I soon understood just how hard it was to be a renter and all the details there were to worry about. I was approached by a sales rep for Matrix who said, you’re only in your second year as a stylist, you’re booked six months out, let me introduce you to someone. 

I met the Matrix educational manager in the area and became an educator for Matrix. They flew me to New York to audition for their Design Team. And I always share this story; Nick Stenson (SVP of services and trend, Ulta Beauty) and I auditioned the same time that year, and I made the team, but Nick didn’t. Because I manage our Ulta Beauty Design Team, I tell them that story and remind them to trust the process because here I am now, Nick is my best friend, and he’s my boss.

 I stayed in New York and opened a salon (even though I was afraid I’d become a slave to it) that was designed to be a creative space; half of it was a salon area, the other half was a working photo studio, with the two things happening simultaneously.  Pretty soon, we rose to become one of the top five salons in New York and won the Salon Team of the Year at NAHA (North American Hairstyling Awards). 

Once we had this platform, I wanted to use it to give back, and our team created a 501C3 non-profit that is now called Humane Beauty for Change. We’ve helped combat sexual abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, and come out to support LGBTQ kids.

MS: And how did you come to join the Ulta Beauty team?

AC: When Nick called upon me to join the Ulta Beauty family, he knew my heart and my goals. I was excited about the prospect of bringing this spirit of transforming communities through beauty. We are shifting the way that the world views beauty and beauty careers, recognizing them as vital and life-changing.

MS: You oversee the Ulta Beauty Design Team—tell us about that.

AC: Our Design Team is comprised of artists trained to be more visible and to be our Ulta Beauty champions. Nick and I reimagined it, setting new rules and expectations. They have to re-audition every year, for instance, and we wanted to see them embrace the training they were given, to implement it and put it towards their growth. We had them make an agreement that they always have each other’s’ back, and that they will hold each other to a standard of excellence.

They have already received two NAHAs on their own and I tell them I want them to be so good that they get signed to represent one of our brands.

I love watching them work together because they care so much about each other and I know it comes from Nick and I, standing on stage and telling that story about how we met. It shows that that these are people you are doing to know and love for the rest of your life.

MS: When someone joins Ulta Beauty and says, ‘I have big dreams,’ what do you say?

AC: It’s wonderful that I can be part of crafting an answer to that question…and that the answer is constantly evolving. Because the career path at Ulta Beauty doesn’t have to be like climbing a ladder, it’s more like an interconnected web.  There is no limit to the direction you can go.

A Beauty Career

“Years ago, I talked to someone about their career in beauty and after hearing them talk, I was so struck by how much they were able to influence someone’s day, how they could make them feel and look good,” shares Melissa Doyle, director, specialty brand services, Ulta Beauty.  “This whole piece of being in beauty intrigued me because I loved that you could impact someone like that. I knew it was something I wanted to do.”

Doyle would go onto work with several high-profile beauty and fragrance brands before joining Ulta Beauty as their national events manager.  “Today in my position, I support the events team, which in turn supports stores across the country. We work on product launches and brand initiatives within the Ulta Beauty stores, making sure they are successful. We look at how our store teams can execute promotions, and that no matter what the budget, we can figure out a great way to showcase a brand or category.”

MODERN SALON: What attracted you to Ulta Beauty?

MELISSA DOYLE: At the time I came to Ulta Beauty, they had about 300 stores so while it was a big retailer, it still had so much growth ahead and it was exciting to be part of it. Someone reached out to me with an opportunity and it has been amazing, both personally and professional for me.

MS: Why would you suggest someone look at Ulta Beauty when they are considering their next salon home?

MD: First, because we have the best culture of any organization.  There is always room for improvement, but we really do a great job of taking care of our associates, making sure they have the tools and resources they need to have a great career.  You can come to Ulta Beauty and be a skincare specialist or a cashier or a stylist or an arch expert. Or you can work your way to an education or management position.

 In a work force that doesn’t always require a college degree, our teams work with associates to develop their skill sets, to help them learn on the job and to magnify their strengths. Whatever you’re passionate about, there is a path for you.

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