Memo Interview: Tracey Hughes On Joining L'anza
Tracey Hughes, often called “the educator of the educators,” has been named the Vice President of Global Education of L'anza Healing Haircare, heading up the Global Education Team of L'anza Healing Artists.
“Tracey’s depth of experience, technical knowledge, and creative vision in the education field is world class," says David Berglass, CEO and president of L’anza. "Her ability, accomplishments, and reputation are truly outstanding. I believe Tracey’s dynamic leadership will take L’anza education to the next level, providing our clients with unparalleled education globally."
An expert in education development and event management, and equally strategic and creative, Hughes will help L'anza develop its education systems, digital assets, and brand image. MODERN spoke with Hughes shortly after her new position with L’anza had been announced.
MS: Please give us a snapshot of your beauty career.
TH: I’ve been in this industry for over 30 years. I’m originally from the UK, near Liverpool, in the north of England. I learned at a young age to trust my instincts and while I had originally wanted to study law and politics, ultimately becoming a barrister, I realized, at the core, I really wanted to something more creative.
In 1986, I immigrated to Australia and lived there for 25 years. I’ve been a salon owner for 18 years, we won salon of the year 10 years in a row, and I became guest artist for a manufacturer very early in my career, moving into being an artistic director and ambassador for a few national brands. I’m a certified speaking professional, and I feel very privileged to have won awards that include hairdresser and colorist of the year and educator of the year. Throughout my beauty career, it has always been about the people I have had the privilege of meeting and teaching. I’ve taught over half a million stylists in 25 countries.
MS: Where will you be based?
TH: I relocated to the US 18 months ago. My education company has always been global and I have a great agent here in the US and as I’ve been presenting on mainstage shows in the US about six times a year, it made sense to relocate. After doing one migration 26 years ago, I thought it might be a bit easier. I have a very supportive husband who is an executive chef and he sold his restaurant in Australia and we moved here. But this was all before I had the relationship with L’anza.
MS: And how did that develop?
TH: For the past 18 months, I was consulting for brands but being a brand-neutral speaker and artist, providing education services. And during that time, I was looking and assessing the brands—who is making noise, who has a great presence—and I actually made a list of some brands I thought were offering great education, great products and also had integrity and a great culture. From all this research and observation, L’anza rose to the top of the list.
MS: What are you most excited about getting your hands-in, first, when you start working with L'anza?
TH: I’m most looking forward to getting to know the team. L’anza’s culture is about creating a community and a tribe and to me, it’s all about the people. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to mentor this great team.
I’m also excited about developing some new content, and making sure the education maintains the high quality L’anza is known for while making plans to take it to the next level.
MS: Your career has been so rich and varied. When you started, what did you set out to do? And have you done it?
TH: At the age of sixteen, I was too young to have a vision of where my path would go but I was always self-motivated and driven. When I was 19, my boss asked me to do a haircut demonstration on stage, my first, and while I seized the opportunity, I did say, don’t ask me to speak! I had no experience in how to be a great haircutter, how to break it down for an audience, but when they put a mic in front of me, I took over the stage. I realized then that I didn’t have a fear of public speaking. When I do train-the-trainer programs, I share that experience because it influenced a lot of my career.
I count my blessings for the amazing career I’ve had because it isn’t something I visualized but it is something I pushed for. I’ve made personal sacrifices for the goals. My philosophy is transforming who you are through education and I believe education is an ongoing journey of self-discovery. I grow and learn every time I get to teach.
MS: Final words?
TH: This is a very big decision for me, to go into a full time role, but it was the right fit for me. I didn’t make the decision lightly and neither did David. We knew as soon as we met that this would be a perfect fit for both parties. I’m thrilled about this role because it gives me a lot more influence over the type of education we are delivering.
We have all seen the landscape change because of digital and social but I am still a big believer that nothing replaces real, hands-on education. We want to elevate the level of knowledge, the level of skill set and the level of confidence so stylists are empowered to run a successful and satisfying career and business.