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Small Business Spotlight – June 2023: Academy of Hair Design

Company name: Academy of Hair Design
Person in charge: Linda Daugherty, Chief Operating Officer
Year founded: 1996

Tell us about the history of your business:
In 1996, Jerry BeVelle, David Gonzales, and Christie Gonzales were running a successful chain of nine salons. As the business grew it became a challenge to find talented barbers and cosmetologists. Refusing to compromise on quality, they opened a school that would marry technical skills with business acumen. When Dave and Christie took over full ownership of the school they added Linda Daugherty as Chief Operating Officer.

Together they have created an experience in which students engage in strong academics while including learning with hands-on, real-life application. Academy is helping students build their business as they attend school and leave with a starting clientele. It’s a noble profession with a rich heritage and can produce a nice income to raise a family.

Describe the services your organization provides and what makes you unique:
Academy of Hair Design offers two different kinds of services, salon/spa services and education. Through our guest services, our clients can change their look with hair coloring and cutting services, relax during a full body massage and facial or put their best foot forward with a pedicure. We have many clients that have trusted our students with their self-care services for 15 years, or more. Our vision is to create transformation in people through education, leadership, and service to change the world. We believe in an education that is FELT; fun, excellent, loving, and transformative (our core values).

What sets us apart from other schools is our Business Realities Program where we simulate the environment of a real salon. This includes teaching referral, retail, marketing, social media presence, guest experience, tracking successes and so much more. We strive to make sure that our students are not only prepared for their State Board Exams but are also prepared for the business world after getting their professional license.

Tell us something people might not know about your organization:
In November of 2012, we opened Dream Beauty Academy in Kigali, Rwanda, Africa. After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, where over 800,000 people lost their lives in just 100 days, the country had to rebuild and still suffers lingering economic, emotional, and physical scars. Some of the first jobs that emerged after this event were in salons.

Through connections of our Academy's owners, it was identified the need Rwanda had for a school of cosmetology. Dream Beauty Academy was birthed and has been equipping women and men with a trade where they can successfully provide for their families, bringing them out of poverty and unbearable life circumstances. Since opening, we have taken staff and students to Rwanda and continue the connection between our schools.

What is the biggest challenge facing your organization now, and how are you working to overcome that challenge?
The biggest challenge we're facing right now is ramping back up our special events and community work after being shut down for so long. We have recently returned to attending the Springfield Dream Center Wednesday night meals and providing haircuts once a month. We also have scheduled "UMAGNADA DAY" on June 19. This is a Rwandan tradition that means "coming together in common purpose" where once a month one person from their family will participate in community service to make their city a better place.

In honor of this, we will be providing complimentary services to residential centers, the Boys and Girls Club, and Harmony House for the day. Our staff and students are excited and inspired to give back in such a special way. We believe the best way to train amazing guest services is by giving back to our community.

What is the best business advice you've ever been given?
At the Academy, our motto is, "Do what you love, love what you do!" We believe your career should inspire you every day and be an extension of your personal purpose. Life is too short to not love your work!

Series Sponsored by Connell Insurance
Series Sponsored by Connell Insurance
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