September 2008

A Look at Diverse Directions a Cosmetology Career Can Take You

You became a cosmetologist for all the right reasons—a strong artistic attitude, a good work ethic and the desire to help people look and feel better about themselves. Working in a salon fulfills all those aspirations.

Many salon professionals have gone on to achieve success beyond their wildest dreams, proving that a cosmetology career can take you anywhere you want to go. One can see proof of the possibilities in the careers of six dedicated hair designers who began their careers with Pivot Point International, a leader in salon education. Each recently received an inaugural LEO Award at America’s Beauty Show in Chicago.

By taking a closer look at the paths they took to the top of their industry, it’s easy to see the wide-open road that every cosmetologist can aspire to throughout their career.

JOSEPH CARTAGENA— The big idea when you get your license is to work in a hot salon—a place to grow your personal talent and sharpen your skills. Joseph began at such a salon and now co-owns Genacelli Salon and Day Spa in the hip Lincoln Park area of Chicago.

Because of his own experiences, encouraging young talent has become a cornerstone for his highly successful business. Cartagena also serves as a vice president of the Cosmetologists Chicago association, and furthers his knack for mentoring by heading their Artistic Team.

Cartagena credits his education for many of his personal and professional successes. “Between excellent educators and the education itself,” he says, “I was given the foundation required to be an all-around good hairdresser. It enabled me to now teach and think as an artist.”

MARY BETH JANSSEN—Now dedicated to the organic lifestyle and the author of five books on beauty and wellness, Mary Beth Janssen, owner of The Janssen Source, remained with Pivot Point International for 18 years after graduating from teacher’s training. She traveled the world as artistic director, teaching hair and fashion trends on platform, in print and on video. Then she moved to creative corporate assignments at ISO, American Crew and MOP, only to return to her first love, teaching the next new thing to improve health and natural wellness, through her books and special appearances.

“I have always been compelled to share what I’ve learned with others and I learned a lot from my students in the process,” said Janssen. “Teaching gave me a lot of the tools I needed to start my own business and design other kinds of curricula, which fascinate me.”

CHRISTINE SCHUSTER — now the Senior Vice President of Education for Redken Fifth Avenue NYC/ PureOlogy, Christine’s beginnings were simple. After graduating cosmetology school, she went back to her family’s roots in Holland and served as apprentice and assistant to Andy Uffels, a top platform artist. This worldwide training led her to a position in education at Redken, training stylists on how to use their products in their everyday salon work.

“My training allowed me to see my work with hair as an art form,” said Schuster, “and I approach my work in corporate education with that same eye to keep it relevant.”

This high-level yet modest executive is credited with developing The Redken Exchange in New York and remains the executive producer of the Redken Symposium, attended by more than 10,000 hairstylists annually.

ANDRE WALKER — Andre Walker has only one client today. Her name is Oprah. That’s enough for this extremely talented hair designer. More than 20 years ago, after working as a salon stylist and owner for several years, his life changed when he was asked to do the hair of a young talk show host.

Walker now travels with Winfrey at all times, creating her hair design before every Oprah Winfrey Show, for celebrity events and award shows and for “O” magazine shoots.

“The international exposure I got in cosmetology school meant I was able to dream of a bigger picture for where I saw myself as a stylist,” said Walker. “Beyond the beauty school basics, the value of professionalism is the single most important thing I learned that brought me to where I am today.”

DAVID RACCUGLIA— Many of the best-known salon product companies today began because a hair designer had an idea for something that would be better than what was available at the time. Front and center on that list of entrepreneurs is David Raccuglia, founder of both American Crew and Modern Organic Products.

David credits the international perspective of his training for encouraging him to explore the wider world of hairdressing and eventually the translation into big business. “I was exposed to hairdressers from all over the world,” says Raccuglia. “I got a global look at the hairdressing industry and it inspired me to become a globetrotter.”

MANUEL RODRIGUEZ—a name known throughout competitive hairdressing circles—as a top competitor, trainer and as literally having written the book, “Architectural Hair,” on competition. Rodriguez seamlessly combines his love of art with his passion to teach as a competition coach and mentor. “A good cosmetology program shows you that the best technical cuts come from an artistic approach. That was my experience and I’ve looked at hairdressing as an art form ever since,” says Rodriguez.

The presence of industry honors like the LEO Awards shines a bright light on the diverse directions a cosmetology career can take. Stay true to your training, in tune with your personal goals and there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.