Personalized Attention Puts Salon Success Academy at the Top

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Before Natalie Guiza became a student at Salon Success Academy, she was a stay-at-home mom with few career options. She didn't have much hope for the future and had limited skills. But the minute she walked through the door of Salon Success Academy, a beauty school located in Southern California's Inland Empire, Guiza felt hope and inspiration. "I was drawn to the school," says Guiza, who had often visited the local branch, taking her children there for haircuts and enjoying the friendly environment. "I just had a good feeling. The atmosphere was upbeat and light."

Guiza, who is now an invaluable employee at Salon Success Academy's corporate headquarters, is just one of many of thousands of students who have received professional beauty school training-as well as attention and assistance on a personal level. Owner Robert Gross and his experienced staff make it a point to not only provide aspiring beauty professionals with the skills needed to earn their license, but also to treat every student as part of a family, providing them with every opportunity to complete their studies at the lowest cost possible.

Although the Salon Success Academy lays the groundwork for hairdressing, esthetics and manicuring by providing specialized courses, the school is also committed to providing a real-world environment that prepares students for the job market. Guiza had little confidence when she first took her cosmetology program entrance exam, but with the encouragement of Salon Success Academy instructors, she not only passed the test but also completed the program. "When I think of beauty school, I think of fun, playing with hair, and talking with people," says Guiza. She thrived in the social world of cosmetology, loving the interaction with clientele and finding it therapeutic. "In the process of getting people pretty, you're talking and listening; they're relaxing. I listen to the customers, and learn from them."

And unlike many educational institutions, Salon Success Academy pays particular attention to graduates, believing that the first few years after beauty school are vitally important. Salon Success supports professional growth and accomplishments, whether it be a student's first hands-on experience, externships, or job placement. Guiza, for example, found that her instructors always took the time to talk with her, and "it changed my life." After completing her cosmetology license and working in a salon, more than four years ago, Natalie was hired as a manager at Salon Success Academy, a responsibility she tackled with gusto. "I thought, I want to give back to this company everything they gave me," says Guiza.

Today Guiza is no longer an intimidated, sheltered stay-at-home mom who was "scared to death of life itself." After walking into Salon Success Academy-"a place that made me feel like I can do anything"-Guiza finally believes in herself. "They are truly a people-helping company, and the students here get what they need. They don't just give you the skills needed to enter the beauty industry, but when life happens, they work with you." For Guiza, who is now an accomplished professional and a role model to others, "life is 110 percent better than before."

Cindy Atoji is a Boston-based freelancer who specializes in career, business and education coverage.

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