The Woman Behind It All: Susan HaisePosted in Why Aveda
Susan Haise is hustling up five flights of stairs in a killer pair of stiletto heels at two o'clock on a Monday afternoon. "I'm used to it," she says as she dabs and blends Aveda concealer under her eyes in preparation for her next meeting. Susan is difficult to describe in words, but a few that come to mind are a go-getter, service leader, entrepreneur, and visionary who will "find a way to make it all happen.”
Susan manages to make everything work out. She is a mother of two, a yoga enthusiast, a cosmetologist and esthetician, a marketing and human resources strategy student, and a board member of the Milwaukee Film Festival and the Aveda Institutes.
Oh, and she is the CEO of Edgeless Beauty Group which includes The Institute of Beauty and Wellness, Aveda Institute Madison, Neroli Salon and Spa, SknBar RX, Ultra Skin Solutions, and Lash Addict. Susan is a busy person, but she still finds time to sit, pour herself a glass of water, and share her story as a young entrepreneur in the beauty and wellness industry and the future of The Institute of Beauty and Wellness.
Q: What got you in the beauty industry?
I was in high school, my mother’s girlfriend liked the way I did my make-up and hair, and I dressed a little differently. I made creative clothing in school and as a result she said, “Hey, I’m looking for a make-up artist to do make-up and wigs for the Florentine Opera, would you be interested?” I agreed and enrolled in beauty school from there. It was an amazing experience to do make-up for the Florentine Opera. When I finished beauty school, the salon I was working at didn’t allow me to do the shows anymore. So, I couldn’t continue but I really enjoyed it and that’s where I started my passion.
Q: How did the process begin when you wanted to start your own Aveda Institute?
I went to school at the Erick of Norway Beauty School, and at the time it was the number one beauty school in the area. They were all about excellence. All the partners were highly active, and the students knew them while they were going through the program. After graduation, I started working with the distributor of salon systems, and at the time there was not an aesthetic school in southeastern Wisconsin, but that wasn’t something that group was interested in doing. So, the determination was to start a skin school to meet the demand for estheticians.
Q: Tell us about the floor plan for The Institute of Beauty and Wellness.
During these 25-plus years we have been in the school business, the space of school has really evolved. For me, if you’re mentoring someone and you’re one faculty member overseeing let’s say ten tables and chairs, you need to see everyone. When you’re behind curtains or doors as a teacher, it makes your job hard to fully be present while that student is in practice. For us, there are some curtains here and there on the spa clinic floor but otherwise, it’s an open concept and faculty can have their eyes on everyone throughout the day. We made our blueprint for our guest experience with the faculty member and student in mind. We try to ensure we are managing a highly effective clinic floor experience.
Q: How do you go about finding and developing the right instructors?
Our instructors are rock stars. The quality of instructions is equal to the quality of the beauty school. Every faculty member has received at least 20 hours of training. We are mindful of education, training, and mentoring. One faculty member will provide you with another, we have an instructor training program; they introduce how to be an effective teacher, and we go through a lot of training; as a result, we spend a significant amount of time throughout the year focused on training. We have coaches from hair, make-up, color, cut, barbering, massage, and skin who help oversee the faculty to ensure the quality of execution is as close to Aveda principles as possible.
Q: Big picture, what do you see for the future of the Institutes?
For me, I want to see national prestige brands hiring our graduates. I want to see the culture of our students upon graduation comfortable moving nationally or globally to mentor with brands or practitioners from all over the world. I want the graduates from the Institutes to think bigger. The greatest piece for the Institutes in the future would be that we would create a culture of “let’s get out there and get it done” because the industry needs us.
Q: What is the 5 year goal for the Institutes?
Advanced education is a big priority. It is critical to be able to provide mentorship and education from professionals who have been doing it in the field for many years. That is my next goal for the next five years.
Q: Tell us what's next for the Advanced Education Program.
Aesthetics has a huge demand for advanced services that we just don’t have time for in our 600-hour program. It requires additional training and some of these things are not just a weekend or a one-day class. You must do these things repeatedly with multiple skin types to really get the strengths and the hands-on training that you need.
Q: What do you do to keep the environment exciting and interesting?
In partnership with the leadership and administration of the Institutes, we work hard to freshen our curricular content and enhance our technology. We are not afraid of change. We know it’s important to be consistent in curricular offerings but also meet annually with salon owners and past graduates to get advice and make 10% shifts each year. We are always working to make improvements and grow.
Q: Trends are huge for the beauty industry, how do you stay ahead for students?
I am always learning. I travel extensively going to tradeshows, conferences, and network in the industry. I also go through magazines, and journals, and watch other salon and spa websites and social handles to stay ahead. I am passionate about the industry, so I’m rigorously pursuing what others are doing.
Q: What’s your greatest dream for every student that graduates from Institutes?
I want them to know that they have a family here. We are their community to support and encourage them. Even years after graduation, we are always here to be a resource for them. I want them to know my dream is to have them all become 6 figures service providers so that they can economically do well and live a fantastic life while working in an industry that they love.