13 May Institute Insider: Kohler Waters Spa Director Nicole Russo-Miller
The Institute Insider podcast series goes behind the scenes of not only our institute, but also our industry. For the third installment, we interviewed Nicole Russo-Miller, esthiology alumni of The Institute of Beauty and Wellness and director of Kohler Waters Spa. Kohler Waters Spa is one of just 64 five-star spas worldwide, and is located right here in Wisconsin. While current events have many people feeling uncertain about the future, several salons and spas are hiring now, including Kohler Waters Spa. Nicole said Kohler is currently hiring for service providers, especially massage therapists. To help fill their needs, Kohler is offering to pay for training, and potentially the cost of tuition, under certain guidelines. Although Nicole said their biggest need right now is for massage therapists, she also encourages those of other programs to apply, including estheticians, cosmetologist, manicurists and holistic therapists (Ayurveda Esthetic).
Kohler Waters Spa own four spas in the United States and one abroad. Two of them are in Illinois: one in Chicago and one in Burr Ridge, a suburb of Chicago. The other two are in Wisconsin, with one in Kohler, and the other in Green Bay, which is their newest location, Lodge Kohler. Kohler also owns a spa in Saint Andrews, Scotland. When asked which locations were hiring, she said all of them. This poses a very exciting opportunity for students looking to get into the industry. For those interested in working in a larger city, Nicole suggests checking out their Chicago location, and for those interested in working abroad, to check out their Scotland spa.
As an alumni of our esthiology program, Nicole was extremely excited to share this information with our students. Nicole graduated from the esthiology program in 1996. She said a large part of her love for this career came from the foundation that she built at The Institute of Beauty and Wellness. During her tenure as a student, the spa industry was taking off, and the occupations that an esthiology licensure could open the door to were expanding.
When asked what traits she thinks make an applicant stand out, she said that the biggest thing that she looks for is passion; passion not only for the career, but also for life. She made a point to say that passion is not something that she and her team can teach, but, paired with key soft skills, it makes a service provider shine. At The Institute of Beauty and Wellness, we teach soft skills like making eye contact and genuine conversation with a guest, as well as spa etiquette and manners that put your guest at ease. While being able to give a good massage or haircut is important, it’s the soft skills that enhance the guest experience. In this industry, we touch lives, not just bodies. It is really important that we know how to connect to another person and to make someone feel special.
As a final question for Nicole, we asked her what advice she has for those graduating from high school. She said to never give up on your dreams and to always go for something that you believe in even if society doesn’t value it the same way you do. She referenced the notion of “beauty school dropouts,” and how this phrase was used to degrade people pursuing occupations in the beauty and wellness industry. Nicole said what she found in beauty school, she could have never found in a four-year college experience. Although she is now finishing a degree in business school, she was glad her education and career path started in beauty school, because it helped her build a foundation and understanding of the industry that led to her current role as spa director. It took Nicole 20 years after graduating high school to get to where she is now, the director of five luxury spas. Good things take time, but it’s worth it in the end.
If you are interested in a career in the beauty or wellness industry but not sure where to start, contact our admissions team to learn more.