Student Stories: Christina E.
If you’ve been following our Student Stories series, you’ve probably seen a variety of different students and alumni in the spotlight. That’s because our students find success in many unique places, and they have all their own goals and ambitions. This month we wanted to feature a student who graced our halls way back when the name of our only school was the Douglas J Educational Center in Lansing, MI. She has been a powerful force in the Douglas J family through a strong bond with Scott Weaver, our CEO.
Christina E., it’s your time to shine! You deserve this month’s spotlight. Learn more about Christina’s journey through cosmetology school years ago and be inspired by her journey of becoming a salon owner.⬇️
Christina’s career didn’t start out in beauty. She spent a few years in catering at home in Idaho, when life brought her to Michigan. She thought that catering was going to be the limit of her job options in her new state, but she realized that she hated catering.
“My heart wasn’t in it. I was once asked, ‘What would you do if you could do anything in the world?’ Hair was always in my head. I cut my Barbie’s hair when I was younger. I braided my cousins’ hair and they ran away from me. I always thought I was a natural. My friends always wanted me to do their hair, but I always thought it was one of those jobs that people looked down on. You know, the beauty school dropout.”
We’re so glad that Christina saw the light and found passion within herself to pursue her lifelong calling. So many aspiring beauty school students are victim to the thought that beauty school isn’t a real job.
So what was a girl to do in the big city of Jackson, Michigan? She was going to find the beauty school with the best reputation, even if that meant traveling out of town.
Why Douglas J Aveda Institute?
“I was only in Michigan for three years, but I got my beauty education there. I was in Jackson, MI, but the schools there didn’t speak to me. When I found Douglas J and went in, it was a different feeling. It felt like home.”
We asked Christina to expand on what made Douglas J Aveda Institute stand out in her mind. As someone who was willing to travel outside of her new home, she brings a fresh perspective to what makes people choose one of our institutions.
“First of all, the other schools all acted like they were interviewing me. The admissions gal at Douglas J, Gina, she said, ‘You’re interviewing us. If you pick us, we will be more than happy to have you. We want you here.’ It was the first time I ever felt wanted in that way. An institution wanted me. They thought highly of me as a person.”
Though that was almost 21 years ago, we strive to train all of our admissions staff members to convey that same idea that Gina did to Christina. We want our students to be here. On a tour of a Douglas J Aveda Institute campus, we are not only there to show you around, but we are there to get to know you and allow you to get to know us. We want this fit to be easy and to be mutual.
“The staff and admin there, they would always stop what they were doing to help you. I broke my arm while I was in school, and I had to finish eight weeks later than I would have. I was sitting in Sharon’s office with Scott, sobbing. He took my hand and comforted me. They didn’t want me to be sick from the pain medication I was on while I was in school. They wanted me to be able to learn at my best and take everything in. I come from a small town, and I always thought that people in big cities were snobs, but not these people. I was blown away by how warm everyone there was.”
It’s a common theme throughout everything we do: family. We are a family of beauty-lovers who all have a passion for learning. That’s why Christina fit into our culture so seamlessly, and that’s why many of the other students we have featured have, too!
Christina has been working in the industry for almost 21 years after graduating from our cosmetology program in 1998. She said, “Scott told me to start counting your experience from the day you start school.”
We asked her why the beauty industry was so intriguing to her (besides the fact that she found cutting and styling hair fun).
“I wanted to be obsessed with what I do. I wanted to learn why every angle and every cut means something. I wanted to understand it all and why we do what we do. I have two major reasons why I love beauty.”
Christina went on to share her top two reasons for loving the beauty industry.
“First, making women feel beautiful. I think women and their bodies go through so much. These last few years I’ve had a few guests who have had cancer, and I just wanted to make them feel beautiful. Your self worth can plummet. I have two specific guests who I’d been seeing for 12 years who had to have double mastectomies. They couldn’t lift their arms to blow dry their hair. I committed to having them in once a week for a free shampoo and blow dry.”
“Second, in our small town [in Idaho] we have a lot of small shops everywhere. You can work almost anywhere here. I wanted to stand out. I wanted to make a family. I wanted to make a home. Our salon is in an actual house now. It was just too fitting. I wanted to make a space for people to be excited to come into each day. Money and fame aren’t my driving forces. You get back from people what you pour in. I do what I do for them.”
Many people in the beauty industry get a reputation for being vapid or shallow because they love makeup and hair. Outsiders tend to think that anyone who is interested in outer beauty is obsessed with the reflection in the mirror.
We think that Christina is a shining example of what the greatest people in the industry actually are: givers. Don’t get us wrong, there are some people out there who are only interested in what’s on the surface, but that tends not to be the majority of them.
Women like Christina are inspiring. They are people who only want to make someone else’s day. They want to help boost the confidence of others. They want to change someone’s life. We are so happy to claim Christina as an alumni solely based on her attitude and sunshine-y outlook on the world, but she’s done more than change the lives of the people around her.
Why Business Ownership?
Christina is currently the owner of Edge Salon and Spa in Pocatello, Idaho. When we asked Christina to share her motivation for owning a business, she had a surprising story.
“Owning a salon is not what I wanted to do,” she laughed. “When I moved back to Idaho from Michigan, I got a job at the only Aveda concept salon in southeast Idaho. I called the owner, and we hit it off immediately. She said that she wanted to add another stylist to the salon. It was a small, two-chair salon. There was an esthetician, a nail technician, and a massage therapist, too. She hired me over the phone, right away because she had heard amazing things about Douglas Weaver and his school. If I was Aveda trained she wouldn’t have to worry about training me. I started there on November 22, 1999. I worked there for 16 years.”
Christina gave herself a moment to brag, “I’ve had two employers in my life. I worked for this salon and one in Jackson, and they both hired me on the spot. The Douglas J name speaks for itself.”
After a while, it was time for Christina to change it up.
“The guests I had, I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want them to have to look for me. I tried to purchase the salon before, and it didn’t work out.”
Christina didn’t let that discourage her journey to becoming an owner.
“The love of my life walked into the picture, and we got married. We were on our way back from our honeymoon when I got a call. My boss was getting tired of the demand of the salon. My husband encouraged me to take it on.”
“In 2014, my boss’s daughter got into a skiing accident, and was in the hospital for some time. We [my husband and I] drove up there and were talking to her. I told her, if she didn’t want to sell that was fine. We closed on the purchase in eight weeks. We became owners. That’s when we decided to change the name. I wanted all these flowery names, but my husband said no man would ever want to walk into a salon with that kind of name. We decided on Edge Salon and Spa based on his army nickname.”
Advice for Future Beauty Pros
Because Christina is overflowing with success, we asked that she share some advice with people who want to be like her in the future.
“Put your head down and work. Show up! You know, hard work, tenacity, and perseverance have been turned into cliches, but they’re not… I tell my team to put their heads down and work hard. Just don’t give up. Even on the days you don’t want it, you really do. There are still those days, and you are still human, but you want this. Make it tangible. Write it down. Keep it somewhere where you can touch your dreams. You didn’t come this far to drop it now. It’s funny, we have a habit of getting through things. Just take it all in.”
We have been inspired, and will continue to be, by Christina’s story. We wish her the best of luck with her newly remodeled salon, and we hope that she continues to find joy in making a difference. She sure has made one in the lives of many of the Douglas J family members.
Become a Douglas J Aveda Institute Legacy
Do you want to make an impression on the world and the people around you like Christina? We would like to encourage you to do it through a beauty education. Empower yourself with learning in a Douglas J Aveda Institute beauty program. You can find your inspiration here, just like Christina did! Contact us for more information about getting started.
More Student Stories to Inspire You
Read: “Student Stories: Serene R.”
Read: “Student Stories: Sherita M.”
Read: “Student Stories: Tommy Buckett”
Read: “Student Stories: SharaLee Attema”
Read: “Student Stories: Blake Webster”
Read: “Student Stories: James Black”
Read: “Student Stories: Timothy Walkinhood”
Read: “Student Stories: Madison Marra”
Read: “Student Stories: Tullio Dimichele”