How to Choose a Valuable Education Class as a Hairstylist 


Today’s blog is all about advancing your career and skill set through education. There comes a point in every hairstylist’s career when they need to learn more techniques and enhance their fundamental hairdressing skills. However, with the noise of everything that’s in front of us, from social media to countless internet reviews, it’s hard to siphon all of this information without getting distracted. How do you decide what will give you the best value for your time and money?

I sat down with industry experts, Kenny and Lenore Gibson from the Collectiv Academy,to discuss how to choose a valuable education class. With their knowledge and expertise, you’ll feel much more confident about continuing your education. 

A Little Bit About Kenny and Lenore Gibson

We’ll start with Kenny. Kenny broke into the beauty industry when he was 19 years old. Working in a creative environment appealed to him. As he got deeper into the industry, TONI&GUYcaught his attention with their modern yet relatable looks. Eventually, he got a job with them as an assistant for Lenore (whom he would one day fall in love with) and worked his way up the TONI&GUY ladder. 

Kenny is one of the original TONI&GUY Art Team members. During his impressive career, he traveled worldwide, worked with the likes of Anthony Mascolo and James Morison, and developed the U.S., Fiji, and guy National Art Teams with them. He served as the President of the TONI&GUY Academy Division for ten years and developed in franchise 27 basic academies. 

Lenore got into the industry at the young age of 15. After being in the industry for a few years, she wanted to expand her education. She went to TONI&GUY due to their reputation. As her career grew, she made sure to have education be an integral part of it.

Lenore was the Artistic Director for all of the U.S. TONI&GUY salons. She was the General Manager of TONI&GUY U.S., and she served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Education for the TONI&GUY salon and Academy Divisions. 

Today, the couple owns their own cosmetology, hair, and barber school called Collectiv Academy. At the academy, they offer education to become a licensed hairstylist along with more advanced courses. Their goal is to give their students a solid foundation that will allow them to grow their careers. 

Why Continuing Your Education Is so Important

As styles evolve and you mature as a hairstylist, you’re going to want to acquire a broader skill set. The challenge is, how do you get there? How do you get to becoming better than where you are? The answer is by continuing your education. 

Continuing your education allows you to grow as a hairstylist. Clients will trust you to do more advanced haircuts, and your confidence will grow. Our experts tell new hairstylists to let their confidence show, even if they need to fake it for their first few years out of school. Also, with more education comes more earnings. Really, it’s a win-win situation. 

Although seminars and trade shows are exciting and fun to attend, hands-on experience is what our experts say is the best form of education. Observation is necessary to understand concepts, but hands-on experience is where you really do the learning. You can’t learn how to drive a car by having someone only explain it to you. You have to get behind the wheel.

Roadblocks to Keep in Mind

The two biggest constraints keeping hairstylists from taking education classes are time and money. Oftentimes classes will require you to travel, which may cut into your salon time. Also, it costs money to make money. Though it may be difficult to justify paying for class, it will pay out in the end. Our experts recommend putting aside a portion of your tips to pay for classes. 

Recommendations When Considering Taking a Class

Around five years into your career as a hairstylist, it’s time to assess where you are. Are you happy with what you are earning? Do you have a good amount of clients? Are you confident in your work? Taking additional classes will help you to be able to answer “yes” to all of these questions. 

It’s recommended that hairstylists take a fundamentals class every other year, and during the year in between, they take an advanced or trends class. This way, they aren’t just learning haircuts, they are learning how to truly cut hair. In other words, they are diving deeper into the art and skill of being a stylist. You must be an expert in the basics to do well in more advanced work.

Another recommendation Kenny and Lenore have is to expose yourself to as much as possible on an ongoing basis. Soak in all of the knowledge you can. A wide skill set makes you more appealing to clients.

Finally, don’t put off your education. Even if your pay increases only $5 an hour, that adds up to a lot within a year. 

How to Choose Your Class

  1. It’s best to avoid companies that only want to sponsor their products. You want to focus on learning the technique, not just how to use their product. 
  2. Look at online reviews. What are people saying about the class? What are they getting out of it?
  3. Ask yourself: Is this going to help me be a better hairstylist immediately? Is it going to help me earn more immediately, or is it just something that's exciting? Is this what I'm looking for? 
  4. Choose a school that covers the cutting and coloring trends you’re interested in.
  5. Start off with local education. If the education is worth it, some salon owners may send their stylists to a more extensive course far away. 
  6. Master the art of cutting hair...not just specific haircuts. 

Lenore and Kenny recommend stylists continue reinventing themselves and expanding their craft. If you are interested in enrolling in the Collectiv Academy, keep in mind to book six months in advance. To learn more, visit

If you want to hear the full interview with Lenore and Kenny Gibson, check out episode 125 of the Beyond The Technique podcast. Remember, when it comes to growing as a stylist...fake it till you make it, but have the education to back yourself up! 

Emily Kelly