From getting the perfect haircut for spring to your monthly self-care manicure to makeup application for a special occasion, we put a lot of trust into professional cosmetologists to make us feel like our best selves. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists is projected to grow 19% from 2020 to 2030—a much faster rate than the average for all other occupations. Plenty of that industry growth is taking place right here in West Michigan.
Celebrating 15 years in the Grand Rapids area in 2022, Empire Beauty School began its presence in West Michigan after the procurement of the Chic Cosmetology campuses, ushering in a continuation of a legacy dating all the way back to 1934 and bringing with it a highly-regarded reputation and a wealth of experience.
With a campus on Lake Michigan Drive and another on North Alpine, Empire's Certified Learning in Cosmetology (CLIC) platform of education is exclusive to their students and provides the most current and upcoming techniques and trends in the industry.
"These techniques, developed by salon professionals, offer students technical, business and soft skills. It's our goal to inspire students to be creative in their own way," said Cynthia Alexander, who is the Executive Director of Empire Beauty School and has been with the school for over 20 years. "Every component of our education—text books, curriculum, mannequins and tools—work to empower and prepare students for a successful future."
Empire's support of its students extends beyond when they're enrolled, as well.
"We offer our students with a lifetime of career services, and have partnerships with national and local salon organizations and national top product lines, providing a vast network of employment opportunities," Alexander continued. "We strive to support our students to build their own unique and personal brand and empower them to pursue the career of their dreams."
Students could expect to learn a variety of skills: The preparation of all types and texture of hair (both men and women), gel and acrylic nails, skin care and more. But beyond those skills, students also learn business building practices, such as retailing, rebooking and referrals, marketing, social media expertise and applications.
Lisa Migenes, Career Planning and Outreach Specialist for Empire, explains that because Empire is family-owned, students can feel a special difference on their campuses.
"We care!" Migenes said, noting that haircuts for Veterans are complimentary. "In addition to the education platform, we have opportunities for our students to participate in philanthropy. We are big on community and we want to our students to experience the warmth of giving."
For those contemplating a career in cosmetology, Migenes emphasizes that the possibilities are endless and encourages those who are curious to stop by the school for a tour.
"This is a career without a glass ceiling, without limits," she said. "The return on the investment is you can graduate in less than a year and hit the ground running. During our years of operations, we've had many students graduate and go on into very successful careers. Much of our alumni are salon and spa owners, make-up artists, models, entrepreneurs, book authors, educators, and some have even gone on to obtain their own cosmetology schools."
In honor of their 15 years in West Michigan, Empire will be hosting a celebration on April 11 that's open to all and will include a visit from Walker Mayor Gary Carey, Jr., demonstrations led local stylists, door prizes, a silent auction for the Bissell Pet Foundation and more.
Learn more by visiting Empire Beauty School.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.