By Lynelle Lynch, President and Owner, Bellus Academy and President, Beauty Changes Lives Foundation
Ironically, an industry that is all about beauty and wellness suffers from an image problem. Whether you blame the public’s negative perceptions about beauty and wellness careers on popular culture (reality TV and pop culture rarely portray the industry accurately), media reports of a few “bad apples” in the industry, or the Obama-era assault on for-profit institutions, the beauty and wellness industry suffers from an image problem.
The view that parents and high school guidance counselors don’t consider careers in beauty and wellness as careers of choice isn’t just a hunch. An independent attitudes and perceptions study commissioned by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools in 2009 revealed that beauty and wellness careers simply were not esteemed as careers of choice. Few respondents in the national survey were aware of the breadth of career opportunities available to licensed beauty and wellness professionals or the rewards associated with these careers – including life/work balance, entrepreneurial opportunities, low-stress and the opportunity to create one’s own career path.
Although the public is largely unaware of opportunities in the beauty industry, data tells another story. Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) projects that more than 5 million career education professionals will be needed in the next 10 years.
Among these 5 million jobs, 1,343,000 positions will be in the beauty and wellness industry. Truly, this is one “beauty secret” you won’t see reported by the media!
A collaboration is born
In Q3 2017, the International Spa Association (ISPA) reached out to the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation to address the challenge of attracting workers to the spa and salon sector. Together, these two organizations are working to change perceptions about careers in beauty and wellness.
The unique collaboration is seeking to connect spa and salon employers’ demand for qualified professionals with individuals who want to work at their “dream job.” ISPA is a professional organization serving to advance the spa industry by providing educational and networking opportunities, promoting the value of the spa experience and serving as an authoritative voice to foster professionalism and growth. The Beauty Changes Lives Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that awards scholarships to aspiring and licensed beauty and wellness professionals, while uniting the industry to elevate perceptions of careers in the spa and salon sector. Since its inception as a non-profit in 2012, the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships to hundreds of students and licensed professionals across North America.
An industry in need of workers
As part of its service to members, ISPA conducts research on various issues surrounding the spa industry, including job demand. The 2017 ISPA U.S. Spa Industry Study found that nearly 33,000 vacant positions existed for qualified individuals. The same study also pointed to a bright future for the spa industry – reporting steady growth in the number of spa visits, overall revenue, locations, and revenue per visit. Combined with data from the U.S. Department of Labor projecting spa growth between 10 and 20 percent over the next decade, the report clearly affirmed the need for qualified professionals in the spa sector.
In summer 2017, ISPA contacted the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation (BCL) to discuss the survey findings and brainstorm on how the two organizations could unite to address the spa industry’s need for qualified professionals. As discussions continued, it became clear that other segments of the beauty industry – including salons – felt the same pressures to cultivate and educate a qualified workforce to meet rising demand.
Defining a dream job
As ISPA and BCL evaluated the workforce challenge, spoke with existing spa professionals working in the industry and considered shifts in what aspects of a career are most appealing to today’s workers, the “dream job” reference kept appearing. It naturally led to the question, “What is a dream job?” Such jobs appear to be elusive. According to a 2013 Reuters news story, just 14 percent of Americans claim to have the perfect job.1 The article noted that more than half of the workers referenced in a study said they wanted to change careers. Younger workers were more eager to find another type of work than older workers, with nearly 80 percent of workers saying they wanted to change careers, followed by 64 percent of workers in their 30s and 54 percent of workers in their 40s.
Alas, internet searches were of little help in defining the term “dream job.” Googling the phrase resulted in “hits” for what might be more appropriately called “fantasy jobs.” Job titles that came up in internet searches included chocolate science, professional napper, panda nanny and traveling beer taster. Perhaps the most accurate definition was communicated via a motivational poster stating simply, “Your dream job does not exist. Go create it.” Clearly, there was an opportunity to “name it and claim it.” With this challenge in mind, ISPA and the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation created a campaign to attract employees to the professional spa industry. The name of the campaign? “Get Your Dream Job.”
Sharing the campaign – an industry gets involved
Of course, the people most qualified to help support, communicate and celebrate the idea of a dream job are those individuals already “living the dream.” In this case, those individuals include estheticians, massage therapists, nail care professionals, beauty educators, makeup artists, hair stylists and spa managers. To reach these individuals, the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation and ISPA implemented efforts to engage the beauty, spa and wellness community in the Get Your Dream Job campaign.
On Oct. 16, 2017, the Get Your Dream Job campaign to elevate and celebrate careers in the spa industry was unveiled. The rollout was supported by 10 partner organizations at the 27th annual ISPA Conference & Expo at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Leadership from ISPA and the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation shared with attendees how the initiative would be rolled out to spas, salons, clubs and schools coast-to-coast over the coming months. Speaking to the conference attendees, ISPA President Lynne McNees stated, “With the spa industry’s continual growth, careers in the business offer stability and opportunity. This campaign will spread the message about the benefits of working in spas, salons and health clubs to attract job seekers looking for promising careers.”
Partner organizations were also recognized at the conference for their efforts in supporting the campaign. These partners include:
- American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS)
- Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals
- Associated Hair Professionals
- Associated Nail Professionals
- Associated Skin Care Professionals
- Club Fitness and Spa Association
- Club Managers Association of America
- Green Spa Network
- International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association
- Professional Beauty Association
To help further spread the word, ISPA and the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation conducted on-site meetings with prominent media outlets attending the ISPA conference. From industry trade magazines such as American Spa to consumer blogs read by spa enthusiasts such as Confessions of a Spa Bunny, media shared the word about the spa industry’s need for qualified professionals. To help AACS member schools get on board with the campaign, webinars were held to introduce the campaign and the tools available to share the message.
Getting actionable with tools and tactics to spark beautiful conversations
Even the most articulate message will not be effective if it is not communicated and repeated to target audiences. ISPA and the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation focused on helping partners get the word out to diverse publics including spa and salon owners, health club owners, spas and salons, and the consumers they serve. A participant toolkit offers multiple resources to help spread the word.
As a central hub, the www.getyourdreamjob.com website serves as a resource where partner organizations across the industry – as well as prospective students – can gather resources and information about the campaign. Prospective students can use the site to secure information about prospective schools and download an ACE grant application. They can also access the ISPA job bank. Downloadable assets for salons, spas and clubs include “Get Your Dream Job” branded mirror clings, posters, social media graphics for sharing, Facebook cover posts, talking points for employees and guest information cards. Schools participating in the campaign can download social media graphics to help spread the word. The Get Your Dream Job site is continually updated with resources to help campaign participants share the message in their local markets.
The ultimate goal of implementing these grassroots efforts in spas and salons across the nation is to spark conversations between beauty and wellness professionals and their clients. The posters and
supporting collateral are intended to ignite opportunities where beauty and wellness professionals’ passion for their careers can be shared with prospective beauty school students as well as the people who influence career decisions. Beyond driving admissions, the collateral serves to elevate perceptions of careers in beauty.
Grassroots efforts provide affordable approach
Career educators have a lot on their plates, including a shifting regulatory landscape, compliance issues and the most important challenge recruiting students and preparing them for rewarding careers. At the same time, marketing dollars are often limited. By employing a grassroots campaign that engages stakeholders across the industry, and arming them with tools and resources, the Get Your Dream Job campaign provides a practical path forward for an industry seeking to recruit a qualified workforce. The campaign also provides prospective workers with the opportunity to enter a thriving industry positioned for future growth. Implementation of similar models can help career educators prepare students to find their own dream career.
- Reuters.com, July 1, 2013, Dream Job? Most Workers Want to Change Careers https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-work/dream-job-most-u-s-workers-want-to-change-careers-poll-idUSBRE96015Z20130701
LYNELLE LYNCH is president and owner of Bellus Academy. An accomplished visionary and entrepreneur, in 2005 Lynelle accepted the challenge of reimagining beauty and wellness education, taking the leadership reins at Bellus Academy.
Recognizing that professional development is a lifelong adventure, Lynelle has led the development of advanced education programs at Bellus Academy. Bellus educators, as well as students, continually strive to push their creative boundaries and Bellus Academy educators routinely place in the world’s most prestigious industry competitions. Yet Lynelle also recognizes the importance of “core business skills” that contribute to graduates’ success. Bellus Academy students learn not just the art and science of cosmetology and related programs, but also vital business skills including personal finance and marketing.
As a leader, Lynelle models a philosophy that is simultaneously competitive and humanitarian. In 2015, she traveled to Paris to accept the international Intercoiffure Mondial Award, recognizing Bellus Academy as the top academy in North America. Bellus Academy continues to be awarded honors, accepting the California Association of Private Post-Secondary Schools (CAPPS) “Gold” Award for Excellence in Community Service in March 2017. In June 2017, Lynelle accepted the Business Leader of the Year award from the North San Diego Business Chamber.
Among Lynelle’s diverse accomplishments, she is particularly proud of the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation which she founded in 2009. Since becoming a 501(c)(3), the Foundation has raised millions of dollars and awarded thousands of scholarships for individuals pursuing careers in hairstyling, aesthetics, massage therapy, professional nails, makeup and barbering. She has also engaged some of the world’s most esteemed beauty brands in supporting NextGen talent.
Throughout Lynelle’s career, she has been active in civic and charitable causes. She currently serves on five boards, including the Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) board of directors.
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