In July during Beauty Week there is also BEACON. BEACON is a PBA event that features some of the most promising cosmetology students. The opportunity to attend BEACON is either earned by some through scholarship or paid by others. This year was the largest Beacon group ever, and the best to date.
I have had the privilege and honor to facilitate Beacon for many years. Before me was the incredible Winn Claybaugh, and lucky for me, he became too busy opening up those Paul Mitchell academies all over the country, so I stepped in.
The BEACON event is a time for students to hear from some of the great and talented members of the beauty industry. It is a time for these beauty icons to share advice and tips of the trade to those who will soon enter the workplace as licensed cosmetologists. Each year brings a different assembly of professionals, just as each year, the gathering of students is different.
This year we had some of the greatest and most talented people in our industry speak and share with the students. Here is how it all broke down. Saturday night, we have the Beacon Bash, a time when all the students come together for the first time for an orientation. I, together with PBA’s Rachael Plotts, lay the groundwork and the rules for the weekend. Each student is to asked to read and sign a promise letter in which they agree to stay focused on Beacon while in Las Vegas. They leave with an understanding of what to expect and a welcome bag of products from Beacon Sponsors. They students are then offered the opportunity to attend the PBA Get Together Party and begin their networking with each other and other beauty professionals.
Sunday morning begins with the students attending a portion of PBA’s Business Symposium. This year, they heard from the keynote speaker, Dennis Snow, a former Disney executive. Then, they gathered in the Beacon room for lectures, presentations, and information about the beauty industry. I gave the first presentation, which was about becoming aware of your complete potential and paying attention to doing things right the first time. We all had lunch together on the Cosmoprof floor and then back to the Beacon room for more. The next presentation was from Theodore Leaf, a young man with whom they can identify. His lecture was amazing. He talked of his dream and how he created the opportunity for success all while engaging their participation. The last speaker of the day was the JPMS artistic director, Stephanie Kocielski. She was incredible and had the students in stitches. In between each speaker, I asked the students to share what they noticed to be the common thread in each of presentations.
At the end of the day, we had what we have called Open Mike, a time when invited industry icons come and share one or two of their favorite lessons. This portion is facilitated by Larry Curtis, founder of the acclaimed Taylor Andrews Academies in Utah. Larry has been a firm believer and tremendous supporter of Beacon. Every year, Larry’s students compete for the opportunity to attend Beacon and every year Taylor Andrews is represented.
I closed the day with a special surprise. As if our day wasn’t terrific enough, at the end we pick out a few students from the audience based on how they were dressed, how they acted in class, and their character. Two students were then nominated to be trophy holders during NAHA, and three students were nominated to work backstage with the world’s greatest artists at NAHA.
This unbelievable day ends with all of the students attending NAHA and being a part of the celebration honoring the best in beauty.
Monday begain with an opening by me, Geno Stampora, and a recap of the excitement felt at NAHA. Our first speaker was Charles Marcus, an industry Icon who has been asked back time and time again because of his ability to instill passion in the students. His story was well received. The students took great notes. Before lunch we had the Fast Fire and Alumni panel. We invited Alumni from Beacon to share what Beacon did for their careers and to offer ideas and inspiration to the students. This was also facilitated by Larry Curtis. He did his usual incredible job. The panel was excellent and offered much good information and a lot of laughs. We had lunch together on the show floor again. After lunch we reconvened in the Beacon room and were delighted by Vivienne Mackinder. She worked her magic on the students and we were off the Symposium for the Fish Philosophy.
Back in the Beacon room, my closing presentation brings the whole two days together and then farewell. There were tears, hugs, and eyes filled with possibility. It was a most gratifying two days. I want to personally thank Larry Curtis, and PBA’s Rachael Plotts for making this the best Beacon yet. We are on for next year, July 13-15, 2013, Las Vegas: the next, best Beacon event!