“If I could give a gift to any teacher, it would be a big box filled with patience”, states Kim Combs. Kim, Executive Director of Health and Style Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina, chuckles as she says that means she has her fingers in operations, finances and well, everything. She is well versed on the importance of fortitude.
Kim had been a cosmetologist for over 20 years and a teacher/director for 18 years. Her passion has been to grow others above and beyond what they ‘think’ their full potential is.
Her reason for pushing students to excel beyond their wildest dreams? “Where I went to school they were not creative. We were kept in a box and taught cookie- cutter hairstyling. To earn what you can. Make yourself employable. Just pass the state exam so you can make a decent income. I want to share my passion for the art and business of cosmetology, and teach others to use their creativity to help make the world more beautiful. I want and expect more from people than just enough. I demand more than that from myself, so why would I expect less from others?” she asks with a chuckle.
Currently, with 250+ students in 3 locations, Kim not only imparts the importance of leaving attitudes outside the front door, she leads by example. Aware that each student is different, and not wanting to stifle originality, Kim and the teachers under her tutelage treat everyone, from the representatives at the front desk to the students to the teachers, above and beyond what is expected. And they teach others to pass that on.
“Everyone has an expectation when they walk into a salon. Meet the stylist. Tell him/her what you want. After your services are rendered, payment, a tip, hopefully another appointment set up, as the stylist gets ready for the next client. We believe the experience should be just that, an experience. That have our guests actually looking forward to returning. Sooner, rather than later.”
When asking Kim if they have challenges, she lets out a hearty laugh. “We’re dealing with humans. The average ages are 19-24, but we have a student that is 68 years old. She doesn’t give us any problems, it’s those born into the ‘age of entitlement’ that challenges our patience! Sometimes I think we are so much more than teachers. We are life coaches who happen to know how to teach others to cut and style hair!”
As Kim talked about the importance of engagement between the student and the teachers, her voice lowered. “Everyone wants to be heard. If there is a problem at home, the student cutting hair with ICON Shears in hand want to know that someone cares. For more than skills. That they matter.”
We both sigh at the same time. Aware that training to be the best in cosmetology and hair design is more than an art. It is learning to be the best in life. To have the desire to do more than the mind can conceive. To have the wisdom to seek out the experts in life and find willing mentors. Who live beyond themselves.
And Kim is just that.
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