Celebrating an Exceptional Career in Beauty Education with Eydie Foltz

Bellus Academy Educator, Eydie Foltz

From Beehives to Blowouts to Balayage and Beyond – we celebrate an exceptional career in Beauty Education. Evolving yet enduring, beauty is a paradox. While trends in hair, skin and nails are ever changing, the appeal of beauty as a career remains steadfast. Perhaps no one understands this paradox better than Eydie Foltz, a cosmetology educator at Bellus Academy and recipient of a 2023 Exceptional Educator Award presented by Career Education Review. 

In a career that spans more than 57 years, Eydie has seen iconic haircuts come and go, and witnessed education evolve in ways she couldn’t imagine as a fresh-eyed beauty school graduate. And as a new year gets underway, she’s still anticipating and leaning into what’s next in beauty education. Upon accepting the Exceptional Educator Award, Edyie shared her thoughts on a career that has seen the evolution of hair from beehives to blowouts to Balayge and beyond.

Beauty education has evolved in ways unimagined when you started your career, but what’s stayed the same?

Education is still the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world. I keep that statement posted in the classroom.

Students still choose to enroll in beauty school because they like hair or skin or nails. They have a passion for and a deep interest in beauty. Today’s students view beauty more holistically. Whereas years ago, students would be focused on learning hair, makeup, skincare or nails, now they look at the entire beauty pyramid and they think about creating the whole package – the skin, the hair, the nails. They want to know how all of the parts fit together for a cohesive look.

How have beauty school students changed?

We have more men enrolled in beauty school than ever before. In 1966 when I started my career, it was a ladies world. For example, when I first started teaching, my classes might include one male student. Today, there are many males enrolled in programs that go beyond barbering.

How has the beauty school experience evolved?

Like so much of our world, the craft of teaching beauty has been enhanced and transformed by technology. When I started teaching, the cosmetology program was built around a textbook and lectures. There were no workbooks, videos, Powerpoint presentations or computer-based learning modules.

I lectured for two hours, then went on to lecture another two-hour session in front of a chalkboard. Today, the platform blends technology – PowerPoint, Youtube – all types of tools – coupled with real-world interaction. I’ve also attended courses to enhance my own understanding of technology. Bellus Academy helped celebrate that achievement, presenting me with a laptop in signature Bellus red.

We also integrate activities that nurture relationships between students. Maybe it’s asking students about the best Christmas gift they ever received, their favorite Thanskgiving dish or prompting them to share three questions they’d like to ask another student. These ice breakers help us get to know one another better.

Stylists, estheticians and nail tech professionals  must be skilled at listening to and communicating with their clients. I teach a salon business course that helps students go beyond helping students address questions in an interview. We talk about how  to spark a conversation with a salon owner and “selling” the skills they’ve learned in beauty school.

What advice do you give to students to prepare them for the “real world” after school?

It’s really important to go out and talk to people in salons – even as a student. Ask salon owners and hairstylists about what they like, and what advice they might offer to industry newcomers. I teach a Salon Business class that emphasizes conversational skills, building a portfolio and preparing students to showcase the skills they’ve learned when they speak with prospectve employers. Asking salon owners questions about their work and being engaged is critical – you can’t just wait to be asked questions in an interview.

Is there a professional experience you’re especially proud of?

Competitions have always been very important at Bellus Academy – and in my career. Years ago, I’d take students to huge competitions in Wichita where we’d focus on creating a certain style. We’d focus on all of the elements – right down to the draping and the caping. I brought nine students to the competition and all nine of of them placed in the competition. I was so proud of the students!

How do you stay inspired as an educator in beauty education?

I love this industry. It brings a new challenge every day and as new trends emerge, there is always a new challenge to tackle. Hair color is a good example. Fifteen years ago, most people didn’t even know the term Balayage. As the industry keeps changing, those who work in it have a chance to be the best they can be. If you don’t know something, you better learn it!

Who were some mentors who influenced your career?

PivotPoint exposed me to some huge names in the industry. Buddy Francis and Grace Duran connected me to Leo and Robert Passaage. They were amazing mentors and I learned so much as they generously shared their insights and learnings with me.

Is there a hairstyle that has remained timeless?

A few styles come to mind. The long layers Farrah Fawcett had in Charlie’s Angels endures in new ways. We call it the increased layer cut today – shorter on top with longer layers cascading down around the face. But the French rolls we did in the 60’s are still relevant. Not every style stayed – the wiglets and wigs were a big deal in the 70s. And there are also some techniques that remain timeless. We recently had a client come into the student salon who had called several salons requesting finger waves and couldn’t find anyone who still did them. We were able to give her the finger waves she wanted – completing a beautiful look for a military ball.

What advice do you offer for young hairstylists just beginning their career?

In this business, the more you learn, the more money you’re going to earn. You never want to quit learning because the more you know, the more people will want to sit in your chair. Continue your education and share what you’re learning with your clients. They’ll see that you know what you’re talking about.

How do you approach New Year’s goals?

Every day brings a new challenge, so I tend to focus more on what the day presents than thinking too far in the industry. The beauty world changes too fast to think a year out. I’m always motivated to keep challenging students. Sometimes the goal goes beyond beauty – like when we embarked on construction enhancements here at Bellus Academy. It was a chance to improve our building and how we serve students. I had an idea to build power into our theory classroom desks. The design allows students to effortlessly pivot from theory to practice.  

What inspires you?

Feeling like I’ve helped empower someone in achieving their goals is really rewarding. Just before the holidays, I received a beautiful message in a Christmas card from a student expressing her gratitude for helping students be successful.

Chatting with Eydie, it’s suddenly clear why a much-shared piece of wisdom is often shared at Bellus Academy. “WWED” is shorthand for “ What would Eydie do.”  As a new year begins, we look forward to learning more from this wise and wonderful educator.

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