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School Profile: A New Nail Tech Program for Penrose Academy

When Jill Kohler and her husband opened Scottsdale AZ.-based Penrose Academy back in August 2006, the cosmetology and esthetics school did not offer a nail tech program. But now, ten years later, a nails-only option is being offered because of employer demand in the community for qualified nail techs. We caught up with Kohler to discuss how this evolution came about.

<p>Penrose Academy Owner Jill Kohler</p>

Q: How long have you owned Penrose Academy?

A: My husband and I opened our doors on August 15, 2006 in Scottsdale AZ. He is our co-founder and creative director and I am the president/founder. Back in 2006, we launched a cosmetology program and an esthetics program. We added a laser program in 2012 and a student educator program in 2007.

Q: Why did you initially decide not to include a nail tech option? What changed your mind?

A: We originally started with cosmetology and esthetics due to our research showing market demand from both employers and prospective students. In the past 10 years, we have built great relationships with hundreds of employers throughout the valley who have continually asked us to start a nails only program because they cannot find qualified nail techs. So although we do not have strong prospective student interest yet, we have jobs and more jobs and more jobs. So we feel confident we can build the interest through our brand and marketing.

Although we have been licensing nail technicians through the cosmetology program (1600 hours) for the last 10 years, our first nail technician class (600 hours) started September 6. We have started modestly with six spots and have filled all six with a waiting list for our next nail only program start date. We have built up our online presence through PPC (pay-per-click) and google AdWords and are getting tremendous enthusiasm for this new program. From our sold-out upcoming class, to longtime guests in our salon looking to book appointments, everyone cannot wait for this new chapter to start.

Q: Who are your nail instructors and how did you find them?

A: Nikki Parcells is our senior director of education and has been with our company for ten years. She works with Pivot Point International to create our personalized curriculum. Tonka Quni and Kelly Dunlavey are our lead nail educators with 25+ years of experience.

Q: Who are your students (demographics)? How do you recruit students?

A: Although Penrose Academy is 20,000 square feet, our first nail class is maxed out at six because of facility space. Our current demographic is mostly females between the ages of 18 and 26, though our esthetics program attracts many second-career men and women. And our first class of six has five females and one male who is the husband of one of our cosmetology graduates from years ago. Fun! The majority of our recruitment is done through strong alumni referrals, high schools, social media, marketing programs, the website, and word of mouth.

Q: What kinds of jobs do your nail students get after graduation, typically?

A: Although we have yet to complete our first nail class, we have businesses calling us daily for nail technicians. There are many high-end nails-only salons in the valley that hire our cosmetology graduates. We offer a Penrose App to our students and alumni that has a job board (in additional to many other tools) that can help our grads find employment more efficiently.

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