"I love making people feel good about themselves," says Linda Edwards, elite artist and director of education at Mitchell's Salon & Day Spa in Kenwood. "It's amazing how getting a haircut can brighten your day and make you feel better about yourself." It's an outlook that has helped Edwards grow both as a hairstylist and as a mentor throughout her 16-year career at Mitchell's, a mainstay in the Greater Cincinnati salon community, long known as a leader when it comes to stylist education. Fellow elite artist Michelle Miller, a 14-year Mitchell's veteran, praises the company's dedication to building the careers of its stylists. "They pour a lot of passion into the staff and we always feel we could learn more and grow more," she says. "We never feel like we've learned it all." That learning takes place in each of Mitchell's four locations including the original "mothership" in Kenwood, where Edwards and Miller work. The company brings in leading national stylists to conduct hands-on training and fosters a mentoring program that brings together veterans and newcomers to the world of hair styling. Edwards says this focus on up-and-coming stylists helps to fuel the passion she brings to her position at Mitchell's. "Our associates and designers are the future," she says, "so teaching and being a good role model is very important to me." Mitchell's stylist education program includes opportunities outside the salon setting as well. Way outside. Edwards and Miller have traveled to locations like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas, Germany and Cancun, Mexico, for training aimed at helping them hone their technique and deepen their skill set. It's not surprising that Edwards considers her time at Mitchell's "amazing." "As a career," she says, "it has exceeded my expectations." Still, when they aren't jet-setting in the name of career enhancement, both women consider Mitchell's a home away from home. "It's a family," says Miller. "They really encourage us and want us to live up to our potential." Miller's role in that family is almost motherly. "I focus on building into our staff," she says. "We mentor newer girls, and I love feeling like I'm helping to bring them up." New stylists enroll in a supervised program that requires weekly classes and shadowing an experienced stylist for a full year. Edwards says most will finish and go on to become official Mitchell's stylists. From there, stylists can rise through the ranks based on their skill level, client retention and other more intangible skills like leadership. As they grow in their careers, Miller says stylists sometimes find they favor a creative approach versus a more technical approach or vice versa, while others, like her, "linger somewhere in the middle." Edwards agrees. "My clients come to me for a few reasons; because I'm technically sound, but also because I'm fun," she says. "After 16 years, I've become more creative than ever and I love to have fun with my clients and my assistants." Edwards and Miller share more than the elite artist designation. Each credit their mothers with getting them started in the field. Edwards found inspiration in the example of her hairstylist mother. "I wanted to do something inspiring and creative to carry on that passion." Miller's technical training started young. "We actually had a salon in our basement," she says. "By the time I was 12 my mom was having me put color on for her." When the time came to consider her post-secondary education, Miller's mother encouraged her to consider a career in hair. "I feel blessed because she didn't push me toward college and instead encouraged me to follow my passion because she knew I'd always love my job that way – and I do!" Mitchell's Salon & Day Spa has four locations in Greater Cincinnati. You can reach them at 513.793.0900 or visit their website at www.mitchellssalon.com.
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