Live models bring depth to learning sessions

Lylanda Edwards

We try not to work on mannequins because we want consistency and we want feedback from live models.

Lylanda Edwards

By Kelly Carson, Editor, The Link Magazine

If you truly want to do a deep dive into hair replacement and hair extensions, you need one thing — your hands.

Since there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to hair loss, Lylanda Edwards, owner and trichologist at Gabrielle’s Salon & Extensions Boutique in Austin, Texas, developed a training program — a boot camp, so to speak — to give stylists real-world experience dealing with clients.

“It’s an interesting twist to education,” Edwards said in a recent telephone interview with The Link. “We create a simulation, a real salon setting for our team where we perform training and technical instruction. They do hands-on training with live models to overcome fear and build confidence.”

Edwards’ studio offers a full suite of services, including extensions, nonsurgical hair replacement, a trichology center for hair loss, and salon and barbershop services.

The seven members of Edwards’ team span the experience spectrum from new talent and apprentices to master hair extension stylists and colorists.

“All technicians are licensed and have been educated in the Gabrielle’s Advanced Training Program,” Edwards says on her company’s website www.gabriellesaustin.com. “Many have also received numerous brand certifications.”

The training sessions themselves have a different feel than most. It’s a “fun, spicier environment,” Edwards said, that will appear at first glance to be something totally different. You will hear music and there will be food. After all, Edwards is a Mississippi native living in Austin. The combination of music and food is a given.

“It’s a different kind of energy, very engaging,” she said. “There are so many ways for participants to interact (during the training) including roundtable discussions, role-playing, and live customer scenarios. We want clients to speak up. If we are creating discomfort for our clients, we want to know about it through our on-the-spot evaluations.”

The boot camps are intimate — only three to six stylists per session. Using live models offers opportunities not found in traditional training settings, she said.

“We try not to work on mannequins because we want consistency and we want feedback from live models,” Edwards said.

The models are volunteer clients and family and friends. Some stylists will bring their own models to the training.

Edwards offers traditional teaching ― videos and other self-guided training ― but said the boot camp setting “makes it real.”

 “There is no one solution for every client. What the boot camp reveals to participants is that every client is unique and that everyone has a slightly different solution. We all learn from seeing solutions.” she said.

And while the training sessions are designed to bolster technical skills, another more subtle lesson is being taught.

“Participants learn how complex things are, but they also learn they need to have a clear vision and an understanding of an individual’s needs,” she said. “In our boot camp, we cater to the emotional well-being of our stylists. We offer a blueprint and that blueprint will help get a stylist through tough times and meet those strenuous demands. We want stylists to focus on their emotional output. They have to express empathy. They have to connect the dots by understanding the complexities of what we do. We don’t just get in there and do hair. Empathy motivates the stylists to understand and to really want to meet when where their needs are.”

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