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March 19, 2016

Aveda Experience, Relaxed Price: The Art of Service at an Aveda Beauty School

Take time to indulge in being a guest and experience the art of service at a beauty school.
Blog originally written my team member, Alicia Christus and featured on her blog vedalifestlye.wordpress.com

I want to be very transparent about this post because I do work for Aveda Institute Denver. My intention in sharing this story was to highlight some of our services and shed light on what a salon/spa experience is like, at a school, being served by a student in training.

As I moved along through my services sharing pictures and quick little posts, the story became something more.

Working in the salon and spa industry so many of us rarely experience being THE guest. For those of you who are service providers I highly encourage you to take the chance to disengage  your role and truly become the guest receiving service. Think of it as a paradigm shift, an opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of your guests and see what they’re seeing, feel what they’re feeling and notice what they’re noticing. You may just tweak your process a little bit.

Some of the things that we do repetitively each day easily become monotonous. (For example, when I worked in our Experience Center and greeted hundreds of guests by standing in our front entrance with a cup of Aveda Comforting Tea and a friendly hello, I’ll admit it lost meaning for me until the day a guest share chow that welcome is what she looks forward to the oat when coming to Aveda. If it didn’t happen for her, that would change her whole experience, and it’s something so little in the grand scheme of her entire experience). Becoming the guest is a chance to read between the lines, see what you can do different or better, bring service to the next level, because after being the guest I suddenly realized how it’s the little things that truly deliver big result. Not only do I hope to give guests an inside look at some of our services, I hope to share my lessons of what it truly means to serve, to help others look and feel good about themselves in the beauty industry.

We often hear that hairstylists or spa therapists are often considered to be very  much like psychologists, teachers, mentors or even healers. Behind the chair, you suddenly become the person that is listening (truly listening), truly caring and becoming a game changer.

As a guest, or consumer, how we look and feel becomes vitally important in times of emotion and stress. In those moments, that one haircut, that one massage, that one facial becomes our whole world because we want to feel better, to be healed, to be nourished, to be taken care of. (That’s suddenly a high expectation for one service).

On the contrary, some of us might not always recognize the power of service until suddenly there’s a shift in emotion or state  being, we suddenly feel joy or sadness, we start talking about things that are stressing us out in our personal lives, we start sharing intimate details with the person providing the service (that we barely know) because if the service provider has created that safe space, we step into it and feel welcomed to tune in.

Part of this powerful expression comes from Aveda rituals incorporated into the experience. Let me begin by walking you through my day at Aveda Institute Denver. I purposely chose two services that I had never experienced and didn’t know much about: a back facial with the Ayurvedic eye treatment (enhancement). Spa services also include a complementary shampoo and style before or after the spa treatment (based on availability).

Here I am checking in at Aveda Institute Denver. I am scheduled on a Thursday morning for an Elemental Nature Back Treatment ($45) and I added the Ayurvedic Eye Treatment ($15).    

After checking in, I enjoyed the self-service Chakra experience display. Here, I can read a little bit about each Chaka, experience each of the aromas before choosing an aroma to enjoy during my service to bring me into balance before my service begins.
While waiting for my student esthetician, Aveda Advisors offer stress-relieving rituals like hand massages customized to an aroma of choice like Stress-Fix, Shampure, Rosemary Mint or Beautifying.

The sensory journey is also offered at the beginning of my service so I can choose my own aroma to enjoy. Erin, my student service provider, took me through each aroma by placing her thumb to the top of my nose and her forefinger to the crown of my head, as I breathed in the aroma she would slide her thumb up my forehead to help me breathe a little deeper. I chose Rosemary Mint to help balance my sluggish energy. After the aroma journey, we went through some questions before my service and she offered me a mini foot treatment.  After the educator confirmed our protocols, I was set up comfortably on the table while Erin left the room to prepare the products. She started with a few calming techniques, cleansed the skin on my back and applied the first treatment masque, shown here.

The table is lined with a heating blanket so I’m very warm during the service. The rooms are lined with curtains, so it’s semi-private but easy to hear conversation happening in the hallway or in the other rooms around me; however, because I know this is a school, I’m prepared to hear these other sounds so it doesn’t distract me from enjoying my experience.

During the first and then second masque treatments, I received a foot and hand massage to further indulge my relaxation and stress relief. The masques chosen for my experience were customized for my skin needs, which was focused on dry skin. One was to exfoliate while the other was to rehydrate. This is a part of my body that I have never thought about receiving much focus our attention, other than a massage. Yet the skin on my back is hard to reach and I do often feel itchy, dry skin irritation so this was a lovely way to address those concerns.   This is the tools and products for the Ayurvedic Eye treatment. After flipping on to my back and settling in, a cool cloth was placed over my eyes. Then I felt a warming roller ball massaging around my eyes. As Erin had prepared me, I felt sensations of cooling and warming at the same time.

This was my favorite enhancement I have ever experienced! I usually enjoy the Plant Peel with my facials and that has always been my favorite. After this, my eyes and skin around my eyes felt so relaxed and rejuvenated throughout the rest of the day and even into the next few days as I write this.

As my experience wrapped up, the educator came back to check in on how everything went. This is a great opportunity to truly involve yourself in the education process and give positive and constructive feedback for students to continue to be successful.

Erin then brought me back up to the experience center, where she educated me on a few key products to help continue to deliver results at home. The Intensive Hydrating Masque was recommended to help quench my skin’s thirst, which I immediately noticed in my treatment.

I was then checked-in for my complementary shampoo and style (a $12-$15 value). Luis introduced himself and guided me to his station where we began our consultation on my hair.   

Luis asked me a lot of great open questions about my hair to determine which products and solutions would be best for my dry, thin hair. He was very detailed and genuine in his consultation. His educator also helped by encouraging us to look at photos for a good result.

Before the shampoo, I received a scalp massage. Now, having worked in the experience center, I know that the scalp massage is usually one of the most anticipated and well received rituals for our salon guests. Almost every single person will mention it being their favorite part of their experience and yet it’s only a small fraction of the overall service.

This is the power of connection where the service provider is going above and beyond to create a moment of care, relaxation, stress-relief or beauty for the guest. This may also be the tipping point when guests suddenly feel safe and open to sharing intimate details of their life, expressing their concerns or challenges in life, seeking the opinion of their service provider to help them experience looking and feeling good above and beyond the actual service that is happening. Powerful.  My shampoo/style felt like a game-changer. Luis provided a great blow dry and at the end of the experience it looked as if I had had a brand-new haircut and new style. My hair was healthier and I instantly felt better about myself. I was rejuvenated and I was excited for the rest of my day.

Later that night I went on to teach my weekly yoga class and after being taken care of all day and these wonderful services, it felt good to give back and take care of my students by being their guide on the mat.

My service experience as a guest gave me perspective on identifying the little things that can make a difference when providing a service to another. I was more hands-on with my students, I had intention to leave them feeling empowered about themselves so that when they left the mat, they go out and do great things in the world.

The intention all started with inspiration from a cup of Aveda comforting tea, and a process of service began to unfold…



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