The graduates of Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes never cease to amaze us! Ali Haller is no exception. In fact, she is exceptional. She is a NAHA winner and great example of never giving up and pushing yourself beyond your limits. She learned to ask herself, “Why not me?”. She realized her only limitation was herself and that she wasn’t going to get in her own way.

About Ali Haller

Ali is a recent graduate from our Denver campus. Her story is one of tremendous growth and perseverance. She had already experienced a desk job and owned a landscaping business with her boyfriend by the time she started at Aveda Institute Denver. Though she loved the work, she felt that she wanted more of a career, and she was at a turning point in her life. One day, Ali decided to sit down and write out the values she sought in a career. She knew for sure she wanted to help people feel good about themselves and be able to express creativity. Plus, she wanted to be able to self manage her career and work toward what she wanted. At one point she considered becoming a therapist, but this left no room for creativity.

Then she had an “a-ha” moment. Hairstyling! This would give her creativity, freedom, and the ability to help people feel good. She decided to go to cosmetology school, and she started her beauty education from square one. Growing up, Ali was a tomboy. She had never used a blow dryer or makeup, she didn’t know there were different kinds of brushes! Yet she started on her journey toward her dream career.

What Made Ali Choose Aveda Institute?

Ali began her beauty education at a different school. Though she wasn’t happy there, she refused to quit. As fate had it, this school went out of business. This pushed Ali to tour Aveda Institute Denver. During her tour, she noticed many things that she didn’t have available to her at her previous school. It wasn’t just a matter of someone coming in for a haircut, the focus was on giving the guest the Aveda experience. Guests left feeling beautiful and cared for. Ali wanted to join the beauty industry to help people feel good, and she quickly realized that her personal values aligned with Aveda’s values.

Ali standing with Aveda Institute people in front of Aveda sign

She had already completed 500 hours at her previous school that she could have applied to her new education, but Ali didn’t want to opt out of any classes. She was excited for the educational and extracurricular opportunities provided by our school. She didn’t want to miss out on any of them. She made the tough decision to essentially start her hours over. Ali said her experience at her previous school really helped her appreciate the Inspire Greatness Aveda difference. She had never experienced the level of support and extra opportunities before.

In 2017 Ali attended Beacon, a program to help students prepare for their future in the beauty world. Students get the opportunity to learn from industry icons, attend industry events, and connect with other beauty professionals. While Ali was there she was inspired and moved. Listening to award-winning stylist Vivienne Mackinder speak about her experience in the editorial world made Ali realize that she wanted to create artwork with hair as a career. She then got the opportunity to experience the North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) in 2017. This dream started her path to the 2018 NAHA.

NAHA Winner

After Beacon, Ali was determined to pursue her dream of editorial hairstyling. She introduced herself to our Director of Education, Brad VanDyke. She offered to buy him coffee and asked his advice on what she should do to pursue her dream. This was just the beginning. Ali knew what she wanted to do and she was going to do whatever it took to get there. She talked to as many educators as she could. The curiosity of, “How do I do this?” is what drove her. She felt that she was in the perfect place to follow her dream. The opportunities provided to her at at our school were so helpful. She began the process of applying to NAHA. The first step was being chosen to represent her school. To her surprise, she was!

Ali and three other students all flew to Utah to do a photo shoot for their entries. This experience was different from anything she had done before. She had a base plan and tried to keep an open mind. Her background in landscape design was her inspiration and after toying around with different techniques, she found one she liked. Tiling different colors in the hair really stood out to Ali, and her hair designs were born.

3 images of models with tiled hair submitted to NAHA 2018

Having to let go and allow her inner creativity to shine was challenging but also very educational for Ali. She learned so much about herself in this experience. She was so excited about her designs, but she recognized that the competition was steep. So she waited to hear.

She was shocked when she received notice that she won!

She hadn’t expected it at all, knowing how good some of the other entries were and what she was up against. It was a huge moment for her and an opportunity she was so grateful for.

Life After Graduation

Ali’s biggest goal after winning NAHA and graduating was to maintain her momentum. She said, “Just because I won doesn’t mean that was the end. It’s just the beginning!” Ali is always looking for opportunities to continue her education, assist on shoots, and soak up all the knowledge she can. Currently, Ali is working at Three Cutters salon, an Aveda concept salon owned by Brad VanDyke. She chose to work here for the comfortable, supportive work atmosphere and the educational opportunities. She will be part of the apprenticeship program there in November, and she’s really looking forward to it.

Advice For Future Students

Ali truly believes in the importance of education. She believes that one can never truly be done learning. There is always more to learn and new ways to improve, especially in an industry that is always changing. Her advice to fellow learners is to not be too hard on yourself. This is something she still tells herself every day. The biggest lesson Ali took away from her experience at school was to always fight self doubt.

So often we, as human beings, have criteria we tell ourselves of what we can or cannot do. It’s not until we change our mindset and get out of our comfort zones that we are able to learn more about ourselves. We should always be pushing our boundaries to learn and grow more.

In school Ali often faced the feeling that she didn’t want to do something. She took this discomfort as a sign that she should give it a try. It was in these difficult and uncomfortable moments that she grew and learned what she was capable of. She encourages learners of all kinds to persevere through the difficult times and believe in themselves to continuously improve and grow.

Know What You’re Made Of

Recently, the Aveda brand has been challenging people to #knowwhatyouremadeof by coming up with three words that describe themselves. We love this idea and have been asking our staff and students to share what they’re made of. So we also asked Ali. Her three words are: grit, dedication, and curiosity. She is always persevering through difficult times, she is dedicated to continuously bettering herself, and she is always looking for new ways to educate herself. What are your three words? Share them with us on social media. Find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Know What We’re Made Of

Ali proves that no matter where you are in life, it’s always possible to analyze where you want to be and make a change. Have you considered getting your education in cosmetology or esthiology? Contact us at one of our locations: Denver, Tucson, Phoenix, Provo. Learn more about how you can make a change in your life and start working toward your dream career!