A girl holding Aveda gift sets.

19 Nov Aveda Gift Sets Give the Gift of Hope

Hope for the Holidays

h16_0469_v2_r2_cropEvery Aveda gift set brings joy, light and hope this holiday to mothers, daughters, families and wildlife in Nepal. In the spring of 2015, massive earthquakes devastated Nepal as millions lost their homes and livelihoods. This also happens to be the source of Aveda’s *lokta bark paper for its holiday gift sets, and has been for over nine years. Aveda immediately took action back in the spring and donated much of its Earth Month proceeds to help support the disaster-relief efforts. Today, those efforts are still taking place which is why this partnership is even more important to us this holiday season.

*The paper-making cooperative in Nepal was created by the Himalayan Bio-Trade (HBTL).

We’re bringing hope to the mothers who are able to continue paper making, allowing them to rebuild their homes and keep their children in school.

We’re bringing hope to daughters who can remain in school and continue to have bright futures.

We’re bringing hope to families who rely solely on income from paper-making.

We’re bringing hope to wildlife because our purchase of the Certified Wildlife Friendly, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper helps protect more than 40,000 acres of forest habitat in Nepal.

Each holiday gift set is wrapped in the lokta bark paper and ensures the 4,900 full and part-time paper makers can continue their work and support their livelihoods. The protected forest habitat provides a home to the Red Panda and endangered Snow Leopard. Aveda is the first company to wrap gifts in paper with both certifications.

h16_2314_r2_croph16_2137_r1istock_000028570480_double_smlAveda is also introducing an exclusive holiday aroma called Candrima, a blend of ginger and ginger-lily. Cadrima means “moonlight” in Sanskrit and is inspired by the white blossom of the ginger lily. The aroma is available in our holiday candle as well as the limited-edition gift set, “A Gift of Pure Comfort” which includes the Candrima Body Lotion, Creme Cleansing Oil and travel size Hand Relief. It’s also available this year in the Hand Relief Trio gift set, “A Gift of Renewal for Your Journey.” The set features three travel size Hand Relief lotions in Candrima, Shampure and original formula.

Over the course of our partnership with HBTL, more than 5,500 people have been hired to make more than 2,000,000 sheets of paper, allowing 6,100 children to attend school, and 2,475 families to thrive.

Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes is hosting various events and promotional offers to help keep you stress-free this holiday season. As always, guests are welcome to experience complimentary stress-relieving rituals like complimentary Aveda Comforting Tea, a hand massage, sensory journey or product experiences during any visit to our Institutes. Visit our Web site for promotional and event details, or speak with an Aveda Advisor in any of our Experience Centers to learn more.

Aveda Holiday 2016 Gift Sets

A Gift of Pure Comfort $39.50

A Gift of Pure Comfort $39.50

A Gift of Renewal for your Journey $28.50

A Gift of Renewal for your Journey $28.50

Feeling Balanced is a Gift $79

Feeling Balanced is a Gift $79





A Gift to Make Her Smile $19.50

A Gift to Make Her Smile $19.50

An Escape from Stress is a Gift $79

An Escape from Stress is a Gift $79

A Gift of Comfort & Light $40

A Gift of Comfort & Light $40

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30 Oct Graduate Spotlight: Nikay Higgins, NAHA winner

nicole-higginsGraduate Spotlight: (Nikay) Nicole Higgins, Aveda Institute Denver cosmetology graduate
Nicole graduated from AID in 2012 and and left a legacy as the first Inspire Greatness student stylist NAHA nominee. A few short years later she won the 2016 NAHA Men’s Stylist of the Year. She easily recalls working with Brad VanDyke, Inspire Greatness Education Director, Carrie Bellus, then Cosmetology Team Lead, and Heggy Gonzalez, Inspire Greatness Creative Director on her 2011 student NAHA collection. Nicole’s current career focus is editorial hair while also running her own hair studio in Denver, Roots Salon. She’s also the elite ambassador for Balmain Paris.
Nicole strongly encourages students to participate in events and the extras the Inspire Greatness offers, like study abroad, NYFW, London Fashion Week, Beacon, NAHA and Editorial ReMix because, in her words, “it pushes you outside of your comfort zone as a hair stylist and also it shows you all the aspects of the industry you could possibly work in.”
Following Nicole’s win at NAHA, she took a moment to share insights on her experience with editorial styling and life since graduating from AID.

Q: What opportunities have opened up for you since your NAHA nomination as a student to your recent win as a professional?

A: Well, people have just taken me serious as an editorial stylist since I had a beginning portfolio backing me up. Then it all was progression from there.
Part of Nicole's NAHA collection in which she won for Men's Hairstylist of the Year 2016

Part of Nicole’s NAHA collection in which she won for Men’s Hairstylist of the Year 2016

Q: Who are your industry icons/mentors and why?

A: Hmm that’s hard. Ahnco Tran because his Instagram marketing game is insane and he’s a brilliant cutter. Nabil Harlow slays the editorial game for Balmain and isn’t even [egotistical] about it.
Q: How do you relate what you are doing in the salon/behind the chair to the work you create for events, editorial, shows, competitions?
A: Techniques really. Precision and attention to detail is key in or out of the salon.
Q: Recap the “behind the scenes” story for your NAHA win: who was involved? how much time and planning? how did you prepare?
A: I always start with a story board but in honestly, sometimes what you plan doesn’t work. My team and I showed up (Brad VanDyke, Kimmi Ade, and Kevin Alexander) in New York and we set out to shoot two NAHA collections. It was a very cold day in December. It took a lot of wardrobe pulling the day before and just planning the “feel” of the shoot and taking it from there. I knew I wanted a classic feel, and black and white. I was inspired by the architecture in the city and wanted to build strong shapes.
Q: What current projects are you working on?
A: Well I fly to shoot my next NAHA for 2017 in October, along with shooting with KaiZen for our team NAHA at the end of October. I just left NYFW and will be flying with the Balmain team for Men’s Fashion Week in Paris in January. Along with recently shooting for Viktor Luna (project runway winner) this past week and many other projects are on the way as well.
Q: What is your 5 to 10 year plan in this industry?
A: In 5 years I want to be traveling to Paris consistently for education and teaching with Balmain. In 10 years I want to be educating and traveling for editorial with my own line of tools.
Q: Tips for our students?
A: Do your work for you and everything else will fall into place.
Nicole will be presenting an Editorial & Runway Style Master Series at Aveda Institute Denver on November 1 & 2, 2016. 
ABOUT THE MASTER SERIES >>> In this presentation, the stylist will work with our Kaizen stylist, nikay (Nicole Higgins) building vision boards to find inspiration. The stylist will learn how to style editorial hair for the camera; replicating looks from magazines, commercials, and the fashion world. In addition to editorial styling, the stylist will translate styles from the runway, learning to set and follow trends such as a true wet look, styling the perfect pony tail, and braiding. This will be one featured live model showing how to transfer from a street look to a runway ready look in minutes.


ABOUT NIKAY HIGGINS >>> Nicole’s path to hairstyling wasn’t conventional. As someone who thought cosmetology school was settling, she set her sights on fashion design. She apprenticed and designed for upscale shops in Los Angeles, eventually moving to Colorado to strike out on her own. In Colorado, Nicole quickly became immersed in editorial hairstyling and runway styling, but added another unconventional twist to her career. She decided she wanted to give back to the industry by educating future hairstylists, and began teaching at the Aveda Institute in Denver. Nicole can point to a particular moment when it became clear to her that her true passion was for handson education. She was nominated for the North American Hairstyle Awards (NAHA), published in multiple international magazines for men’s grooming and high couture styling, and helped her student stylist also be nominated for NAHA—all in the same year. But the greatest highlight was the mentorship she was able to provide. That experience pushed Nicole to want to enhance this craft by improving the future for every stylist willing to learn. These days, when Nicole is not in the salon, she’s either traveling for photo shoots, on set locally, or helping educate the younger generation of hairstylists. Nicole was also a naha student stylist nominee while she attended Aveda institute Denver.

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28 Oct Fashion Flashback – NYFW 2016

It’s Friday! The weekend is upon us and we’re having some serious flashbacks to just a few months ago when we experienced New York Fashion Week Spring Summer 2017! Our team and students from Inspire Greatness Institutes attended NYFW SS 2017 as a part of our study abroad opportunity offered in our programs*

Inspire Greatness represented with 26 talented artists, 9 creative designers, 7 days of inspiration in NYC, with support from our own IG educators: Melody Sour, Gilad Maimon and Brad Van Dyke, and under the guidance of Janell Geason, Aveda Global Makeup Artist (for makeup), and the Jon Reyman Pro team (for hair). Students attended classes prior to working backstage to be inspired and prepared for the shows. The schedule varies as much as the locations as the team jumped around New York City from show to show. The team created looks for Oak, Concept Korea, Koybe, KidsRock – Nike Kids, Namilia, Sachin + Baabi, Supima, Haus Auklair.

Students from Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes. at NYFW SS 2017.

Students from Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes. at NYFW SS 2017.











Our students shared what were your biggest takeaways and celebrations were from their NYFW experience:



…being able to learn new techniques by professionals like John and Janelle and utilize them in the future. I loved the hairstyles we achieved that pushed us to do something we didn’t know we could do, but was worth it at the end…

 …the opportunity to receive hands on experience working on models for fashion week shows was my favorite part of the trip… 

Working alongside Janell. She was able to create such a warm, inviting and rich learning atmosphere.


Being able to witness the students make connections to so many new things – a new city, new friends, new techniques. Watching them have dreams come true and see their work walk down the runway was priceless and I will always remember their faces.


Being a part of something bigger!

… Spending time with Janell Geason and all the Aveda experts.


Working on the shows and presentation with such a knowledgeable and supportive team!


Meeting all the amazing people, networking, and making connections with people. Everyone was so great and I couldn’t of asked for anything more.


… this was extremely helpful and a huge learning experience to further my knowledge of styling…


Being backstage and learning from others


Learning many different styles and techniques that I can implement into my professional career.








*Our Point of Difference: Currently Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes in Denver, Colo; Tuscon and Phoenix, Ariz; and Provo, Utah are the only Institutes that provide these additional learning opportunities, we call our Points of Difference. All Inspire Greatness students, graduates and team members have the opportunity to apply for consideration to be chosen to represent IG at experiences like NYFW, London Fashion Week, Beacon/NAHA, Edwin Neill Full Potential Award, Hair & Makeup Shows and Editorial ReMix. While all students have the opportunity, only few are selected based on an application process, academics and attendance. For more information about our programs in cosmetology, esthiology, massage therapy and barbering (based on location) visit our Website at

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Aveda Inspire Greatness alumni holding up London Baby! masks.

02 Oct London Baby! #LondonFashionWeek

inspirelfw-robertInspire Greatness Study Abroad 2017:
London Fashion Week #InspireLFW
The application process has launched and all Inspire Greatness Aveda Institute Students and alumni are encouraged to apply for this amazing education point of difference. Save the dates the week of February 17, 2017 for travel. Applications are due October 21 to Brad Van Dyke, Education Director of Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes. Email for questions or support with the application process.

Good luck team and students! London is calling!

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30 Sep We are here for you.

We are saddened to hear of the closing of Regency beauty schools nationwide. Our hearts go out to the team who have lost their positions and the students who have lost their education. We are here for you.

Professionals, if you would like to submit a resume please visit

Students, we are committed to doing what we can to help you continue on your journey to a dream career. If you have questions about transferring to one of our campuses, please email, text, or call the following team members for the campus close to you:
Denver Kristy (720) 560-2155

Tucson Melanie (520) 425-1700
Provo Kennedy (801) 448-2683
Phoenix Sarah (480) 280-3781

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06 Sep Inspire Greatness Presents: Master Series with Christopher Hermann

Christopher Hermann

Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes is proud to host Master Series productions in which we invite guest artists in the industry to inspire our students, team and network. This month, we are thrilled to welcome Christopher Hermann from Aveda Corp.

Christopher Hermann has been a member of the Aveda tribe since 1996. He began his career at Aveda as a Retail Educator, working with Aveda institutes, salon/spas and Experience Centers, and eventually transitioned into marketing to serve as the Global Marketing Manager of Pure-Fume™ and Personal Blends™.

Christopher later returned to education and focused his efforts on growing the global Experience Center business as Director, Retail Education. Christopher then served as Director, Learning and Development, where he developed programs and facilitated growth for the Aveda network globally. Christopher is currently the Director of Educator Development.

His focus is on growing a team of passionate, engaging and effective educators worldwide. Christopher is a certified facilitator for Franklin Covey® and Fierce Conversations®. He brings more than 25 years of knowledge, experience and passion for the industry and loves using real-life situations and humor to educate, motivate, inspire and create change.

The Inspire Greatness Aveda Institute Denver leadership team giggles at the chance to have their picture taken with the Aveda-infamous, Christopher Hermann at a recent leadership retreat. Christopher hosted a presentation on guest service.

The Inspire Greatness Aveda Institute Denver leadership team giggles at the chance to have their picture taken with the Aveda-infamous, Christopher Hermann at a recent leadership retreat. Christopher hosted a presentation on guest service.

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Portrait of Tiffany Swafford, massage student.

12 Aug Day in the Life: Spa Student

Meet Tiffany Swafford, Aveda Institute Denver esthiology graduate and current massage student. Tiffany took a moment from her day to capture what it’s like to be our student in our spa program! Follow her personal story on Instagram @tswaff_lashes


Morning Ritual: My mornings have a set routine. I start my day out with quick shower, eat a plentiful breakfast, and then my daily makeup and hair routine. My commute is pretty easy, I simply ride the elevator to the main level of the building; yes, that’s right. I am fortunate enough to live in the same building as the school! Lucky right? Before starting Massage, I graduated from Aveda Institute Denver’s Esthiology Program and in the meantime, I got certified in Eye Lash Extensions.

Before learning the Chakra Massage this afternoon, I wanted to show you my favorite Aveda Skin Care line: Tourmaline. The deep exfoliation is great for the dry skin that most of us experience in Colorado.

Tiffany S skin care line

Posse: At the Institute, I have met some amazing people. But, today I get to  master Massage techinques beside these wonderful ladies. These wonderful women are creative and bright. I am incredibly blessed to have met so many admirable people through my journey at Aveda!

Tiffany S posse

Massage: Here I am learning the Aveda Chakra Massage. Which Chakra is your favorite? Mine is Chakra 3, its the power/solar plexus center. It’s all about motivation and tapping into your own power. The color is yellow, and I imagine a bright yellow beaming out of me like a CareBear full of sun shine! Are you letting your light shine?

Tiffany S learns chakra massage

After school: Tonight I had an eyelash extension appointment. This guest likes a longer lashes, with a natural look and shape. I love the industry we are in, it allows each of our guest a greater sense of confidence by simply enhancing the beauty that already exist! You can follow more of my lash extension before and after by liking my professional page: @tswaff_lashes

Tiffany S lash appt

Favorite product: After a busy day full of hard-work, I love coming home and washing my face. But, I couldn’t do it without my Aveda Shammy. It’s a hidden gem in the Aveda product line but once you discover it, you’ll be amazed! Washcloths only scratch the surface of your skin, but the shammy actually cleanses the face with a smooth gentle approach.

Tiffany S fave product

Before bed: I like to end my day with a daily reading that reminds me how grateful I am for all the wonderful assets I’ve worked so hard for. What are you grateful for?

Tiffany S before bed wellness

Aveda Institute Denver is a school for cosmetology, barbering, esthiology (skin care) and massage therapy. To learn more about our programs, connect with our Admissions Team Leader, Kristy Fiore by emailing For more information about our services offered by our students in training, call 303-567-7500.

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Nikki Black, Mrs. Arizona International standing in an orchard.

29 Jul Inspire Greatness Sponsors Arizona Mrs International

Nikki Black

Nikki’s story is inspired and one that fits perfectly into our mission here at Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes: education, leadership, community and beauty, or as Nikki says, “I am learning how to build an effective lesson plan during the day, and how to perfectly blend eye shadow at night.”

Just recently, the Mrs. International Pageant, hosted in Jacksonville, Florida crowned the their winner. Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes was pleased to sponsor Nikki Black, Mrs. Arizona International in her competition for the crown. Although she didn’t take home the title this year, her story of how she suddenly became Mrs Arizona International is worth a listen. Nikki is also sister to one of our Aveda Institute Phoenix cosmetology educators (and an Aveda Institute Denver graduate), Rae Black, who’s been a support with Nikki’s styling, hair and makeup. Before the competition last week, we caught up with Nikki to learn more about her experience.

Q: What is the Mrs. International Pageant all about?

A: The Mrs. International Pageant showcases the accomplishments of today’s married woman by giving them the opportunity to share their passion, commitment to their families and affiliation with the platform they support. This pageant system has been around for 27 years and is led by Mel and Mary Richardson. This system is successful due to its high ethical values and adherence to rules and regulations. I am honored to be a part this organization.

Q: Tell us how you got to this point and where you hope to go from here?

A: A last minute turn of events brought me here. I watched my friend spend the year as Mrs. Arizona International 2015. I thought it was an awesome opportunity for her but I did not necessarily see myself in her position. The Saturday before the Mrs. Arizona International competition, she called me and said a contestant had dropped out and asked if I would be willing to take the spot. After some consideration, and talking to my husband, I decided to go for it. On Monday my paperwork was complete and I was an official candidate. On Friday, I met with the official Pageant Coach after rehearsal. I competed Saturday morning and by that afternoon, I was crowned Mrs. Arizona International 2016. I was absolutely stunned, grateful and ready to promote my platform on a larger scale. As I move on to compete in this pageant, I will support my passion for teaching by sharing my love for Montessori education. I will also put time and effort into building a network of veteran teachers who are willing to share their experience with newer teachers. My long term goal is to build a foundation that supports teachers on a physical, mental and spiritual level. I believe that when we care for our teachers, our children excel and the future is bright.

Nikki and her sister, Rae

Nikki and her sister, Rae

Q: Why is this opportunity important to you?

A: This opportunity is important to me because it challenged me to really think about the kind of contribution I want make to the world. Pageantry, especially in this circuit, is about much more than beauty and evening gowns. It is about giving married women a way to give back to their communities and build a legacy that will thrive. It is also a wonderful opportunity to spread the word about Montessori and why I believe it is such a rich and inspiring method of education that really puts the children and their needs above all else.

Q: What has this journey been like since it started?

A: This journey has been a whirlwind! I am currently wearing two hats: Montessori teacher and Pageant Queen. I am doing my best to be successful in both areas, which means I’m spending time in front of my computer and wearing 5-inch heels! I am learning how to build an effective lesson plan during the day, and how to perfectly blend eye shadow at night. On top of that, I am maintaining my commitment to being the best wife and mother I can be; without the support of my family, none of this would be possible.

Q: What’s a typical “day in the life” with your current title?

A: A typical Saturday, prior to an appearance, would require waking up very early to get my makeup and hair done by my talented sister-in-law and Aveda educator, Rae Black. While I am gone, my husband wakes the children up and gets them ready for whichever sports’ game they may have that day. After cheering on my kids, I would go home to change into my appearance outfit, spend a couple hours at an event and then return home. Once I am home, I am mom again! My family and I may eat out at a restaurant or I would prepare dinner. We may catch a movie on Netflix or a new release in the theater. Then, suddenly, it is bed time for my children and work time for me. I usually stay up about three or four hours after they have gone to bed. I use that time to catch up with my husband, then I spend at least two hours on school work and Pageant work (which is a conservative estimate). I try my best to take Sundays completely off and dedicate my time to my family.

A typical weekday requires getting my children and myself dressed and ready for school. We arrive at school at 7:30 am and stay until 4:00 pm. Once we arrive at home, I would prepare dinner, then take one (or both) of my children to which ever sports’ practice they are participating in at that time. Once we arrive back home, the kids take showers and prepare for bed time. Once the kids are tucked in, I get busy with school work, Pageant preparation and planning for the next school day for another three to four hours. Then I go to bed, and we start the process all over again.

Aveda Be Curly Products

Aveda Be Curly Products

Q: How do you prepare for competition? Do you have a ritual or routine?

A: I am preparing for competition by doing a lot of research. I want to be knowledgeable about this pageant circuit, as well as the contributions of former title holders. I stay in close contact with my Pageant Director and Pageant Coaches, who provide tips on maintaining confidence in new situations and ways to present my best self. I also practice mindful meditation, which allows me to calm my nerves and stay open to new experiences. I will be using mindful meditation each day in Jacksonville—especially in the hours prior to competition.

7. What are your favorite Aveda products and why?

My love affair with Aveda started at least 10 years ago. It began with the Be Curly Curl Enhancer. For the longest time, I was searching for a product that would respect my natural curl, while adding definition and shine. What I did not expect was the softness that Be Curly gives my hair. I have also used Brilliant to add extra shine. I have recently fallen in love with the Be Curly Co-Wash and Dry Remedy Oil. I am really looking forward to exploring the skin care and cosmetic lines that are equally amazing. I love Aveda for their commitment to producing natural, plant-based products and the responsible sourcing of high-quality, naturally derived ingredients.

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18 Jul Inspire Greatness Presents: Master Series with Jim Pacifio


Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes Denver, Tucson, Phoenix, Provo are proud to offer Master Series presentations on campus as a point of difference in our education. This July, we are pleased to welcome, Jim Pacifico.

Jim has been in the industry since 1970 and is currently the owner of Centre Salons and World Class Financial Services. In 2014, Jim was the recipient of Aveda Corporation’s “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Jim was honored by Aveda with this prestigious award last month for his many years of hard work, dedication and philanthropy work over the many years in the beauty industry…

Jim began his career in 1970 with Clairol, in 1980 he worked with Zotos and in 1986 he joined Aveda Corporation as the Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Education. In 1989, Jim moved to Southern California and became the Senior Vice President and General Manager at Caesar’s Beauty Products, exclusive Aveda Distributor. In 1991, he moved to Colorado and became the President and CEO of Pacifico’s Beauty Products, exclusive Aveda distributor for Colorado and Wyoming. His success led Pacifico’s to acquire a six-state region. In 2007 Jim merged his distribution back to Aveda to become the Consulting Vice President for Aveda Services, Inc. for the West Coast Region. This allowed Jim the opportunity to own his own Aveda Concept Salons; five Centre Salons & Spas in Colorado, one in Utah and one in California. He is also the owner and founder of World Class Financial Services which provides accounting services to over 100 Salons and Spas throughout the Aveda Network.

Dale with Jim and Van Council Jim has never lost sight of the community during this time. His philanthropy work over the years has been very generous. He has led his employees to raise money and awareness for many different charitable causes. Some examples: collecting food, toys and money for underprivileged children & their families, the homeless, Katrina victims, as well as raising money for clean water in our region. Jim latest quest in philanthropy work is leading his salons to fund-raise over $67,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation; visit for more info.

Jim is dedicated to providing legendary support to the beauty industry, its professionals and customers. His passion in the industry is evident in his desire to improve the salon industry as well as giving back to the community.

 In 2014, Jim was the recipient of Aveda Corporation’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.” Jim was honored by Aveda with this prestigious award last month for his many years of hard work, dedication and philanthropy work over the many years in the beauty industry.

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Graham Nation in a suit.

28 May Paving the Way – Graduate Spotlight with Graham Nation

Aveda helped him get his start and through his first years working in the salon, Graham started to pave his own way. His story, short and sweet, is all about determination and, in his own words, “being hungry for success and busting a**,” Graham shared a post on his Facebook page a few weeks ago after accepting a modeling contract with First London.

So grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given the last few years. They say dreams don’t work unless you do. Believe me it’s true. I’ve laid awake at night thinking of the next move how to be better. Pushing for more out of my life knowing this life has more to offer. This goal has moved me to Los Angeles where I became apart of now my amazing salon family at @kenpavessalon where I can’t thank @kenpaves enough for allowing me to grow as a stylist and a creative human! The last year I started modeling a ton in LA as a way to meet people and still create and colab as an outlet. The past few months I signed with @firstlondon ?? and today I leave for a few week trip to work and grow even more! I can not express how grateful I am for the support of my friends and family and clients! I can’t wait to share my travels with y’all the next few weeks!!

Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Graham and find out how he’s grown to become a successful stylist at Ken Paves Salon in Los Angeles, Cali. And we’ll discuss his modeling career too…



Following graduation from Aveda Institute Denver, Graham started working at Matthew Morris Salon where he worked hard for about 15 months to build a clientele and then later joined the Juno Salon team in Denver, Colo. He shared how it was tough working behind the chair in his early years and he also bartended part-time to help steady his income. Graham describes his first few years behind the chair as a trial period where he learned from his mistakes, developed his craft and finally felt confident as a stylist.

I failed a lot those first years but for every loss there was a gain.

With his mind set on success and knowing that meant being fully booked, Graham make a big change in his life and got sober and a few months later, he says everything took off and started happening for him. He worked 7 days a week, hungry for success.

Graham desired to “make waves” in the industry so he set intention to move to New York and become more involved with fashion week and a celebrity clientele. Alas, after a short time he realized he wanted sunshine, warmer climate and a car to drive around so he headed West for Los Angeles, a better city to “make waves.” He finally made it to LA but the job he had lined up fell through. He was crushed but he didn’t give up hope. He put his networking skills to use and connected with those people who knows someone, who knows someone, who knew Ken Paves.

Let’s back up a bit because it wasn’t this easy. Graham had connections to other salons in LA and Beverly Hills but they want high-end, quality, experienced stylist – which he feels he’s still aspiring to be – and to get to that point he would have to be an assistant for six months up to 2 years. In Graham’s mind, this wouldn’t be a challenge for a 20-something stylist starting his/her career but being he just turned 30 at the time, he felt he didn’t have time to start at the beginning… again.

Kelsey Christian at LA models by Kimo Lauer hair by Graham Nation me on beat shot at #KPSstudios #marccornwall #makeupbyme #lightdusting #Kenpavessalonla — with Kimo Lauer and Graham Nation at Ken Paves Salon.

Kelsey Christian at LA models by Kimo Lauer hair by Graham Nation me on beat shot at #KPSstudios #marccornwall #makeupbyme #lightdusting #Kenpavessalonla — with Kimo Lauer and Graham Nation at Ken Paves Salon.

Fast forward, Graham walks into Ken Paves salon and immediately clicked with Ken. “He was (is) the coolest dude,” says Graham. In their meeting, Graham said he was asked two questions by Ken that he has rarely heard in the industry (which made him realize he had landed exactly where he needed to be). Ken asked, “What do you want to do? How can I help you?” Twenty days later, Graham was working with his first celebrity guest, a model. A few weeks before this interview, he had Eva Longoria as a guest for a shampoo and style.

Graham worked seven days a week at his training that led to a series of test-outs and presentations including nine color services, 12 haircuts while working an additional 40 hours a week assisting. The expectation was to get his timing down and presentation factor set to the Ken Pave’s Salon level.

I’m on the path and it feels right. My continued vision of success is building a brand, owning a home and my own list of clients.

As he settled in his salon in LA, Graham got back into modeling and is working with First Model Management in London. He has also worked with the Ted Gibson team as part of the haircutting stage team for New York Fashion Week. Graham continues to be inspired by his mentors, Ken Paves and Geno Chapman, and he also credits his time at Aveda Institute Denver and Matthew Morris as being instrumental to being where is his now and where he’s headed.


The educators gave so much of their time for a reason. I remember Scott, my educator, always saying “stay focused” there’s so much more out there but be in the moment and learn this first. I had to learn discipline. You have to learn discipline or you won’t have a career.

Throw back to 2009 when Graham was a cosmetology student, and DJ. Here he's providing the music soundtrack for our Earth Month Hair & Makeup Show.

Throw back to 2009 when Graham was a cosmetology student, and DJ. Here he’s providing the music soundtrack for our Earth Month Hair & Makeup Show.

His advice for our students is simple and involves living the Aveda mission:


Timing. Always be 15 minutes early. You cannot be late for a client, ever so don’t be late to school.

Take advantage of the yoga. I realize now it was the best thing for mental focus.

[credit to his educator, Scott] Stay focused. When you’re tired and over it, that’s when you need it the most. Know what you want and learn what the industry can offer you. Anyone can learn hair but you have to show up, be positive and stay motivated.

From being fresh out of beauty school to working through the failures and mistakes that led to opportunity, Graham paved his way to make his mark in the industry. We, at Inspire Greatness Institutes, know this is just the beginning of Graham “making waves” and they’re about to get even bigger.

Graham travels to Denver often and works as a guest stylist at Indie Six salon. Appointments can be scheduled directly through Graham by visiting his Facebook page or follow his story on Instagram @grahamnation

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