In case you haven't noticed, there's a new sign over what used to be Brio Academy of Cosmetology. The Niantic beauty school is now of the 64 Marinello Schools of Beauty, a California-based cosmetology academy founded in 1905.
Marinello bought Brio Academy's schools in Connecticut and Massachusetts about a year ago and, although many of the local staff remain the same, the place itself got quite a makeover, with fresh decor and new equipment.
Walking into Marinello—and walk-ins are welcome—you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the school and the professional salon next door. The first big giveaway, however, are the prices.
A hair cut and spa shampoo at the school costs just $5; a full set of acrylic nails $12; a single color treatment $27; a 30-minute facial is $12; a body scrub and wrap just $40. In fact, the highest priced service at the salon is $45, and that's for either a soft perm or for a color treatment of full high/low lights.
The reason for this is simple. Students need volunteers to practice on as they perfect their craft.
"We're very, very inexpensive and we do postcard drives with discounts to get new clients," said School Director Deborah McGrath. "It gives them more bodies to work on. And mannequins don't tip!"
What The School Offers
Currently there are 70 students enrolled at the school, which offers classes in cosmetology and esthetics (skin care). One of the big changes since Marinello bought the school is that classes are offered as modules, which means new students can enroll every couple of weeks.
"It's pretty neat," said McGrath. "We're constantly having new students start."
Classes are offered during the day from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and at night Monday through Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Salon hours for clients are Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m.
The school offers every salon service from cuts to cornrows, colors to classic perms, even hair extensions, and there are spa treatments, facials, manicures, pedicures, and waxing services. Students, afterall, have to learn every aspect of the trade.
To become certified as a cosmotologist takes 1,500 hours and costs $19,200, and that includes everything—tuition, registration fees, kit and books. The esthetician training program costs $9,550, which is also all inclusive and takes about 600 hours. Cosmetology students start working on clients after 250 hours of training; estheticians work on clients after 150 hours of training.
The school has eight instructors, many of whom were teaching at the school when it was Brio Academy, although all of them have learned the Marinello method and attend professional development seminars to make sure they're up to date with the latest trends. The school's students also participate in the prestigious New York Hair Show every year.
McGrath started with Brio Academy six years ago as director of admissions and was promoted to director of the Marinello School of Beauty in Niantic on September 21. The name on the school was officially changed on October 16 of this year.
"The best thing, in my opinion, with Marinello is we have career services and job placement," said McGrath. "We focus on good customer service and career services."
Salons have always called the school seeking new recruits, she said, but now the school offers more help with resumes and portfolios and it has a better system for placing students in salons to make sure that graduates are a good fit for the salons that hire them.
Making the World a More Beautiful Place
Part of Marinello's mission is to support the needs of the local community. The Niantic school does this on a continuous basis and with very little fanfare. Students offer free haircuts to the homeless at local shelters and to clients at Safe Futures (formerly the Women's Center of Southeastern Connecticut). And veterans, active military and active members of the police and fire departments receive 50 percent off all services all the time.
Students volunteer their time often. Most recently, they participated in the Pantene Pony Tail Drive at Oswegatchie School in Waterford, where they raised $280 for cancer research and provided hair that will be used for wigs for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Right now, the school is offering $5 eco-fin hand treatments (a more environmentally-friendly version of the traditional parafin treatment). Not only do clients get a much needed winter skin treatment and walk away with a free pair of exfoliating gloves, the entire $5 goes to benefit the Red Cross's Hurricane Sandy relief fund.
For more information about Marinello Schools of Beauty go to the school's web site, www.marinello.com, or call the school, located at 63 Pennsylvania Avenue in Niantic, at (860) 739-2466.