Vernon Hills beauty school offers style at a bargain
Michaela Urnikis (left) of Mundelein and Jacilyn Knight of Grayslake cut hair on mannequins during a haircutting class at Empire Beauty Schoo,l which opened its salon in February. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Empire Beauty School
Where:226 Hawthorn Village Commons, Vernon Hills
Phone: (847) 371-9990
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:10PM
VERNON HILLS — Instructors at Empire Beauty School say style doesn’t have to be expensive.
“There’s no loss of quality by coming to us, but it is a time commitment because the students are learning,” salon Executive Director Sarah Tschannen said. “At a regular salon, you might be in and out within 20 minutes. Otherwise, we have the same tools and do the same things other salons and barber shops do.”
The new Vernon Hills salon, located in the Hawthorn Village Commons next to Hobby Lobby, is now serving customers who are looking for a bargain. Fees are based on equipment expenses and are typically one-third the price of competitors, Tschannen said.
Hair extensions are the most cost-friendly service Empire offers to patrons.
“Those can cost several thousand dollars at a professional salon,” Tschannen said. “Here, it would only cost $200-to-$300 depending on the person.”
Empire has more than 100 campuses across the country, and five are in Illinois — the closest being in Arlington Heights. It offers an 11-month program that prepares students for their cosmetology license exam.
Tschannen said Vernon Hills was chosen last year because of its shopping traffic and central location for prospective Lake County students.
Empire’s salon has room for up to 25 customers at once, but the school doesn’t yet have the student base to serve that many clients, Tschannen said.
At any given time, the building will have 100 students split evenly between the salon and two classrooms, and a maximum of 200 students enrolled overall. Currently, only 33 students are enrolled and supervised by three instructors.
To introduce the school to Vernon Hills, Empire is offering free haircuts to police, fire and military personnel.
“We want to teach the students how to get and maintain clientele,” Tschannen said. “That way they can take those customers with them wherever they get jobs. People are loyal to their barbers and stylists.”
Of Empire’s 33 students, Tschannen said they range in age from 18 to 40, are both male and female, and have diverse backgrounds. And that diversity, she said, makes for good customer interaction.
A 2011 study of 25 Empire nationwide campuses returned a 64.34 percent course completion rate for its students, Tschannen said. Management skills, job interviewing skills and hair extensions are all topics Empire requires that Illinois does not.
“We require more than the state of Illinois does,” Tschannen said. “The students in the salon are usually the more advanced students who kept pace with our demands. We make sure they know cosmetology isn’t easy.”