How Lupe Voss Became One Of The Industry's Top Educators

Re-printed from MiladyPro - Alyssa Hardy

On getting started.

Unlike many of my colleagues, hairdressing wasn’t something I thought I would do for my future. Believe it or not, I wanted to go into the air force and fly planes! My father immediately said, “no,” so I had to change course. Since I came from a family of hairdressers, I decided to try out the industry.  It was the best decision of my life.  In cosmetology school I worked in the lab at night mixing color for the students. I loved the mixing. That’s when my interest in “how things work” started.

During the beginning of my career, I had a difficult time understanding color which made me that much more intrigued. My mistakes made me want to be better and now I’ve made career out of it. What excites me today about hair color is how the dye technology is changing.  We can create anything… From pure tones outside of the Natural series to control our outcome, to keeping the integrity of the hair with conditioning properties and longevity of the color.

On owning a salon.

Being a salon owner was definitely not a part of my goals in the beginning, it just happened.  I worked at two salons and realized there was not a salon around that had an education program or a team environment I wanted to work in. While I worked at a salon in town, I went to night school and took some business classes.  My husband and I had the idea of opening a small business and we did it!  We opened February 1988 in the location we are at now.

On color trends and pricing.

As far as trends, the “lived in color” will be around for a bit.  It seems like anything goes now.   We have Hair Painting, Balayage, and block color for effects… What actually trends and changes are the tones, fashion colors, metallics, pastels, tortoise shell (gold), etc. It is fun to see what the combinations of colors are popular. Personally, I have been focusing on consumer friendly techniques and matte colors at the moment.  Power Paint is a new Hair Color magic course, so my focus is there. 

When I first started working with color technique, I can remember calling other salons in my area to see what they charged! It was the completely the wrong path.  First we needed to find out what each chair need to produce every hour to cover our overhead. Then we calculated out a tier pricing system for each level of our stylists. The base price we calculated to cover our overhead became the amount we start with for our beginning tier stylist. 

If a color service takes 90 minutes, and your 60 minute base $50.00 – your 90 minute color would be $75.00 plus.   The $75.00 was our starting point and would go up from there.  Of course add on services would be added to this to complete your estimation. 

On success.  

Our business’ success is attributed to strong systems, continual education and a strong, accountable team.  First our hiring process is 4 sessions to make sure the stylist is a great fit for us and more importantly, we are a great fit for them.

Our systems are solid.  We revisit these systems constantly to make sure they are still fitting our needs. The salon team is involved to make sure everything runs well.

Continual education is important to feed the stylists. We all should be given as much education and experience to be successful in what we do.  We have a team of stylists who are involved in training the new hires and we are always in classes or inviting other guest artists in for seminars.

We are not without troubles and tribulations; we have had a couple of walkouts and stylists leaving in favor or rental salons.  It is the nature of our industry. Stylists come for the training, do their time and take off.  It does not define us; we focus on our next group of interns to move into their positions. 

Some stylists have left on great terms and some not so great.  I want to make sure the salon owners who are engaged in this interview know that this happens and they shouldn’t be discouraged. Never forget why you started your business and focus on that. I tell myself, it was Julian August Salon before these stylist were here and it will be Julian August Salon after they have gone.  All in love, former JA employees.

On what she’s learned.

The biggest lesson was when we had a “walk out.”  I was traveling a lot with my education business and assumed the team I had trained and nurtured would hold down the fort while I was out doing my thing.  I was absent from my business and I should have never assumed they would take care of the salon, that was my job and I wasn’t around. I am accountable for the mess that brewed while I was away.  I lost first and second level stylists that left together and went to work at a salon 20 minutes away. 

What I learned – Never leave your business unless you have people in place to keep your vision and systems running how you would run them yourself.  People come and go, do not take it personal.

On being an educator.

I never thought I would be doing what I do now and I love every second. Educating wasn’t something I knew was possible and from hard work and focusing, I have found my passion. Sharing information that makes our industry strong in our craft is amazing.  It is a passion for me and every day I am allowed to share is golden. I found creating a strong team at the salon helps me to be able to travel and do what I do.  I now have a team that I can trust and know all will be well when I return!


On the Hair Color Magic program.

I think developing and launching the Hair Color Magic education program was the hardest and easiest thing I have done. Writing the curriculum and marketing the courses is fun and a lot of work. My husband, Manuel, does the graphics, layout for the workbooks and presentations. We add two classes a year and we have a total of 5 formulation classes, one technical Hair Painting Class and a Business/Technical class Color Correction vs Color Change. 

When I first started with education I would teach other peoples material. It didn’t take long for me to realize there where some big gaps in the material I was teaching. That was when I decided to take the foundational information I was teaching in our salon (Essentials 1) and use it as my own to teach within our network. From there things began to snowball. HCM Essentials 1 quickly became one the most request color education courses in the network. I routinely would hear how this one course had changed the way new and seasoned colorist formulated color. From that point on there was no turning back.

The classes are created from what I see is a challenge in our network.  I enjoy creating curriculum, and I enjoy teaching. I learn so much from the participants.  Everyone has information to share and creating activities for everyone to share their knowledge is my favorite thing to do. 

Having gone through the process of creating curriculum, putting it down on paper, training and launching the courses has given me so much understanding of the learner type and to keep the information focused on the learners.  I’ve grown as a colorist because of the participants… they have the best questions and I am constantly asked interesting questions that make me look at color differently. 

I do have to mention Jeanine ONeill Blackwell President and CEO at 4MAT 4BUSINESS who has given me the tools to write curriculum. Her program is amazing!  


On advice for stylists.

Be patient – greatness comes with time and experience.

Be kind – Everyone has a story.

Make sure you choose a salon that is a great fit for you and well as you for them. It will save a lot of time.

Never Stop Learning – keep working at your craft.  We cannot ever know it all.