Neihulé Salon, a downtown LA beauty staple run by Yvonne Neihulé and her husband and business partner Atouzo Neihulé, recently expanded into two locations, but with a twist. The second salon would be a dual salon/academy of beauty and the culture would be completely focused on education. Yvonne fills us in on the motivation for the new space and what beauty pros can find in this haven for learning.
Why did education become so important to you?
When I graduated from beauty school, I still didn’t really know how to do hair. Every time I started at a new salon, I’d always ask the “why” behind everything. Why does that work for color? Why do I need that? And no one would ever really tell me why—they’d just say that’s what they use and it works.
One day a girl came into my salon—she was an educator for Redken—and she knew the “why” behind everything. I asked her, How do I become like you? I auditioned to become an educator for Redken, and I was hired. They handed me a large binder that they called Big Bertha, and it taught everything about color and hair. I basically taught myself how to do hair through that book.
When did you become a salon owner?
I opened my salon in 2008 in downtown LA. At the time, it was quite the risk because there wasn’t a whole lot of development there. My husband and I named it Neihule, our last name, which means “to live a happy life.” In December 2018, we opened our second location with a combined salon and academy. We teach cosmetology, manicuring and esthetics.
What makes the Academy of Beauty different?
The whole idea is to change the landscape of the beauty school experience so that once our studnets leave school, they’re salon-ready. Once a student reaches 1,000 hours at our school, they intern at our flagship location where they learn working side-by-side stylists, which gives them assisting experience. They’re working with a variety of product lines that salons actually use on a day to day basis, rather than one brand. In terms of our culture, every person from the cleaning lady to the top stylist is treated the same. There’s no hierarchy. No one goes around yelling at each other and there are no cliques. I vowed that even if someone is making us a lot of money, and they’re a negative influence, we won’t allow that bad apple to fester and spoil the bunch. We’ve had to let people go when we felt like that was happening, and I think that’s what has sustained our culture.
What I’ve found from owning my salon for as long as I have, is it’s not about implementing something, it’s showing something—living it and showing it day in and day out.
What is your ultimate vision for the salon/academy?
Beyond us being a dual cosmetology school and a salon, we plan on being a hub in the LA area for licensed professionals. On the education tab on our website, you’ll see educational events that are paid ticketed events through the different. We invite professionals to teach classes out of our academy. We want to be known for education for the LA area.