Robert Passage on Pivot Point International, the Legacy Award and Honoring His Father

The Beauty Changes Lives Foundation (BCL) and Cosmetologists Chicago (CC) are honoring Leo Passage, founder of Pivot Point International, with the 2015 Legacy Award on March 21 at the Art Institute of Chicago, for his contributions to the beauty industry and his remarkable vision for cultivating new talent.

Passage was well-known and respected for inspiring millions of beauty artists and designers around the world. Throughout his life, and until his death in 2011, he cared about three big passions: his family, Pivot Point and hairdressing students around the world.

American Salon Digital Editor Kelsey Murray spoke with Pivot Point’s CEO and chairman Robert Passage, Leo’s son, about Beauty Changes Lives, Pivot Point International and honoring his father’s legacy.

AS: Tell us about your current role at Pivot Point International and your various positions in the industry.

RP: I’ve been involved in the business since a very young age. My title today is Pivot Point International CEO and chairman, but I prefer the title global ambassador, since that’s where I spend most of my time, with clients both domestically and in 80 countries overseas.

I’ve always been very active on a number of committees and boards: a vice president on the Board of Cosmetologists Chicago; a director on the Illinois Association of Cosmetology Schools; a member of the board of directors for AACS; and a number of additional committees across the industry. Giving back to the industry that’s always been so good to us has been extremely important to me.

AS: Tell us about Beauty Changes Lives and how the Legacy Award came about?

RP: AACS created Beauty Changes Lives as a non-profit three years ago.
Beauty Changes Lives is a non-profit initiative designed to raise awareness of how careers in the hair, beauty and wellness industry transform lives both personally and professionally.  The industry has always talked about developing campaigns to elevate the perception of careers in our industry. This was our opportunity to really elevate that perception.

During our initial year, we received our first gift from P&G Salon Professional. Reuben Carranza, also on our board of directors, successfully lobbied P&G to set up a scholarship fund in honor of Vidal Sassoon, who had just passed away. That gift was $1.5 million dollars.

We decided that same year to set up an event called the Legacy of Style (now called Legacy Award). Vidal was the first Legacy of Style recipient.

AS: What does it mean to have your father’s legacy honored?

RP: The BCL board approached me last year to see if my family would consider bestowing the Legacy in honor of my father. Of course we were thrilled that they would recognize him and all his contributions to the industry, so we agreed to it.

My mother and I put our heads together and decided to make a personal contribution to the BCL Foundation. We set up the Leo Passage Endowment fund and contributed one million dollars to it and requested that the funds be used in three areas: competition, something my father was very committed to; undergraduate scholarships; and post-graduate scholarships.

The first round of postgraduate scholarships from my father’s endowment fund will be shared at the Legacy Award and America’s Beauty Show (ABS) this year. They will be earmarked for cosmetology schoolteachers, what I believe is a first for our industry.  

AS: You’ve spent most of your life in the professional beauty industry. Who inspires you professionally?

RP: I probably never would have gotten into the industry had it not been for my father. He certainly was my biggest influencer and my biggest mentor. I had an opportunity to spend time with someone who really gave back to an industry that he loved. He was probably the most humble person that you’d ever meet. It was always about the students, teachers and professionals who make up the industry.

AS: Any last thoughts?

RP: I’m really excited about the future prospects of BCL. We’ve raised over three million dollars in a short amount of time. The legacy event is being held on my father’s 79th birthday. An amazing coincidence that allows us to turn the evening into a birthday celebration as well.  

The BCL 2015 Legacy Award Honoring Leo Passage, featuring the Trilogy of Beauty will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21.

Tickets are available at for $60. Tickets can also be purchased when registering for ABS. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit BCL.


The Beauty Changes Lives Foundation was created by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools to build awareness of the extraordinary career opportunities in the beauty wellness, and massage therapy industries.

BCL instituted the Legacy Award to honor individuals in the professional beauty industry whose body of work has left an indelible mark on the industry for this, and many generations to come. Previous awardees were Vidal Sassoon, who changed haircutting and the salon business along with it, and Tippi Hedren, who elevated the skills of Asian nail technicians and salons.

Cosmetologists Chicago is an association of more than 10,000 salon and spa professionals and students that owns and produces the annual America’s Beauty Show.

Pivot Point International is the premiere provider of hair, tools and beauty educational solutions for schools, salons, students, individual stylists and distributors. The company’s education can be found in six continents around the world. Since 1962, when Leo Passage founded the Pivot Point Beauty School in Chicago, Illinois, the company has empowered and embraced salon professionals and students who elevate their skills to a higher level of artistic creativity. To learn more, visit