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Esthetician and President Teaches Industry

By: Elizabeth Ulrich
Posted: July 22, 2008, from the March 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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At the institute, she strives to create an environment in which students experience the hands-on learning of new techniques, rather than the “read-and-regurgitate learning” that she says can plague vocational schools. “We’re facilitating the learning process and training the estheticians in critical-thinking skills rather than cookie-cutter skills,” Todd explains. “It’s not ‘Everybody gets the same facial.’ Each individual gets a skin care treatment.”

Todd does all she can to pass on her knowledge—she keeps no trade secrets close to heart. This is her share-and-share-alike mentality in action. “When I’m working with clients, I’m only touching one person,” Todd says. “By training other estheticians, I am able to touch so many. My talents are exponentially utilized.”

This approach to improving the esthetic industry has not gone unnoticed. After she lobbied state legislators for stricter licensure for estheticians, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner appointed her to the first four-year esthetician’s seat in the history of the state’s Board for Barbers and Cosmetology. As a result of the persistent efforts of Todd and others like her, in July 2007, Virginia will become one of only two states in the nation to offer two-tier licensure for estheticians. “Promoting regular standards helps protect the safety and welfare of citizens,” she says. “It ensures that the individuals practicing are protecting the consumer.”

Schroeder Measurement Technologies, Inc., one of the companies that develops standardized tests for cosmetology, barbering and related fields, also hired Todd as a subject-matter expert to assist in creating a new Master Esthetician Examination. She collaborated with other industry leaders who congregated in Florida last July in order to develop the exam. Although such endeavors tend to pull Todd away from her practice and her school, she never seems to mind much. This is, after all, what she set out to do so many years ago.

Along her journey through the industry—from cosmetologist and nail technician in the 1990s to institute president in 2004— each step Todd has taken seems to have been made purposefully toward reaching one goal: helping other estheticians to become recognized as real professionals. As she continues on this path, combining leaps to change industry regulations with smaller paces to alter the outlook of individual students, she hopes to promote the free exchange of knowledge throughout the profession. “A lot of us do a lot of things, and the rewards aren’t monetary,” Todd notes. “They are for the betterment of the industry.”