Carol Augusto, executive producer of Serious Business, passed away peacefully in her home.  
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Carol Augusto, executive producer of Serious Business, passed away peacefully in her home. 

An industry icon and a passionate advocate for advanced beauty business education, Carol Augusto, executive producer of Serious Business, passed away on February 22 in her home in her beloved San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She was 70.

After spending her childhood in a small farm community in Texas, a young Augusto pursued a cosmetology degree and became a hairdresser in her late teens. She had a deep appreciation that this choice would allow her to satisfy her desire to serve others while expressing her creativity.

As her newfound career continued to expose her to the professional beauty industry, Augusto realized the potential to create a meaningful and lucrative career. After attending a hair show organized in Dallas by the Neill Corporation, she was inspired to walk away from her career behind the chair and pursue a role as a sales representative for Neill, selling and educating salons about Aveda. Within a few short years, she was celebrated as Aveda’s first million-dollar salesperson. Her results and ability made her an excellent mentor to the overall sales team at Neill, leading to a new role as the Director of Sales.

As Augusto continued to contribute to the growth and development of salons, she was always building her knowledge and skills. She participated in developing many innovative education programs that helped salons succeed, and she coached and facilitated education at Neill Quality College.

In the early 2000s, Augusto worked with Bumble and Bumble as a Regional Director at the House of Bumble in New York.

Augusto on stage at Serious Business.  
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Augusto on stage at Serious Business. 

In 2004, Edwin Neill II convinced her to ‘come home’ to Neill, and she assumed the role of Executive Director of Serious Business just one week before Edwin Neill II passed away. Serious Business is an annual salon industry conference that focuses on personal and business development, and for the past 20 years, Augusto collaborated with Debra Neill Baker in designing and producing the event that they have grown into a premiere event in the industry.

“Carol was loved by everyone who knew her and admired and appreciated by those who hadn’t yet had the opportunity,” says Neill Baker. “She brilliantly expressed her love, passion, competence and commitment to the evolution of salon owners and managers through Serious Business.”

Together, the duo had a knack for recognizing rising stars in the area of business and personal development and booking them for Serious Business, giving attendees an opportunity to experience and learn from amazing speakers. Under captivating themes, such as “Intimacy” (In To Me See), “Reset” and “Get Out…of Your Own Way,” Serious Business ticketholders heard from illuminaries, such as Researcher and Storyteller Brene Brown, Author and Motivational Speaker Marcus Buckingham, American Restauranteur and Author Will Guidara and Podcaster, Motivational Speaker and Author Mel Robbins.  

Longtime collaborators and friends, Debra Neill Baker and Carol Augusto at the Dia de los Muertos celebration in Carol's new hometown of San Miguel de Allende. "It was so much fun and it was going to be our annual time together in San Miguel," Debra says. "Death and dying remain a life experience we treat as taboo, but we need to expose, evoke and evolve our thinking regarding this. It was often a part of our conversations." 
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Longtime collaborators and friends, Debra Neill Baker and Carol Augusto at the Dia de los Muertos celebration in Carol's new hometown of San Miguel de Allende. "It was so much fun and it was going to be our annual time together in San Miguel," Debra says. "Death and dying remain a life experience we treat as taboo, but we need to expose, evoke and evolve our thinking regarding this. It was often a part of our conversations."

This year’s Serious Business was said to be one of the very best, and the Neill Family is planning how to honor Augusto’s life and legacy at next year’s event, January 12-15 in New Orleans.

Personally, Augusto was fiercely independent and a life-long learner. Several years ago she left Dallas, her home of more than 40 years to move to Austin. Then just a year ago she was compelled to make her final move to San Miguel deAllende, Mexico.

She visited the charming city in the Mexican Highlands known for its thriving arts community and cultural festivals for the first time on a Thursday, fell in love and bought a house within a week. She told all those who asked that she was the happiest and most fulfilled she had ever been.

As news of Augusto’s passing spread, many shared what she meant to them through social media:

“I am very sorry to hear of the sad loss of Carol. She was very talented, successful and a good human being. She has left a legacy and imprint on the importance of education.”—Leon Alexander

“Your light will forever shine, inspiring many lives with your passion for our industry. The vision for Serious Business inspired us all. Although our time working together was cut short, I am committed to your vision and will make you proud.”—Laura Boozer

“What a heart-breaking loss. Carol was a caring, brilliant woman. She was a gift to the planet.”—Brigette Sobus

“She was a light in the world, a kind, positive, caring woman who always brought smiles to the room. She was a champion of the salon owner, a seeker of truth and inspiration. She was a beautiful gift to us all.”—Karie Bennett

“Carol Augusto, thank you for all you brought to my life and so many others! I will miss your laughter, your heart, your joie de vivre and our secret sharing. One of a kind.”—Tom Seeburger

“A magnificent person. Carol, you taught and mentored and inspired thousands of beauty artists and moved the industry forward. When I hear the word ‘inspire’ I will always think of you. Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us.”—Gary Walden

“I met Carol in the early 90s when she was a consultant for Shelton’s. I think her title was Wellness Ambassador. She was always ahead of her time! It was always such a joy to catch up with her and she was always connecting people together.”—Candice Hammitt

“She was the light of all things she touched. Her joy was infectious. I consider myself blessed to have known her. She touched so many lives and made a difference.”—Holly Thalman

“I always enjoyed her energy at Serious Business and was blessed this year to spend a few minutes chatting with her as we both waited to board our flights. Her genuine interest in what I thought of the speakers, and suggestions I had for improvements, and her obvious passion for the industry touched me.”—Tash Schnathorst

“I have so many wonderful memories of our early days working the Dallas territory for Aveda and Neill Corporation. You contributed so much to this industry with your intelligence, vision, wisdom and drive. As my friend, my heart breaks and I miss you. Professionally, the industry has lost a shining star.”—Alison Howland

“I met Carol in 1989 and she was always able to make you feel like you were the most important person in the room. She was sharp with a wonderful sense of humor. She will be missed by more people than she could imagine.”—Shane Encalade

“What an incredible woman. A mentor to me for over 25 years. You were truly an inspiration. Love you sister. Prayers up for peace for all who knew her, she touched so many lives.”—Mandy Webb Hancock

“Carol was in our Warren Hardy Spanish school here in San Miguel studying just last week. She was also a neighbor and I was looking forward to our friendship. Our teacher and classmates are deeply saddened by the news of her passing. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out.”—Tuli Hardy

“Carol and I collaborated for years as the Neill Corporation hosted the SALON TODAY 200 award reception, and she was as generous with her friendship as she was her wisdom. She has been an important and treasured mentor for me. We played Wordle together every morning and caught up at least once a month with industry news, and she frequently reached out with her new adventures as she and her beloved dog Woolly made their new home in Mexico. We’ve all lost a guiding light.”—Stacey Soble

Woolly, Carol's beloved rescue dog has found a new home in Texas. 
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Woolly, Carol's beloved rescue dog has found a new home in Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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