Since 1962, Pivot Point has been a leader in professional beauty education, changing and improving with their students’ needs in mind, and fostering more than one million individuals to realize sustainable careers within the beauty industry.

“It’s our responsibility to evolve beauty education,” says Kevin Cameron, vice president of global marketing and business development. “Challenging the status quo and looking for opportunities to take things forward is very important to us.”


Learning in beauty school has come a long way from the days of text books and lectures.

“With digital learning, we provide the tools, education and community in which students can thrive,” Cameron says. “The evolution of the industry is very important to us. Our online platform allows us to be able to connect with students in ways we couldn’t in the past.”

Cameron acknowledges content is king, but he maintains engagement reigns supreme with today’s students, who want individualized plans customized for their learning styles.

Enter LAB: Learn About Beauty. Pivot Point spent two years perfecting its online learning curriculum and went live with it in February 2015.

Currently LAB has more than 25,000 users in the network and more than 600,000 logins. There are more than 5,000 modules and courses in the program, and Pivot Point is intensely committed to creating rich educational experiences for students in order to champion sustainable careers in beauty worldwide.

Students using LAB will find the experience interactive and tailored to how their instructors want them to receive it.

“Some schools have special days, like texture Tuesday or wavy Wednesday to get students involved,” Suttles says. “In order to keep the home page current, though, we only house the six most recent user contributions.” With almost 100,000 participants in the user-contribution section, it takes work and consistency to be a stand out, or as Pivot Point calls them, “power users.” “These people are salon ambassadors as well,” Suttles says. “They figure out why they have so many likes and learn how to responsibly leverage their work.”

Students can upload images of their before-and-after work and compare and contrast it with other learners in that environment.

These interactions are prepping them for the salon in ways a text book never could. Students graduate with an understanding of how social media, when used purposefully, can help market themselves and give credence to their work.

“The education is stored in the order it’s received,” says Paul Suttles, senior director, education implementation. “It will be set up how the curriculum is outlined in four phases of education. Within each of those learning paths, smaller sub-groups can also be created.”

While students are learning, they have access to everything the educator is showing in class so they can access it on their own time if they are absent. Video files and a PDF version of the notes are also available.

But it’s the user contributions portion of the site students truly love. Similar to social media platforms, this section allows students to get feedback from their peers on their work and allows schools to get creative as well.


In the years Pivot Point spent creating LAB, it was with students and their future careers as stylists in mind. And as LAB evolves, it’s always through student and instructor feedback.

“We guarantee results from our licensed content,” Cameron says. “But it’s important to us to blend in content from the schools who use LAB.

“LAB was designed with beauty school instructors in mind as well. It has to be easy, has to work and it must be intuitive—there cannot be layers of complexity.”

Students love the quizzes and games that make up part of the LAB’s curriculum.

“Gamification was important to the development of LAB,” Cameron says. “A learner who is into gaming will continue to play until they are successful. We give them game-like activities that are relevant and live within the lesson.”

Quizzes also provide opportunities for introverts to participate in lessons. Students fill them in online during class, educators can see all the responses, and then they call on the students with the best answer, building self-esteem.

A discussion board within LAB allows any student to post a question whenever they want and receive an answer from the community. Some schools even customize a discussion board for its own program.

Of course, all featured content on the site is mobile-friendly, which gives students access to their school community and educational materials anywhere, anytime.

“Stylists coming out of cosmetology school today are coming with more information than just technical curriculum,” Suttles says. “They understand social media platforms and how it relates to guest communication, and clients gravitate to that.”


In April, Pivot Point launched another program that’s integrated into LAB—Salonability Cut & Color (the long-hair version of the program launched in October 2015).

This library of cut-and-color information features eight models and 32 haircuts.

“We looked at our eight models as clients,” Sabine Held-Perez, senior director, product innovation, explains. “We started with the model and designed the hair for them instead of vice versa.”

The program is divided into three parts: consultation skills, design decision skill and technical skills.

The consultation portion breaks down the information the student needs to obtain from the client and how to observe during the consultation.

In the design decision skills (planning) section, students learn to translate a mental image into a series of techniques before moving onto the execution or technical skills portion.

Throughout the program, the “why” behind everything is explained so students aren’t simply copying down information. Content is delivered by video and animated illustrations.

“Users don’t want to read,” Held-Perez says. “So we guide them through steps with visualizations and give them activities to take the information and apply it. Then we want them to think of ways they might apply what they’ve learned.”

Students will first focus on a cut, breaking down shape and texture to learn how to create shapes that alter the proportions around the face—all while learning why they are executing certain techniques.

“For example, we might explain why we break up the ends with a pointing technique in dense hair texture or how we create a certain shape to broaden the model’s face shape,” Held-Perez says.

Next they learn how color can completely change how shape and texture look.

“Color allows you to create certain focal points, make eye color pop or flatter the complexion,” Held-Perez says. “We break down what certain colors and patterns do, and for every model, we explain why we chose the shades and placement.”

The Salonability program doesn’t just teach students how to perfect their technical skills—it helps them to have a sustainable career.

“In the beauty industry, you need salonability, or the ability to think technically and emotionally,” Held-Perez says. "Our goal was to make sure the students we graduate are equipped with the set of skills and abilities they need to think through and create hair styles—not just copy a technical.”

Most students don’t tackle the Salonability lessons until they are further into their curriculum, because the concepts are deeper than technical skills. The program is geared toward the learner who is beyond the basics and ready for something more before they graduate.

“It’s also great for the stylist who has been working for one to three years and hasn’t found a way yet to be efficient and confident,” Held-Perez says. “It’s our mission to help them feel confident in making style modifications to each client.”

Salonability also shortens the learning curve of newly graduated students, making them more productive on the salon floor sooner.

“The knowledge and skills they learn are commercially applicable and completely purpose-driven,” Held-Perez says. “We are teaching a style of hairdressing that outlives short-lived trends. What they learn can be applied to any trend. We would never want a learner to copy a hairstyle seen in Salonability. We want them to understand why we did what we did.” The essence of the program gives stylists the freedom to create and gets new learners ready to make a living and deliver on a promise to their employer.

“Students and instructors love the simplicity of breaking down the plans,” Held-Perez says. “We have a way of creating illustrations and animating them that delivers the information slowly and helps them get through the thought process.”

And because Salonability is in LAB, students experience it in a way that’s familiar to them, making the learning process seamless.


Pivot Point’s next step in education is LAB Pro, an online platform specifically designed for salon professionals.

“The focus in phase 1 will be on small to mid-size chains,” Cameron says. “The platform will create community building, standardization, a shorter time to productivity and enhanced brand philosophy.” Like LAB can be customized for schools or a chain of schools, LAB Pro can be customized as well.

“Owners could have their salon mission on banner images, images of models—whatever they want—however they want to make it their own,” Suttles says.

LAB Pro is also an opportunity for salons to tell their brand story, highlight policies and procedures, and link to their preferred manufacturers for a stronger relationship.

“Again, it’s about engaging content,” Cameron says. “And we can take a salon’s content and make it more engaging.”

“As an organization, we’re responsible for creating the most engaging and current content available, and part of that is the delivery platforms,” says Robert Passage, chairman and CEO of Pivot Point. “We help teachers do a better job of developing the future or our industry. If you don’t adopt the digital revolution, you will be out of business.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.